Sports | June 28, 2022 12:49 pm

Is the MLB Actually Kind of Okay With a Few Benches-Clearing Brawls?

Major League Baseball handed down a dozen suspensions after Sunday's skirmish between the Mariners and Angels

The Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels clear the benches and brawl.
The Mariners and the Angels brawling may actually be good for baseball.
Ronald Martinez/Getty

In the wake of a 2-1 baseball game breaking out in the midst of the wildly entertaining benches-clearing brawl between the Mariners and Angels on Sunday, Major League Baseball handed down a dozen suspensions to the parties who were involved in the brouhaha.

Jesse Winker of Seattle, who incited the fisticuffs after being hit by a pitch and also directed an obscene gesture toward Angels fans as he exited the field in Los Angeles, was hit with a seven-game suspension, the harshest penalty for any of the players involved in the brawl. LA manager Phil Nevin received the stiffest penalty of all and will miss 10 future games, ostensibly because he ordered the beanball that hit Winker and kicked off the fight. All in all, 12 uniformed personnel between the teams received a total of 47 games in suspensions for their actions on Sunday.

Pretty harsh, right? Well, not really.

To ease the strain of all the suspensions, MLB is allowing the teams to stagger them so that not all of the players have to be sidelined at the same time. For example, the Angels were able to use a mix of suspended and non-suspended players on Monday night. Also on Monday, the Mariners had Winker and their other two suspended players hitting 1-2-3 in the lineup as they are appealing their bans. (Seattle’s crowd was happy to see Winker.) Once the appeals process is complete, all three likely won’t be forced to serve their suspensions simultaneously.

So, while MLB’s discipline seems harsh, it really won’t be all that damaging to either team once all is said and done. That was also the case back in 2016 when Texas second baseman Rougned Odor was only hit with an eight-game ban for landing a haymaker to Jose Bautista’s jaw after the Toronto outfielder slid hard into second base. Odor, who was one of 14 players suspended following the incident, ultimately had his suspension reduced to seven games.

Though MLB will never admit it, brawls add some excitement to an on-field product that is often lacking buzz and are good for baseball. Suspensions of popular players like Winker are not. So, while baseball will hand down discipline for violence on the diamond, the punishments will never really fit the crimes as a tacit acknowledgment that fighting, at some level, isn’t actually frowned upon. Just another of MLB’s unwritten rules.