San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez put on a one-man performance of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" last night in AT&T Park -- he pitched three glorious strike-filled innings, then morphed into Barry Zito.
Mr. Sanchez gave up five runs to the Philadelphia Phillies before he departed in the fifth inning to the relief of every Giants fan in the galaxy. It was, unfortunately, too late. Aided by an anemic offense, the Giants steam-rolled their way to a 9-2 loss, their eighth in 11 games.
However, it wasn't Mr. Sanchez's bipolar pitching problems that halted the Giants vs. Phillies show. Rather, it was Shane Victorino striding purposefully towards the mound after being hit by a Ramon Ramirez pitch in the sixth inning.
The spunky Eli Whiteside (whose jerseys are, even now, flying off the racks of every sports store in Northern California) leapt between the pair, then took down Placido Polanco who appeared to be charging for Mr. Ramirez.
Chaos ensued, and every sports fight-conceived cliché received airtime: the benches cleared; tempers flared; punches were thrown.
Mr. Whiteside and Mr. Victorino were ejected -- though, puzzingly, Mr. Polanco remained -- and the game continued.
No harm done, right?
It is a travesty that the Powers That Be in Major League Baseball have not put basic rules in place to prevent the sort of no-holds-barred, everybody-mobbing-on-field scene we saw last night, and have seen in a number of recent baseball games (Mr. Sanchez, Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies, anyone?).
Cast your eye at the NBA. Let's be honest, now -- those players ain't choirboys. And yet, when fisticuffs fly on the court, you don't see mob action. Players aren't flying off the bench to take part. Why? They know what will happen: immediate, no questions asked, shut-yer-trap-I-don't-care-how-much-money-you-make suspension from the following game accompanied by a hefty fine if they leave the bench during an on-court dispute. Doesn't matter who was at fault. No excuses considered.
Is there any good reason that Major League Baseball doesn't have the same rule?
In last night's melee, there were guys on the ground in the middle of that crowd. What would we be saying today if one of them had taken a cleat in the cranium?
Get your act together, MLB, and stop this absurd nonsense. Make it an automatic next-game suspension for any player that leaves the dugout during an on-field fracas.
Do it, or else I'll sic Eli Whiteside on you.