If you've watched baseball or sports news in the last 18 hours, you've undoubtedly seen the fight between Zack Greinke and Carlos Quentin. And you certainly know that Greinke now has a broken left collarbone as a result of the fight, while Quentin awaits learning of just how long he will be suspended.
While it certainly seems that Quentin should take most of the blame here -- he, like our own Chase Utley, has an approach at the plate that results in him regularly being hit by pitches and there's no way Greinke was throwing at him with the count 3-2 in a 2-1 game -- I want to think about Greinke's culpability.
In particular, I'm wondering about whether he should also share some of the blame. No, not for throwing the pitch, as I can't believe he intended to hit Quentin. Nor even for possibly yelling something at Quentin immediately after Quentin was hit. That's a factual question, and if he did do that then he is certainly partly to blame.
Rather, what I'm interested in is whether Greinke should receive some of the blame for lowering his shoulder to fully absorb Quentin's attack rather than having some other response, like ducking, side-stepping, running in the opposite direction, or doing anything else to try to avoid the impact.
Put yourself in Greinke's shoes. You've had an impressive career, though it's taken a few turns you would have never expected thanks to bouts with social anxiety disorder and depression in 2006 and 2007, as well as a basketball injury that cut into his baseball season in 2011. You've played most of your career with the basement-dwelling Royals, though the last two seasons you've spent with the (better) Brewers and then the (much better) Angels. In the off-season, you signed a $147 million, 6-year contract with the Dodgers, a team that everyone is expecting to be a top contender for years (forever?) thanks to the new ownership's infusion of cash, as well as some top-notch homegrown talent.
You're in your second start of the year, and everything is going as planned. You pitched a scoreless 6 innings in your first game. You were following that up with a good outing in your second game, giving up 1 run in 5 innings.
You've hit a batter, who is obviously incredibly angry, angry enough that he charges the mound. He's a big guy, roughly 45 pounds heavier than you. Now, you're standing alone in the middle of the field with him running full speed right at you. What would you do?
Keep in mind, this is baseball. You have a guaranteed contract. If you never pitch another day because of whatever injury you incur as a result of the fight, you will receive the full $147 million. Plus, you, like every other baseball player to make it to the majors, are incredibly competitive. But, that competitiveness cuts in multiple ways. You don't back down from challenges, but you also want to win a World Series. You want to be remembered as a great pitcher. You don't want an injury that might hamper your delivery and you might never fully recover from. You want to show your teammates you're tough, but you also want to be on the mound every 5 games for your teammates to give them the best opportunity to win. Moreover, given your history with depression-related psychological issues, you don't want to put yourself in positions that might lead to self-doubt and anxiety about your future. At the same time, you don't want to spend your career being labeled a wimp.
What do you do with Carlos Quentin charging at you? And, of course, keep in mind, you have maybe one second to make your decision.