Brawl not worth the pain for Dodgers

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
11:41
PM PT
Not long after 25 players from each team, their coaches, their managers and assorted team personnel spilled onto the field at Petco Park on Thursday night, Vin Scully pointed out just how much high-priced talent was mixing it up out there for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

At one point, Josh Beckett, who is making $15.75 million this season, was restraining Matt Kemp, whose salary is $20 million. One strained back from that little dance would have given the Dodgers major headaches.

[+] EnlargeBrawl
AP Photo/Lenny IgnelziZack Greinke seemed to injure his collarbone when he took the initial blow from Carlos Quentin as the Padres hitter charged the mound in the sixth inning Thursday.
Instead, the news was worse. Thursday's fight with the San Diego Padres will cost the Dodgers Zack Greinke, who fractured his left collarbone when Carlos Quentin rammed into him like a fullback picking up a middle linebacker. The only problem is Greinke weighs about 50 pounds less than both a middle linebacker and Quentin.

Greinke will be out however long it takes his collarbone to heal, his throwing program to reset and his minor league rehabilitation assignment to end. Think months, not weeks.

Quentin's mad dash toward the mound might have cost the Dodgers so much more than a few ejections, some fines and the lingering possibility of bad blood with a team they have to play 10 more times before the All-Star break, starting Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

It might have cost them their status as co-favorites in a division that features the two-time defending champion San Francisco Giants and might be deeper than we originally thought.

Let's hope that by Monday it will have sunk in for both teams just how stupid these kinds of things are. Or, failing that, that it will have sunk in for the Dodgers how little they can gain by being sucked into another ugly incident from which there are no good outcomes.

There is more at stake than the $147 million the Dodgers have invested in Greinke, although that's nothing to dismiss lightly. They also have hundreds of thousands of fans whose hopes this season are largely pinned on the team's talented starting rotation. The beacons of that rotation are Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, although probably not in that order. The first nine games of this season only reinforced how invested this team is in dominant pitching.

It was ridiculous of Quentin to react the way he did, even if it was the third time Greinke had dotted him with a fastball (most of that history traces back to previous teams, in a different league). Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, normally as laid-back as they come, made a good point after the game even amid the haze of his own simmering anger. At one point, Mattingly called Quentin an "idiot" during a televised interview.

Quentin played in only 86 games last season and was hit by 17 pitches, most in the league. He's this era's Don Baylor.

"The guy basically dives into the plate and, in a 2-1 game, we're trying to hit him on a 3-and-2 pitch?" Mattingly said on TV afterward. "It's just stupid is what it is. He should not play a game before Greinke can pitch."

That, even Mattingly knows, is not going to happen. Quentin figures to miss a few, maybe a handful of games as a result of discipline from the league office. But who really cares if you're the Dodgers? Unless you take the Padres seriously as contenders -- and they have won as many as 80 games just once since 2007 -- it was the Dodgers who had everything to lose.

Afterward, a reporter asked Greinke whether there was bad blood between these teams.

"Now, there probably is," Greinke said.

Let's hope cooler heads prevail four days from now. Nothing good can come from more hostility.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Yasiel Puig
BA HR RBI R
.296 16 69 92
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239