He’s an agitator supreme, and he always winds up in the center of sticky situations, often due to his own subtle insertion into the fray.
On Tuesday night, a ruckus began in the Bronx in the wake of Giancarlo Stanton’s game-tying three-run homer in the sixth. Yimi Garcia’s 0-1 fastball to Donaldson, the very next batter, was tremendously yanked, and wound up slicing off his elbow and ticking back to the backstop.
Intentional? Who knows. Context clues would tell you it wasn’t, but … frustration from the homer … Donaldson’s existence and general vibe … it’s tough to rule it out.
The umpires certainly thought so, as they responded to the Yankees dugout’s request for a warning with a surprise ejection. It was an Ump Show without a doubt, but the home team will take it.
Or, perhaps the umps just knew more than the viewing audience at home did? Could Donaldson have said something to provoke the attack?
After the game, Donaldson noted that he and catcher Tyler Heineman had gone back and forth earlier in the contest. He also tossed some more shade Heineman’s way.
Yankees’ Josh Donaldson talked trash about Blue Jays catcher Tyler Heineman (???)
Never heard of Heineman? Join the club! One of the most jarring developments in modern baseball, just behind Constant Strikeouts and 15 Relievers Per Team Who Would Make Honus Wagner Pee Himself, is the rise of the anonymous catcher. Even contending teams like the Yankees and Jays have stocked that position with below-replacement bats/excellent defenders in Heineman, Zack Collins, Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka.
It’s bizarre, though, that one of those anonymous boys would try to start Donaldson’s ignition. It’s also bizarre that Yimi Garcia would be painted as the completely innocent victim considering his catcher had already jawed with the guy he drilled.
That’s the Blue Jays, though. Celebrations that aren’t at all commensurate with what’s actually happened on the field. Puffed chests when a baseball goes slightly up and in to Bo Bichette as if the fastball has knocked his helmet off. A Home Run Jacket that serves as the slightly-less-dorky version of Boston’s Stupid Laundry Cart.
Toronto has swiftly passed the Rays and Red Sox as this team’s No. 1 enemy, and Donaldson’s existence seems to represent the pages turning there, considering he was once the face of the last great Blue Jays team, one that didn’t create nearly this much animus.
Perhaps someday Heineman will have a moment and we’ll all learn who he is. For now, he’s the canary in the coal mine of Tuesday night’s brawl.