Eric Hinske, the martyred Arizona Diamondback, was "instigating, continuing on, and really in the midst of the abuse" during Tuesday night's chaos at Dodger Stadium, according to an MLB source who had viewed every available television feed from the game. Therefore, the veteran and likeable Hinske was suspended for five games, half what Ian Kennedy received for throwing near the heads of two Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks were incensed.
Yasiel Puig, the Dodger with whom Hinske tangled, was fined but not suspended. J.P. Howell, who nearly tossed a Diamondbacks coach into a photo well, was suspended for two games. Dodgers on the disabled list who leapt into the fracas were not suspended.
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It would be helpful for all if MLB would release its evidence of Hinske's alleged acts of "instigation" and "continuing on." Apparently none of the brawl's participants or witnesses recalled Hinske being quite so aggressive, beyond the few shoves and grabs required by all involved. He was not mentioned in the umpires' report.
But, we're left with Joe Garagiola Jr.'s version, which ends with Hinske and a five-game suspension. That's what the appeal process is for. Hinske will have his day, and presumably the players' union will be provided with evidence of Hinske's misbehavior, and they'll sort it all out.
In the meantime, the Diamondbacks have only themselves to blame.
Throw a ball at a batter's face, and the game gets chippy. Throw another, and everything that follows is on you.
The hard stares, the shouts, the tussles, the wild punches, all of it. And so the suspensions, too, whether they are justly arrived at or not.
In a way, that's MLB's message here. It's why Kennedy's suspension was a heavy-handed 10 games. And if we're reading this correctly, the league is saying the Dodgers were provoked into the melee. It certainly appeared as though Puig and other Dodgers were at least as aggressive as Hinske, and yet their suspensions were lighter, and Puig skates with a fine.
This isn't to say the league condoned what the Dodgers did, charging out of their dugout and taking the fight to the Diamondbacks. But the discipline handed down suggested the league understood. Protect your teammate, play by your code, but keep the baseball below their shoulders.
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"You look at the history and my history and the history of things happening with first offenses in the past and that's why I'm going to go through the appealing process," Kennedy told reporters in San Diego, where the Diamondbacks were to begin a three-game series. "I think 10 games is – I think they're trying to set an example."
Kennedy is not a headhunter. He's a pitcher with a conscience who was trying to do the right thing by his team, by his teammates, and a pair of fastballs wound up in very dangerous places. A few inches either way and the conversation that night – and today – would have been very different.
The message here is clear. You start something with beanballs, intentional or otherwise, and the league office is going to finish it.
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