Yanks v. Tigers Brawl

Here’s the real truth about Mayweather-McGregor, as much as you have to see it, and you do, because it’s an event, like the Super Bowl, that even non-sports fans are geeked about. But as much as you have to see it, the best fight of the weekend might have already taken place yesterday in Detroit.

I’m talking about Yankees v. Tigers battling each other in a game that involved not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7, but 8 ejections.

The usual baseball fight is a couple guys jawing at each other and then bullpens empty and the relievers and bullpen catchers have to jog 300 feet to show up as a bunch of bros hold each other back and continue to jaw at each other, while never really trying to break free or land a shot. That’s how it normally is, but that’s not how this was yesterday.

This was legit. It all started when Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer hit Gary Sanchez in the top of the fifth. The fact is, Sanchez had been lighting up the Tigers in this series, so while I’m not one hundred percent sure that dotting was intentional, the Yankees sure thought it was. Which would explain why this happened when Miguel Cabrera came up to bat in the bottom of the sixth

New York’s Tommy Kahnle threw behind Cabrera and got run. Yankees manager Joe Girardi came flying out of the dugout to argue the ejection, because no warning had been given previously. So Kahnle gone, Girardi gone, and now Aroldis Chapman entered the game for the Yankees, so you’d think things would calm down. And you would be wrong.

Because just as Chapman was getting warmed up, so were the tempers as Cabrera and Yankee catcher Austin Romine started jawing. And then it was on.

It’s always crazy seeing a future Hall of Famer in the middle of a fight, but Cabrera looked very comfortable with that shove and giving Romine the hands. It didn’t look like that was the first time he’d thrown a punch. And speaking of punches being thrown, let’s throw a spotlight on Gary Sanchez, who when the dugouts emptied, came flying in and appeared to sucker punch Cabrera when Miggy was down on the ground. That’s about as low-rent as it comes.

I know there are unwritten rules in baseball that most of us will never understand, but there are also unwritten rules in life that everyone understands and one of them is that you don’t sucker punch a guy who’s already on the ground. Sanchez said afterwards that “At that moment, instinct takes over because you want to defend your teammate.”

Right, but you can’t do what you did. Not ever, but especially in late August, when you’re battling for a postseason and hitting the way that he’s hitting right now. He should be swinging a hot bat, not a heavy fist. And because of that, he’s probably going to miss a chunk of time when the Yankees need him the most.

Cabrera and Romine were ejected and order was restored. But even when it was over, it wasn’t over. Because in the bottom of the seventh, Yankees reliever Delin Betances did this to James McCann.

That’s going to the head with a fastball and that’s totally unacceptable and points to the bigger problem with these idiotic incidents. Because while they generate a lot of buzz and twitter traffic, and they’re wild to watch, dudes are getting drilled with fastballs in the dome and that’s bad on every single level. What other sport do you have guys feeling like they got disrespected or their team’s honor was besmirched, so they throw a rock at someone else’s head, because that’s essentially what we’re talking about here. It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. It’s reckless. Someone is going to get seriously hurt. Or worse.

And the other problem is that these things never end. Because while it never should’ve started and it definitely should’ve been over after the Cabrera incident, it still wasn’t done after that dome shot. In the top of the eighth, Tigers pitcher Alex Wilson plunked Todd Frazier and was ejected, followed by Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.

The only thing more ridiculous than these fights is the post-fight excuses where guys claim that they lost control of pitches, but at least Wilson didn’t take that approach. Instead, he went with the Ivan Drago “if he dies, he dies” approach: “At that point in the game, it is what it is. We’ve been warned. Another guy for us gets hit in the head. … It’s the second time this year that’s happened. You know, it’s unfortunate. …Another guy gets hit. At that point in the game, it was something that had to be handled.”

For Wilson, it was nothing personal: “I have no hard feelings toward Todd whatsoever. I think he’s actually a great ballplayer. I enjoy watching him play. It was just an unfortunate circumstance.”

The whole thing was an unfortunate circumstance, but it was entirely made by the two teams involved. There wasn’t some outside force that compelled them to drill each other, sprint in from the dugouts and the bullpens, and throw sucker punches. And the sooner baseball players  recognize this the better, because as much as fans love these fights and as viral as they go, something very, very bad is going to happen at some point. The only miracle is that it hasn’t happened already.

Again, I never played the game at the highest level, so how could I possibly understand the code. Right, I never played the game, but I DO understand the code. I understand that it’s WHACK, outdated and contrary to what they think they’re absolutely incapable of policing themselves and governing their own. Did they look like they had matters under control yesterday? Of course not. Both sides are lucky no one was seriously hurt. If the players and teams can’t figure this out on their own, MLB needs to do it for them, and crank up the discipline.  Just because it’s always been a part of the game, doesn’t mean it always should be.  Problem is, knowing all parties involved, it probably will take a guy losing an eye…or even his life before anything really does change.

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