bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The stupidity of bench-clearing brawls

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There is a whole lot of idiocy in sports. I write about a lot of it here on a weekly basis, although there is far more of it than I could possibly cover in this small space. Aside from the material it gives me, though, I do genuinely wish that most of it would go away. Things like what happened Thursday night in San Diego during the Padres game against the Los Angeles Dodgers just make me angry. The thing in question was a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams that included a major injury to Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, incurred when he was attacked by Padres slugger Carlos Quentin.

Brawls are nothing new in baseball, although they do not happen very frequently. That they happen at all is amazing to me, though, and the consequences of them should be far more severe than they are. Greinke hit Quentin with a pitch in the sixth inning. Quentin started walking toward the mound, ready to prove how he macho he was, I guess. Greinke said something to him, which was surely not an apology, and Quentin’s walk became a sprint, ending with a tackle of the pitcher. The two teams streamed onto the field, and all kinds of dopey screaming, shoving, and posturing followed. Tests later showed that Greinke had a broken collar bone and will miss 6-8 weeks of the season rehabbing it. Major League Baseball suspended Quentin for eight games.

I am not saying that there was no reason for anger on Quentin’s part. This was the third time he had been hit by a pitch from Greinke, although the last one happened four years ago, so I hardly think that there would be much carryover from the last time. I imagine it hurts to be hit by a pitch from a major league pitcher, so the instant reaction would clearly be a negative one. Still, a player with any brains at all would have realized that there was no possible way that Greinke had hit him on purpose. It was the sixth inning of a game in which the Dodgers only had a one run lead. The count was 3-2, meaning that Greinke had already thrown a number of pitches to Quentin before the pitch that hit him. The last thing a pitcher would want to do in that situation would be to hit the batter and put him on base with nobody out. The fact that Quentin not only charged the mound but hit Greinke hard enough to break his collarbone shows that he really is a meathead. Just a big, stupid meathead. The eight game suspension he received is hardly enough, in my opinion. Greinke, who was given a six-year, $147 million dollar free-agent contract by the Dodgers in the offseason, will miss at least two months, it would seem, and yet the guy that injured him through an intentional act will only miss eight games. I didn’t expect a two-month suspension, although it might have been warranted, as the longest previous suspension for a mound-charge had been eight games, but I really hoped MLB would set a new precedent this time. Hockey may sell fighting as part of the game, but baseball sure does not and should not. The league needs to make sure that this sort of thing does not happen, and so the penalties for it should be far more severe.

Bad sports, continued:

2) The Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night, and in the process, Joe Nathan recorded his 300th career save. I wonder if it will mean any less to him due to the fact that the called third strike that ended it was one of the worst strike calls I have ever seen. Watch the video. That ump should be suspended.

3) Some sick pup sent a severed goat head to Tom Ricketts, the chairman of the Chicago Cubs, this week. There is a famous story about a curse that was placed on the Cubs back in 1945 by a local tavern owner who was turned away from Wrigley Field after he tried to enter with his pet goat, Murphy. Some people believe in the curse, as the Cubs have not won anything since then, and I guess there is one person who believes more than most.

4) Kobe Bryant, who has been trying, almost single-handedly, to will the Los Angeles Lakers into the playoffs, tore his Achilles tendon on Friday during a game against the Golden State Warriors. This is a serious injury for anyone, and especially for a 34-year-old player. His career is certainly in jeopardy.

5) A group of Dodgers fans who were sitting in the box directly behind home plate at Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, were forced to take off their Dodgers gear and put on Diamondbacks stuff due to the visibility of their seats to the television audience. It may be stadium policy, but if you are paying as much as these folks must have paid for those seats (they are the most expensive tickets in the stadium), you should be able to wear whatever you want, as long as it is nothing profane or clearly offensive.

6) Proving that soccer hooligans don’t only exist in Europe, some idiot threw a bottle that hit FC Dallas defender George John on the back of his head during a match against the LA Galaxy on Saturday, just after he had scored a goal. The resulting cut was bad enough that it required staples to close it.

7) Tiger Woods was nearly disqualified from the Masters on Saturday morning after it was revealed that he had performed an illegal drop on the fifteenth hole during Friday’s round. As the incident had been reviewed on Friday and no penalty had been assessed, it was determined that the automatic disqualification that would come from signing a score card with an incorrect score would not apply. Instead, Woods was penalized two strokes. There was a big outcry about this, but it appeared to me to be the correct call, especially when pictures later on Sunday revealed that what Tiger thought he did wrong may not have actually been what he did.

8) In the spirit of doing anything to get an advantage, Buffalo Sabres center Steve Ott licked the visor of Montreal Canadiens center Jeff Halpern during a face-off on Thursday. What?

9) A few weeks ago, I wrote about my disgust at the fact that the NRA would be sponsoring the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. That race happened on Saturday night. In a stroke of irony, a man committed suicide in the infield of the race by shooting himself.

Good sports:

1) When the Louisville Cardinals beat the Michigan Wolverines to win the national championship last Monday, head coach Rick Pitino became the first college coach in history to win championships with more than one school.

2) Although it ended on Wednesday, the fact that the Boston Red Sox sold out 820 consecutive games is pretty impressive.

3) A 14-year-old golfer from China, Tianlang Guan, not only played in the Masters this week but actually made the cut. He finished well out of contention, at 12-over par, but that still gave him the lowest score among the amateurs in the tournament.

4) Ally Frei, a softball pitcher for her high school in New Jersey, managed a pretty rare feat this week. She not only threw a perfect game, but she also struck out all 21 batters she faced. Wow.

5) Golfer Adam Scott became the first Australian to ever win The Masters, defeating Angel Cabrera in a playoff after the two were tied after 72 holes.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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