Following the events that took place in the New York Yankees’ first matchup with the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 season, it is safe to say that the best rivalry in baseball history is back. Though both teams seemingly are neck and neck in the playoff hunt year after year, we have not seen things this heated between these two historic franchises since the mid-2000’s. Both teams are expected to make playoff runs this year, which will make the remainder of their meetings this year a must-see spectacle.
There was certainly a spectacle during Wednesday’s game with Tyler Austin of all people right in the middle of it. Austin, a young first baseman/corner outfield type of player has 61 games under his belt in three seasons in Major League Baseball slid into second base where he clipped Red Sox second baseman, Brock Holt with his spikes. This certainly reminds us of last year when Dustin Pedroia was spiked by Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles which resulted in an injury. Fortunately, Holt was not injured but he certainly did not keep his displeasure for that slide in a secret which resulted in the benches clearing for a bit.
The umpires did review the slide and ruled that was nothing there to implement the new rule designed to protect middle infielders from plays just like that. Unless there was previous history between Austin and Brock Holt or anyone on the Red Sox for that matter, it did not appear that he was really trying to hurt anyone. There was nothing to really make of the benches clearing for the first time, so one might think it was over. Austin later in the game faced pitcher Joe Kelly and after nearly being hit with a fastball once in the at bat, was drilled and then chaos ensued. Austin charged Kelly, both players exchanging punches which at that point resulted in inevitable suspensions.
Now the question is, who was in the right and who was in the wrong? We do not know for sure if the slide was intentional or if the drilling was intentional; however, it is very unlikely that both were not intentional. If you are Tyler Austin, and you get drilled with a 98 MPH fastball on purpose for something that was accidental and at the end of the day, not really that big of a deal because no one got hurt and it was not deemed intentional via review, then it really should not matter if you are a future Hall of Famer or a 60-game player still trying to make a name for yourself; no really blames you for charging the mound. Violence should never be encouraged and in those situations, you are putting teammates and yourself at risk of getting injured, but it could have been avoided all together had he not been drilled.
Austin was protecting himself and Joe Kelly was protecting his teammate; they both felt they had good reasons to do what they did, but that slide was blown out of proportion. In an ideal world it should have been over after Holt let Austin know that he did not appreciate that slide. While this was nowhere near a takeout slide, but it has always been a part of the game; same goes for running over the catcher when he is blocking the plate. Major League Baseball in the last few years have been trying to rid the game of serious injuries suffered in those type of plays, but these players did not start playing baseball four years ago. Sure, there have been plenty of instances of dirty slides. But, the problem is that Austin’s slides were not clear enough to be deemed dirty. If it were intentional, it is reasonable to believe that it would be a lot more obvious when you look at the replay.