It’s spring training and the Cubs are in mid-season, dysfunctional form as Carlos Silva, irritated with the shoddy defense that sabotaged his start—perceived as a slightly important one because he’s fighting for a rotation spot—got into a dugout scuffle with third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
Comparisons were immediately made to the Carlos Zambrano–Derrek Lee near fight last June. It was that incident that appeared to be the true beginning of the end for Lou Piniella‘s managerial tenure; the one thing that made him say, “that’s it, I can’t deal with this anymore”.
It’s a bit of a stretch to equate one with the other.
Zambrano is an emotional volcano; he and the Cubs were in the midst of a disastrous season and it was known that big changes were on the horizon; frustration had mounted to a point where such a confrontation was inevitable.
The Silva-Ramirez dust up stemmed from a generally mild-mannered pitcher who needs his defense to help him as much as possible not getting said assistance and losing his composure due to pressure of fighting—literally—for his role in the rotation.
Manager Mike Quade was impressive in his interim stint last season especially in tamping down the lackadaisical play and silliness that had grown prevalent in Piniella’s waning days.
This was nothing to get upset over in terms of it actually happening. It’s better that players are passionate and caring enough that they get so immersed in a game—in spring training!—that they react so powerfully to fight about it in public.
The public part is where my issue would be.
Teammates get into scuffles probably 50 times over the course of a season and my rules (if such a thing can be governed) regarding this would be: A) don’t do it where there are cameras present; B) make sure it’s over a baseball-related issue; and C) get all the bad blood out and shake hands afterward.
Fighting in the dugout creates this.
People are talking about it; asking questions; making allegations and snide comments about the Cubs being the same mess they’ve been in past years. It’s March 3rd; it’s a little early to utter broad-based, definitive determinations for any club.
If the fight is about baseball, then fine; if it’s over a girl or salary or immature boys being immature boys, then I have a problem with that and it can’t happen anywhere.
As long as there’s an understanding and mutual respect after the fact, then this isn’t a bad thing. It’s better to have players getting their feelings out in the open—even if it’s physical—than to have the linger, fester and create factions.
The Cubs would’ve been better off if it had happened out of the public eye, but in the grand scheme it’s no big thing.