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Things got plunky in the Yankees-Red Sox game

Aug 31, 2011, 8:24 AM EDT

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

My musings from yesterday about the Yankees-Red Sox series getting boring still stand, though they probably need to be qualified in light of the fun little dustup in the seventh of last night’s game. No, the John Lackey plunking of Francisco Cervelli wasn’t A-Rod/Varitek or anything, but there was at least some fire there.

The scene: Cervelli hit a homer in the fifth. He doesn’t hit a lot of homers and this one was a blast. So you could understand that Cervelli was a bit enthused about it. He emphatically clapped his hands as he crossed home plate.  John Lackey and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t much care for it and the very next pitch Cervelli saw went straight into his back. Benches cleared and there was jawing, but no one fought. Probably because these two teams have a lot of old guys on them and no one wants to break a hip.

Lackey, because he doesn’t want to get suspended, says the plunking wasn’t intentional. But the chatter from him and Saltalamacchia after the game suggests otherwise. Lackey said it was “a bit much” and suggested that since Cervelli hadn’t hit a lot of home runs in his career that he doesn’t have room to celebrate.  Saltalamacchia — who is all of 26-years-old — decided to play the “kids today don’t respect nothin'” card:

“As far as the clapping goes, yeah, that could have been a little much. You don’t show anybody up … The game is changing. Younger guys are coming in. I’ve seen it. Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar over at short. I mean a lot of guys – the Latin players – that’s the way they play the game. And it’s OK to an extent. But if they go over that, you have to kind of step back.”

He later clarified that he wasn’t singling out Latin players and that he just didn’t speak too artfully. His real point was clear anyway: these kids today are out of control!

To which I offer a hearty “meh.”  Grow the hell up. Cervelli pumps his fist when he gets a good sandwich. He woops it up if he tosses a wadded up piece of paper into a trash can on the first try. If Cervelli gets one more home run in his career it’ll be a gift from the friggin’ gods, so let him have his little moments. It’d be different if he were offering a metaphorical “in your face,” but he wasn’t. He was merely celebrating the fact that, occasionally, he’s able to transcend his basic Francisco Cervelliness.

And like I said in the recaps this morning, if you don’t want guys like that celebrating home runs, don’t let guys like that hit home runs. It’s a skill the rest of baseball has totally mastered when it comes to Frank Cervelli, so it’s not too big a trick.

  1. sparkycon - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:29 AM

    Yeah Craig, i’m sure a lot of teams would love to have the “old players who might break a hip” on their roster…

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Craig, I am going to play Devil’s Advocate and say that if you want to celebrate by clapping emphatically at the plate, then expect a ball into your back the next time up, go to first and don’t cry about it. What’s wrong with that statement?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:41 AM

      He does it all the time when behind the plate as well.

    • evanhartford - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:50 AM

      I’m a Yankee fan and I think his celebration was a little bit excessive. If I recall, he basically stopped when he got to home plate and made an exaggerated clap right over it. I’m not surprised Lackey plunked him.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:54 AM

        Yeah, I mean that’s all I am saying here. Both guys are wrong, and I know it’s easy to say “Don’t let it happen” Well guess what…it happened. A blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. And when he does, I bet he doesn’t do a dance and clap his hands. He realizes how lucky he was and enjoys the nut. So when Cervelli does his little clap at home plate, he should expect to get plunked and take his medicine like a man. If he had any balls, he would have just ran to first clapping his hands like he did at home. Because that would have REALLY infuriated Lackey, but it would have been fine because he took it like a man.

      • jimbo1949 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        I wonder how Lackey felt the second time Cervelli crossed the plate, I think I know how Cervelli felt.

    • itsacurse - Aug 31, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      Well, for starters, one action is a perceived slight and the other is hurling an object at someone at near lethal speeds.

  3. halladaysbiceps - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Celebrating/clapping after hitting a homerun deserves retribution. Never show another team up. This is how the game of baseball has always been played. It one thing for these guys to point up to the heavens after they hit a homerun like God had something to do with it (which I despise when they do it, including Phillies players), but it’s another thing to do the clapping thing. Good for you, Lackey. A punk move on Cervelli’s part.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:38 AM

      Just curious, but how is clapping any different than the double-fist-pump-kiss-your-ring-point-to-god move that a bunch of players make?

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:45 AM

        It’s perception. The pointing to the heavens/God thing is viewed as a religious thing. Thanks God, like he had anything to do with it. I clearly hate this.

        Clapping/celebrating excessively is viewed as a punk move by the pitcher. The pitcher views it as trying to show him up. I know because I’ve seen it while playing. I’ve seen pitchers drill the batter the next time they came up for that nonsense. Same as when Harper blew a kiss at the pitcher a couple of months ago. Doing things like that will get you drilled.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:49 AM

        Do you think it’s also the perception/reality of an offending players’ abilities or lack thereof? For instance, that HR that Pujols crushed against the Astros in the NLCS which still hasn’t landed yet, I think Pujols waited 5 min before rounding first base. I’ve also seen Cano take some extra long looks at balls he’s crushed. No one ever calls them out. However, it’s the mediocre/bad guys who if they do anything enthusiastic seem to get a pitch to the back?

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:56 AM


        Bad analogy. While I also despise the watching the homerun leave the ballpark issue, 60% of these guys these days do it. Guys would be getting hit all the time. It’s different what Cervelli did, clapping with authority in front of Lackey and his catcher. He showed them up and got deservingly hit his next at bat.

        Baseball players police themselves when it comes to these things.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:57 AM

        The Home Run that Pujols hit in the NLCS was the single greatest home run I have ever witnessed and he could have taken an hour to round the bases and it would have been fine. That swing was the one exception to the unwritten rule about watching a home run.

      • djeter220 - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:02 AM

        Nothing showed Lackey up more than letting up a no-doubter to Frankie Cervelli.

        And not that MLB players should be up on every individual player’s personality, but I would think Lackey is aware of Cervelli being a high-energy guy and not a cocky one. He’s basically on the team more as a cheerleader than a catcher.

    • dohpey28 - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:52 AM

      I think it’s funny coming from the Red Sox, who when Big HGH hits a homer he stands at the plate, poses, then takes 40 seconds to get his fat butt around the bases. And no, I am not a Yankee fan.

      • jimbo1949 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:51 AM

        He just doesn’t loaf around the bases when he hits a home run, I’m thinkin’ Logan was thankful when he got out of the 7th with no runs scored.

      • daisycutter1 - Aug 31, 2011 at 3:38 PM

        This, exactly. Sox players, fans and their enablers in the media are clutching their pearls over a backup catcher clapping once as he crossed home plate, Meanwhile, their heroes practically invented cadillacking after a home run. (Also, there’s no such thing as a good called third strike on a Red Sox player, but that’s another topic for discussion.)

        Anyway, I have no problem with admiring one’s…er…long balls. It’s the obvious hypocrisy that’s the issue here.

  4. kopy - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    Not only is Saltalamacchia 26, but Cervelli is 25… Now we know exactly where the cutoff is for these “young guys” that are disrespecting the game.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:51 AM

      Also, Mike Stanton hit an absolute rocket the opposite way in NY and he simply rounded the bases, touched home, and went to the dugout. And that was a freaking missile.

      And what’s Stanton, like 15 years old? Saltalamacchia just looks stupid for saying what he said.

      • cur68 - Aug 31, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        Agree, Chris. Not only does Salty look a bit dense he also lets some of his perceptions hang out. He tries some belated damage control but really, when you’re 26, what do you know about damage control? I do believe the Latin players on his team might be havin’ a word or 2 with him. In Spanish.

  5. rollinghighwayblues - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    I’m gonna go with Kiwicricket in the ATH thread and say that both Lackey and Cervelli are awful so let them do what they want to each other. Yes, I know Lackey has 12 wins but I still cannot stand the man.

    I feel like these two are meant for each other, Lackey always seems like he’s fixing to sob into tears anytime a play doesn’t go his way and Cervelli acts like an ass with his constant fist pumps and calling time to go to talk to the pitcher every other out.

  6. humanexcrement - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    That pic of Varitek stuffing the glove in ARod’s face always pisses me off because 1) it was a cheap shot sucker punch pussy move by a guy who knew the fight would get broken up before it excalated–bitch move 2) I’d bet my bottom dollar ARod could kick his ass in a real fight, no trouble 3) even if he could ARod will always be ten times the player Tek ever was.

    • kopy - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:02 AM

      A-Rod could beat a lot of people up with that ‘roid rage he’s got going on. That, and, of course, the added strength from the steroids.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:03 AM

      I will admit it was a cheapshot by Varitek but if the two were put in a ring, my money is definitely gonna be with Varitek. You don’t catch at the Major League level at 39 years old by being soft.

      • humanexcrement - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:04 AM

        Or without a hell of a lot of wear and tear on your body.

      • djeter220 - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:06 AM

        If he gets to keep his mask and glove on, sure

    • aleskel - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      doesn’t anybody actually remember that 2004 fight? ARod DID handle Veritek. He put him in a headlock and was taking him down when they got swallowed up by the scrum.

      Take a look at the 1:00 minute mark.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:02 AM

        Looked to me like Varitek was lifting up A-Rod and was about to body slam him when they got swallowed up by the scrum.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        That’s because you are viewing the fight through your requisite Phillies colored glasses. If you take a gander with this special Pinstripe spectacles, you’ll clearly see that Arod was about to kill Varitek

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        No church, I was actually wearing my “Hatred for all things Yankers” colored glasses. They are a different shade of red and they showed that Varitek had his arms wrapped around A-Rod’s scrotal area and was about to dead-lift him when the scrum swallowed them up. Not to say that A-Rod wouldn’t have held his own against Varitek. Dude is a big and obviously strong SOB. Just was pointing out what I saw.

      • daisycutter1 - Aug 31, 2011 at 3:44 PM

        History is written by the victors.

        In this case, The Legend couldn’t be any further from the truth. Varitek got owned in a major way.

  7. pisano - Aug 31, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Lackey’s a scumbag, if you polled most Boston fans I’ll bet most can’t stand him. That being said Boston is in the same boat as the Yankees with A.J. they both over paid for these two losers, but their both stuck with them so they have to play them. Both should be out of the rotation and both should be in the bullpen as long relief or mop up duty.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      Don’t you think scumbag is a bit harsh? You make it seem like Lackey is pimping whores and slinging rock in the parking lot after games.

      • pisano - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:11 AM

        drmonkeyarmy…. He’s not that talented to do either.

      • phukyouk - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        if i had to guess the one phase that would never be uttered on this blog it would probably be “pimping whores and slinging rock in the parking lot”
        THANK YOU!

  8. yankeesgameday - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Francisco said it himself after the game, “that’s Cervelli.” Sound it out like “that’s amore” is the way he said it according to the new York papers.

  9. yankeesgameday - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Another thing; saltamachia is 6’5″ and cervelli is standing toe to toe in that picture. You never think of cervelli being all that tall, but he’s bigger than you think.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:18 AM

      I believe saltalamachia is 6’4″ and Cervelli is 6’1″…must be the angle of the camera.

      • Joe - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:26 AM

        Look at their ears in that photo. Salty dwarfs Cervelli.

  10. protectthishouse54 - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    This reminds me of the infamous Ortiz bat flip from earlier in the season. It’s not a blatant “show-up” it’s just a little something extra. And when someone just belted one off you, combined with the intensity of these games (both of these teams want to win so bad – more than any other games), it’s easy to get pissed and retaliate even though it was no big deal.

  11. urfinished - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    Already mentioned at one point, but to clarify, Sawx fans who celebrate every time Big HGH (Papi) claps, fist pumps, and stomps on the plate…stay classy…and hypocritical of course. Cervelli is an emotional guy and that is the risk he takes. He probably should’ve taken one in the back. But, Red Sox fans live up to their reputation as the most annoying fans on the planet in any sport by acting like they don’t have Papelbon, Ortiz, Beckett, Saltawhatever, and plenty of other spazzes doing the same type of stuff.

  12. thinman61 - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    I was at the game, and the whole bench clearing non-brawl was such a non-issue. Benches cleared (including the Sox bullpen but not the Yankee pen), and words were exchanged, but no one came close to throwing a punch.

    More interesting to me, and less reported on this morning, is WTF was Girardi arguing with the 3rd base ump about in the bottom of the 9th?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:51 AM

      He was arguing that the Red Sox player swung at the ball that hit him. He was right too.

      • thinman61 - Aug 31, 2011 at 9:59 AM

        While Tito and the trainer were still on the field checking on Salty’s leg? That pitch hit him hard. Totally lame, Joe. You can’t argue balls and strikes, you know that.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:04 AM

        You can’t argue balls and strikes, you know that.

        He’s not arguing balls and strikes, as the Dr said, he clearly swung at the ball and missed. Should have been 0-2.

      • aleskel - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:05 AM

        Girardi was already pissed at the same ump (3rd base) for throwing out Larry Rothschild earlier in the game after a nothing incident. It was just a poor performance by the umps all around last night.

      • protectthishouse54 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:43 AM

        It was a tough call to make, but he definitely swung. It was also nice to see Girardi get fired up. After Rothschild got chucked and the Granderson non-HBP (or HBP, it’s really impossible to know) earlier in the game, it seemed like the Sox were getting all the breaks. Plus, it brought the winning run to the plate. Bad call. Oh well.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:48 AM

        As a Yankees hater, I have to say that this was totally a swing by Saltalamachia. Thankfully, the Red Sox still lost or today would have been filled with hundreds, if not thousands of posts talking about how we need replay, we need 15 umpires on the field, and about how the Yankees get all the bad calls against them and how the league has rigged everything for the Red Sox.

  13. djdvd - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Retaliation by hitting a batter is still one of the dumbest things in baseball. He did something I don’t like so I’m going to throw at him MOOOOOOM!!

    Grow the hell up, manchildren.

  14. duckandabluesailor - Aug 31, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    That last bit about don’t let a guy like that hit a home run was perfect.

  15. Kevin S. - Aug 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    I like how Lackey was so angry he did a shitty hitter’s job for him, putting him on base yet again. Not that I would have needed the anxiety of the game getting close, but how different would people be treating this if the game ended 5-4?

    • Ari Collins - Aug 31, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      I was pretty pissed at Lackey. I don’t think anyone should purposefully hit anyone ever, but morality aside, it’s just bad strategy to hit the leadoff hitter.

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