The Yankees have shown a fighting spirit this season, winning 47 games in come-from-behind fashion on their way to the best record in the Major Leagues.
But last night’s brawl against the Toronto Blue Jays was a lose-lose proposition for the Yankees, and it never should have occurred. It was a virtual Fight Night in the Bronx.
After two Blue Jays were plunked earlier in the game, Toronto reliever Jesse Carlson threw a pitch behind Jorge Posada while the Yankees catcher was batting in the eighth inning of Toronto’s 10-4 victory. Posada eventually got on base and came around to score. Upon crossing home plate, he threw a forearm to Carlson, who was backing up on the play. That touched the bench-clearing melee.
Posada is a team leader, but he is also a hot-head whose temper has cost the team before. Fortunately for the Yankees, there doesn’t seem to be any injuries associated with Tuesday’s brawl. With the playoffs just a few weeks away, Posada put his team in a dangerous spot to have a player get injured in touching off the brawl.
“I told them, there's a lot at stake here and we can't afford to get anyone hurt or get anyone suspended," manager Joe Girardi said. "In the heat of the moment, sometimes we get caught up. We make decisions that maybe we wouldn't have made if we weren't in the heat of the moment. It's an ugly incident that probably shouldn't have happened."
Girardi is correct there. The brawl shouldn’t have happened, and Posada was the player at fault. Home plate umpire Jim Joyce called Posada’s forearm to Carlson “a cheap shot” and immediately ejected Posada.
A large welt decorated Carlson’s forehead after the brawl, and Girardi had a small bruise under his left eye and a cut on his left ear. Posada’s actions placed his teammates in jeopardy of being injured against a team that can’t wait for the season to end. It makes no sense.
“I don't know if that was too smart, because they certainly have a lot more to lose than we do," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said in The Daily News. "They're going to the playoffs and maybe the World Series, and you can get guys hurt out there.”
It’s no surprise that Posada would be the player to start the brawl, but the veteran catcher has to be smarter than that. Not only is there a risk of injury, but there could also be suspensions. For a team that is starving to get back to the World Series, Posada simply can’t take the chance to touch off a brawl against a team that has nothing to play for.
It didn’t need to happen. Posada should have returned to the dugout and let the incident go. He is fortunate neither he nor his teammates were seriously injured, but with so much at stake, the veteran catcher simply needs to be smarter in these situations.