Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Remember the Tino Martinez/Armando Benitez brawl? It happened 17 years ago today

Today, May 19, 2015 is the 90th anniversary of Malcolm X's birth, the 50th anniversary of Pete Townshend writing "My Generation" (on his 20th birthday, no less!) and the 17th anniversary of the greatest baseball brawl of my lifetime -- Yankees vs. Orioles! ESPN's Buster Olney mentioned the fight fact this morning. Here is a link to GIFs showing the best part of the fight, and I have also included video of the brawl below.

The fight started after Armando Benitez drilled Tino Martinez in the back. Tino was the next batter Benitez faced after giving up a homer to Bernie Williams, and the drilled pitch was clearly retaliation. Highlights for me include the following:

  • Graeme Lloyd and Jeff Nelson running out of the bullpen to get into the fray, with Lloyd throwing haymakers against Benitez.
  • Darryl Strawberry proves to be the ultimate fighter. If I have to pick ballplayers for an all-star brawl team, he would be my first choice! He gets into the fight multiple times, connecting with Benitez hard. At one point, Joe Torre has to hold Straw back.
  • Future Yankee manager Joe Girardi (!) getting into the fray. Remember that Joe?
  • David Wells mouthing off, and being held back by Jimmy Key.
  • Paul O'Neill (!) trying to be the voice of reason with Tino Martinez, who looks completely enraged.
  • How the fight looks like it is starting to end, then it heats up again.
  • How the fight spills over into the dugout multiple times.
  • The team spirit of the Yankees -- everybody is out there in the fray! Even a very young Derek Jeter is out there!
At one point in the video, an announcer (I think it might be Jim Kaat) says, "This is horrible." To which I say, no way! This is terrific! I never get tired of this video. (I don't know what that says about me, but there it is!)

We were talking recently about Pedro Martinez throwing Don Zimmer to the ground. It still ticks me off that nobody on the Yankees did anything to Pedro over that. Not to mention the lack of response the next year (Tanyon Sturtze, the day's starter, was one of the few Yankee fighters) after the Varitek-A-Rod fight. What happened to those fighting Yankees?

A few years ago, I heard Darryl Strawberry complain about the Yankees' lack of response in those Red Sox brawls, and how this team would not have behaved that way. I completely agree. The 1998 Yankees weren't just arguably the greatest team of all time. They were also fierce fighters!


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