Diamondbacks, Dodgers brawl after Zack Greinke gets drilled

82 Comments

The fourth hit by pitch of Tuesday’s game between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers finally did the trick; Ian Kennedy nailed Zack Greinke in the shoulder in the bottom of the seventh, touching off a modest brawl.

Punches were thrown after the benches and bullpens cleared, but most of the action was limited to yelling and shoving. Actually, the confrontation between Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and third-base coach Matt Williams was the most interesting to follow, as McGwire was holding both guys and looked like he wanted to throw some punches.

Watch the entire brawl here

Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross was the first batter hit tonight, and the Diamondbacks responded by hitting Yasiel Puig in the sixth. Greinke came back and drilled Miguel Montero in the back in top of the seventh. Both of those latter two appeared intentional, and the benches cleared after Montero was hit. Given what was most likely coming, it was pretty surprising Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sent Greinke out to hit in the bottom of the seventh. Sure enough, the first pitch was right up by his head and he took it off the shoulder, not far from where his left collarbone was broken after Carlos Quentin charged the mound back in April.

Kennedy is a lock for a suspension after making that throw, and MLB should ensure that it’s a good one. It’s one thing to intentionally hit someone, but there’s no excuse for going anywhere near a guy’s head. While pitchers are never suspended for more than one start for on-field incidents, MLB should make a statement and sit Kennedy for at least 12 games.

Greinke is also due a suspension for his intentional plunking of Montero, even if he wasn’t thrown out. It looked like he’d leave after the HBP, but he came back out of the dugout and stayed in to run. He even tried a takeout slide at second on a double-play ball afterwards. He didn’t come back out for the eighth, though.

Puig, who was ejected, could also get suspended for 2-5 games based on his actions as one of the instigators in the scrum. Dodgers relievers J.P. Howell and Ronald Belisario also made themselves front and center in the mix and should be looking at bans.

It’s probably safe to say Gibson and McGwire are looking at one- or two-game suspensions as well. Mattingly, for what it’s worth, was not ejected from the game.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
11 Comments

On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.