Sunday afternoon, the Yankees were finally able to snag a streak-breaking, extra-innings victory at Tropicana Field, squirming past the Rays 8-4 after squandering endless chances to break through.
And in the postgame media scrum, Rays manager Kevin Cash boldly defended his team’s effort by — no, sorry, just kidding, he used his platform to whine about a completely-resolved issue from 2020 all over again.
Because, in the first inning, Jordan Montgomery missed the plate with his first five pitches of the game, his trademark control nowhere to be found.
Embarrassingly, he went way up and in, striking Austin Meadows between the shoulder blades. Yankees fans shuddered — both because Montgomery looked terrible, and because we all knew it would set Cash off on yet another grandstanding tour about how the Yankees are running recklessly through the streets, headhunting and facing no repercussions.
Somehow, a wild Montgomery hit Meadows a second time, which sounds indefensible until you attempt to rationalize an intentional HBP from a floundering pitcher in a 4-3 game.
Sure enough, after the game wrapped, Cash opened up his own personal vault and started playin’ the hits, tackling last year’s beanballs all over again.
Kevin Cash brought up Masahiro Tanaka from last year AGAIN after Sunday’s Yankees-Rays game.
Did Aroldis Chapman intend to throw over Mike Brosseau’s head and spark a never-ending, one-sided conversation? …Probably.
We don’t know, and Chapman’s certainly been that wild before. If you hooked the closer up to a lie detector, I can’t outright guarantee he wouldn’t pass. But it seems likely, based on context clues, that he made a fatal mistake here.
MLB ultimately suspended Chapman two games based on his presumed intent alone. The ball didn’t strike Brosseau. The high fastball ultimately motivated him to both rocket two home runs out of Yankee Stadium the next night, followed in October by his famous ALDS-winning home run off Chapman himself. Cash really still feels the need to litigate this? Kevin…you won! You used the up-and-in fastball as fuel en route to a World Series. Are you really going back to the same bag of tricks again this year to motivate your roster that’s already proven it can more than hang with the Yankees?
The Chapman angle of this discourse isn’t even the most aggravating part of it, though. “Nothing for Tanaka”…? If this were any other Major League Baseball team, I never would’ve heard another word for the rest of my life about the time Masahiro Tanaka’s fastball in on Joey Wendle got away from him and struck the lefty. With two outs in the first inning of a must-win game, Tanaka chased Wendle off the plate by getting him to skip rope, then hit him near the rib cage on a pitch he turned into. Intentional? I truly, to this day, do not see why it would be, though out of context the footage is a bit more damning than it seemed last year.
But suspension-worthy? MLB owes the Rays sweet justice, and should track Tanaka down in Japan? Seven months later, we’re still doing this?!
And besides…nobody wants to hear a Yankee fan end this argument with, “You started it”…but Kevin…YOU STARTED IT.
The reason we’re here, the reason we’re opining about MLB putting the collective bargaining agreement aside to throw the book at Masahiro Tanaka, is because Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge started chucking baseballs at heads during a blowout loss at the tail end of 2018. CC Sabathia retailiated, he received a larger suspension than Kittredge, and the rest is history.
Now, every time a Yankee can’t find the zone against the Rays, he’ll be subject to the scornful eye of Kevin Cash, who’ll gleefully run through a timeline of 20 suspected near-hit-by-pitches from the past decade while opining that his American League-winning team never gets the breaks.
And yet the Yankees are the ones who can’t let it go. Astonishing.