June 26, 2008
We've all been there. We've all been to the point where we're so frustrated with a co-worker that it takes just about everything — logic, restraint, simple fear of losing a paycheck — to not lash out and put that nag in his place. Maybe some of you are right there now, just about ready to go cubicle crazy on someone, but are trying to settle down by reading the calming influence that is the Stew. Not a bad idea.
Except for today, that is. In the wake of Houston's Shawn Chacon going all Latrell Sprewell on general manager Ed Wade, (who were teammates, in a sense) I've compiled baseball's top 10 teammate fights that either immediately came to mind or through an Internet search. (Read: I may have missed some.) While many of us would instantly lose our jobs and face possible criminal charges for attacking a co-worker, fights between teammates are far more permissible.
"Boys will boys," they explain.
"It's the competition and heat of battle," they add.
Whatever it is, it often gets out of hand. And since we live in the day of 24/7 cameras and media members that don't hide fights as agreeably as they might have used to, there have lately been plenty of fights to choose from. Follow the jump for our ranking, which is sprinkled with a few oldies-but-goodies, too.
Plus, if you remember a fight that didn't make the list, leave it in the comments below. (For a view of the 10 best teammate fights across all sports, click here.)
Don't remember either of these guys playing in the Major Leagues? Don't worry ... neither do I. But according to the proverbial "witnesses", Meluskey was late for his turn in the batting cage when he jumped the line in front of Mieske, who didn't take kindly to the shortcut. The altercation escalated with Meluskey punching Mieske in front of several hundred fans in San Diego. "It's something I feel bad about," Meluskey said after the game. "There's nothing I can do about it. I'm going to sit down and talk to him about it. It's between teammates." Isn't it always?
Coming just a few innings after the Coco Crisp-James Shield throwdown, Ramirez's swipe at Youkilis in the dugout didn't get as much attention as it normally would have. Ramirez says the incident is behind both of them, but the root of the fight still remains unclear. Theories range from a disagreement over dugout eating habits to Ramirez being upset over Youkilis' habit of throwing helmets and bats after bad plate appearances. They sure look like good buds in that photo to the right, though.
With his team's boat losing water in the NL Central race, Brewers manager Ned Yost got into a disagreement in the tunnel with catcher Johnny Estrada and had to be separated by a few members of the Crew. The incident happened during a 12-3 loss to the Mets, the team's 10th in 14 games, and while many believed Yost "staged" the fight to mimic Lou Piniella's on-field tirade earlier in the year, it didn't have a similar effect in spurring on his team. The Brewers would go onto miss the playoffs, though the stunt did not cost Yost his job.
Pitchers and catchers are the two on-field players that communicate the most, so it only stands to reason there's going to be a fair share of tussles between the two. Three battery fights make this list, starting with the recent Garza-Navarro tussle, which started with a heated argument on the mound, and then came to a head in the dugout.
Hernandez insisted this fight, which happened just after he struck out a batter and during a Kansas City win, did not take place. "Nothing happened,” Hernandez said. “Everything’s cool." Only problem with that argument? The fistfight with Buck, also his catcher, took place in full view of television cameras. “It’s September and there was some sort of misunderstanding,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said at the time.
The only fight on our list that involves two Hall of Famers, Flick and Lajoie's scrap is a point of contention among baseball historians. While some insist that it came of the fact that neither liked the other, there's a differing viewpoint that it started as an argument over clothes. As The Baseball Page puts it, "Lajoie took offense to a remark Flick made concerning Lajoie's appearance. Flick was a snappy dresser and Lajoie, though he was a superstar, was often jabbed at by teammates for his sloppy attire.*" Lajoie broke his hand with his shot to Flick's jaw, causing him to miss five weeks and the Phillies to drop out of first place, missing out on the pennant.
*Interesting sidenote: In 1900, "sloppy attire" most likely meant not wearing a wool vest on a 95 degree day.
This is obviously the most recent, but it will remain ranked so highly for two reasons.
1) You can fight all the teammates you want, but when you fight the general manager, the guy who controls the purse strings and future contracts, that's generally not a good idea. There's no way you're going to avoid suspension and it'd be surprising if anyone ever signs Chacon again.
2) This surreal quote, from Chacon: "So at that point I lost my cool and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him. Words were exchanged.” Can you imagine coming home from work one day and your husband or wife asking how things went with your boss at work and then coming back with the same explanation?
"Words were exchanged, honey."
Most baseball fights are broken up quickly by teammates and coaches. The scrape between temper-driven batterymates Barrett and Zambrano (video), though, continued onto the clubhouse, where Zambrano landed a punch(es) that left Barrett with a Scott Farkus-style shiner and a hospital visit that required six stitches. While both players went in front of the media the next morning and claimed all was calm, the issue was never fully resolved. Barrett was traded to San Diego less than three weeks later, while the Cubs wen onto win the NL Central.
Hey, what's with June 25? ... The most surprising thing about this fight/shoving match, which took place in front of TV cameras? The fact that Kent said that he and Bonds had fought about "a half-dozen" times before "You expect the competitive adrenaline to be flowing on a good team," Kent said. "Athletes operate on the edge and things like that happen. It's not good and it's not bad. It just happens." Kent was right ... the Giants won the National League that year, though their World Series performance was disappointing to them as the fact that neither landed any good punches was to the rest of us.
Can't beat the intriguing Bronx is Burning action. With a national audience watching the Yankees play the Red Sox, the tension between Mr. October and The Proudest Yankee finally went the physical route. Upset over Jackson's lack of hustle during a Jim Rice single that turned into a double, Martin pulled Jackson from the game during the next pitching change. The two went nose-to-nose and Martin then tried to get at Jackson on two separate occasions. According to the New York Daily News, Jackson is reported to have said. “You’re an S.O.B. You’re nothing but an old bleep-bleeper … you’re too old. Do you want to fight?”
Said Martin: “I only ask one thing of my players. Hustle. If they hustle for me, they can play for me. I told them in spring training. I had a meeting. I told them you play only one way, to win. You play hard and give your 100% best. If you don’t hustle, I don’t accept it. If a player shows up the club, I show up the player.”