Take Me Out to the Brawlgame

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By Paul M. Banks

“But will it play in Peoria?” was an infamous political marketing slogan of the Nixon Administration. It was a catch-phrase used to determine if their propaganda would win over the hearts and minds of Middle-America. They deemed Peoria, IL the center of that universe. The Peoria Chiefs played a home game not in Peoria, but Chicago’s Wrigley Field on a sultry July evening, following a week of very negative press. The brawl itself is yesterday’s news, but the brawl’s aftermath and the spin taken on it are very fresh. After all, this type of violence just doesn’t “play in Peoria.” Here’s what happened…according to the PR department of the team itself.  

“a bench-clearing first-inning brawl that resulted in a 69 minute delay before the Chiefs rally fell short…Chiefs starter Julio Castillo walked Justin Reed to start the bottom of the first and then hit Zack Cozart in the head. Cozart was down for about five minutes before leaving the game under his own power. Neftali Soto struck out and Brandon Waring hit a dribbler past Castillo. Castillo and Gian Guzman collided as all three Dragons runners were safe. Guzman was down for about 15 minutes with a left leg injury before he left the field on a stretcher. After the delay, Denis Phipps blooped one into right that Cliff Andersen lost in the sun for a two-run double as the ball landed at Andersen’s feet. Devin Mesoraco put the Dragons up 4-0 with a single back up the middle to score Waring and Phipps. Angel Cabrera was then hit by a pitch in the arm and after throwing his bat down, he started jawing at Castillo on his way to first.

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You can see TSB headquarters (my home) in these pictures 

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Kel Jones bounced into a fielders choice to second and Cabrera went in hard, spikes up, on Nate Samson. As Cabrera walked off the field, the players jawed and then Dragons manager Donnie Scott started yelling at Castillo and Samson from the third base coaches box. Chiefs Interim Manager Carmelo Martinez came out of the dugout to confront the Dragons skipper, and he and Scott had an animated discussion down the third base line. The players began jawing as well, and it quickly turned into a full-blown, benches-clearing brawl. As all the players from both teams converged around the Dragons dugout, punches were thrown and players hit the ground. By time the umpires finally gained control, they handed out 15 ejections. After multiple conversations with both coaching staffs, substitutions were announced and both teams were ready to put two pitchers in the outfield. The umpires then disappeared into the clubhouse and returned 10 minutes later to announce that all of the ejections were reversed. Play resumed with Chris Siegfried on the hill for the Chiefs, 69 minutes after the brawl ended. Siegfried retired Brandon Menchaca to end the first inning at 8:53 Eastern Time after a 7:00 first pitch.”

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Cubs Latin American Field Coordinator Carmelo Martinez filled in for Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg, who was away visiting the White House and Cooperstown for Hall of Fame ceremonies. “I would say if I was there it would not have happened,” Sandberg stated before pausing and adding, “That’s what I would hope.” Local merchants had fun with national notoriety: “Let’s Play Brawl,” said the marquee on Murphy’s Bleachers, the bar behind center field. “Play Nice,” said the snarky Miller Lite billboard on the rooftop across the street from right field. It changes its slogan for every series. Chiefs pitcher Julio Castillo has been charged with assault for throwing a ball at a Dragons player and with felonious assault for hitting a fan instead.

“This is a learning situation for them in baseball, on-the-field, off-the-field. It’s about respect for the community, respect for the uniform, all those things that I preach. And I reminded them to learn something from that,” Ryno said at the Wrigley Field pre-game press conference. Here’s what the Peoria club’s official “damage control” statement read:

“The Peoria Chiefs organization is shocked and disappointed at the unfortunate situation that happened Thursday evening in Dayton. All organizations are involved trying to ascertain all the facts of the incident so it is inappropriate for us to comment at this time. We trust that everyone involved in the situation  (Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Midwest League Office, Dayton Dragons organization, and the Peoria Chiefs) will handle the situation appropriately. Cubs’ management is actively engaged with their players and the other involved organizations to bring clarity and closure to this unfortunate incident. The Peoria Chiefs will stand by whatever fines, suspension and rulings decided upon by the Midwest League, Minor League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs.”

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The pitcher facing assault charges has been demoted to rookie league ball. And the inferior baby-sitting job performed by Carmelo Martinez probably means his career trajectory is trending downward. Full rulings on those implicated in the brawl are yet to be handed out. Some people said that this brawl received too much media coverage. I say that the only way to avoid “fight club” in the future is to talk about the severe penalties invoked when you join “fight club.”

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Comments

  1. The Statue of Harold Baines says

    those signs outside wrigley are hilarious

  2. The Statue of Harold Baines says

    rule number one of fight club, you never talk about fight club

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