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Dusty Baker: NHL-style fighting should resolve MLB conflicts

David Brown
Big League Stew

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It's not often that someone in another sport says "We ought to handle this issue like the NHL does." Leave it to contrarian manager Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds.

Baker, following a tiff between the Chicago Cubs and one of his pitchers, suggested that Major League Baseball use hockey's time-honored tactics when it comes to settling disputes on the field: Let the players fight.

In this case, Matt Garza of the Cubs and Johnny Cueto of the Reds. From C. Trent Rosecrans of Cincinnati.com:

Baker went one further: “Just put them in a room, let them box and let it be over with,” he added. “I always said this, let it be like hockey, let them fight, someone hits the ground and it’s over with. I’m serious about that.”

OK, it's not exactly like hockey, where they throw down the gloves before fighting, and get put inside of the room after the fight is over. But, as with video replay review, it might take some time to massage the system. Two things: Would players who fight have to sit out for two innings, or five? Also: Does the fighting strap attach at the jock strap?

The Cubs, particularly Garza, reacted angrily after Cueto buzzed David DeJesus with a fastball (way) over his head in the top of the sixth inning. The pitch appeared to "get away" from Cueto (that might have been part of his point) and sailed to the backstop without catcher Ryan Hanigan getting a mitt on it.

Umpire Bob Davidson warned Cueto, and both of the benches cleared but, as with most baseball fights, no punches (or kicks — this time, Johnny) were actually thrown.

Nobody could say for sure what Cueto's deal was, though Cubs manager Dale Sveum speculated that he appeared to take exception to DeJesus taking extra time in the batter's box getting ready. It also should be noted that Garza hit Todd Frazier with a pitch after allowing a home run by Jay Bruce in the fourth inning.

Garza complained in the media, saying:

“It’s kind of b.s. on his part, just totally immature. “If he has something to say about it, he knows where to find my locker and definitely I’ll find his. I took total disrespect out of that one.”

Whatever, Baker said. Cueto didn't even come close to hitting anybody.

Baker said there’s more talking now, where in his playing days, players took care of it on the field, not in the media.

“Guys didn’t talk as much, they just did it,” Baker said. “You bunt to first base, he covered the bag, you just did it. Guys are nicer now. They all have the same agent, they play on the same All-Star teams. The call each other, they text each other. It’s a nice game now. They talk before the game — about how far he hit one yesterday off me. They’re nice.”

Even if you don't happen to agree with Dusty regarding any of this or any of the other silly stuff he says, it's nice to have him around, saying silly stuff.

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