Daily Distractions: The Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager took offense to the Dodgers eating bananas.

Mark McGwire brawl

The Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks brawled at Dodger Stadium in June, but pitcher Ian Kennedy wasn’t around to brush anyone back in September. By then, he had been traded to San Diego. (Getty Images)

Sports-talk radio is a breeding ground for talk of tribalism, vengeance and all those crude things that come from bitter rivalries. Such talk just usually doesn’t come from the mouth of a Major League Baseball general manager.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Kevin Towers waded into those waters Tuesday. Pun intended. And it had nothing to do with the Dodgers’ celebration in the Chase Field swimming pool after they clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 19.

Towers took great offense to the Dodgers’ celebration on Sept. 9, when Juan Uribe went 4 for 4 with three home runs in an 8-1 Dodgers win . From arizonasports.com:

“I was sitting behind home plate that game and when it showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag,” Towers told Arizona Sports 620′s Burns and Gambo Tuesday. “Literally, if I would have had a carton of baseballs I would have fired them into the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.

“That’s not who we are as Diamondbacks, that’s not how — I mean, it’s a reflection on Gibby, on myself, on our entire organization. They slapped us around and we took it.”

Towers said that has to stop, and following the game he had “a few choice words for the (coaching) staff.”

Nothing changed.

“You’d think the GM comes down and makes it a point to talk to the staff about it that at we need to start protecting our own and doing things differently,” he said. “Probably a week later Goldy gets dinged, and no retaliation. It’s like ‘wait a minute.’ Not that I don’t take any of our guys from a lesser standpoint, but if Goldy’s getting hit, it’s an eye for an eye, somebody’s going down or somebody’s going to get jackknifed.”

After the season, the Diamondbacks dismissed pitching coach Charles Nagy and first-base coach Steve Sax.

No word yet on whether Towers made those moves before or after researching this stat:


Some bullet points for a World Post Day:

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Daily Distractions: When baseball imitates reality television (accidentally or otherwise).

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen jumps into the Chase Field pool after Thursday’s win. (Associated Press photo)

Sports is the original reality television. Nothing like a little drama to spice it up, right?

Forget “Poolgate.” Call the controversy over the Dodgers’ postgame celebration “The Real World: Phoenix” (and hope MTV doesn’t keep a copyright attorney on retainer).

Apparently, prior to the series, the Arizona Diamondbacks asked the Dodgers to confine their clinching celebration to the visitors’ clubhouse. They even stationed some security guards on the field Thursday to make sure the Dodgers didn’t do anything crazy:

As it always does, human nature set in. When someone is ordered not to do something, he finds his best way around it. Ever pull into the carpool lane while stuck in traffic and driving alone? Ever sneak a peak at your phone at a red light, look for a cop, then quickly put the phone away? (There was a case of crude rebellion on Project Runway last night. Ah, reality TV — the reality is, I was ironing before you got into the room!)

The Dodgers ran across the field and into the pool.

The incident has spawned some lengthy prose about celebrations and their place in baseball.

Even Arizona senator John McCain chimed in today:

Again, this wasn’t about a celebration.

Hall, now the Diamondbacks’ president, is the Dodgers’ former director of public relations. He may have discretely asked the Dodgers not to go back onto the field to celebrate, but then how did Scully find out and mention this on the broadcast? That got the fans involved, too. Pretty brilliant way to incite a rivalry, accidentally or otherwise.

Seeing the drama go viral, it’s not hard to imagine Hall sipping on some champagne himself this morning.

Some bullet points to get you through the weekend:
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Dodgers clinch National League West title and first playoff berth since 2009, beating Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6.

It’s been expected since Day 1. Even more since Sept. 1.

Now it’s official: The Dodgers are going to the playoffs.

A.J. Ellis broke a 6-6 tie with a solo home run off Josh Collmenter in the eighth inning, lifting the Dodgers to a heavily anticipated win over the Arizona Diamondbacks to clinch the National League West title.

See the game-winning home run for yourself:

It’s the Dodgers’ first playoff berth since 2009, when they won 95 games and the division before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.
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Dodgers 9, Arizona Diamondbacks 3.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez scores one of his three runs Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 9-3 win. (Associated Press photo)

When the book is written on the Dodgers’ 2013 season, the period of time between Sept. 4 and Sept. 16 must be given its own chapter. It’s the part where the Dodgers re-visit the concept of mortality for their own amusement, playfully goading their opponents’ egos at the expense of nervous fans. Juan Uribe became a cleanup hitter, Edinson Volquez started three times and the Dodgers lost a game 19-3. Funny chapter, you’ve got to admit.

Well, maybe.

It was taken on faith Tuesday that Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig were all healthy. They were in the starting lineup, at least. Kemp, making his first start since July after spraining his ankle and tweaking his hamstring, played center field but did not approach full speed. Neither did Ramirez, who missed four games due to symptoms of sciatica. Puig’s hip was such an unknown factor just two days ago, manager Don Mattingly said the rookie phenom might miss one day to two weeks — then used him as a pinch-hitter the same night. Andre Ethier, whose left ankle is in a protective boot, was allowed to take a day off.

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How Don Mattingly decided to pinch run Dee Gordon on Tuesday night.

Dee and Didi

Dee Gordon stole second base as a pinch-runner in the 10th inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly second-guessed his own decision-making in the 10th inning Tuesday.

With Adrian Gonzalez on first base and Andre Ethier stepping to the plate with two outs, Dee Gordon was available to pinch-run off the Dodgers’ bench. The slow-footed Gonzalez stayed on first base while Josh Collmenter threw two balls to Ethier. Then Gordon came jogging out to pinch run.

What was the manager thinking?
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Return to Dodger Stadium means something to Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Davidson.

Matt Davidson

Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Davidson is batting sixth against the Dodgers tonight. (Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Davidson grew up in Yucaipa, about 70 miles east of Dodger Stadium. His first appearance in a major-league lineup here is tonight, and it’s a quieter occasion than one might expect. He expects about 20 friends and family to attend.

Unlike a lot of Southern California kids, Davidson wasn’t a Dodger or Angel fan growing up, though he did attend a handful of games at each park.

“I was just a big Randy Johnson fan,” he said. “I went to the (Diamondbacks) and followed them because of him.”
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Daily Distractions: What to watch for in the second half.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp leaves the field with athletic trainer Nancy Patterson on after straining his right hamstring in a 4-3 loss to the Angels. (Associated Press)

The “second half” of the season will consist of 68 games for the Dodgers. Here’s what to watch for:

1. For lack of an obvious turning point in the Dodgers’ schedule over the next month, check out the Diamondbacks’ road trip from July 30 to August 4: Two in Tampa, one in Texas (a makeup game), followed by three in Boston. The Dodgers play the Cubs four times in that stretch, making it a good time to make up ground in the division.

2. The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. They belong to Ricky Nolasco and Stephen Fife, once healthy, until further notice. The Dodgers are expected to announce a decision on Ted Lilly today — one that doesn’t involve him going back into the rotation — and move Chris Capuano to the bullpen once Fife returns from the disabled list.

3. The bullpen. As I indicated in my midseason report card, the Dodgers need more than three reliable pitchers out of the bullpen. With two open spots on the 40-man roster, count on one going to a relief pitcher over the next six weeks. Maybe it’s Carlos Marmol. Maybe it’s someone outside the organization who can provide a better right-handed complement to Kenley Jansen than deposed closer Brandon League.

4. Matt Kemp‘s shoulder. How much will a week’s worth of rest and a few rehab games do for Kemp’s swing? His power was almost nonexistent in the first half, as reflected in a devilish .666 OPS. Kemp could easily find himself batting fifth or lower when he returns next week from his latest stint on the disabled list.

5. Outfield playing time. Only left fielder Carl Crawford seems assured of an everyday place in the lineup. For all their talent, the others each have something to prove: Kemp that he doesn’t need occasional rest to be a productive hitter; Yasiel Puig that he’s not a strikeout machine; Andre Ethier that he’s not a platoon player (his batting average against left-handers is down to .245 and at home it’s .226).

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:

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Daily Distractions: Yasiel Puig jersey sales already rank 10th in 2013.

A list of the most popular jersey sales on MLB.com/shop was released today:

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
3. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
4. David Wright, New York Mets
5. Matt Harvey, New York Mets
6. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
7. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
8. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
9. Mike Trout, LA Angels of Anaheim
10. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
13. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
14. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel PuigIndeed, a player who began the season in Double-A has sold more jerseys than all but nine players through early July.

More on Puig in a bit. Let’s not overlook that Ryu jersey sales rank 11th, only Puig separating Ryu from the buzz-worthy title of “Dodgers rookie sensation.” And that four Dodgers (with the cross-cultural appeal that comes with representing four different ethnic groups) rank among the top 15.

Onto the bullet points:

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Report: Ratings for Monday’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks game set season high.

The Dodgers’ 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday drew a 4.1 rating on Fox Sports Prime Ticket in the Los Angeles market, according to Sports Media Watch. That’s a season high and the network’s best Dodgers rating since 2009. The Dodgers’ season average has improved by 6 percent since mid-June.

The hype surrounding rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig is certainly a factor in the Dodgers’ improved ratings. Monday also held the intrigue of a rematch between two teams who brawled in their last series, and are currently first and second in their division.

No suspensions today, but some hindsight to be found among Dodgers, Diamondbacks.

Mark McGwire brawl

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire, right, confronted Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, left, in yesterday’s brawl. (Getty Images)

Any fines and suspensions that Major League Baseball plans to levy on the participants in Tuesday’s brawl between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will have to wait until tomorrow.

That doesn’t mean that players and coaches on both sides weren’t anticipating it Wednesday.
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