From the Yankees and Red Sox to the Cardinals and Reds, brawls have been a characteristic of some of the most heated rivalries in baseball. On Thursday night, however, a brawl broke out at Petco Park between the Dodgers and Padres that wasn’t based on team rivalry but instead on one player’s act of revenge for being hit by a pitch. After Padres slugger Carlos Quentin was hit on the shoulder by Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke in the sixth inning, the two exchanged words before Quentin charged the mound and started a benches and bullpen clearing brawl. The brawl resulted in a broken collarbone for Greinke, who is expected to be out for eight weeks, and an eight game suspension for Quentin. However, the ramifications may extend well beyond the time being missed by the players and may very well play a role in deciding the champion of the NL West.
With Greinke expected to be out for eight weeks, the Dodgers will be without their highest paid player and their second ace on the pitching staff, which could prove to be a blow to their hopes of winning the division if other players can’t step up in his absence. For the Padres, Quentin’s suspension could be a devastating blow to their hopes of even remaining relevant in the NL West. Already without Headley and Grandel, the loss of Quentin leaves the Padres without a big bat in the middle of the lineup to drive in runs. This comes at a time when the Padres are off to a 2-9 start and needed Quentin to provide not only a presence in the middle of the batting order but also in the clubhouse. By settling a score from his time with the White Sox in the AL Central, Quentin has not only taken himself out of the lineup, but has also in my opinion shown that he can’t be counted on to provide a leadership presence in the clubhouse. By the time Quentin returns the Padres could still be sitting on two wins and could be all but buried in the NL West. While I think the Dodgers will be able to withstand the injury to Greinke, the Padres could ill afford to lose Quentin and as a result there is little reason to think that the season will turn around soon. It may be early in the baseball season but it may be time for San Diego sports fans to look ahead to the football season, as it appears that the Padres are once again in a freefall with no end in sight.