We’ve got ourselves a near donnybrook! Hands nearly thrown! Faces nearly smashed! Scores nearly settled!
In the third inning of tonight’s Rangers-Dodgers game, Matt Kemp tried to score from second on a sharply hit single to right field; Nomar Mazara fielded the ball cleanly on one fortuitous bounce and made a strong, accurate throw home; Kemp, who was beaten by a step by a throw that pulled Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos just up the third base line, elected to truck his way to the plate. Fireworks!
Kemp was out at the plate, and Chirinos gave him a little of the business as the two stood up following the collision. At first it looks like Kemp is reasoning with Chirinos, but then he can’t contain the fury and suddenly he and Chirinos are almost, almost throwing punches at each other’s faces. If you watch closely, you can see Cody Bellinger step in to play peacemaker, and Chirinos, who is in a total rage, loading up what might’ve been a haymaker overhand right, except that the two of them are bumped by a jumble of scrambling bodies.
As reasons for baseball men to come pretty close to actually fighting go, that adrenaline is pumping after a mighty collision at the plate is a pretty solid, understandable one. Safety-related changes to what catchers can get away with have made this type of play even more rare than it already was, and I’ve gotta admit, Kemp lowering his shoulder on the approach was a genuinely thrilling moment. For their theatrics, Kemp and Chirinos were both ejected.