When is a baseball game worse than a hockey game?

Hockey fight Penguins Flyers

I usually don't care much about baseball until after the NHL playoffs are over.  Hockey season drags on through the middle of June, and the baseball pennant races usually don't mean much until August.  But the talk of the sports world that has caught my attention is a baseball fight.

Huh, a baseball fight?

Thursday night in San Diego, Padres' batter Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch thrown by Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke.  Quentin charged the mound going after Greinke, and both benches cleared as players ran onto the field.

Not following the Dodgers or the Padres, I'm not sure of the so called history between these two players.  The incident went from a rather typical at bat to a field full of players pushing, shoving, and screaming in a very short period of time.

The story became more heated and discussed in the press because in the process Dodgers ace pitcher Greinke broke his collarbone and could miss eight weeks.

Worse than a hockey game?

There is old joke that says something to the effect that I went to a boxing match the other night, and it got so boring that a hockey game broke out.  Hockey is known for allowing two players to throw a few punches and go after each other for a bit.

While Thursday night's incident was mainly between a small number of combatants, there was a field full of hot tempered players with the potential for ugly. Counting players and coaches each team could have over 25 men on the field during an all out brawl, with only 4 umpires to keep the peace and maintain some sanity.

Apply the leaving the bench rule

A fight can be entertaining. Whether it is a pitcher hitting a batter with a pitch, or a runner sliding too hard into second base and barreling over a fielder, there will be times when hot tempered athletes in the heat of the battle will lose their cool.

The objective should be to keep things from getting too far out of control to the point where many players could get injured. Allowing both benches to clear so everyone can run onto the field, including all the pitchers running in from the bull pens to be a part of the action, can be very dangerous.

There is one thing that hockey does not allow, that is for both benches to clear and have a rink full of players pushing and shoving like a rugby scrum. In hockey you get tossed out of the game and are subject to additional discipline such as a suspension if you leave the bench to engage in a fight.

What if baseball had a leaving the bench rule? What if every player or coach who was not on the field at the time of the incident was immediately ejected from the game for running onto the field?  It could end up like a hockey game! In the end we could have only four players on each side finishing the game. Funny thought, but something to think about.


Photo by Tom Peracchio
Taken at the Pens - Flyers game in Philly