The latest was Saturday's ‘game' between the Yankees and Red Sox. The Red Sox, normally a lovable loser and underdog I'd enjoy rooting for, especially against the Evil Empire, were already on my crap list after the series in Oakland. Mostly, it was all about Derek Lowe. There is absolutely no excuse for any player on any team at any level, no matter the excitement level, to turn to the opponent's dugout and slap his hand down on his crotch in the universal street sign language for "Suck on This!" That kind of classlessness should never, ever be tolerated. But on Saturday, Pedro Martinez showed his true colors again of being one of the games' worst hot heads and most potent head hunters, throwing a pitch at Karim Garcia's head out of apparent frustration.
But what was even worse was his act later in the game, when Manny Ramirez took offense to a head high pitch (that was over the heart of the plate), and charged the mound. The benches cleared, and Don Zimmer, one of the most harmless guys in the world, especially at the age of 72, saw Pedro stalking out of his dugout, fist clenched. He headed to Pedro to stop the hothead from getting into things, and got thrown to the ground face first by Pedro for his trouble. Perhaps Zimmer's martyrdom saved what could have been the worst brawl in playoff history, as everybody seemed to come to their senses seeing the one person on any field in baseball older than Felipe Alou and Jack McKeon laying prone on the ground. Luckily, Zimmer was uninjured but for a scratch and pride, but that does not in any way make this latest incident in baseball any less disgusting.
Not that the Yankees are exactly innocent victims. Later in the game, the bruised Garcia and another Yankee, Jeff Nelson, took offense to a groundskeeper in the Boston bullpen waving his rally rag late in the game. According to two Boston police officers, Nelson confronted the groundskeeper before taking a swing at him and knocking him down, whereupon Nelson and a few other Yankees surrounded him, apparently kicking him several times. According to the Red Sox spokesperson Charles Steinburg, the groundskeeper had cleat marks on his back and arm, and may have been kicked in the mouth. Boston police are considering filing charges.
This ugly behavior is ridiculous in the game. It makes you want to look at the NLCS for some actual heroes, but I'm afraid the people there have not been much better.
The Marlins have just one player who really irks me: Ivan Rodriguez. The lackadaisical broadcasters have been quick to label Pudge a hero, but the truth is Pudge has been one of the scrappier, dirtier players in baseball this past decade. Normally, that's not an insult, but two of Pudge's antics in the NLDS tarnished my image of him. The first was in Game 2, while Pudge was on second base. A ball was hit over Aurilia's head into left center, and as Aurilia went up to try to get the ball that was far over his head, Pudge grabbed his jersey as he ran by and pulled him down. Now the ball was uncatchable, but this isn't the NFL and this wasn't pass interference. Even the act of such interference is uncalled for in the game. Apparently, it was left uncalled since it did not ‘affect' the play, but it was still disgusting. Similarly, Pudge's pose job after scoring the first of the two lead runs in Game 4 also ended up being interference. I can't say he knew what he was doing, but I can say he saw the ball roll down towards the dugout, and he stood still, in the batter's box, between the Torrealba and the ball that was still in play, as the second run (and eventual winning run) came around to score. People tell me I'm overreacting, but I still say it's dirty baseball, and it's wrong.
And then there's the Cubs. The Cubs have been on their best behavior in the postseason, but that hasn't dulled the image of one of our generation's supposedly greatest sluggers getting caught with a corked bat. Nor has it dulled the sound of a former Manager of the Year I used to respect the heck out of telling the world he believed that black and latin ballplayers were better than white players, because that's what they were ‘brought here' to do.
I'll tell you what. The NAACP were right to go after Rush Limbaugh for his comments, but they will never have my respect until they also pursue such racist comments made by everyone, not just those they have grudges against.
So, I hate to say it, but baseball is all but dead to me for 2003. The only outcome to the season that would truly satisfy me would be another sudden strike wiping out the World Series, because none of the teams nor their treasure players deserve to be champions of anything.
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