- The Yankees and Red Sox turned in a wild brawl on Wednesday night. It was one of many over the rivals' long history.
Once baseball's marquee rivalry, Yankees-Red Sox is known more for hogging the primetime schedule and glacial pace of play than the raucous baseball the two teams delivered for decades. That changed on Wednesday night after the benches cleared twice during the Yankees' 10–7 win. Boston took exception to a questionable slide from Yankees DH Tyler Austin, who clipped shortstop Brock Holt while trying to break up a double play. That led to Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly drilling Austin in the seventh inning, which ended with a full-scale donnybrook. Let's take a look at the tape!
Pretty good! A steaming mad Austin shatters his bat to try and intimidate Kelly; Kelly mutters "come on!" before Austin charges him; Aaron Judge enters the fray to tower over everyone and pull Austin off of Kelly, whose jersey ended up ripped; Phil Nevin, missing his playing days, begins shouting toward the Red Sox dugout for some reason. It may not have even been the wildest brawl of the day, but it reignited the dormant rivalry. Even Rob Gronkowski enjoyed it.
How does it rank with the past Yankees-Red Sox rumbles? It all depends on who you ask. Here are five others in no particular order. A disclaimer that, of course, most base-brawls are unnecessary and present a pointless risk of injury. That doesn't mean that they can't occasionally be entertaining.
"Who is Karim Garcia?"
Pedro Martinez's legacy is a conflicted one, and this episode demonstrates why. Maybe the most dominant pitcher of the generation, Martinez never minded hitting batters when he felt retribution was necessary. That's not out of line with common (if flawed) baseball wisdom, but Martinez violated the cardinal sin of not throwing above the shoulders on more than one occasion. Whether or not he intended to throw at Yankees reserve Karim Garcia during the playoffs, Martinez sailed a pitch over the outfielder's head that triggered one of the most outrageous moments in recent baseball history. First, Martinez pointed to his own head, as if to threaten the Yankees he would hit somebody else in the head, during an ultimately placid benches-clearing altercation. Later, Martinez asked who Garcia even was and indicated that if he wanted to hit someone, it'd have been the next hitter Jorge Posada, not the relatively unknown outfielder.
And then, the bizarre (and unfortunate) took hold. The benches cleared again after Manny Ramirez took exception to an inside fastball from Roger Clemens, which resulted in 72-year-old Don Zimmer rushing Martinez from the Yankee dugout. Martinez grabbed Zimmer by the head and threw him to the ground, one of the uglier sites of a rivalry with plenty of nasty moments. Martinez would later claim that grabbing Zimmer, who died in 2014, was "the only regret of his career." In a 2009 interview with the New York Daily News, Zimmer lamented his role in the altercation, even if few thought he should apologize.
Graig Nettles injures Bill Lee
If you're looking for the most violent brawl to occur between these two teams, this is the easy winner. It starts with Lou Piniella bowling over Carlton Fisk, which leads to Fisk landing a couple of big right hands on Piniella. In the midst of the fracas, Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee—notorious for his bizarre antics and visceral hatred of the Yankees—had his shoulder separated in the middle of the fight. That didn't stop him from confronting New York infielder Graig Nettles, who promptly punched Lee in the face. You can also see Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers throwing a round of haymakers and sucker punches. If you want an idea of just how different the 1970s were from the contemporary game, only Nettles and Lee were ejected from that contest.
Jason Varitek tells Alex Rodriguez to smell the glove
Memories of the 2004 season will always be fond ones for Boston fans. The image of Jason Varitek smashing his glove into the face of Alex Rodriguez is one that hangs in Boston bars and a moment that many associate with the time the 2004 season turned around. The Yankees famously ended the Red Sox 2003 season on Aaron Boone's Game 7 walk-off home run, and then acquired Rodriguez from the Rangers in the offseason despite rumors that Rodriguez would go to Boston. As if the rivalry needed more fuel, Rodriguez and Varitek provided it after Red Sox starter plunked the Yankees third baseman on the elbow. Rodriguez barked at Arroyo to throw the ball over the plate, Varitek told Rodriguez to go to first, Rodriguez directed a couple of pleasantries toward Varitek and, bang! Varitek smashed his glove into Rodriguez's face. It's not a moment that Yankee fans recall with pride.
This brawl from 1967
I had no idea this brawl existed, though it is summarized well over at the blog Yawkey Way Report. Things to notice.
1) Mickey Mantle and Carl Yazstremski show up to make great plays.
2) The two teams keep throwing at one another even after the brawl.
3) Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocelli's brother worked for the NYPD and rushed the field to assure that his brother was safe.