Which MLB teams are most likely to tangle in 2014?
Last year, the Dodgers pulled themselves out of an early hole, and with the help of Yasiel Puig, clinched what seemed early on to be an unlikely post season spot.
On the actual day of the clinch, the Dodgers were at Chase Field, beating the Diamondbacks, a team they'd swapped whoop-se-daisy's with all season. In what Arizona deemed the ultimate act of disrespect, the Dodgers celebrated their playoff berth by jumping into the pool that sits in the Chase Field outfield.
Not only were players, coaches, and writers upset, but Senator John McCain voiced outrage on the move, so you know it was serious business.
Seems dumb, right? Think they're over it in Arizona by now?
This is the 5th day I’ve listened to Arizona sports radio, and this is the 4th day they’ve talked about the pool incident. Really?— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) February 27, 2014
Nope, still furious.
Now, Philadelphia of all places should know the disparity of between the people in sports radio and the people playing the actual sports can be immense. But the Diamondbacks certainly made it known that they were the team that was going to most often be pointing to an open page of the invisible book of unwritten rules while screaming at the other dugout.
If Brian McCann was a whole team, he'd be the Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers have most likely forgotten about this, having made the playoffs with unlimited money and a cast of stars. But Arizona will be happy to remind them with all the high inside pitches and dugout barking that comes with an inferiority complex.
Likelihood of fisticuffs: 10/10 unwritten rule breakings
There was probably not a more exciting pitcher to watch in 2014 than the lowly Marlins' baby faced ace and a half, Jose Fernandez. He was so good and so slick that most times, you couldn't even get mad because you were too impressed.
The kid was brash, confident, and good; exactly the kind of player the Braves didn't want to face in 2014, because they believed baseball should be played the old fashioned way: In silence, with no one ever beating the Braves.
So when Fernandez, a pitcher, hit his first ever Major League home run, he was excited. The Braves, led by grumplepuss catcher Brian McCann, decided to make an example of Fernandez, since 'being excited' has no place in this game.
This wouldn't be the Braves' only incident in 2014. McCann (along with third baseman Chris Johnson, seen here being sure to hide behind his teammates while antagonizing) took issue with Carlos Gomez of the Brewers celebrating a home run, and whined his way through an 0-for-13 performance in the NLDS against the Dodgers.
Unfortunately for this rivalry, McCann was traded out of the league to the Yankees, where he'll have a whole new division from which to take offense. Besides, Fernandez for some reason apologized to McCann after the incident and they're best buds now.
Likelihood of fisticuffs: 1 salty Brian McCann glare/10
A-Rod vs. Bud Selig
A-Rod was disgraced, battling enemies on all sides, and constantly chastised by his endless line of "disappointed dads" in the media.
after seeing adulation heaped on frenemy derek jeter, wonder if a-rod has moment wondering what if he had done things right— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 12, 2014
His colleagues in the MLBPA were even threatening him, some of them even going so far as to perform baseball's most unspeakable on-field acts:
He finally relented, and accepted his suspension for involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. MLB stuck a victory flag in the ground during a 60 Minutes special on the ordeal. And Bud Selig, A-Rod's nemesis who also happens to be the commisioner of the league, announced the Bud Selig Tearful Farewell Tour was coming to a stadium near you.
It wasn't likely that this one would come to blows, but Selig was working hard to make it feel that way. A-Rod was a pain in his side, and it was time to blur the lines between legal repercussions and personal vendettas.
A-Rod wound up mending the fences with the MLBPA. And unfortunately for Selig, A-Rod's "frenemy" Derek Jeter announced his own retirement and Tearful Farewell Tour in 2014, easily overshadowing any ceremonial first pitches Selig might have gotten to throw.
Likelihood of fisticuffs: 0 bans from baseball/10
Oh, look, another AL East rivalry that came to blows. It's made slightly less mundane by the lack of Yankees, but still. Hmm.
The Red Sox and Rays have gone at each other a few times in their short history as rivals.
- 2000: Rays hitter Gerald Williams (???) takes a hit from Red Sox hurler Pedro Martinez. The Rays tried, and sadly failed, to get back at Boston, and the teams settled for shouting at each other in clubhouse corridors, post game.
- 2005: Rays manager Lou Pinella and Sox pitcher Curt Schilling continue an on-field scuffle into the papers.
- 2006: Boston pitcher Julian Tavarez stands on Tampa's Joey Gathright's arm after a play at the plate. When asked to move, Tavarez begins punching Gathright. This was a preseason game.
- 2008: Coco Crisp of the Red Sox gets prickly after a James Shields pitch finds its way to his thigh.
Last year's incarnation came in the form of Matt Joyce getting hit by John Lackey. Lackey claimed the Rays were swinging at (and hitting) everything and was trying to get part of the palte back. Joyce felt the spine-kisser was in response to him swinging on a 3-0 pitch.
After the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon was equally convinced of malice, even though he also thought that Lackey acted alone, and was until that moment "a good teammate."
Like the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, these two will be playing each other all year young, so the chances for somebody to get plunked and take it personally is as high as can be.
Likelihood of fisticuffs: 8 dead-eyed John Lackey stares/10
Boy, the Dodgers did not make a lot of friends in 2013. Usually, if you can't be friends with the rich kid and exploit him for vacations and stuff, then you just start resenting him.
And since the Dodgers keep refusing to share their players with the other NL West teams, there's probably going to be trouble. But to be fair, a lot of people cited this 2013 brawl as a reason brawls shouldn't even exist, thanks to Carlos Quentin.
Quentin entered this game under the impression that Greinke had it out for him, having hit him before in 2008 and 2009. Naturally, four years later in an early regular season game, Greinke was smelling blood once more. So when Greinke's 89 mph heater drifted inward and clipped Quentin on the arm, naturally, it was go time.
Explaining himself later, Quentin seemed very confident in his own victimhood. But a review of the context, like we just did, reveals that maybe Carlos Quentin just needs to get a grip.