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Brushback Pitches A Lost Art [VIDEO]

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

“Kid, you are digging your own (expletive) grave” – Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver to young batter digging in to the batter’s box to face Bob Gibson.

Last night’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks game at Chavez Ravine featured five beanballs, and two bench-clearing incidents. But it didn’t have to be this way.

Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy started the war when he hit star Cuban rookie Yasiel Puig in the face with a 92 mph fastball. Amazingly, Puig stayed in the game and took his base.

As baseball tradition dictates, the Dodgers exacted revenge when starter Zack Greinke plunked D-Backs catcher Miguel Montero in the back with a pitch. Both benches were warned at that should be the end of it, right?

Wrong. Kennedy, facing Greinke in the seventh inning of a tie game, plunked the Dodgers starter in the front shoulder with the ball eventually deflecting off the helmet of Greinke.

The benches cleared, leading to some surreal shouting matches between former MLB superstars turned coaches. LA hitting coach Mark McGwire squared off with Arizona Diamondbacks coach Matt Willams. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went after Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.

Major League Baseball players in the 21st century have no fear of Bob Gibson’s fastball brushing them back, or of Nolan Ryan plunking them in the back after they watched a home run reach the seats from the batter’s box.

On the flip side, pitchers have lost their sense of decorum when it comes to retaliation, too often letting loose with fastballs at shoulder-or worse- head height when a fastball to the backside would send the same message without the risk of ending a career.

After Puig was hit in the nose, someone on the Diamondbacks was going to get hit. Accident or not, when a superstar is hit with a pitch anywhere above the chest retaliation is necessary to send a message that you will not be intimidated.Montero getting plunked in between the numbers should have ended the incident, both starting pitchers could remain in the game and both teams could move on ego-wise knowing that they each had a batter hit.

Think of it like a fight between two NHL tough guys after a cheap shot on a team superstar. After the fight is over, both teams go their separate ways knowing that they are now “even.”

Kennedy was completely in the wrong for throwing at Greinke, which in my opinion was on purpose and ego-driven. Kennedy seemed to be sticking up for his catcher, Montero, and there is speculation that the order was given from the dugout by Gibson before the fateful pitch.

Regardless, if Greinke is suspended (or Puig for that matter) the problem will continue to exist. Baseball’s unwritten rules dictate that Montero needed to be hit with a pitch-in an appropriate place, his back- and that should have been the end of it.

Kennedy is the only player that deserves a suspension, and a lengthy one at that.

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