Bench-clearing brawls are a strange phenomenon in baseball. Fans love them, because they add a bit of excitement and energy to the game, but on the other hand, players really shouldn’t be throwing punches at each other.
On Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, in the fourth inning of a game between the Cubs and Marlins, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant ensured that a brief altercation between the two teams didn’t devolve into chaos.
It all started when the Marlins’ Derek Dietrich attempted to score from second on a base hit. He collided at the plate with Cubs catcher Victor Caratini, who nevertheless was able to tag him out.
But after the hard collision at the plate, in which Dietrich appeared to shove Caratini, the two players started exchanging words.
Their argument got so heated that both benches cleared. Things were getting rather intense, that is, until Bryant started tickling.
Yes, that’s right, Bryant diffused the situation by tickling his old teammate, Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro.
You can watch it all unfold below. Castro was able to laugh, and the players gathered around home plate dispersed.
Here’s a slightly slowed-down version of the tickling part:
After the game, Dietrich addressed what happened, explaining that though he knew he was out, things got heated when he tried to talk to Caratini following the play at the plate.
“We were ahead, it was worth taking the shot,” Dietrich said, according to MLB.com. “I ran hard. I think I was out by a lot. He went to make a tag and I wasn’t there, so then he moved back in front of the plate. That’s how we just collided. I tried to explain that to him, but, obviously, it’s a little heated. That’s baseball.”
“I was surprised we even cleared the benches for that one. At least I know our guys are ready to roll,” he added.
Caratini, for his part, was upset Dietrich felt the need to shove him.
“He was out by 15 feet and that’s where the play took me,” Caratini said. “I didn’t like the way he shoved me. That’s what I told him — you didn’t need to do that, you were out. We exchanged some words and that was it.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon, however, was amused by the whole affair.
“It was rather entertaining,” he said. “There was no reason for it. I was surprised. There was no animosity. It wasn’t a dirty play, it was nothing. He’s out by 52 feet, (Caratini) got the ball, he bumps into him, play over. It was kind of surprising. I don’t think there was anyone who got heated. it probably required more tickling than punches.”
The Cubs won the game 4-3, and Caratini ended up driving in the go-ahead run in the eighth.
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