Time and time again, the Tampa Bay Rays are the aggressors when it comes to increased tensions with the New York Yankees. It goes as far back as 2018 when Andrew Kittredge threw at backup catcher Austin Romine.
Ever since, these two teams have both quietly and loudly have gone at it. You remember 2020 when Rays manager Kevin Cash claimed he had a "stable" of guys who throw 98 MPH in response to Aroldis Chapman's buzzing of Mike Brosseau, something that didn't seem to have clear intent given how famously inaccurate the left-hander had become over his Yankees tenure.
You want to defend your guys? That's fine. Maybe don't send not-so-disguised threats, then? And though we don't necessarily fault Cash for standing up for his team again on Friday night after Randy Arozarena was plunked in consecutive at-bats against mediocre pitchers, he needs to stop thinking this is some sort of nefarious ploy to put the Rays in their place or get a rise out of them.
The Yankees don't have a manager that would call for something like this. Aaron Boone can hardly speak clearly in postgame interviews. Not a single one of their pitchers are characterized as aggressors. An inexperienced Jhony Brito and an oft-inaccruate Albert Abreu trying to go inside on Arozarena isn't a declaration of war.
Cash was ejected for arguing with the umpires and then actually delivered a hilarious and entertaining quote in the postgame, but this better not spill over into Saturday.
Rays, Kevin Cash incensed after Yankees hit Randy Arozarena twice
Cash has his assistants talking trash to the Yankees' dugout, clearly trying to rile up Luis Rojas and the rest of the coaching staff? Again, the frustration here is understandable because of how valuable Arozarena is, but the Yankees are in desperate need of wins right now and can't afford to put runners on base or lose pitchers to ejections or suspensions.
There's a reason the umps didn't issue warnings after Brito hit Arozarena. If anybody's watched Brito all year, they'd know his sinker has major movement that he's yet to fully harness. He's struggling a bit right now with 4.4 BB/9. Abreu is at 6.9 BB/9 and the Rays know him very well after destroying him at Tropicana field back in 2021 in one of the worst beatdowns you'll ever see.
It's just classic Rays/any opposing rival to assume the Yankees are the aggressors based on a narrative that no longer exists. Everybody always needs to create their own motivation when facing the Bombers. It's the way of life for them. The instigating, take-no-crap Yankees are a thing of another generation. The modern day Yankees are known to lie down. Every time they talk trash it backfires. Every time they express confidence they seemingly perform worse.
At this point, Cash has to know that, which makes his apoplexy and disdain for the Yankees seem contrived. It's designed to make everybody hate the Yankees more, even though there have only been reasons to laugh at them since 2009.