As of this writing, three of the four players suspended for their roles in the Brewers-Pirates brawl Sunday are appealing their punishments. It seems like the perfect time to express subjective feelings on whether or not the penalties fit my interpretation of the crime.
Carlos Gomez – Three-Game Suspension: My first reaction to the incident was to criticize Gomez. After a few days to reflect, I still think Gomez has plenty to answer for. He’s off to a hot start in 2014 (although he’s cooled down in the last week or so), and as a fan I’m rooting for Gomez to have a productive season. But I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him when he argues his suspension is unfair.
Gomez has said, “99 percent of the time when I hit a home run, I don’t know where the ball is at.” Gimme a break. Anyone who has followed the Brewers the last few years can’t help but notice that Gomez knows damn well where the ball is when he hits a homerun. His body language is unmistakable. He pimps homeruns, and he’s been doing it for ages.
Gomez even has a history of pimping home runs at the wrong time, just like he pimped his non-homer Sunday. I remember a Brewers-Twins game in 2010 where Gomez pimped a homerun when his team was down 15-0. At the time, Joe Mauer said, “We’ve seen that before, but the thing is that’s got to stop.” Agreed.
When Gerrit Cole taunted him, Gomez should have blown it off. Instead, he escalated the situation and followed up by playing the Victim Card. Given his history of inane behavior, I think a three-game suspension is justified.
Travis Snider – Two-Game Suspension: Speaking of unnecessary escalation, Snider took it upon himself to be the lead attack dog on the Pirates side, even knocking Gomez off his feet. If that wasn’t enough, Snider stuck up for his team by senselessly attacking Martin Maldonado’s hand with his face. Even though I think Gomez should have backed down and kept the situation from getting out of control, Snider was basically asking for a knuckle sandwich. (Do people still say “knuckle sandwich?”)
On one hand, it may be unfair for a guy to be suspended for getting his face split open. On the other, Snider should have known what he was getting into when he voluntarily rushed to the front lines. I’m sure his teammates appreciate what he did. Given that Snider chose to be Cole’s white knight when he could have hung back, two games seems about right.
Martin Maldonado – Five-Game Suspension: Shortly after the game, Maldonado tweeted an apology.
To All Baseball Fans- my sincere apologies for today’s incident. I hope you all understand that I have to back up my team.
— Martin Maldonado (@Machete1224) April 20, 2014
Since he’s the only player who accepted his suspension, I’m inclined to agree it was justified, but also to forgive. Besides, if Snider didn’t want to get punched in the face, he shouldn’t have been standing there.
Russell Martin – One-Game Suspension: After watching the brawl video a few times, it looks like the only thing Martin did was get restrained by Ed Sedar. I assume then his suspension is based on his suggestion after the game that Maldonado should be held down so Snider could sucker punch him and even the score. From his perspective, Martin was just talking trash about a player who broke his teammate’s face. I can’t really blame him. Out of the three suspended players, Martin’s punishment seems the most difficult to justify.
Gerrit Cole – Zero-Game Suspension: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and JSOnline columnist Michael Hunt have said they think Cole should have been punished for instigating the brawl. Their definition of “instigate” apparently differs from mine. If Cole hadn’t said anything, surely no brawl would have taken place. But if Gomez hadn’t pimped his non-homer, Cole wouldn’t have had a (pretty good) reason to say anything. If you’re playing a game of “he started it,” the blame clearly falls on Gomez. It’s all well and good these guys are sticking up for the home team, but no one should be suspended for words as opposed to actions.
In my judgment, the player with the best case for appeal in Martin. It’s disappointing for fans that Gomez may have to serve a suspension during his bobblehead day, but I think he earned it. One hopes he responds by taking his frustration out on the goddamn Cardinals next week.
(Image: Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette)