Hayhurst on MLB: Quentin’s charge bad for Padres

April 12, 2013, 7:02 PM

Carlos Quentin said the reason he charged Zack Greinke after getting plunked in Thursday’s L.A. Dodgers-San Diego Padres game is because the pair have a history – bad history.

Quentin said it goes back to an alleged bean ball he received from Greinke in 2009, one that, apparently, left a wound on Quentin much deeper than a mere bruise.

However, Quentin said he would have let it all go – past and present – if Greinke didn’t say something provocative immediately after hitting him Thursday night.

Yeah sure, Carlos!

Look, if you’re coming up to the plate as baseball’s leader in hit by pitches, in a one-run game, in a full count, thinking about what some pitcher may or may not have intentionally done to you four seasons ago and how you’d like to get even for it, I highly doubt you’re ready to let bygones be bygones.

In fact, if you’re going to take that attitude while leading the game in bean-ball receptions, you don’t need some extra body armour, you need a therapist.

What Carlos Quentin did against the Dodgers was stupid. It was bad for his career, bad for his team and bad for baseball.

And the price will be more than a suspension; it will be “open season” declared on Padres hitters. The next time these two teams find themselves in a lopsided ball game, expect fireworks set to chin music.

Oh, and I say lopsided because that is the proper time to plunk a hitter: when the game is essentially decided, not when a win or loss is still on the line.

This is also the same reason I don’t buy the thinking that Greinke beaned Quentin as retaliation for the Padres buzzing Matt Kemp earlier in the same game. Kemp got a fastball up and in, in a 0-2 count. That’s a common count to expect an elevated fastball. No harm intended there, even if the ball did get a little too far up for Kemp’s taste. That’s just part of baseball.

And no harm intended in a 3-2 count, where the starting pitcher is trying to get a decision and give his team a chance to hold on to a one-run lead. It’s called an accident, and those are a part of baseball too. And, if you’re like Quentin – habitually the target of “accidents” – then maybe you should take a look at your orientation to the plate instead of thinking every pitcher in the game hates you (although you might be well on your way now).

Oddly, I don’t blame Quentin for breaking Greinke’s collarbone. Greinke, though I don’t think he should have been charged, was stupid to throw his glove down and stand toe-to-toe with a guy that is much bigger than he is. And it was even more stupid to lower his shoulder and take the hit.

Some fans may think: “Greinke could have waved it off or apologized.” But these are competitive athletes, full of fire and in the moment. And if you’re a pitcher that makes a mistake high and tight, then you own that mistake. You don’t act like you’re sorry. You act like you’re the lord of all creation and your throne is the pitcher’s mound. You intimidate the hitter, whether you’re right or wrong.

“And look what it got him,” says the finger-wagging purist. “He’s hurt. Now his team will suffer. What a terrible example for our children.”

Maybe, but Greinke knew – since Quentin walked out in front of the mound and mean-mugged him – that the bull wanted to charge. If Greinke would have waved the red cape, keeping Quentin fixated while he back-pedaled, then Adrian Gonzalez would have had plenty of time to blindside Quentin like a dump truck. Which, by the way, is a lesson all young pitchers can learn: If your first baseman is bigger and meaner than you are, then let him handle your dirty work.

The bottom line is: this fight is not over. There will be serious sanctions laid down by MLB to try to put the fire out, but it won’t work. It will smolder and catch fire again eventually.

The code has been broken, and if you think Quentin has a long memory, you have no idea how long the Baseball Gods’ memories are. There will be retaliation, and the Padres know it.

What they don’t know is when. It might happen Monday, or the Dodgers may choose to enjoy making the Padres uncomfortable at the plate for as long as it suits their purposes.

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