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Zip It Up Damon
Posted by David Martorano at 3/14/2008 12:50:00 PM
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Last week, Tampa Bay minor leaguer Elliot Johnson ran over Yankee minor league catcher Francisco Cervelli at home plate. The result for Cervelli was a fractured wrist that requires surgery and an 8-10 week stay on the disabled list.

Reasonable minds can disagree about whether or not the take-out collision was “clean” or warranted or in compliance with “the unspoken rules” of MLB’s Spring Training Code.

Not surprisingly, the Yankees believed the play crossed the line and was “dirty” and the Rays felt the play was “sound” and completely acceptable.

During Wednesday’s Yankees/Rays game, Shelley Duncan stood up for his fallen teammate, Cervelli, by sliding into second base “spikes up” in the director of Akinori Iwamura. The “spikes up” slide resulted in a gash to Iwamura’s leg and prompted both benches to clear in anticipation of an on the field brawl that never materialized.

If I am Francisco Cervelli, I am grateful to Duncan and applaud his efforts in standing up to the Rays in the name of his fallen teammate. If I am a veteran Yankee player, I am grateful to Duncan for his intensity and for his commitment to the team concept.

Apparently, not all Yankee veterans appreciate Duncan's aggressive efforts in standing up for his fallen teamate. And not all Yankee veterans are appreciative of Duncan’s display of intensity and commitment to the team concept. Johnny Damon, speaking for the “old guard” and acting in the interest of enlightening those who aren’t familiar with the “unwritten rules” of MLB’s Spring Training Code has aired his disapproval of Duncan’s actions to the NY media.

Says Damon: “A lot of veteran guys have talked to him,” Johnny Damon told the Post yesterday. We are telling him to keep playing hard, but keep the spikes down and the shoulders in (when sliding). This way people see you are playing hard, but no once can question you.”

What Damon intentionally fails to acknowledge is that Shelley Duncan knows how to play the game the right way. His “spikes up” slide was not intended to be a “clean” play but was intended to serve as a response to what was perceived to be an “unclean” take-out slide of Cervelli from last week. Duncan was standing up for his teammate and Damon knows this.

Damon’s refusal to recognize the play for what it was- A teammate sticking up for his teammate- is Damon’s way of avoiding confrontation and potential future bean ball wars and brawls. While Duncan is willing to stand up for a teammate and in the process risk future retaliation from the Rays, Damon is not.

Not surprisingly, Shelley Duncan is a fan favorite for his blue-collar mentality, toughness and underdog status. Johnny Damon is not.

Instead of criticizing Duncan, Damon should be taking notes and doing what he can to become a tougher competitor and a better teammate. But instead, he criticizes Duncan to the New York papers on behalf of the “old guard”. Zip it up “old guard”. Zip it up Damon.


The problem is that there's nothing the Yankees can do to the Rays that will impact them like what the Rays could do to the Yanks.

How is Shelly Duncan going to defend his actions when Johnny Gomes rolls up Jeter's ankle on a double-play in three weeks, and Jeter breaks an ankle? Sure, the Yankees can send Farnsworth out to Carl Crawford's head, or Duncan can charge Scott Kazmir the next inside pitch he sees from him, but the Yankees will have already suffered a more crushing blow than anything they could inflict on Tampa.

No, this was not a smart move by Duncan and Girardi. And Damon understands that he will be the one to get drilled by Scott Kazmir on Sunday, April 6th. Shelly Duncan won't get drilled. Because he won't be playing.

And what Duncan did was not "an eye for an eye." It was "an eye for a toenail." If Johnson runs into Cervelli three weeks later, nobody notices. But Shelley Duncan going spikes-high into Akinori Iwamura would be a news event - regular season or pre-season.
Posted by iceguy at 3/14/2008 1:10:00 PM
Was Johnny Damon wearing a skirt when he said those things?
Posted by MPStopa at 3/14/2008 3:41:00 PM
Spikes up is never acceptable. You pitch someone in the ribcage or take them out with a HARD slide... never spikes up. You don't intentionally put someone in the hospital.
Posted by Boomstick at 3/14/2008 7:23:00 PM
What's the worst that happens with spikes up? Some neosporin and a bandaid? A fastball in can break bones. Posada had no comment also, the Yanks Vets need to take notice, this is why they won't come close to winning their division this year (that and the loss in the Santana lottery).
Posted by kevinccp at 3/15/2008 4:25:00 AM
The worst that can happen when a guy that big is coming in at Iwamura's knee while he's not looking?

Jesus, use your imagination. Or common sense.

The ironic thing is that Girardi probably would have ran over Cervelli too. But now that he's a coach, and it happens to his team, he whines about it.
Posted by kensai at 3/16/2008 3:15:00 AM
I disagree completely with your comments. Spikes up is never acceptable whereas a hard slide at home plate is not only acceptable but encouraged if its the only way for you to score a run. Spikes up has no purpose other than to injure a player. In no way does a spikes up slide give the runner any additional chance of becoming safe. A home plate collision does.

Damon has every right to say what he did simply because he is correct! Spikes down is the right way to play baseball, not retailation with intent to injure. There is a reason Damon was beloved in Boston and its simply because he played hard and played right. Yankee fans can't embrace him for that very reason.

Understanding this blog is your opinion it is my opinion you have taken the opposite stance than you shouldve.
Posted by dduckman at 3/16/2008 2:18:00 PM
The writer of the blog is a Yankee homer and quite frankly, does not know what takes place during spring training. Young guys play hard and try to impress their manager, which is what happened in the 1st "incident". If the catcher did not break his arm (and actually braced himself for a collision like a real catcher does), no one is saying anything. It would have just been a hard nosed play by a fringe MLB player trying to make an impression.

Instead, it became this ridiculous story and everyone knows Girardi put his players up to this. It is defending your's being a bonehead, and now, you can bet that during one of these regular season matchups, one of Yankee players is going to be lost for a while. That hurts the Yankees much more than the Rays.
Posted by spasell at 3/16/2008 2:34:00 PM
For the record, Im a Mets fan (but admit I do root for Yankees). Shelley Duncan stuck up for his teamate by sliding "spikes up" in the direction of Iwamura. Johnny Damon doesnt like the fact that Duncan stood up for his teamate in the manner that he did because he doesnt like the idea of getting hit by pitches thrown by Rays pitchers in the future. From a Yankee point of view, I thought that what Duncan did was commendable and I thought that Damon had no good reason to be upset by the move. If Damon really felt that Duncan's play was a bad play and have real good reasons for opposing it other than "it not being a clean play", he should have talked to Duncan in private, rather than airing his criticisms to the media.

And one last point- If A-Rod or Jeter arent speaking out against Damon, Im assuming theyre ok with the play and arent on board with Damon's position which supposedly represents "the old guard".
Posted by djm1144 at 3/16/2008 4:09:00 PM

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