I’m putting the Devil back in the Devil Rays after last night’s bench-clearing brawl. The Red Sox and Rays have come to fisticuffs numerous times over the years, and now it seems that Tampa Bay is determined to rumble with the other big dogs in the AL East, the New York Yankees. Hey, if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em, right?

Controversy erupted when the teams last played each other, when a Rays prospect bowled over a young Yankee catcher at home plate, breaking his wrist. Yankee fans were miffed and Joe Girardi was “disheartened.” Tampa Bay fans responded with indignation, Rays advisor Don Zimmer with dismay. But this time, with Shelley Duncan sparking the fight by attempting to cleat 2B Aknori Iwamura in the crotch, it seems like pretty much all the Yankees blogs agree that Duncan was out of order. (If you’ve read one that defends him, post the link in the comments section.) And Yankees Chick reminds us that Duncan’s “intensity” was premeditated. It’s one thing to break a man’s wrist. It’s quite another to target his family jewels.

DRaysBay has the video and offers Duncan some free advice: “Mr. Duncan, next time you want to tango, make sure the other team doesn’t have a semi-deranged part-time wrestler on the field at the same time, okay?” And Rays Index has the definitive list of links for your post-brawl required reading, including a reenactment with an A.J. Pierzynski bobblehead.

Duncan’s testicle-threatening slide was classless and unnecessary—the Yankees had already plunked highly touted Tampa Bay prospect Evan Longoria with a pitch, thus evening the score between the teams (the pitcher was ejected). Duncan’s attempt to spike Iwamura only re-started the whole mess. Nonetheless, we did get to see our first brawl of the year as a result. And I, for one, always enjoy a good brawl. So does fellow UmpBumper Nick Kapur, as recorded in this recent exchange:

Me: Baseball fights are wonderful. I love watching these highly paid, grown men run out of the dugout just to mill around in angry fashion.

Nick: Baseball fights are great because people have so far to run. Those relievers have to charge all the way in from the bullpens! Baseball fights are actually better live.

Me: Yeah, and the crowd is all, “RAAAAAH! BOOOO! RAAAAH!”

Nick: And it’s funny to see all the players charging toward the mound from all over the park, like a star collapsing in on itself, then gradually cooling into a neutron star.

Me: And when do you ever see the coach get thrown out in other sports? I love to see the manager get tossed. He starts yelling, gets all red in the face. He’s shouting at the ump, who is also usually really old. When do you get to see two old men fight like that if not in baseball?

Nick: Yeah, there is nothing like a fat, old, white baseball manager waddling/running out from the dugout in a rage.

Me: Glorious.

UmpBumpers, what’s your favorite part of a baseball brawl?

20 Responses to “The Fightin’ Devil Rays!”

  1. Guillen (and Gibbons) are suspended for 15 days, not games. That’s only 11 games and is pending another appeal.

  2. Paul Moro says:

    Here’s someone that’s defending Shelley Duncan. It’s someone named Shelley Duncan:

    “Shelley Duncan watched video of his hard slide in the Yankees’ game Wednesday against Tampa Bay and still doesn’t think it was a dirty play…

    “I saw it a couple times,” Duncan said Thursday. “I still don’t understand why they were as upset as they were.”


  3. Its the best when someone charges the perp and the perp does his best impersonation of Dion Sanders and does a half-ass attempt to take out the legs. and then, and then it turns into a big tickle fight where they exchange recipes with the other team. Bring Back the craziest man of all, Izzy Alcantara!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Or Jose Offerman and his BAT OF DOOM.

  5. Eric Syversen says:

    The best part of a good baseball fight is when the old man gets the better of the young guy (see Ryan vs. Ventura).

  6. Paul Moro says:

    I’m still a huge fan of the Chan Ho Park dropkick.

  7. Brian Sadecki says:

    He didn’t cleat him in the groin. The picture shows the moment after the cleating.

    Duncan cut a gash on his thigh. It’s right above his knee.

    I just now watched video of it. Didn’t hit him in the groin at all.

    Quality reporting yet again.

  8. Sarah Green says:

    Shelley Duncan missed Akinori’s groin by thismuch only because Shelley Duncan has bad aim.

  9. Brian Sadecki says:

    That’s very funny and all but isn’t that kind of libelous?

  10. The best part of fights (next to the bullpen having to run out) has to be the names given to the fight afterwards. You never get to hear words like brouhaha or donnybrook anywhere else

  11. I think it would have been funny if the yankers were playin the Rays today and Billy Crystal got plunked.

    just adding my $0.02

  12. wait, wait. if drunk guys who fight have beer muscles then do baseball players who take on guys they shouldn’t have dip(chewing tobacco) muscles? ala zimmerman vs. petey martinez help i’ve been thrown down and can’t get to the dugout!!!

  13. Greatest fight of all time, Izzy Alcantara kicks the catcher and then takes on all comers. Of course the Ryan/Ventura fight was just HILARIOUS!

  14. It’s not surprising to see Dave Duncan’s son engaging in this type of pathetic nonsense. Tony LaRussa and his “long-time companion” have routinely encouraged their players to perpetrate this type of retaliatory behavior. Joe Girardi set the tone for this classless action by complaining about what was a completely clean play that resulted in an unintended injury. I am still trying to understand why the Yankees felt it necessary to try and “get even” not once but twice for a play that was in no way dirty. It seems like a sickening display of their sense of entitlement. “No castration, no foul,” is an utterly lame defense of Duncan’s spikes coming in late and high.

  15. The Stankees are a bunch of low down dirty, and cheating players. Always have been always will be…

  16. Brian Sadecki says:

    The problems with Johnson’s charging the catcher are:
    1) It’s spring training. These games are meant to stretch out pitchers and hitters and get the players into fighting trim for the season. The games don’t matter so why take the unnecessary risk of charging the catcher. And this isn’t the first time the Rays have done this. The Yankees have a prospect who can’t start the regular season because some kid was trying to impress his coach with his scrap-hearted-dirty-dirt-dog-ocity because he can’t do so with his bat. The real kicker is that if he succeeds, he’s still on Tampa Bay, a solid AAAA squad.

    2) He didn’t even have to charge the catcher. He could have slid past his ankle (watch the video) like everyone else in ST. He went out of his way to lower his shoulder and really hurt Cervelli.

    When you put it in context, it’s a lot less than a “clean play.” Just because it was technically legal doesn’t make it right.

    Does Mike Lowell get the same stigma for what he did to Robinson Cano last season in retaliation for Dustin Pedroia?

    Every team retaliates. Only the Yankees are hated for it.

    Stankees? That rhymes with Yank– HEY!!!

  17. So now attempting to cross home plate is “charging” the catcher? If the catcher doesn’t want to be charged maybe he shouldn’t block the plate. So it’s the base runners responsibility to make sure not to make contact with a catcher blocking the plate? That’s ridiculous and it doesn’t justify the Yankees retaliating not just once but twice. There is no context in which it would be acceptable to spike someone the way Duncan did. It was a low blow with no justification. Any attempt to justify it is nonsensical. Lowering a shoulder into someone standing in the baseline is not the same as attempting to put your cleats through a guy’s sack.

  18. Brian Sadecki says:

    “So now attempting to cross home plate is “charging” the catcher? If the catcher doesn’t want to be charged maybe he shouldn’t block the plate. So it’s the base runners responsibility to make sure not to make contact with a catcher blocking the plate?”

    Absolutely, yes. He could have slid around the catcher like everyone else in ST does.

    If you watch the video, you’ll see that only his ankle was blocking the plate. You can definitely slide into that play. He went OUT OF HIS WAY to tackle the catcher.

    “There is no context in which it would be acceptable to spike someone the way Duncan did. It was a low blow with no justification. Any attempt to justify it is nonsensical. Lowering a shoulder into someone standing in the baseline is not the same as attempting to put your cleats through a guy’s sack.”

    I wasn’t trying to justify Duncan’s slide. I was just saying that Girardi had a right to be angry. And I certainly wasn’t equating the two plays.

    However, Duncan was nowhere near his sack. I blame Sarah for the inaccurate reporting on that one.

    Would it be OK if he had just planted a shoulder into Iwamura ala Mike Lowell? Nobody raised a stink over that.

  19. Sarah Green says:

    Brian, I’m going with what I see right there in that picture with my own two eyes. Duncan’s spikes. Are. Right. Next to. Iwamura’s. Balls. Maybe you see something different when you look at it. And that’s fine. But even all the Yankee blogs I read this morning thought it was out of line. Only you seem to think it’s okay. Well, you and Shelley Duncan of course.

  20. Brian Sadecki says:

    A) I never said it was OK.
    B) That. Picture. Is. Taken. After. The. Cleating.

    It’s stuff like this that gives proper journalists credence when they criticize bloggers. You don’t have to abide by libel laws on your blog so you can just say that this guy tried to cleat a guy in the groin. It’s seems kind of silly to nit-pick where he cleated a guy but when the ding-ding is involved, it’s an important distinction.

    Usually your bias is charming. It’s kind of disgusting and irresponsible here.

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