Winters good, brawls not so good

PITTSBURGH – Less than two weeks into the baseball season, there’s been an on-field brawl with serious consequences.

Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres charged the mound after Zach Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit him with a pitch. Greinke sustained a broken collarbone in the ensuing scuffle and will be out eight weeks.

Baseball players are copycats, so maybe there will be more incidents like this. It seems as though bench-clearing brawls have been on the wane in recent years. But once players see the Padres-Dodgers dust-up replayed endlessly, they’ll get the idea to react similarly to any perceived knockdown pitches.

There were people disappointed that no mayhem ensued from Friday’s game between the Pirates and Reds. The theory is that the Pirates have yet to get even for the pitch that reliever Aroldis Chapman hit Andrew McCutchen with last August. There’s a belief that McCutchen’s and the Pirates’ season unraveled after that.

Never mind that McCutchen hit .304 in the week after being hit. People just like fights, as long as they’re not in them.

If there are more brawls, baseball has a simple solution. Adopt hockey’s rule for third-party participation. Throw the book at the first person who gets involved other than the pitcher and the batter. Then the participants stand alone with their pugilistic and self-defense skills in front of 30,000 people.

Some of the courage to fight in baseball comes from knowing reinforcements are immediately on the way. Make it one-on-one, and most fights will fizzle before they even start.

Winters’ time

Jonathan Winters, whose peculiar sense of humor influenced a generation of comedians, died this past week at 87.

Winters spent the summer of 1978 in Pittsburgh, making the forgettable movie, “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.” Cast and crew were headquartered at what was then the Hyatt at Chatham Center.

One afternoon Winters was having lunch alone at the hotel coffee shop. Some people spotted him and were hiding around a corner, gawking. He sensed their stares and responded accordingly.

He silently picked up a slice of cantaloupe and contemplated it as though it were something from outer space. Then he took the fruit in both hands and nibbled at it like a chipmunk, with his eyes darting left and right as he took the tiny bites. The gawkers gasped, but Winters never acknowledged them, instead focusing on theatrically devouring the cantaloupe.

He figured if they were going to stare, they should get a show which was far more memorable than anything in “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.”

Mehno can be reached at