Yankees and the AL East: 25 years as baseball’s best division

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /

Using Your Head

Martinez and Clemens faced off in Game Three, and it turned into a rare and unique classic. When the pitchers tried to throw strikes, they did okay, with the Yankees winning 4-3. But when the pitchers tried to send messages, they were far more successful.

It all started in the fourth inning, although it might be more accurate to say it started the day Ruth was sold. A frustrated Pedro, who had given up four runs, threw at Karim Garcia’s head. Garcia had no problems expressing himself, either: First he yelled, and then he slid overly hard into second baseman Todd Walker; the benches cleared.

Thinking his message was still a bit vague, Martinez decided to be more opaque. Responding to the threats of Jorge Posada, who was yelling from the dugout, Pedro pointed at his own head in a way that some, like Dan O’Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe, felt was an indication of Pedro’s willingness to throw at Georgie’s head if the opportunity should present itself.

Nonetheless, order was restored; that lasted less than an inning. In the bottom of the frame, Manny Ramirez overreacted to a pitch that even CBS referred to as,

"…slightly inside at most."

Bat in hand, he headed for the mound and a more than willing Roger Clemens. Benches cleared again and this time fights broke out. But the most bizarre incident happened when 72-year old Yankees bench Coach, and former Red Sox manager, Don Zimmer decided to get involved.

Some Decisions are Better than Others

Zim charged at 30-year old Pedro Martinez, a world class athlete in his prime. Running like an old, drunk, hippopotamus, Zimmer listed head first towards Martinez. Taking a Daoist approach, Pedro took what was offered him. He grabbed Zim’s head with both hands and twirled him to the ground.

For longtime readers, and my editors, I feel I must say at this point: I am not making this up.

It got a lot weirder than that later, with Karim seemingly getting into a brawl with a Red Sox employee, but you can read about that for yourself. When the dust settled, fines were issued, the police were involved, Zimmer left the stadium on a stretcher, and the Yankees won the game.

But not the series; not yet. Neither team could take control of the series, and it was tied after six games. That set baseball fans everywhere up for a treat.

First, it meant an ALCS game seven. And this one between ancient enemies, the Yanks and Red Sox. It also meant a rematch of game three, again featuring two of the best pitchers in the game. All of that played out with the events of game three still extremely fresh in the everyone’s mind.

It was an incredibly significant game for the Sox, Yankees, and AL East as a whole.