Saturday, July 24, 2004

Saturday Night's Alright for Fightin'

The Yanks and the Sox were at it again this weekend.  Despite the fact that the Yanks have a huge lead in the American League East, emotions were still running high at Fenway this afternoon.

The bizarre day started when the field at Fenway was deemed unplayable due to rain by officials from both teams.  The Yankees cleaned out there dugout, changed their clothes and began boarding the busses.  Then, the Red Sox players succeeded in changing management's mind.  The Yankees were called back into the clubhouse and told to start loosening up.  The game started an hour late.

The Yanks overcame the pre-game mix-up and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third.  Then the Red Sox's Bronson Arroyo intentionally hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch.  A-Rod took exception to the plunking and started jawing with Sox catcher Jason Varitek who walked about halfway up the first base line with A-Rod.  A-Rod motioned for Varitek to put up or shut up.  Varitek chose to put up and punched A-Rod.

  (AP Photo/Barry Chin, The Boston Globe)

Then it was on.  Say what you want about baseball fights typically being sissy affairs with guys standing around like boys at an 8th grade dance, but when the Yanks and Sox throw down, they mean it.  Yankees' starter Tanyon Sturtz rushed into the brawl and dragged the Sox's Gabe Kaplar out of the scrum.

   (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Eventually, Sturtz ended up on the ground at the mercy of Kaplar, David Ortiz and Trot Nixon.  Sturtz got a gash on the left side of his face but remained in the game for the time being.  Sturtz pitched badly in the next half inning before leaving the game with a bruised pinky finger.  Varitek and Rodriguez were the only two ejections from the fight.

The rest of the game contained all manner of bizarre events including a host of errors by the Red Sox and a balk by a Yankees reliever.  There were ups and downs for both teams and a myriad of pitchers were used.  The sixth inning alone lasted over an hour.  After nearly four hours of baseball, the Sox came out on top by a score of 11-10.  It was a fitting ending, really.  A game this unpredictable deserved an unexpected finale.  An ex-Yank picked up the win for the Sox, and lights-out reliever Yankee closer, Mariano Rivera, coughed up a two run lead in the ninth.  Then the Sox celebrated like they'd just won the World Series (not that anyone who is living really knows how the Sox would celebrate a championship), but all they'd really done is claw back within 8.5 games of the Yankees in the standings.

Once again, we saw today why it is always a big-time event when these two teams take the field.