I don’t know how you could have possibly missed it, but in case you’ve been sleeping for the last 15-20 hours, the Red Sox and Yankees got into a good ol’ fashioned brouhaha on Wednesday night. My general stance on all baseball fights is that they are dumb. I don’t want this to sound like I’m getting on my moral high horse or anything — I get that guilty pleasure of watching players rumble just like anyone else — but when the dust settles it all just seems silly. Obviously these are highly competitive athletes with a ton of adrenaline going, and tempers flair. I get why it happens, but it’s still silly.
This particular case is also dumb and it seems to only be getting dumber. Let’s start from the beginning. Tyler Austin was running into second base on a potential double play and he caught Brock Holt with his spikes. Holt did not like it and the benches cleared. I understand Holt not liking it. I have no idea whether or not Austin was intentionally trying to hurt the Red Sox shortstop — I’m inclined to say no because I’m trying to see the good in people, but who the hell knows — but that doesn’t really matter. It was a bad slide with his spikes going up, and baseball players don’t like getting spikes in their legs. It hurts! Also, apparently the new(ish) slide rule only occurs if there’s a throw to first base. That’s pretty dumb, considering the rule is ostensibly there to get rid of dangerous slides designed to prevent double play attempts.
The benches clearing was stupid, though, because nothing happens. When brawls break out, at least there’s a purpose for the benches clearing. In this instance, everyone met at second base, stared at each other like that drunk guy at a crowded bar who inexplicably thinks you bumped into him on purpose, then went back to their original positions. Definitely worth it for the bullpen guys to run all the way out to the field and back. Pace of play, baby!
Then, there was the real incident, when Joe Kelly nailed Austin with a fastball in clear retaliation. Intentionally throwing baseballs at people is dumb, and I will not be convinced otherwise. Pitchers miss their locations far too often to be trusted to hit a guy in the acceptable spot of the body. I understand wanting to defend your teammate, but it’s dumb. We all do dumb stuff, but it doesn’t mean we can’t call someone else out on being dumb. This argument is well-worn, though, and generally speaking people aren’t going to change their opinions on beanballs. I’m not looking for a debate here. I also acknowledge some hypocrisy on my part because while I definitely was not thrilled about Kelly throwing at Austin I was caught up in what followed and this video in particular. I still get amped watching fights even though what causes them is almost always a stupid event that shouldn’t be tolerated. Like I said, we all do dumb stuff.
Anyway, perhaps the dumbest part of this has come out after the dust settled. According to this story from the New York Daily News, a former manager and former player (it’s implied that at least one has Yankees ties) argued that Alex Cora may have rubbed the Yankees the wrong way even more than Kelly, which is ludicrous. If you missed it, Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin continued to argue with the umps after the dust had settled and while Brian Johnson was trying to warm up. Cora wasn’t wild about that, and he shooed Nevin off the field from the dugout, telling him to “get back in his box.” It was a phenomenal moment from Cora and quite possibly my favorite part of the night.
According to that Daily News story, this was some sort of breach of etiquette. Maybe Cora could have been a little nicer about it, but also his team had just been fighting with the other team, so cordiality wasn’t really to be expected from either side. To be clear, none of this is explicitly coming from anyone actually involved with the situation, but the implication is that the Yankees will be pissed about this. It’s hilarious, and really just ties a neat bow on how dumb all of this is. Here is the best line from this article.
“You don’t disrespect the other coaching staff like that. Nevin is a well-respected guy in the game, a former No. 1 pick … the guy had a good career. What has Cora done? He’s a first-year manager, he’s not Mike Scioscia.”
I have no idea what a third base coaches draft pedigree has to do with anything, but to answer the question being posed Cora has been hired as a major-league manager and is also well-respected in the game. Thanks for asking. As for him not being Mike Scioscia, well, that sounds like a feature not a bug.
Whether it’s actually because of Cora or because of the beanball or for appearances or for whatever reason, I can guarantee this is not over. The Yankees are going to come back and throw at somebody on the Red Sox, the benches are going to clear again and we’ll all argue about the merits of beanballs while secretly or not-so-secretly enjoying the fireworks that follow. As long as no one gets hurt, we’ll be able to laugh about this after, I’ll call everyone dumb and hopefully Cora will find a way to hurt some more feelings with nondescript gestures. What a weird sport.