After Thursday night's brawl-marred, extra-innings loss, Robin Ventura answered questions about the Royals pretty carefully. For one, he didn't have a full account of the situation, and he's not one to reveal most of his feelings, anyway.
He did drop one key line about their recent run of run-ins: "It seems to follow them around."
That's all he really needed to say. For one, the White Sox were more responsible for the unrest in the opening series, so he can't take too much of a high road. But since then, the Royals escalated another feud with the A's, and Yordano Ventura started a spat with Mike Trout. Now, with Ventura at the center of a third controversy with a third different opponent, the Royals have transformed from the victim to the common link.
Ventura vs. Trout, Ventura vs. Lawrie, Ventura vs. Eaton, Royals vs. everybody. Are we sensing a trend?— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 24, 2015
It's something Eric Hosmer senses as well, although more in terms of vulnerability than culpability:
Quick transcription of important part of Eric Hosmer's interview after #Royals game. Hopefully the words hold. pic.twitter.com/kTdinsn8uP— Danny Lawhon (@DannyLawhon) April 24, 2015
Likewise, Adam Eaton didn't take the war of words from the field to the clubhouse. In fact, he might've been a little too effusive:
"I respect the hell out of that team, I really do," Eaton said. "I think they play the game the right way.
"... What happened, two competitive teams scratching for the same goal. Sometimes it gets the best of you. Ventura is a heck of a competitor. I respect the heck out of him and everyone behind him. I’m a competitor as well. Sometimes boys will be boys and I think that was a situation where we had some excitement." [...]
"They are a young group of guys who go about their business in an exciting and aggressive way," Eaton said. "And that’s why we have the utmost respect for them. They’ve earned everything they’ve gotten and now they want to keep it. You don’t expect anything less."
But it's better than being too argumentative, considering he had his own role in the incident. There seems to be a bit of a "Greedo shot first" debate over who hurled the first/worst expletive, but Yordano Ventura has a richer history of bizarre reactions, so Eaton's better off staying out of the spotlight and letting Ventura hog the attention.
If Ventura had his reasons for stutter-stepping and cursing at Eaton, he didn't offer them after the game. Instead, he admitted that these things seem to be happening for a reason, and he's as good a reason as any:
"He recognizes that some of his actions are putting him in a less than favorable light, as well as the team, which is very important to him," said Jeremy Guthrie, who translated for Ventura. "So he wants to work on it, and be better. It’s something he needs to work on."
"The last three outings, his emotions have spilled over," said Jeremy Guthrie, translating for Ventura. "They’ve gotten the better of him. He’s an emotional pitcher. But he needs to work on controlling them, moving forward. He certainly wants to avoid the results, in terms of the way the outings have ended."
While the Royals have longer-running questions to answer, Jeff Samardzija could face the harshest judgment when it's all said and done. He had the most visible and destructive role in the melee, charging at Lorenzo Cain and bowling over third base coach Mike Jirschele. He also didn't make himself available after the game, allowing the Royals to take a couple uncontested shots at him.
Christian Colon said the Sox starter started getting weird the inning before...
Colon saw Sale celebrate the double play. This reaction, he said later, was understandable. But then he heard Samardzija, safe inside his own dugout, yelling at Colon to get off the field.
"So I yelled back," Colon said. "I’m like, ‘What’s your deal, bro? You’re not even in the game.’" He added, "That started everything right there. He’s just in the dugout, chirping. I thought we were done with all that."
... as well as the October before:
Colon mentioned this as a character trait of Samardzija. He indicated Samardzija harassed Ventura from the dugout as a member of the Athletics during last year’s Wild Card Game.
Cain echoed the sentiments, albeit in a less descriptive fashion:
"I’m not a big fan," Cain said. "I’m not a big fan of him. I don’t know what the deal is. We’re just going to try to clean it up and get ready to play some baseball tomorrow. We’ll see what happens."
Samardzija probably faces a suspension, and Jeff Passan said it could be the steepest.
Here's one truth: Jeff Samardzija should get the longest suspension of everyone involved in the brawl. Actively sought out Cain to fight.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 24, 2015
Totally spitballing, but I'd guess Jeff Samardzija gets 8-10 games, Edinson Volquez at least 5 for swinging, Ventura 5 as repeat offender.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 24, 2015
I can see that. It seems like Ventura should be on that same level due to his role as the most common of the common denominators, but the lack of a suspension before may make it difficult to ramp it up to the level of somebody who was an active, physical participant in a brawl. Either way, should Samardzija miss six-plus games, Carlos Rodon could make his first MLB start earlier than anticipated.
Samardzija may not say anything interesting when he does speak (he gave the "boys playing baseball" excuse for his role in the opener), so I'm more interested in seeing how teammates respond to him. He might be incredibly annoying to the opposition, but he might be a helluva lot of fun to fight with. The pictures are certainly impressive:
Facepalm. // RT @bigleaguestew: Great AP photo from Royals/White Sox brawl. (via @KCTV5) pic.twitter.com/L1iWmAmgoR— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) April 24, 2015
However, if Samardzija's "Captain of Attitude" actions are only or mainly associated with losses to divisional opponents, it may be a whole lot of sound and fury with nothing to show for it.