The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays might be setting the stage for one of the greatest rivalries of the next decade. Not only are these two poised to fight for division crowns for the next 10 years, but key players on both sides seem to genuinely dislike their opponents.
Blue Jays infielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and starting pitcher Alek Manoah seem to be leading the charge here. Guerrero said that his distrust of and hatred for the Yankees stems from a "personal" family matter. Manoah, meanwhile, has chosen to take on Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in a bizarre fashion.
Manoah, who came into his start against the Yankees with an ERA just a few ticks south of 7.00 and leading the league in walks (15 in just 19 innings), was not holding anything back when asked about Cole using some sticky substances to gain an advantage during specific points last season.
“He cheated,” Manoah said on former Toronto Raptors big man Serge Ibaka's “How Hungry Are You?” YouTube Show in November. “He used a lot of sticky stuff to make his pitches better. He kind of got called out on it." Manoah's excuse for these comments was nothing short of gold.
Alek Manoah doesn't apologize for calling out Yankees' Gerrit Cole.
Manoah made his comments out of fear he would have to eat or drink whatever unusual concoction Ibaka cooked up for him on the show. Manoah added that he hasn't talked with Cole, indicating that he likely has no desire to bury the hatchet and move past this.
Manoah's beef seems to be with Cole specifically, as he said that he and Aaron Judge don't have any "fireworks" between them beyond the usual rancor that comes between two division rivals. This Cole thing, however, makes Manoah look perpetually aggrieved. Just put this in the past already.
With his fingers as pristine as a surgeon's, Cole has been slicing and dicing the rest of the league. Following his 2-hit shutout against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, Cole managed to twirl 5.2 shutout innings against Manoah and Toronto, lowering his ERA on the season to 0.79.
This seems like an issue that will likely go away when Manoah stops bringing it up, but he doesn't appear to be running away from this controversy at all. Jays fans can only hope that these quotes and the "pressure is something you put in your tires" line doesn't age poorly.