There aren’t many scarier scenarios in professional sports than a 101 MPH fastball from Aroldis Chapman coming at your head. That’s the position Rays pinch hitter Mike Brosseau found himself in on Tuesday night as Tampa Bay trailed the New York Yankees by two runs with two outs in the ninth inning.
Brosseau can count his lucky stars that he was instinctive enough to duck, just barely missing the pitch. Both benches were warned, and Chapman would eventually strike out Brosseau to lock down the save and the win for New York. But as the war of words between the two teams escalated post-game and suspensions were handed out to Chapman (three games) and Yankees manager Aaron Boone (one game), it feels like the animosity between these two teams is far from over.
Here’s a look at the pitch that earned Chapman the suspension.
The reverse angle is even scarier:
It’s no secret that the Rays and Yankees have had beef dating back at least a couple seasons. The proximity in the standings between the two teams only makes things more tense this season, with the Rays leading the AL East with the best record in the American League and the Yankees trimming their deficit to 3.5 games with the win on Tuesday.
What’s worrisome is it feels like the scare tactics could only escalate from here, given the comments from Rays manager Kevin Cash after the game. At the end of a rant voicing his frustration about Chapman’s pitch, Cash said: “I’ve got a whole damn stable full of guys who throw 98 miles per hour. Period.”
You can watch the full video of Cash’s comments here:
Here’s the transcription, via The Athletic:
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Cash said. “It was mishandled by the Yankees, certainly the pitcher on the mound. It was mishandled by the umpires. They hit Joey Wendle intentionally in the first inning, it was clear as day. Chapman comes in, he throws three different balls up and in. I get it, they don’t like being thrown up and in, but enough’s enough. We’re talking about a 100 mph fastball over a young man’s head.
“It’s poor judgment, poor coaching. It’s just poor teaching what they’re doing and what they’re allowing to do.”
For what it’s worth, Chapman said the pitch was unintentional and that he’s been struggling with control lately:
Chapman said his pitch to Brosseau was not intentional. He said he’s been struggling with his fastball command this season. He said he knows it was an ugly pitch but he didn’t want to hit Brosseau.
— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) September 2, 2020
The Yankees and Rays play the rubber match of their three-game series on Wednesday, and that is the last time they are scheduled to meet in the regular season. That’s probably for the best, because tempers are overflowing between these two teams to the point of stupidity.
Here’s some friendly advice for the series finale: compete over the plate and leave it at that. Chapman’s pitch was terrifying and everyone involved is lucky no one was hurt. Cash’s comments about having an entire bullpen of guys who throw 98 MPH is almost as scary. MLB has handed out punishment; no one needs to take justice into their own hands anymore. The situation is too dangerous to get caught up in some fake macho oneupmanship. Both teams need to decide to end it peacefully, or it’s going to get really ugly.
As long as the Rays and Yankees use their animosity to fuel competition the right way, a possible playoff series between these two teams could be fantastic. Just drop the tough guy talk and the please stop throwing at heads. The situation needs to be de-escalated, starting immediately.