As the reality of what happened last night started to settle in, my mind raced as I tried to contextualize what I had just seen.
Was Carlos Quentin justified at all?
Was there an argument to be made for what took place?
Should A.J. Ellis have seen it coming and stepped in?
Should Quentin be blamed for the injury to Greinke? Or was it just bad luck?
Some questions are easily answered, and some are more difficult.
For starters, getting hit by a major league fastball hurts — there’s no denying that. To get hit by the same guy three times must also be a hard pill to swallow (especially just two days after being plunked by his teammate).
Unfortunately for Quentin, his justification ends there.
First of all, the pitch he was hit by was a 3-2 pitch in a one-run game. If Greinke really had beef with him, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have thrown two strikes before hitting him with a pitch inches off the plate.
Secondly, does Quentin, who plays for a team that isn’t competing for anything, really think one of the best pitchers in the league would put himself and his team in jeopardy at this stage in the season?
If so, the guy is delusional.
Thirdly, does Greinke really strike anyone as the type of guy who wants to start a fight? Some guys (like Gagne back in the day) play the game with a chip on their shoulder and a little bit of attitude towards hitters.
Greinke is about as far from Gagne as one could get.
Then, of course, is Quentin’s history.
Fangraphs put together a post analyzing Quentin’s HBP history and the conclusion they reached was this:
0.02% of all pitches thrown by Major League hurlers in the -1.0 to -1.5 range (within six inches of the plate) result in a hit by pitch, or 2 HBPs per 10,000 pitches thrown in that area. For Quentin, 0.4% of all piches in that range result in an HBP, or 40 per 10,000 pitches.
Quentin’s rate of being hit by pitches within six inches of the inside corner is 20 times higher than the Major League average. It is, at the minimum, a little hard to have sympathy for the guy.
Giants’ pitcher Ryan Vogelsong seemed to echo those sentiments in an interview last season:
The guy hammers balls over the plate and then gets pissed when you throw them inside…Doesn’t make sense. … Every time you hit a guy in this game, they think you did it on purpose. It’s tired.
Speaking of Ellis, some have questioned his part in the brawl and his inability to catch Quentin before he got to the mound.
To those folks I say this: no one in the entire stadium thought Quentin was going to charge there. Zero people.
If no one was expecting it, it’s not really fair to expect Ellis to read a lunatic’s mind.
Lastly, I wanted to address the question of what Quentin’s intentions were.
It’s simple: what else are your intentions when you’re charging the mound? Did he want to just have a discussion with Greinke from a shorter distance?
When you sprint at someone as fast as you can in a rage, does he really expect anyone to believe he didn’t mean to hurt him? Maybe he didn’t mean to break the collarbone, but his intention was to inflict pain on someone.
That’s the context the injury needs to be looked at: within the context of a guy intending to hurt someone.
To make it even more maddening, he did it without any real reason for being incited.
If someone tackled LeBron James on a breakaway with the intention of hurting him and he was forced to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone, would that player miss just a few games?
Why is this situation any different?
It wasn’t a play within the flow of the game (as running over a catcher or sliding hard into second might have been), and his intention was to injure.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, none of this is going to bring back a guy who was having a stellar start to the season any sooner.
The good news is that the Dodgers still have a couple capable replacements in the rotation — then again, that doesn’t exactly wipe the sour taste from my mouth.