You're not going to see benches clear in the playoffs very often. So when you do, you should appreciate it and enjoy it ... as long as nobody gets hurt. And nobody got hurt in tonight's bench-clearer during Game 3 of the NLCS. But some people did get nasty after Shane Victorino found a pitch come close to his head courtesy of Hiroki Kuroda, seemingly in retaliation for some brushbacks in Game 2 and earlier in Game 3 against Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin.
"Someone was bound to get hit. The situation called for it. Just don't throw at my head," Victorino explained after the game.
Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa and Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes appeared to be two of the angriest participants in the near-scuffle, yelling at each other before the teams cleared the field. Ramirez also came in from left field and had to be restrained by teammates, manager Joe Torre and an umpire.
"It wasn't at his head, it was over his head," Martin said. "We're just trying to make a statement. It's part of the game. Manny looked a little more steamed than I was."
Manny was absolutely steamed. It was just a good thing for the Dodgers that Manny didn't get steamed enough to go medieval on someone and get suspended. It may be a bad thing for the Phillies if Ramirez channels his anger toward his hitting going forward. He's dangerous enough already.
And don't you love the fact that two of the angriest participants were Dodgers coach Larry Bowa, who spent 12 seasons as the Phillies' shortstop and was a member of their world championship team, and Phillies coach Davey Lopes, who spent ten seasons as part of the Dodgers' long-running infield and was part of their world championship team in 1981? It's a little creepy if you ask me.
I for one noticed the sly smile on Martin's face when he said in his on-field interview that the pitch wasn't "at his head, it was over his head", correcting the interviewer. Nice touch.
The one thing to look at going forward is how Victorino will react the rest of the series. I believe him when he says that the incident is over ... but whether you think Kuroda's pitch was called for or not, the one thing it did was take Victorino by surprise. Think about it: he even said himself that he expected something to happen. And if he would have been hit in the ribs, I could only infer from his quotes that it would have been okay by him and that he would have taken his base quietly. Instead, the fact that the pitch sailed over his head seemed to get in his head a bit. And like Manny, it remains to be seen how Victorino, who's been fairly hot with nine RBI in the playoffs, will be affected the rest of the way.