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