Don't know if you've heard the latest from the Grapefruit League, but there
was a play at the plate in the ninth inning of Saturday's Yankees-Rays game.
There was a collision between Rays baserunner Elliott Johnson and Yanks
minor-league catcher Francisco Cervelli; Johnson scored and Cervelli suffered a
broken wrist on the play. This incident did not get a whole lot of play in
the Tampa Bay press, other than the unfortunate nature of Cervelli's injury.
However, the New York tabloid press, in their typically reserved manner, had
lots of fun with it:
Even though Cervelli, the injured party, felt it was a clean play (calling it
"part of the game"), Yankees manager Joe Girardi went a bit ... no, _quite_
a bit over the top, arguing that running into the catcher was against spring
training protocol: "I don't understand it ... I've always known that you don't
do it." Upon being relayed Girardi's comments, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he
had "never read that rule before ... it was a good hard baseball play. We have
to play the game one way all the time. That's the way we do things." Girardi
didn't back down from his stance on Sunday morning, saying that on a play like
that "there is no memo needed." Girardi also brought up a collision from
Wednesday's Rays-Astros game, where Carl Crawford ran into Houston's Humberto
Quintero, as "evidence" the Rays are unnecessarily reckless in spring games.
(However, Quintero had no problems with that play in post-game comments, and
Crawford said he ran into the much larger Quintero only because a bat had been
left in the box, limiting his sliding options.)
My take on this? If Joe Girardi really means what he said here, then
Girardi's a wuss, plain and simple. Pitchers throw inside in spring games; teams
try to pick runners off in spring games; runners try to score in spring games,
including trying to go through the catcher (a play that usually isn't the
smartest move for the baserunner, BTW, whether the game takes place in March or
October). It could be Girardi is trying to build a fire in the Yankee clubhouse,
and if so, he's entitled to do so. However, if Girardi is already whining about
other teams actually trying to beat the Yankees on March 9, then it's gonna be a
long summer in the Bronx for everyone except the tabloid guys, who are going to
get lots of ink out of Girardi this year.