The good, the bad, and the Yankees

Oct. 14, 2003, midnight | By Nick Falgout | 17 years, 3 months ago

On Saturday, October 11, the New York "Bad-for-baseball" Yankees reared their ugly heads from the depths of a first-round loss to the Angels in last year's playoffs to remind us why, exactly, we hate them so much.

Ironically enough, it started with Pedro.

It was game three of the ALCS between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Series tied, one game apiece. The epic battle of Pedro Martinez versus Roger Clemens. Top of the fifth, Boston down, 4-2. With Yankees runners on second and third base and no outs, Pedro throws a pitch up and behind batter Karim Garcia's head, which glances off his back before hitting his bat. Could have been an accident. Could have been intentional, especially since first base was open. The world may never know for sure. Garcia takes his base.

But the real trouble doesn't start until the very next play, as Alfonso Soriano grounds into a double play. Garcia takes a hard slide in Boston second baseman Trot Nixon after he is already forced out, and the two begin shoving each other. The benches clear, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and bench coach Don Zimmer scream at Pedro, who makes gestures toward his head, indicating that he would love the opportunity to nail Posada.

And then, next inning, Clemens throws a pitch up and in to Boston slugger Manny Ramirez.

Clemens may swear that it was an accident, a loss of control. Every announcer in the game may say the pitch wasn't inside, just high. But if Ramirez had stood in there, he risks getting hit. Maybe in the head. Clemens doesn't exactly have the best track record with this sort of thing (the best examples that come to mind are of course against Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who got beaned in the head and had a broken bat thrown at him in separate incidents involving Clemens).

So, Ramirez starts mouthing off and walking toward the mound threateningly (two of his specialties), the benches clear (again), and 72 year-old bench coach Don Zimmer seeks out Martinez, a man 40 years his younger.

And charges him.

Just all out charges him. A 72 year-old man, with bad knees, charges Pedro Martinez. Pedro puts his hands up defensively, Zimmer falls to the ground, and Zimmer ends up wearing a band-aid the rest of the game. The umps, which had warned the teams after Pedro hit Garcia, confer, and decide that everyone is all right. Ramirez strikes out. End of story, right? Wrong! Clemens has the gall to throw another head-level pitch, to the much more even-tempered Kevin Millar, the third batter of the inning. Repercussions? None.

Who died and made the Yankees king?

Maybe, technically, the Yankees (by which I mainly mean Clemens) played by the rules. No harm, no foul, right? No one hit by the pitch, no reason to… complain.

And then there's the matter of the actual tussling. I guess its fine for Garcia to attack Nixon, and for Zimmer to charge Martinez, but as soon as Ramirez or Martinez put up any sort of defense, they're over-actors or old man beaters.

But that's not all. In the ninth inning (Ninth! Only six more outs to go!), Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson gets involved in a scuffle with a Boston groundskeeper. Karim Garcia sees the fight, and logically decides to hop the bullpen fence and join in the beating. Must have been doing something really bad, right? Like… cheering for his home team?

We've moved on to a whole different level of evil here. The Yankees of years past were just bad for baseball in their ability to "buy" wins, their bad attitude, and George Steinbrenner. Now we have a group of cocky, borderline psychos.

Poor Mussina. But that, as they say, is a different story.

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Nick Falgout. Nick Falgout was bored one day and decided to change his Chips staff information. And now, for a touching song lyric: "I'm a reasonable man, get off my case Get off my case, get off my case." ~ Radiohead, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd … More »

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