A couple of weeks ago, there was a big brawl in a Diamondbacks-Dodgers game. You probably remember, but if not here's a handy primer to all the resulting suspensions. Among them: five games for Arizona's Eric Hinske.
Well, now it's just one game, as Hinske's appeal has been largely successful. How did this happen? Let's take a little trip in our Wayback Machine, but don't be frightened; this really is a short trip!
From Ken Rosenthal's column on the suspensions, just 10 days ago, here's why was suspended for five whole games:
The news release from baseball said Hinske was suspended for "leaving the dugout and his aggressive actions during the incidents."
Hinske said he will appeal.
"Unreal, I can’t believe it," he told me in a text message after learning of his suspension.
Dodgers left-hander J.P. Howell told the Los Angeles Times that Hinske’s suspension surprised him, saying, "He was actually being cool."
According to a source, however, Hinske hit Puig first.
The video, when slowed down, shows Puig’s head snapping back at least two or three times, as if he was hit by a punch, the source said.
Puig was ejected for being an "instigator" in the brawl, the umpires said. But he did not make contact with Hinske, Puig's punch getting blocked by another Dodger after his arm started forward, the source said.
When I told Hinske that a source said he hit Puig first, Hinske replied, "Watch the video."
When I read that, I was of two minds. Mind #1 said that Hinske wouldn't have said that unless he had a pretty good case. Mind #2 said that as much video as Rosenthal (or you, or me) watched, we couldn't possibly see more video from more angles than Major League Baseball must have seen. I mean, they have cameras everywhere and they spend
hours days hashing out these suspensions. They have to; if they don't, they'll just waste even more hours later during the appeal process.
It seems I was wrong.
#Dbacks Eric Hinske said MLB told him they looked at a different camera angle and determined he did not throw any punches.— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) June 25, 2013
MLB just now looked at that different camera angle? This one's really hard to figure. If you'll indulge a moment of rank speculation, I will theorize that someone at Major League Baseball saw the initial footage, the same stuff we all saw, and saw what looked like a punch. Punching really cannot be tolerated, and so a five-game suspension was quickly decided upon. And then nobody bothered to go back and check their work.
Which is sort of a shame ... but hey, nobody's perfect. Any system, however well-designed, will hit a snag from time to time. The important thing is that everything comes out right in the end. And isn't that what happened here? Sure, the wheels of justice took a while to turn enough revolutions. But they did turn. Instead of criticizing MLB for getting something wrong for 10 days, I prefer to applaud all parties for getting it right before anybody really got hurt.
Just another feather, if you ask me, in Commissioner Bud's Cooperstown cap.*