The first two weeks of the Major League Baseball season have been without incident, until last night. In the bottom of the 6th inning Zack Greinke was holding onto a 1 run lead when he plunked Carlos Quentin in his left forearm, and the short version of the incident is there was a brawl. That would have been the major headline, had Quentin not fractured Greinke’s collarbone in their collision at the mound. After watching the video, and evaluating the evidence there’s clearly one person to blame for this result.
Carlos Quentin causes the damage when the Padres outfielder bull rushes the mound, but I blame AJ Ellis. Vin Scully says as the benches are clearing that “AJ Ellis gets there just in time,” but with all due respect Mr. Scully, he does not. Ellis needs to stop this before it happens. This brawl needs to happen at home plate and not the mound if it happens at all. It’s the responsibility of the Dodger catcher to protect the pitcher, especially when it’s the Dodger’s biggest offseason investment.
I’m not sure what Ellis is waiting for. The all around nice guy seems to want to talk Quentin out of it, like the decision was who was going to pick up the check at lunch. C’mon Carlos, you know this isn’t a big deal. Then Quentin flipped over the table, threw his jaeger-bomb at the server, and charged Greinke, who delivered his dish too high and hot for Quentin’s liking. Ellis doesn’t even have the excuse of the catcher famously kicked by Izzy Alcatran before he charged the mound.
The number one rule of mound charging is eliminate the catcher. Well that’s rule 1B. Rule 1A is don’t charge the mound if Nolan Ryan is on it, even if he is 44 years old. Quentin didn’t even have to worry about Rule 1B. Ellis stood back, and even as Quentin sprinted towards the mound, Ellis awkwardly, with no urgency or clarity of purpose followed.
As the brawl is ensuing, Vin Scully says “”Quentin continues to amaze as he consistently gets hit by pitches.” AJ Ellis knows the scouting report. He knows that Quentin frequently gets hit, and he knows that Quentin has had success against Greinke in the past. He can’t just let Quentin get in front of him. His urgency and protective instincts need to be higher.
Quentin, who looks more like a shipping container than a baseball player, finds a convenient time to stand up for all of the bean balls, when he outweighs the pitcher by 45 pounds. Quentin has absolutely no reason to charge the mound. The contributing factors were he was hit before by Greinke in 2009, and and as Scully alludes to has been hit by pitches consistently; but this is not near his head. It was not a retaliation for something earlier, even though Matt Kemp got brushed back. At the slightest antagonization, all of Carlos Quentin’s (despite the lack of evidence for) ‘Roid Rage was unleashed on Greinke’s collarbone.
Even though Greinke gets respect for hanging in there at 195 lbs (that’s what the roster says, but I’d wager it’s less), he did not do himself and the Dodgers any favors for getting his shoulder dirty. It wasn’t his throwing shoulder at least. But this could be the kind of injury that changes how baseball is played, like Kendrys Morales‘ injury celebrating his game winning homerun at the plate, or Buster Posey‘s torn ankle in a home plate collision. Greinke’s responsibility was to Ole Quentin like Pedro Martinez did to Don Zimmer of the Yankees. Quentin is slightly less fierce than Don Zimmer, but this should not be the discussion after Thursday’s game.
The discussion should be about the brawl at home plate when AJ Ellis stepped in front of Carlos Quentin, if there was a brawl at all. Not the injured aftermath of Carlos Quentin picking a fight with the smallest kid in his grade school class.