Yankees: Musings on the “Fight of the Century” and “The Boys”

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Yankees could very well find August 24 as the most crucial date on their calendar when the season comes to a close. The team now faces self-imposed hurdles that must be overcome. And the only question I have is how could they do this to themselves.

The Yankees came close to losing control of their season the other night in Detroit. And depending on what happens when Gary Sanchez is lost for four games that could have been more, and Austin Romine for two, the team is forced to deal with a problem they shouldn’t have with games in the standings at high risk.

Could it be true, for instance, as Miguel Cabrera claims, he witnessed Aaron Judge staring down at him throwing punches while he was on the ground. Aaron Judge? The poster boy for cool in the midst of his disastrous second half?

Crime and punishment must meet the standards of American Justice, even in baseball. And if the players need a daddy to make them behave like men instead of boys, so be it.

I believe it. And I believe it because it was the entire team, not just Sanchez, who lost their cool. And I also think the Yankees will pay for it and pay for it dearly. And finally, I also believe Joe Girardi‘s dismissal of the incident as “boys being boys” is reason alone for not inviting him back at the end of the season.

Buster Olney, ESPN’s Senior Writer, has a thought provoking column published today that he titles, “Baseball must outgrow its old school violence.” Hitting the nail right on its head, he writes:

"But this ugly tradition continues through the generations, on and on, with too few stepping in and acting like grownups.If you want some real insight into the absurdity of how the “old school” views Thursday’s events, consider this: Sanchez was criticized by other players for the punches that he threw at defenseless opponents — Cabrera and Castellanos. But according to the “unwritten rules,” the pitchers who threw retaliation fastballs at defenseless hitters — under the guise of “protecting teammates” — are deemed to have handled it the right way."

Moreover, Olney’s point about baseball’s old school, tit-for-tat, violence is relevant also as a statement about our culture in America these days. Who, for instance, engaged in bad behavior in Charlottesville?  Everyone. And therefore, discussions can only be about who was more wrong. So too is it with the Yankees and their involvement on Thursday.

Is Gary Sanchez the main culprit? Sure he was, and he’s lucky the league didn’t hit him with a seven-game suspension as they did with Cabrera. At the same time, though, all those other Yankees running around like a chicken with their head cut off, looking for someone to wrestle with, so they don’t get tagged as a sissy in not “defending” their teammates, is equally disturbing.

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Some talk about the “heat of the moment” and how the testosterone and adrenaline levels soar when a brawl breaks out. Hogwash. Because if those same levels can be controlled, with complete concentration, to hit a 101 mph fastball, why, all of a sudden does that power evaporate when boys decide to be boys.

A baseball thrown at even 80 mph is a lethal weapon. Serious injuries have occurred, and in one case, even death when Roy Chapman was killed on the diamond. Tony Conigliaro went blind in his last days of life when a pitch struck him, eventually forcing him out of baseball in the midst of a fledgling career. And the same fate decimated the career of Dickie Thon.

The players are correct when they say they should be the ones who police the game. After all, it’s their bodies and their careers at stake. But when they display behavior that causes complete loss of control as we saw on Thursday, maybe it’s time for the league to step in by upping the ante on suspensions.

Next: Joe Girardi's lying eyes distort what's plain to see

Crime and punishment must meet the standards of American Justice, even in baseball. Check that, especially in baseball. And if the players need a daddy to make them behave like men instead of boys, so be it.

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