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No one can say that the rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees lacks intensity and drama anymore. The two teams faced each other on Wednesday night, and it came to blows. After the Yankees’ Tyler Austin spiked Brock Holt on a slide, Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly threw at Austin to retaliate. Austin didn’t like being hit, so he threw down his bat, charged the mound and punches started flying.
Pedro Martinez has quite a lot of firsthand experience with the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry — and with brawling. He did fight Don Zimmer, after all. Pedro had some thoughts about how the brawl went down, and he shared them on Twitter.
You have to love Pedro — he’ll pass on the compliments, but not without a little constructive criticism. Of course, while Pedro credited Kelly for his near-perfect handling of the situation, Joe Kelly continued the grand tradition of denying there was any intent behind his pitch.
Ahh yes, the “actually, I’m a bad pitcher” defense. There’s absolutely no way that Kelly would admit to hitting Tyler Austin, since that would earn him a suspension for sure. Cole Hamels admitted to hitting Bryce Harper back in 2010, and he got five games. But while there’s definitely some truth to what Kelly said (he definitely does not have Greg Maddux command), retaliation is what’s expected in baseball. Whether someone told him to do it or not doesn’t matter, because Kelly knew what his teammates expected of him.
One more Hall of Famer weighed in on the brawl on Wednesday night. Chipper Jones doesn’t have the same kind of experience with the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as Pedro, but he knows a little something about the unwritten rules of baseball.
And Pedro agreed with him.
The unwritten rules of baseball are completely fascinating, but breaking them down can make your head hurt. Rolling in with your spikes up is considered a violation, and it’s punished by throwing at a player, risking more injury. And the player who gets thrown at can either take the punishment or do what Austin did: throw down his bat, charge the mound, and throw some punches.
Baseball is a sport that’s played for public consumption, so everyone’s going to have an opinion on whether these kinds of unwritten rules enforcements are safe or wise. But almost all of us, including the commissioner, are on the outside looking in. Because Chipper’s right: baseball has policed itself for years, and the players don’t care what anyone thinks about it. It’s their game and their rules. With Rob Manfred continuing to add new rules to baseball, the players are going to hold onto the unwritten rules even harder, because those rules belong to them. They don’t want anyone telling them how to play the game.
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