Monday, April 15, 2013
The cooling off period
By Mark Saxon
Fans who bought tickets to one of the Dodgers' next three games hoping to see a brawl may as well stay home and look for something on Pay-Per-View.It's not going to happen. There is absolutely no reason for it to happen, unless perhaps somebody took a cheap shot or said something inflammatory in the scrum that broke out Thursday night in San Diego.
From the Dodgers' perspective, Carlos Quentin incited the brawl by charging the mound. He won't be active while he serves his eight-game suspension. From Quentin's perspective, Zack Greinke incited it by hitting him for the third time (in five years). Greinke won't be involved because he just had surgery on the collarbone Quentin broke and is out for about two months.
So, this series should be quiet. In fact, the way these two teams are hitting, it might feel like a library after business hours.
But that doesn't mean the matter is settled. The culture of baseball has softened along with rising salaries and team psychologists, but it still remains fairly Old Testament. The Dodgers still don't feel they've gotten their tooth for a tooth. They lost their No. 2 starter, their $147 million investment, for one-third of the season. The Padres lost a guy who has hit .247 the last five years for about a week.
"Guys aren't going to forget," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters Sunday. "You can do whatever, you can say whatever, you can write whatever, guys aren't going to forget."
Quentin, of course, knows that. If he can remember a grudge from four seasons ago, why shouldn't the Dodgers be able to remember one from less than two months ago. The Padres and Dodgers next meet on June 3 at Dodger Stadium. By then, Quentin should be back in the lineup and alert to what could be coming.
There's nothing that says the Dodgers will even the score then, either. If the games are all close, they may not have an opportunity.
Umpires figure to be vigilant all season when these teams meet and probably next season, too. The league office gets word to them about any history of bad blood before the series.
What you hope is that, if it does happen, it's not in a baiting, head-hunting manner. The Dodgers don't need any more drama from an incident that really has no bearing on what they're trying to accomplish.
This is a team still searching for an identity and trying to play under the weight of expectations. It doesn't need any more distractions.