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.