Arizona Manager Kirk Gibson, left, Dodgers coach Mark McGwire, the Dodgers'… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks seem an unlikely rivalry. The Giants, that every one understands. The Yankees, certainly. Even the Padres.
But the Diamondbacks? A team from the Arizona desert managed by Dodgers World Series hero Kirk Gibson?
Sorry, it’s up there now. As witnessed by anyone who took in Tuesday night’s little UFC affair at Dodger Stadium.
If it’s a rivalry still in its infancy, it’s growing up in a hurry. With most of the baseball world now watching.
It can be argued it started near the end of the 2011 season:
-- The Dodgers were playing the Diamondbacks on Sept. 13, 2011 in a game that met little to them. The Diamondbacks would win the West by eight games, the Dodgers finishing 11.5 games back.
But in the seventh inning, reliever Hong-Chih Kuo threw a pitch that came in close on Arizona’s Gerardo Parra, and he did not appreciate it. This was the season Kuo was having the yips.
Parra crushed a Kuo fastball for a home run, and stood at the plate admiring it before taking a slow turn around the bases. The Dodgers were irate, none more than Clayton Kershaw, who stood at the rail of the dugout screaming at Parra as he trotted to home.
-- The next night, while working on a one-hit shutout in the sixth, Kershaw hit Parra with a pitch on the elbow. Though no warning had been issued, Kershaw was immediately ejected.
There was no brawl, but plenty of irate players.
-- The next time Kershaw pitched against the Diamondbacks came on May 14, 2012, again at Dodger Stadium.
Ian Kennedy twice appeared to try to throw at Kershaw and missed. One inside, and one that actually sailed behind his back. Kershaw responded by throwing one high and tight later to Kennedy.
And then, of course, came Tuesday’s melee.
“I really don’t think [Tuesday’s] incident had anything to do with anything that’s happened before, other than you see it on TV and they throw the scene back up,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “But one didn’t cause the other. It was singularly, and a separate incident that caused all this action.”
-- The Dodgers weren’t backing down from their interpretation of what led to the brawl on Wednesday. Yasiel Puig was hit by a pitch, the Dodgers countered by hitting Miguel Montero. Which they believe should have ended it.
And then Kennedy hit starter Zack Greinke, the pitch almost hitting him in the head. Gloves were off and the season’s biggest baseball fracas was underway.
Six were ejected, and suspensions and fines are expected to be administered Thursday. Which, of course, doesn’t mean that’s the end of things.
“It’s not done,” said reliever Ronald Belisario.
The Dodgers figure their guy was hit last, so you could argue they still owe one.
“If you really want to get technical about it, in baseball terms, it really shouldn't be over,” Mattingly said.
Later in the eighth inning, with Tim Federowicz at second, the Diamondbacks brought in left-handed reliever Joe Paterson to face right-handed hitting Mark Ellis. Who was hit by the first pitch, bringing up left-handed hitting Skip Schumaker.
Mattingly called that “a little shaky because with a base open, they bring in a lefty and hit Mark Ellis with the first pitch, to get to the lefty. I don’t want to stir it up, but I guess I am. I’m sure I’m seeing it with my Dodgers’ goggles on and Arizona has a whole different view.”
Which is how these rivalries tend to go.