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Best brawls in MLB history

Bryce Harper's fight with Hunter Strickland on Monday was a throwback kind of spat.
Nationals star Bryce Harper lands a blow on Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland. (Photo: Getty Images)
Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland's brawl on Monday was one of the best baseball has seen in years. (Photo: Getty Images)

Monday’s melee between Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper and San Francisco Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland harkened back the days of yore in which brawls were almost commonplace in Major League Baseball.

I’m not talking about the ones where one guy gets a shot in and the benches smother the combatants with hugs and shoves before everything just peters out.

Horrendous helmet throw aside, this was a heavyweight brawl for a few solid seconds:

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But do we dare say that this was one of the best brawls ever? That’s a lofty statement considering some of the fisticuffs that have gone down. And no, Rougned Odor's punch on Jose Bautista does not categorize the encounter as a brawl.

So we’ll set the fodder for debate and let you, the fans, decide:

 

Bud Harrelson vs. Pete Rose — Oct. 8, 1973

Tensions were running high in Game 3 of the NLCS between the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds. After splitting the first two games at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, the Mets leaped out to a 9-2 lead after four innings.

In the top of the fifth, a Reds rally was snuffed out when Joe Morgan hit into a double play. But a hard slide by Pete Rose drew the ire of Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson and the two went at it:

 

Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres — Aug. 12, 1984

This might have been the epitome of chaos in terms of baseball brawls unless you want to include the Juan Marichal-Johnny Roseboro incident that will not be on this list because the Hall of Fame pitcher committed a crime that day.

Braves starter Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins in the lower back. After the two exchanged words, Padres pitcher Ed Whitson attempted to get Perez back when he entered the batter’s box.

Perez wielded his bat like a weapon to keep any would-be attackers at bay when the benches cleared, but order was restored.

His second time up, Whitson threw at Perez again before he and Padres manager Dick Williams were ejected.

In the sixth inning, Greg Booker gave it a go and missed, prompting his ejection as well.

Finally, in the eighth inning, Craig Lefferts got the job done and mass hysteria broke loose which included players, umpires and fans … all while Perez watched from the dugout:

 

Ray Knight vs. Eric Davis — July 22, 1986

It was common knowledge during the mid-'80s that the Mets simply were not a team to mess with. During their World Series-winning year of 1986, there was no exception as scrappy third baseman Ray Knight and Reds outfielder Eric Davis met at third base after the latter swiped the bag in the bottom of the 10th:

 

Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura — Aug. 4, 1993

Sure, Texas Rangers hurler Nolan Ryan was in his final MLB season at the ripe old age of 46, but that didn’t stop him from taking then-26-year-old Chicago White Sox infielder Robin Ventura to town.

After Ryan beaned Ventura in the back, the latter thought it wise to charge the old, wily vet. It didn’t end well for him:

 

Tino Martinez vs. Armando Benitez — May 19, 1998

After Baltimore Orioles reliever Armando Benitez drilled Yankees slugger Tino Martinez in the back, a 10-minute altercation sparked by Graeme Lloyd took place between the teams that spilled into the Orioles dugout.

Not much an umpire can do but wait for both sides to tucker out:

 

Jason Varitek vs. Alex Rodriguez — July 24, 2004

Yankees star Alex Rodriguez was not a happy camper after Boston Red Sox starter Bronson Arroyo plunked him in the elbow guard.

His anger quickly shifted to Boston catcher Jason Varitek, who was escorting him down to first base.

Varitek obviously didn’t like what he heard after A-Road goaded him on:

 

Chris Volstad vs. Nyjer Morgan — Sept. 1, 2010

Remember when Nyjer Morgan was a big deal?

Well, the then-National with a small stature and big attitude thought it was a good idea to go after Florida Marlins starter Chris Volstad after he threw behind him.

It was a mismatch, to say the least, considering Volstad is 6-foot-8, 235 pounds. Morgan, to put it lightly, was not.

It went exactly how you’d expect it to: