Carlos Gomez suspended, three others disciplined for Brewers-Pirates brawl
Major League Baseball has handed down suspensions and fines to four players for Sunday's Brewers-Pirates brawl, which stemmed from Carlos Gomez's prolonged admiration of a fly ball that didn't even leave the yard. Gomez was suspended for three games, but that wasn't even the longest suspension of the quartet. Meanwhile, Gerrit Cole, who escalated tensions by exchanging heated words with the Brewers' centerfielder at the end of the play, wasn't disciplined at all.
After Sunday's contest, Gomez refused to apologize for his actions, which included throwing punches and swinging his batting helmet in aggression upon breaking free from third base umpire Jim Reynolds' attempt to restrain him. Furthermore, he told reporters that the Pirates misinterpreted his bat flip. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
"That (Atlanta) game I know I go over (the line). But today I’m not," Gomez said. "First of all, I hit a triple – it’s not a double – I’m not flipping my bat because I think it’s a home run. I thought it was an out. I thought it was a fly-ball out, line-drive center field. And I’m kind of like, ‘Oh, I had good contact but I don’t think it’s going out.’
"It’s not like I’m pimping a home run. Then I get to third base and somebody’s screaming at me – ‘It’s not your job.’ But everything’s over and [Travis] Snider comes real angry and talks to me that way, so I responded back, he tried to punch me and everything started there. I don’t know why they’re mad for something like that."
The Atlanta game to which Gomez referred was the one last Sept. 25, when his post-home run antics led to Brian McCann stopping him short of home plate, inciting a bench-clearing brawl. Gomez was ejected and suspended for one game, McCann was not disciplined at all.
While Gomez went on to complain about Pittsburgh's Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin all pimping doubles earlier in the series, his focus on the bat flip was misdirected, as it ceased to be the central issue once the fisticuffs began. His explanation failed to justify turning a verbal confrontation — which it was until he broke free from Reynolds — into a physical one, when he began sparring with Snider, who escaped the clutches of another ump. He has appealed his suspension, and so will remain eligible to play until the appeal is heard.
Teammate Martin Maldonado drew the longest suspension, getting five games for leaving the Milwaukee bench and punching Snider, whom he left with a black eye; he was also fined $2,500, the only fine amount reported so far. Maldonado justified his actions in protecting his teammate, telling reporters, "I saw Snider and [Russell] Martin over Gomez. I could tell it wasn't fair, so I had to protect my teammate. I don't worry about (a suspension)." Given that he's the backup to Jonathan Lucroy, the extra length of his suspension likely won't be a huge consequence for the team; Lucroy had three stretches last year where he started more than five games in a row at catcher, and the Brewers have a day off on Thursday, so he won't be terribly overworked while Maldonado is out. That probably explains why Maldonado decided not to appeal the suspension, and thus will begin serving it on Tuesday night.
Russell Martin, who was suspended one game for leaving the bench and finding his way into the scrum, was incensed with Maldonado in the aftermath of the brawl, saying, "The fair thing would be to have our team hold down Maldonado so that Travis can go back and sucker-punch him right in the face… I don’t know if we ask the Brewers if they’re going to be down for that." Later, he suggested to beat reporter Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune that the two catchers duke it out:
Snider, in addition to his shiner and a cut under his eye, received a two-game suspension. Both he and Martin are appealing their discipline.
Absent from the list of fines and suspensions is any action against Cole, who didn't engage in any physical confrontation but certainly played his part via whatever he said to Gomez after the play. It can be argued that his provocation merited a vacation, but if baseball started handing down discipline every time two players exchanged angry words, things would get ridiculous quickly. Besides, suspensions for starting pitchers are generally the height of impotence, anyway. Anything less than six games can be appealed and then served between starts, and it would seem incongruous if the longest suspension for the incident was handed down to the player who didn't throw any punches — or at any hitters — in the aftermath. Given the number of witnesses to the melee, it doesn't sound as though anything he said to Gomez crossed any lines into hate speech, which is where MLB can get into the sticky business of punishing a player's words. In all, none of the suspensions approach the ones handed down for last year's biggest brawls, the 10-game suspension Ian Kennedy received for plunking Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke and the eight-game suspension Carlos Quentin received for charging the mound and breaking Greinke's collarbone. That's appropriate, given that nobody was seriously injured this time around, but there were no winners in Sunday's brawl, just a black eye for the game.