MLB hands down the suspensions for Tuesday night’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks melee

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The discipline has been handed down for the Dodgers-Diamondbacks melee on Tuesday night. Twelve different people were disciplined with eight being handed suspensions. The breakdown:

  • Ian Kennedy gets a ten-game suspension;
  • Eric Hinske gets a five-game suspension;
  • J.P. Howell and Skip Schumaker each get two-game suspensions;
  • Ronald Belisario gets a one-game suspension;
  • Dodgers coach Mark McGwire was suspended two games;
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson were each suspended for one;
  • Fines in undisclosed amounts were handed out to Zack Greinke, Yasiel Puig, Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra;
  • The Dodgers were fined as a team for allowing players on the disabled list — Josh Beckett and Chris Capuano — to go out onto the field during the fight. How they, as a team, were supposed to stop them when their managers and coaches were all out there fighting too I have no idea.

Kinda surprising that Greinke didn’t get any time off for clearly throwing at Miguel Montero, but I suppose the powers that be figure him being plunked was enough.

As for the others: We live in a world where throwing a fastball at someone’s head makes you miss one start, in all likelihood. Two at most. We also live in aw world where the managers who preside over the beanball wars get a slap on the wrist. That doesn’t seem right to me. Managers set the tone for their team and players feel obligated to engage in these battles lest they fall out of favor with their managers. The penalties should be greater.

The managers and coaches will begin serving their suspensions immediately. Players have a right to appeal. If they do, they will not be suspended until the appeal is heard.

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

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The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

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A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.