MLB reaffirms unwritten code by suspending Kennedy but not Greinke
MLB suspended Ian Kennedy but not Zack Greinke, despite both clearly intentionally hitting a batter. The league was correct. Here's why.
Friday, Major League Baseball announced the punishments handed down for the brawl between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks that took place Tuesday night. The most intriguing plot to me was how the pitchers who hit batters -- Ian Kennedy of the D-Backs and Zack Greinke of the Dodgers -- were handled.
Kennedy was nailed for 10 games, but Greinke escaped with a simple fine.
Though I won't get into the length of Kennedy's suspension -- I probably would have gone at least twice as long -- I applaud MLB for recognizing the difference in the actions of the two pitchers.
The unwritten code of baseball has been clear for decades.
You come after our guy either intentionally or in the head without provocation, we're coming after your guy, and it won't be at the head.
Kennedy hit Yasiel Puig in the face.
It doesn't matter if it was intentional or not, the code has long said. It was in the face. That's long been cause for an automatic retaliation. And Greinke retaliated properly by dotting Miguel Montero right in the middle of the back -- exactly where he's supposed to hit the guy.
According to how things have long been done, that should have been the end of it.
Instead, Kennedy went head-hunting on Greinke.
No matter what, that's never OK.
If you think Greinke is a punk -- as many of our commenters clearly do -- sorry, that's irrelevant. Lose the bias. Picture blank jerseys and faceless players if you have to.
One pitcher hit a guy in the middle of the back after his teammate took a pitch to the face. The other pitcher intentionally threw at the head of a batter. There's a significant difference in the two actions and throwing at the head is far too dangerous and reckless -- especially here, knowing that Kennedy's teammate Brandon McCarthy is still suffering the after-effects of getting hit with a line drive in the head last season. Seriously, every reason to avoid hitting someone in the head is right in front of Kennedy on a daily basis.
In making this decision, MLB has reaffirmed the long-standing "unwritten rules" about retaliation. One of the many good things about baseball is that it's self-policing. Greinke probably wouldn't have even been fined if things didn't escalate because he was sticking with baseball's tradition of taking care of business between the lines like professionals. Then the commissioner's office doesn't even have to intervene if the code is followed. The umpires also acted within line of this tradition by not warning the benches until after Greinke had hit Montero.
And no, D-Backs fans/Greinke haters, it really doesn't matter that Greinke hit Cody Ross with a clearly unintentional pitch earlier in the game. That was a run-of-the-mill accidental HBP. If clubs retaliated for that, it would be laughable. Also, while we're here, if you think Greinke is a punk for hitting batters, Kennedy's worse. He led the majors by hitting 14 guys last year and leads the NL with eight so far this year. Greinke's only hit nine guys in the past three seasons combined (428 innings pitched).
Again, the longstanding unwritten code says you retaliate for players getting hit without provocation either intentionally or in the head, regardless of intent on the latter. Then it's case closed and move on. One pitcher here violated the code and the other did not.
This isn't to condone anything the Dodgers did after the pitch that hit Greinke. The fight itself is a discussion for another article. I'm talking only about how MLB dealt with the actions of Kennedy and Greinke.
And in suspending Kennedy but not Greinke, the league correctly stood behind tradition.