Let me make this clear: I am NOT in favor of brawls in sports, as it solves nothing and is sets a bad example with impressionable youngsters.
The fight between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, which commenced when Diamondback pitcher Ian Kennedy (who pitched at USC) hit Zack Greinke after he hit phenom Yasiel Puig on the nose earlier in the game, may have had a galvanizing effect on the Dodgers in the long run.
Let me explain:
Don Mattingly’s team has been accused of not having enough mental toughness this season to date, as they have been mired in last place in the National League West for quite a bit of the season.
No less than 15 players, including Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford at the present time, have spent time on the disabled list, and their perceived lack of mental toughness was illustrated on Monday night when Brandon League blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning, allowing the D-Backs to stage a 5-3 comeback win.
This brawl, which resulted in six players being tossed and featured former standouts like Dodger batting coach Mark McGwire and D-Back manager (and former Dodger World Series hero) Kirk Gibson nose-to-nose and other former stars such as Arizona coaches Don Baylor and Matt Williams in the thick of things, was a case of the Dodgers venting their frustration over how their season has gone to this point.
As well as a reaction to what they saw as dirty pitching by Kennedy as he started everything by hitting Puig in an area where careers are often ruined; he couldn’t hit him on the thigh?
Of course he will say that it was unintentional, but rarely will a pitcher be honest and flat-out state that he meant to throw at somebody.
Which leads me to what some may say is a biased conviction that Arizona in general – and Kennedy in particular – is to blame for the brawl.
The important factor in what KTLA Channel 5 Sports called the birth of a rivalry is the fact that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks face each other 11 more times this season, and baseball players are known to have long memories.
In other words, while both teams will say that the incident is over and done with and they have moved on, don’t be surprised if more conflicts and incidents come in the future.
And don’t be surprised if this fight leads to more inspired play by the Dodgers, as teams have been known to be motivated by events such as this and have gone on winning streaks after they have been in a bench-clearing brawl.
Here is a tape of the fight at Dodger Stadium: