The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have a rivalry that goes back nearly a century. It’s been full of passionate fights, strong words, and even fierce punches. And the latest chapter in this great baseball rivalry is… a bunt?
It would seem so. C.C. Sabathia, starting pitcher for the Yankees, is angry at Red Sox second baseman Eduardo Nuñez over a bunt.
The “incident” (if you can call it that) happened in the top of the first inning of Thursday’s game. Sabathia was making his first start since he’d come off the disabled list with a knee injury, and Nuñez was the second batter of the game. Sabathia had struck out Rajai Davis to start, so things were going well thus far.
Sabathia had thrown a ball and a strike to Nuñez, and on the third pitch, Nuñez laid down a bunt. It dribbled straight toward the mound and Sabathia scrambled to get it, and when he scooped it up he unleashed a bad throw to Greg Bird at first base. The throw took Bird off the base and Nuñez reached.
It wasn’t great for Sabathia, who was probably still unsure about his knee, but the bunt didn’t result in any runs being scored. Sabathia walked the two hitters after Nuñez, but then struck out Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers to end the inning. But Sabathia was already showing his displeasure with Nuñez’s choice of hitting technique.
CC Sabathia with a glare at the Red Sox dugout after striking out Devers. He wasn’t crazy Nunez bunted.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) August 31, 2017
Things didn’t get better after the game, which the Yankees won 6-2 on the back of another fantastic Sabathia start.
CC Sabathia said he was so animated in the 1st b/c Nunez bunted for a hit. "It's kinda weak, to me. Just shows what they've got over there."
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) September 1, 2017
Sabathia said the fact Nunez felt the need to bunt for a hit shows he might be scared of him. "I mean, let's go. Swing the bat."
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) September 1, 2017
CC Sabathia on Red Sox bunts: "I'm an old man. They should want to go out and kick my butt. I just feel like they took the weak road."
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 1, 2017
So according to Sabathia, bunting is weak and shows that the Red Sox as a group are the kind of guys who would do a weak thing like that. And bunting also shows that Nuñez and the Red Sox are scared of him. Those are certainly some takes.
This whole thing seems kind of… well, stupid. Bunting is part of the game, and the point of the game is to win. Sabathia’s knee issues aren’t the Red Sox’s problem, as Nuñez so eloquently stated. And even though C.C. is having a decent season, him saying that Nuñez was “scared” of a guy who just got off the DL with a knee injury is laughable. Bunting doesn’t mean a batter is scared of a pitcher. Most of the time the manager directs bunting, so Sabathia should direct his anger toward John Ferrell, who probably ordered the bunt.
For his part, Nuñez didn’t care even a little bit that Sabathia was cheesed off about the bunt.
Núñez on his bunt: “We know he has a bad knee. That’s not our problem.”
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) September 1, 2017
Like, he really, really didn’t care.
Eduardo Nunez: “If I have to do it twice, I have to do it.…And if I have to bunt four times in a row, I’ll do it. I don’t care if he’s mad"
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) September 1, 2017
Nuñez had a job to do, and that job was to get on base. And he did it. If Nuñez had been facing Sabathia in the late innings of a no-hitter, then maybe this conversation changes. But it was the first inning of regular season game. Sabathia is just annoyed that he was forced to field his position and ended up with a throwing error.
No matter how valid it is, Sabathia’s anger is real. And there are a few ways this could go. If the Yankees feel that the Red Sox disrespected Sabathia (and by extension the entire team) with Nuñez’s completely reasonable bunt, they could retaliate, which typically means hitting a batter during a game. If the Red Sox feel disrespected by Sabathia’s comments, they could retaliate the same way.
Neither of those options are good, or warranted, or necessary. Beyond extending this senseless feud, it would actually endanger people. So the best thing for everyone involved would be to just back away slowly and forget it ever happened. But if Nuñez himself wants to settle things, Sabathia has given him a way to do it.
Sabathia on the Red Sox possible reaction: "I’m out there early every day, if they have something to say, we can meet in centerfield.”
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) September 1, 2017
If there is a meeting between Sabathia and Nuñez, let’s hope it’s all talking. According to their MLB bios, Sabathia has a full 100 pounds on Nuñez. That’s a fight that Nuñez would probably not win.
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