First thing’s first: Even though he had no possible reason to want to hit Dodgers instant-living-legend Yasiel Puig with a 2-0 lead and no one on in the sixth inning last Tuesday, Arizona’s Ian Kennedy put a pitch where you just don’t put a pitch in today’s baseball.
Kennedy deserves the 10-game suspension brought forth on Friday, deserves to feel shame and deserves to learn the lesson that pitching inside means controlling inside. But that is where Arizona’s culpability in the brawl at Dodger Stadium begins and ends. And if the Dodgers really want to beat the Diamondbacks at something — they might want to try baseball.
The Dodgers were looking for a fight. They are a $240 million embarrassment that can’t get out of their own way and don’t have Frank McCourt to use as an excuse anymore.
They are dead last in the National League West and dead meat when they play the Diamondbacks (17 losses in the last 21 meetings). So when Kennedy — who they don’t like much anyway given last year’s Clayton Kershaw beanball — gave them an outlet to release frustrations, they latched on like it was Turner Ward’s neck.
Don Mattingly and Mark McGwire are fighting for their jobs. Andre Ethier is fighting for his career. Guys like Ronald Belisario are better at sucker punches than backdoor curveballs.
When Kennedy threw at Zack Greinke — who now has two bench-clearing brawls and one broken collarbone in eight career starts as a Dodger — most of the Dodgers were between the ropes before the ball hit the ground.
As much as the Diamondbacks would like to move on, this won’t end with the suspensions. Sporting the kind of record only the Cubs and Mets can envy, the Dodgers have plenty of games left with Arizona in August and September, games that would be absolutely meaningless if there wasn’t a score to settle with Kennedy and Kurt Gibson.
You can’t blame Mattingly. It has to suck when he’s the second-most popular manager in the park whenever Arizona invades Chavez Ravine.
At least when Joe Torre collapsed in Los Angeles, he waited until October. But you can’t rail against Carlos Quentin in April and pull of a perfect imitation in June. It’s just bad form.
The Dodgers series was such a stark contrast from the Diamondbacks-Cardinals series the week before. Two scrappy, hard-working teams battling through four games and trading wins and compliments from beginning to end. But that’s two teams that feel good about themselves.
Right now, “Dodger Blue” isn’t a slogan; it’s a state of mind. Even a stunning talent like Puig can’t drag that team’s carcass into a pennant race.
• As you watched Dennis Seidenberg gobble up 48 minutes of ice time for Boston in the marathon Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, remember: (1) he was once a member of the Phoenix Coyotes and (2) he was traded during the Mike Barnett era to the Carolina Hurricanes for Kevyn Adams and no good reason.
Adams played a grand total of 33 games for Phoenix, scored one goal and was out of the league by 2009, but not before he was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks for Radim Vrbata. That was a Don Maloney deal. Vrbata has scored 90 goals for Phoenix since the trade.
• Justin Upton continues to lead National League outfielders in All-Star votes, which shows you what one hot month will do for you. After hitting nine homers in his first 15 games in Atlanta, Upton began this weekend with six home runs since and his average (.254) and strikeout total (78 in 232 at-bats) are looking pretty familiar to Diamondback fans.
He has 31 RBI this season, about half what Paul Goldschmidt has and only six more than Eric Chavez (who hasn’t played in almost a month).
Here’s another former Diamondback with comparable stats: He’s hitting .235 with 13 homers and 42 RBI with 72 strikeouts in 221 at-bats.
But I don’t think Cleveland’s Mark Reynolds is going to the All-Star Game unless he buys a ticket.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.