Jonny Gomes, David Ross and the rest of the Boston Red Sox reminded Yunel Escobar and the Tampa Bay Rays of one of Major League Baseball's unwritten rules Sunday afternoon: Don't try to steal a base when the opposing team thinks your lead is big enough. It's rubbing it in, which we don't do. Got that?
The Red Sox gave Escobar an earful after he took third base with a five-run lead in the seventh inning, prompting a benches-clearing argument with the Rays after which three players were ejected. Regardless of the yelling and shoving, no actual punches were thrown in Tampa Bay's 8-5 victory, which also was Boston's 10th straight loss.
Escobar and teammate Sean Rodriguez, along with Gomes, were ejected. Gomes ran from his position in left field after Escobar made a move toward Boston's bench in response to what someone — possibly Ross — was saying. Ross, a former teammate of Escobar's with the Braves later admitted, yeah, Escobar taking the extra base bothered him.
"I think the whole team took exception to the stolen base, you know, down five (runs with) two outs in the ninth," Ross said. "He's (already) in scoring position."
Ninth, seventh — whatever. In addition to getting the inning wrong, it also seemed to slip Ross's mind that Tampa Bay had taken the lead during the seventh. Shouldn't that matter a little? And how much does a lead have to be for the other team to not get upset? It should be a ridiculous question, but going by the Invisible Unwritten Rules Chart, the number apparently is less than five.
A moment later, Ross got to the actual point.
"I think we're just tired of getting beat," Ross said. "You know — a little frustrated."
Understandable, given that the Red Sox haven't loss this many in a row since June 1994, and have been outscored 52-24 during the streak. They're not playing like World Series champs — that's really what's bothering them. Not the unwritten rule about stealing bases — which, Rays manager Joe Maddon says, the Red Sox broke first, during the 2013 playoffs.
''Last year in the playoffs, they had a 8-2 lead in the eighth when (Jacoby) Ellsbury led off with a single and then stole second base,'' Maddon said, correctly recalling what happened in the division series opener. ''I think that was a little more egregious than their interpretation of what happened today.''
It was one run and one inning more egregious. Hypocrites!
Other factors went into the disagreement, such as the reputation Escobar has for being a bad teammate and/or guy. Red Sox manager John Farrell, who managed Escobar at Toronto, said the player was known for exhibiting "unpredictable" behavior there so, naturally and reasonably to him, the Red Sox were more likely to be bothered by his activity on the bases.
No matter his reputation or culpability, Escobar had the best possible postgame comment:
#Rays Escobar declines comment beyond statement saying that as far as he's concerned it's over— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 25, 2014
Sure, sure, except for the "bad blood." The fight in 2008 with Gomes playing for Tampa Bay and Coco Crisp playing for Boston and getting hit with a pitch by Matt Garza. Ah, good times. If you REALLY want to dig into the history, it all possibly started in 2000 when Pedro Martinez hit Gerald Williams of the Devil Rays with a pitch and an actual fight ensued. Or maybe it was right after the Earth cooled and the dinosaurs came.
Here's a longer version of the incident, which includes what must have been a fun conversation between A.J. Pierzynski and Jose Molina, along with the false promise of what would make for the funniest baseball fight ever: Molina vs. David Ortiz. Could have been great.
As for the fallout, Gomes probably should expect a suspension because he pushed Rays coach Tom Foley in order to get to Escobar. But at least he got to coin a phrase:
Gomes: "I'd rather win a ballgame than win an arguing match."— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) May 25, 2014
"Arguing match." Very Gomesian.
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