Sports Opinion & Analysis

Every Brawl is a Dumb Brawl

In MLB, NHL on April 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm

By Kevin Wolfman

At the risk of saturating this blog with excess coverage on one specific, ultimately minor, sporting event, allow me to follow up on Jonathan Danielson and Chris Hallenbrook’s coverage of the Padres-Dodgers brawl. Hallenbrook writes that this was “the dumbest brawl in years.” I’d like to take this (correct) assertion one step further: Every brawl is a dumb brawl.

Okay, except this one.

Okay, except this one.

Defenders of baseball’s bench-clearing, fighting sub-culture claim that these shenanigans are just “part of the game,” as inextricably tied to the national pastime as peanuts, crackerjack, and old, wrinkly managers wearing player uniforms for some unfathomable reason. Hitters who get beaned with pitches must “stand up for themselves.” Catchers who get run over at home plate must “defend their territory.” Managers who spit in umpires’ faces are “standing up for their boys.”

Here’s what they’re all really doing: making idiots of themselves.

No, fighting and brawling are not “part of the game.” They are distractions from the game. They turn what is supposed to be an athletic competition based on tremendous skill, cohesion, and discipline into Friday night at the local nightclub. They lose teams lots of money, lose players lots of dignity, and reduce a great game to a pathetic testosterone-soaked spectacle of immaturity. If fighting and brawling were “part of the game,” they would be in the same part of the rulebook as hitting, fielding, pitching, catching, and baserunning. They’re not. Case closed.

But what about “tradition,” you say? How about just let go of your lame traditions already? “Tradition” has always been, and always will be, the last gasping defense of someone who’s wrong. Stupid, hateful things aren’t acceptable just because they’ve been around a long time.

To answer Jonathan’s question from Friday: Yes, the Dodgers should be allowed to sue Carlos Quentin for damages. He injured Zach Greinke, their $147 million investment, by charging him in a threatening manner (assault) and knocking him to the ground, breaking his collarbone (battery). If something like that had occurred on the diamond in a public park, Quentin might possibly be on the hook for criminal charges, let alone civil ones. But since he did it on television while wearing a professional uniform, that makes it okay? No, that makes it worse. Obviously.

Fighting/brawling doesn’t score runs. It doesn’t get players on base. It has no productive function at all when it comes to the objectives of baseball. All it does it make grown men look like petulant, overgrown, tobacco-chewing toddlers in tight pants. Come to think of it, if actual toddlers fought each other like this while playing tee-ball, we’d put them on timeout and confiscate their toys. So let’s start holding our professionals to the same standard we apply to tykes who quite literally don’t know any better. If Carlos Quentin and his MLB brethren want to act like children, we should treat them like the brats they are.

And yes, this applies to every other sport, too. Don’t even start on hockey.

Pictured: Not winning the Stanley Cup.

Pictured: Not winning the Stanley Cup.

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