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June 12, 2013 5:04 am

Pebble Hunting: How Beanballs and Brawls Could Be Avoided


Sam Miller

And why a few suspensions won't stop an ugly scene from occurring again.

I’m a scaredy-cat, and a pacifist, so I come to these sorts of discussions from a place that won’t appeal to everybody. When I see a pitch going toward Zack Greinke’s face, for instance, I think of it as the culmination of a violent series of events that could have easily killed a man; that it didn’t kill a man makes me only marginally less queasy about the whole thing. At the risk of going into unnecessarily macabre territory, I want us to imagine for a moment here that it did kill a man; the difference between that universe and ours is perhaps mere inches. Had it killed a man, there would be reckoning, soul-searching, panels to study the issue. There would be vigorous discussion about whether the criminal justice system should be brought in. There would be, mostly, an attempt to figure out how this happened, and what went wrong, and where we could have prevented it.

So how did the beanball that touched off a brawl between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks on Tuesday night happen? What went wrong? Where could somebody have prevented it?

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How baseball's latest brawl was emblematic of American culture.

Last Thursday night, in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Dodgers-Padres game—which the Dodgers led 2-1 at the time—Zack Greinke hit Carlos Quentin with a 3-2 pitch. Words were exchanged, and Quentin (6'2", 235 lbs) charged the mound. Greinke (6'2", 195 lbs) tried to mosh with Quentin, leading with his left (non-pitching) shoulder, but Quentin had a 60-foot running start and 40 pounds’ worth of advantage. In the classic physics equation, force equals mass times acceleration. Quentin had the advantage on both counts.

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Ben and Sam discuss the brawl between the Dodgers and Padres, then talk about Ben's latest catcher framing research.

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