Friday, June 06, 2008


To be honest, I didn't see this coming, and I'm ashamed at myself for not being able to foresee it. After the baserunning incidents involving Coco Crisp on Wednesday, along with the braggadocio Crisp showed after the game, thrown in with Tampa Bay's history of escalation and fight starting; and you've got a recipe for some drama.

If you missed it on Wednesday, Crisp attempted a steal of second base, and (Devil) Ray second baseman Jason Bartlett blocked the bag with his leg. Crisp slid in head first, jamming his hand against Bartlett’s leg. Later, Crisp tried to steal second again. This time, he purposely hit short-stop Akinori Iwamura while sliding. This caused some drama, and some shouting between Crisp and (Devil) Rays manager Joe “Drew Carey glasses” Maddon.

In Coco’s first at-bat of last night’s contest, pitcher James Shields threw at his hip. Coco took a step or two toward first, flung his bat aside and charged the mound. Shields threw a big right hook, but Crisp avoided it (Coco has an amateur boxing history, by the way). Both Shields and Crisp threw punches that didn’t land.

But by now, the benches had cleared. Catcher Dioner Navarro (who officially has 25 pounds on Crisp, but I’d say its more like 35) grabbed Crisp around the neck and hauled him down. Then the Rays swarmed and enveloped Coco. Jonny Gomes joined in the “Hit a man while he’s down” party. Carl Crawford came streaming in from the outfield to land a few hits on Coco. Even Iwamura stood around and pretended to hit Coco.

Meanwhile, the Sox took down Shields. Actually, it was third base coach DeMarlo Hale who should get credit for the tackle. General mayhem ensued, and scraps between players erupted all over the mound area. Finally, things settled down. Shields was ejected, Crisp was ejected, and Gomes was ejected.

Both sides were in the wrong on this one. The (Devil) Rays have a tendency to start trouble when it shouldn’t be started. Instead of moving on from Wednesday night’s drama, they felt the need to continue it and bring it to a higher level. Coco, for his part, should have kept his mouth shut after Wednesday’s game, and shouldn’t have charged the mound. Charging the mound doesn’t accomplish anything (ask Robin Ventura), especially when James Shields is 6’ 4” 214 and has Navarro watching his back.

That being said, the way the Rays ganged up on Coco was sad. Navarro had already taken him down, there was no need for Carl Crawford to start jabbing into him. Then again, what do you expect from the (Devil) Rays? “They hit like girls” according to Coco.

Noticeably late to the brawl was Manny Ramirez. In fact, Bartolo Colon, and some of the bullpen arrived before Manny. This may have been the spark to the scuffle between Manny and Youkilis.

The Sox are being very hush-hush about the dugout fight, and understandably so. What NESN’s cameras caught on tape is all we have to go on. Manny and Youkilis were jawing (mostly Youkilis). Manny walked past Youk, Youk said something, and Manny slapped Youkilis with the back of his hand, then charged him. Both were restrained, and Francona claims the situation has been dealt with.

My question is, what the hell did Youkilis say to get Manny so riled up? Since Manny’s been on this team, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him angry enough to hit someone. Youkilis either kept on him for a few innings, or said one or two magic words.

It did seem like it was merely overflowing testosterone. And God knows how many fights and arguments like these there are in private during a season.

Although the Red Sox won 7-1 (Manny had 5 RBI), it was a bit of a pyrrhic victory. Jacoby Ellsbury left the game in the 4th after rolling his wrist while making a diving catch. Manny left the game in the 7th after an awkward half-step on his right leg in the batter’s box.

Ellsbury is listed as day-to-day. The Sox sent down Chris Carter, and brought up Brandon Moss from AAA Pawtucket. Moss is hitting .313 with the PawSox, and was a respectable 6 for 21 with the big club earlier this season.

The Red Sox swept the Rays, and have won 6 of their last 7. Now Seattle comes to town. King Felix Hernandez goes against Bartolo Colon tonight at 7.

Hartford Courant
The Baseball Cube

Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

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