x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Major League Baseball should take a swing at brawls

Two brawls last week just shed more light on when MLB will legislate such idiocy out of the game, writes Gregg Patton.

A scuffle breaks out after Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke was hit by a pitch. Mark Terrill / AP Photo
A scuffle breaks out after Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke was hit by a pitch. Mark Terrill / AP Photo

Perhaps the most widely viewed sports "highlights" of the week were brawls between Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

Entertainment for television audiences. Stupidity for baseball.

Once again, serious fans wondered how long it will take before MLB legislates such idiocy out of the game. Basketball did it by levelling huge suspensions and fines on players who a) come on the floor from the bench and/or b) throw punches. The NBA has not had an ugly incident in years.

Even hockey has managed to tone down its fighting by creating stiffer penalties for "third-man-in" violations and those who engage in mayhem beyond the usual, brief wrestling matches.

Baseball traditionalists argue that you need bench players to come on the field to even-up the odds - one batter versus a pitcher and eight fielders.

Nonsense.

A combination of NBA and NHL-type penalties, long suspensions for those who do not belong on the field or who add to the violence, would significantly curtail the tacky free-for-alls.

Further embarrassment ensued when MLB doled out puzzling, uneven penalties to players and coaches. Even the Dodgers were sympathetic to Arizona's Eric Hinske, whose peacemaking was rewarded with multiple punches from the Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig and a five-game ban. Hinske has appealed and should prevail.

The bigger issue remains: when will common sense prevail?

sports@thenational.ae

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