Mankind: Quentin and Greinke

Last night’s brawl at Petco Park, which ignited after Carlos Quentin was hit on a 3-2 fastball from Zach Greinke, quickly became a topic of ethics painted in swaths of black and white. Fights aren’t always good versus evil. They are occasions where everyone is right, and everyone is also wrong. There is always more than meets the eye whether it be on the diamond, ice, grid-iron, or steppes of outer Mongolia.

Let’s take a moment to consider what we we know about mankind, specifically those in competition with one another. Whether we examine prehistoric times, where mankind hunted and gathered to provide for his family, or modern times where mankind has gravitated to a 5 day work week for 8 hours a day, there has always been intense competition for man to position himself with the most advantage for survival. This is often exhibited through posturing and letting the competition know exactly where you stand, in no uncertain terms.

The nature of man is to push. Man pushes, and pushes, until resistance is met and at this point competitors faces a stark choice: slowly back away or totally fuck-up each others’ shit.

Last night, according to Carlos Quentin, he had been pushed far enough, and finally reached his tipping point with both the league and more specifically Zack Greinke who had plunked him twice before. There are others who have hit Quentin multiple times as well but the Padres slugger never charged them while on the mound. In fact, Carlos Quentin has never gone to the mound in his MLB career (although I think he mentioned an incident in AAA last night) primarily because he knows he stands perilously close to the plate and HBPs are a reality for his style of play.

There was something about his history with Zach Greinke though that forced Carlos Quentin to react – to say, in effect, “Enough is enough.” Having said that, Carlos Quentin still didn’t charge the mound. After taking a step toward Greinke it required Greinke to provide verbal impetus for Carlos Quentin to charge the mound.

Scenarios such as these are a blur for mankind. In a flash the following goes through man’s mind: history with person x, nearly injured two days earlier, hit in shoulder with object that could kill, perpetrator postures and vocalizes disgust, ahhhhh, kill!!!!

Is this right? No.

Is this wrong? No.

It just is.

Zach Greinke pushed (Carlos Quentin’s perception) and Carlos Quentin felt the time had come to push back. This might not be a bad idea considering these two players will see each other plenty over the next couple of years.

This, however, is not just about Carlos Quentin. This is equally about Zack Greinke who is also a member of Mankind. Zack Greinke is a pitcher who must be able to pitch on the inner third of the plate without having a beast like Carlos Quentin hanging over the dish like a caveman, bully, jerkwad! From Zack Greinke’s perspective Carlos Quentin is pushing and the only thing Greinke can do as a Major League pitcher is push back. Zack Greinke’s survival (in the league) depends on it.

Last night Zack Greinke pushed back and the situation reached its apex. Greinke could have diffused it by holding his hands up and saying, in effect, “I wouldn’t plunk you in a tie game in the 6th inning. My bad, bro.”

But Zack Greinke couldn’t do this. Why? Carlos Quentin had already taken two full steps and looked like a bull ready for his final charge. Carlos Quentin was pushing and Zack Greinke felt he needed to push back.

This is not a new phenomenon. When people push they hope to gain advantage. When you’re getting pushed you have a choice to make: stand up for yourself or get pushed around for the rest of your life.

On April 11, 2013 in San Diego, California, Carlos Quentin and Zack Greinke met each other in competition. Each pushed. And each pushed back.

***

Quick personal story. I played rugby in college and at the club level afterwards. In one particular game, while playing flanker (the player who is loosely bound to a scrum and has the responsibility to break away the quickest to make tackles) we faced the team we were in competition with for the championship. They were on the verge of scoring when each team settled in for a scrum on the 5 meter line. As each team came settled and bound together, my opposite number reached across and grabbed my jersey (which is illegal but refs can’t see everything).

I knew exactly what this meant. My opposite was trying to pin me into the scrum so they could pick up the ball and run around my end. With my opponent holding me I would have no chance of breaking free to tackle the runner and they would have an easy score.

So I am now faced with a choice: I can let my opposite hold me and give up a score, and in so doing, show him that I am weak, whereupon I will be taken advantage of for the rest of the game. Or . . . I can push back.

What is the correct move and is it something that can be viewed in simple terms of black and white?

I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM where I throw a lot of crap to the wall, 7 days a week.

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  • Well written as always. Here’s hoping you planted that guy.

    • Ask me over beers sometime.

      • Druceratops

        When / where did you play? I am 99.9% sure that I had no role in your story but figured I would check. Also curious how did the other flanker get close enough in the scrum to grab you. Did he slide up and bind to the prop? I had the prop try and grab me a few times trying to get out of the scrum, but never a flanker.

      • They were going to wheel the scrum so his bind was really loose and I was cheating up in anticipation. That’s how he got a grip on me. And then . . .

  • Imagine my disappointment to see a well-thought out, calm discussion…

    …and not a single reference to this Mankind:

  • Josh

    “because he knows he stands perilously close to the plate and HBPs are a reality for his style of play.”

    If you look at the video

    ( http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_04_11_lanmlb_sdnmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=sd#gid=2013_04_11_lanmlb_sdnmlb_1&mode=video )

    Kemp crowds the plate much more than Quentin. Quentin didn’t appear in that AB to crowd the plate at all.

    Does Quentin honestly stand over the plate / more inside than most other power hitters?

    • Josh

      Also thought this quote from Jayson Stark was interesting:
      “Since 2008, Greinke has hit Quentin with a pitch three times in 31 plate appearances. That comes to one HBP every 10.3 trips to the plate. Greinke has faced 4,279 hitters not named Carlos Quentin in that span — and hit just 19 of them. That comes to one every 225.2 trips to the plate. “

      • Tom Waits

        Quentin gets hit 20x more than average on pitches barely off the plate.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/carlos-quentins-hbp-zone/

        I’d be very surprised if you wouldn’t find comparable numbers for pitchers other than Greinke hitting Quentin.

      • Gloccamorra

        The thing is, Quentin dives into pitches, but gets hit primarily on the hands, wrists and forearms/elbow. With Greinke, every HBP has been on the upper arm, shoulder or upper back – all high and way inside. Greinke seems to be a passive-aggressive personality, emotional and aggressive but when called on it proclaims his innocence. With his choirboy looks, he gets away with it – including when he said afterward that he not only didn’t intend to hit him, but he and Quentin never had any animosity! You can’t tell a whopper like that without bringing everything you said into question.

      • Tom Waits

        The pitch the other night was just above the elbow. Quentin raises his arm and ducks out, it doesn’t hit him. It’s not his fault he got hit, but that wasn’t a pitch at his head or his ribs, which are harder to avoid. The Fangraph article pointed that out, too.

        Now we’re diagnosing someone’s personality? It takes psychiatrists months to come up with a valid judgment after intense personal sessions.

        I haven’t read Greinke say there was never animosity. He did say Quentin “always thinks it’s intentional,” (paraphrasing) which means he did know that Quentin had issues with him before.

      • Gloccamorra

        On another Padres blog that’s not part of padrespublic, the guy who runs LasordasLair wrote: “Greinke said in the postgame press conference, that he DIDN’T mean to
        hit Quentin, and he had no prior beef with him that he was aware of.” The “diagnosis” of Greinke’s personality is something I read on a White Sox blog back when Carlos was still with the team. The guy who posted that got a lot of agreement, even from a Cleveland fan. My sister married, and divorced a guy with the disorder (yes it’s a mental disorder) and the pattern of instigating and then backing off when challenged is the standard pattern. Don’t tell me you never heard of Greinke having psychological problems!

      • Tom Waits

        There’s a huge range of mental issues. A doctor wouldn’t try to diagnose him from what he could read publicly or based on his body language, but a blogger can do it? Some anonymous blog readers were also convinced, that’s supposed to mean something?

        Instigate? How? He hit a guy who gets hit more than anybody else. I’ve seen the “threw his glove” floated as some kind of instigation, but Quentin was already accelerating to the mound when Greinke dropped his glove. I’ve seen “He must have said something to inflame him,” but that’s supposition. Quentin was ready to fire, he could have mistook an exasperated “Oh come on” directed by Greinke to himself for a challenging “Come on!”

        Greinke knew Quentin thought he’d hit him intentionally before but that’s different than thinking you’re in an ongoing war with him.

  • Axion

    what two consenting males choose to do with each other within the privacy of their own field of play is quite frankly none of our business, and i support them. thank you and namaste.

  • Bring Back The Brown

    Nice one, Chief.

  • David

    As a follower of rugby, I hope you tomahawked his arm off of you, or grabbed his hands and squeezed them until your opponent knew they would break.
    Whatever happened between Quentin and Greinke was between them. Randy Johnson’s tweet said it best. As far as Kemp, I’d worry more about hitting above .200 and less trying to posture and look tough. Clayton Richard owned him. The only way Kemp should have been on the cover of MLB ’13 is as a strikeout victim. And Hairiston Jr, way to wait till all was calm and order being restored, before instigating crap all over again. Guess you had to get those splinters out of your ass from all that bench time.