It was just a little over a year ago when the New York Yankees (eh, actually just Josh Donaldson) incited a benches-clearing incident with Tim Anderson and the Chicago White Sox. Remember that? Donaldson called Anderson "Jackie" (in what was a clear cheap-shot piece of mockery with racial undertones) and then Donaldson was never the same player again. Good times.
Anderson, however, is no stranger to controversy. He's been the subject of many contentious occurrences and conversations in the baseball world, with the latest coming this past Saturday night.
During a game against the Guardians, Anderson oddly took exception to totally legal slide by Jose Ramirez, who took exception to whatever Anderson said to him. The two quickly agreed to square up and throw hands, with the umpire shuffling out of frame once it became evident there was no stopping the bare-knuckle boxing match.
In another terribly unfortunate turn of events for Anderson, he (for some reason) squared up as a lefty (if you know anything about boxing) despite being a righty, went for two swings at Ramirez, whiffed on both, and then caught a right haymaker to the jaw on Ramirez's second punch thrown when he let his guard down on his left side (it should always be up, if you know anything about boxing!).
Anderson went down in a heap, madness further ensued, and the 7-4 victory for the White Sox felt like a loss. At 45-68, Chicago has, for two years running, arguably been the biggest disappointment in MLB. They've followed up back-to-back playoff appearances with an 81-81 season and what will now be a below .500 campaign in the league's worst division.
To make matters worse, Anderson is now suspended for six games, which, unless he appeals, will take him entirely out of the series against the Yankes, and he got three more games than Ramirez despite getting knocked out, stumbling off the field, and then sending a bunch of gibberish tweets that sounded like they were coming from a guy who just got knocked out.
Tim Anderson knockout, suspension is 'right in front of' Yankees to take advantage of
Sweeps in baseball are hard, yes, but if the Yankees can't take advantage of the White Sox dealing with this kind of cratering morale, then what are they even capable of? One of their best players got put to sleep on live television and new Yankee Keynan Middleton just outed the White Sox for having a toxic/nonexistent culture. It really doesn't get much worse than this.
Here's what Middleton, who got traded to the Yankees at the deadline, told the media over the weekend:
"We came in with no rules. I don't know how you police the culture if there are no rules or guidelines to follow because everyone is doing their own thing. Like, how do you say anything about it because there are no rules?- Keynan Middleton, ESPN
You have rookies sleeping in the bullpen during the game. You have guys missing meetings. You have guys missing PFPs (pitcher fielding practices), and there are no consequences for any of this stuff."
And how about that! A Yankees player actively burying a team they're about to play in a series with the hopeful intention of setting the tone and wanting to send a message. Haven't had one of these guys in ... forever? As manager Aaron Boone loves to say, "it's right in front of us."
There's every possible opportunity here to sweep one of the worst teams in the league who might be out one of their key players for the next three games. The Yankees even have the advantageous pitching matchup with Chicago's ace on the mound: Gerrit Cole will face Dylan Cease on Monday. All they have to do is figure out a way to get Luis Severino off the mound of Wednesday's game.
The White Sox are the definition of downtrodden. The Yankees have had a field day laying waste to the Royals and A's this year. The least they could do is continue the demolition of the AL's basement with a very realistic sweep before they have nine games against playoff contenders. Show us there's a little bit more than complacency left in the tank.