Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yankees/Rays saga

I know I'm a little late on this but I was on vacation last week with minimal computer access so forgive me. As I'm sure many of you saw, there was a nice little scuffle between the Yanks and Rays last week after a hard slide by my boy, Shelley Duncan (as an aside, I used to work at a 'food institution' that I will not name and Shelley Duncan came in once and I chatted with him for a little...he was playing for the Trenton Thunder at the time and a lot of the players there lived around the place I worked at and came in).

All the tension started a few days before the Duncan slide because no name Rays minor leaguer Elliot Johnson crashed into no name Yankees minor leaguer Francisco Crivelli, breaking the wrist of the young Yankees catcher. Now, just as Rays manager Joe Maddon said, it was a "hardball" play and it was not a dirty play at all. I just wanted to make that clear. However, I do believe that Yankees manager Joe Girardi was also correct in saying that the play was "uncalled for." To put it in perspective, the play occurred in the top of the ninth and the Rays were already winning. Bowling over a catcher in a clean, yet dangerous play is completely unnecessary. Players routinely get hurt during such plays and spring training is not the time for that.

The two teams played a few days later and this all went down. The game actually began with a Yankee pitcher being ejected after hitting a Ray but that was a little lame...even the Ray batter said he didn't think the pitcher was throwing at him. However, it was a later even that got things started. After a hit down the line, Shelley Duncan tried to stretch a single into a double and slid into second with a cleat in the air, nearly hitting Rays infielder, Akinori Iwamura in the groin. After doing that, Rays outfielder Johnny Gomes came flying in trying to take out Duncan and the whole scrum ensued. Now, Duncan to this day stands by the fact that the slide was clean. While I understand his point (he said he was going to the glove to knock the ball out), it was obviously done with a little bit of malicious intent. And I don't have a problem with that.

Go Shelley!

He was sticking up for his own guy who was subject to an unnecessarily rough play days earlier. I don't blame him at all for telling the Rays that wasn't cool. The teams are division rivals and if you think the other guy was out of line, you tell them. It's not like Duncan was trying to ninja kick the guy with his metal cleats to destroy Iwamura's leg...he was trying to give him a nice little clip to send a message. Elliot Johnson presumably ruined a Yankee prospect's season (and perhaps career) by engaging in an unnecessary dangerous play. While I understand some people might consider Duncan's slide to be bush league, Elliot Johnson deciding to bowl over a catcher during spring training is flat out bulls***. I look forward to a tense season series with the Rays. They're actually somewhat decent this year so a little spice to the rivalry will be nice, especially since half of Tampa is Yankee fans.

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