OCTOBER 12, 2003
Out of the Mouth of Joes
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com
The 4th inning of Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, yesterday, contained more than just your run of the mill baseball play. In fact, it was an unpleasant affair.
In the top of the 4th inning, Boston starter Pedro Martinez allowed a walk, single and ground rule double to the first three batters he faced. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Karim Garcia, who earlier delivered a clutch two out RBI single in the 2nd inning off of Martinez, was at the plate for the Yankees. Boston catcher Jason Varitek met Martinez on the mound to conference the situation. After a somewhat lengthy discussion, Varitek returned to his position and set an inside target.
The first pitch from Pedro Martinez was a fastball thrown directly behind Garcia’s helmet. Garcia attempted to get out of the way of the pitch and the ball glanced off the top of his back, and then hit his bat. Home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez awarded Garcia with first base as he was hit by the pitch.
As documented at NetShrine.com two years ago, when Pedro hits you with a pitch, he meant it. On this particular play, the intent was clear as well.
The Yankee players were upset with Martinez’ hitting Garcia. In his post game press conference with the media, Yankees starter Roger Clemens summed it up by stating “Just because you’re getting hit around, you don’t whip one behind someone’s neck.”
It was also suggested by ESPN Analyst Peter Gammons (as a guest on the YES Network post-game coverage) that the Red Sox players did not agree with Pedro’s actions. In an interview with YES commentators Michael Kay and Bobby Murcer, Gammons stated that “Some Yankees players claimed that some Red Sox players said they were upset with Pedro.”
Granted, given the less than direct source on this claim, it can be just as easily not true as it can be true. Still, the possibility exists. In a post-game locker room interview, Boston first baseman Kevin Millar, when asked about whether or not the pitch that hit Garcia was intentional, gave as part of his answer something along the lines of “You have to ask the guy who threw it.” This decision to defer to Pedro may also imply a lack of solidarity amongst the Boston players on this situation.
Directly after the incident between Martinez and Garcia, the umpires issued a warning to both teams regarding any subsequent brush backs or hit batsman.
Following the Garcia hit by pitch, Alfonso Soriano of the Yankees hit into a double play, forcing Garcia at second base. Karim went hard into the bag, slamming Red Sox second baseman Todd Walker on the play.
Walker and Garcia had words after the play. In an article on ESPN.com, Walker was quoted as saying "The intent was not to take me out, but to do damage, and I was very upset about that. But if I were him, I'd do the same thing in that situation."
As Karim Garcia left the field, those in the Yankees dugout were shouting at some of the Red Sox players in the field – although mostly at Pedro Martinez. This escalated into words being exchanged from both sides.
At one point, while jawing with Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, Pedro Martinez pointed at the temple of his own head and appeared to be taunting Posada – saying something to him that seemed to be a claim that he would hit Jorge in the head with a pitch (despite the warnings issued by the umpires). Pedro’s lips looked as if he was mouthing the words “I’ll hit you” as he was pointing at his head.
After calm was restored on the field, Pedro Martinez retired the side by getting Yankees third baseman Enrique Wilson to pop out.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Manny Ramirez was the first batter to face Roger Clemens. After fashioning a 1-2 count on Ramirez, Clemens' next pitch was a high fastball just inside to Manny.
The pitch set off Ramirez and he began screaming at Clemens – closely followed by Manny walking out to the mound towards Clemens, still carrying and now pointing his bat.
The pitch which angered Ramirez had questionable intent. In a phone interview on the YES Network post-game show, former Yankee and current YES Analyst Paul O’Neill stated his opinion that it was a purpose pitch but not a dangerous pitch. He added that Manny Ramirez should have “said thanks” to Clemens “for not getting drilled.”
Ramirez’ own manager, Boston’s Grady Little, in his post-game press conference with the media said (regarding the pitch): “I don’t think it was that close.” Yankees manager Joe Torre, in his post-game press conference with the media said “Manny overreacted.” In the aforementioned guest interview on the YES Network post-game coverage, Peter Gammons said of Ramirez’ response to the pitch: “It was almost comical.”
Perhaps the most telling line about the intent of the pitch came from the man who threw it – what was it Millar said, when questioned on the intent of a pitch, about asking the guy that threw it?
In his post-game press conference with the media, Roger Clemens, when asked whether or not Manny Ramirez should have thought the pitch was intended to harm, said “He would know it, if I meant it. There would be no mistake about it.” (Here, the implication is clear – if Clemens wanted to hit Ramirez with the pitch, he would have been hit.)
Unfortunately, Ramirez’ reaction sparked a benches clearing melee on the field. Both teams flooded the infield and a scrum ensued, surrounded by isolated clashes.
In one of the side pairings, Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer lunged at Pedro Martinez. Just as quickly, Martinez grabbed Zimmer by the head and tossed him aside. Zimmer landed face down into the ground. (One could imagine that Pedro was actually living out the fantasy of many Red Sox fans over the age of 35, slamming former and beleaguered Red Sox manager Zimmer to the turf with one move.)
It took about 13 minutes for the umpires to restore order. When play resumed, Clemens struck out Ramirez swinging for the first out of the half inning.
That is a heap of distasteful action for a span of four batters (Garcia to Ramirez) in one game.
At first blush, some could presume that the principle parties involved - Pedro Martinez, Karim Garcia, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez and Don Zimmer – deserve to be saddled with responsibility for this mayhem.
However, based on Todd Walker’s comments of “I'd do the same thing in that situation,” one cannot blame Karim Garcia for his actions. And, based on the comments from many herein, Roger Clemens deserves a pass as well.
That leaves Pedro, Manny, and Zimmer for the “What were they thinking?” Club.
Martinez - hitting Garcia out of frustration and taunting the Yankees with the pointing at his head. Ramirez - inciting a bench clearing brawl when he rushed the mound with a bat when there was little cause to do so. And, Zimmer – a coach, going after Pedro when both benches emptied. (Martinez gets a pass for tossing Zimmer – getting the benefit of the doubt of acting in self defense.)
Rather than noodle this in an attempt to solve the riddle for all mankind until your cerebrum begins to ache, perhaps it is better to allow these actions to stand alone, as the truly do speak for themselves. And, having them take place on the world stage of a FOX broadcast, many will be able to form their own opinions on Pedro, Manny and Zimmer. The choices are plentiful – from tough guy, to misunderstood, to reckless, to punk, to crazy coot.
But, wait! There is no need for anyone to ponder all this. This just in! All of the hullabaloo can be traced back to a central point of origin. Rather than consider the roles and fault of each Pedro, Manny and Zimmer, we can peel this one down to the core.
Think about it. If Pedro does not hit Garica with the pitch, then there is no subsequent tension to incite Ramirez on the Clemens pitch. And, if there is no brawl commenced by Ramirez (as a result of the agitation on the pitch), then Zimmer cannot rush Pedro.
Pedro Martinez deserves all the credit or blame for the ugliness that occurred in the 4th inning of today’s game. Pedro, and Pedro alone.
In the end, Yankees manager Joe Torre stated it best, in his post-game press conference with the media, when he said “This whole thing started with one pitch.”
Out of the mouths of Joes, often come gems.
Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com. Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season. Steve can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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