Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez

Joe Lavin's Humor Column

I Went to a Fight, and a Ballgame Broke Out

October 14, 2003

It's not every day that you watch a baseball game and see a fight break out between a 32-year-old pitcher and a 72-year-old bench coach. But there was New York Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer lunging after Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez in the middle of Game 3 of the Yankee-Red Sox playoff series on Saturday.

Before this, Martinez had thrown at a Yankee player, and later Yankee pitchers fought with a Red Sox groundskeeper in the bullpen. As Jim Caple wrote at, this game became the ultimate reality show. Really, all it needed was George Steinbrenner and Bennifer running out onto the field to beat each other up, and the bizarre scene would have been complete.

Oh, yeah, the Yankees won the game, but few fans were talking about baseball after this one. This was all about the hatred between the Red Sox and Yankees. This hatred began in 1919 when a certain slugger was traded, percolated in the seventies during several brawls, and reached a new high this year when Red Sox owners took to calling the Yankees the "Evil Empire." Now, it's tough for anyone on television to talk about this series without playing music from Star Wars in the background.

More Red Sox Humor:
Red Sox Virus
(October 28, 2003)

Attention Red Sox:
Ben Affleck Needs You to Cowboy Up

(September 16, 2003)

Why Do We Care About Sports?
(June 14, 2001)

My weekly humor column

There's much debate about whether we should blame Zimmer for charging at Martinez or Martinez for dumping Zimmer to the ground. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a blatant attempt to pander to Yankee fans, said that Martinez should have been arrested after what he did. Admittedly, Martinez shouldn't have been throwing at the Yankees, but I'm not entirely sure what one is supposed to do when an insane 72-year-old man comes out swinging at you. Pushing him out of the way is probably the best option in a bad situation.

Don Zimmer, who sort of looks like Darth Vader with his mask off, has since apologized for his actions. Of course, most Red Sox fans haven't yet forgiven him for blowing a 14-game lead to the Yankees when he was Boston's manager in 1978, so they're unlikely to forgive him for his actions three days ago.

Boston officials, meanwhile, have gone one step further than Bloomberg. Unlike the New York mayor, they're not merely suggesting that a Red Sox player be arrested. No, they're actually trying to arrest Yankee players. This is due to the ninth inning altercation in the bullpen between New York Yankees Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia and Red Sox groundskeeper Paul Williams. Depending on whom you believe, Williams either attacked the Yankees first. Or Jedi Knight Paul Williams accidentally cheered against the Dark Side prompting the evil Yankee Stormtroopers to attack him mercilessly. (Oops, sorry.)

There's no good way to know what happened, although two Boston police officers witnessed the Yankee players assaulting Williams. This means that there's a good chance the Red Sox worker is actually telling the truth. Either that or the Boston police officers hate the Yankees just as much as the rest of New England. Who knows?

Although I too despise the Yankees, I do feel slightly bad for these Yankee players. Try finding an impartial jury in Boston for this trial. Really, the best Nelson and Garcia can hope for is that the jury doesn't start chanting "Yankees suck" during their trial.

To be honest, I suspect that both parties are at fault. This is all conjecture, but Paul Williams, the Red Sox employee, probably was taunting the players, which he shouldn't have done. The Yankee players probably did go after him, which they shouldn't have done. Who knows who threw the first punch? Personally, I think sending everyone involved to jail would be the perfect compromise, and that's just fine with me. Sorry, Paul, but that's a trade I'm willing to make.

As I write this, police are looking for more witnesses. I'm guessing they won't have trouble finding any. There are approximately 34,209 people who would testify that they saw the Yankee players attack poor, innocent Paul Williams, who incidentally is a special ed teacher by day.

"Yes, Officer, I did see Karim Garcia and Jeff Nelson beat up this poor, innocent Red Sox employee. Oh, and I also saw Derek Jeter kick him in the head."

"But Jeter was on the field playing shortstop at the time."

"No, I'm pretty sure it was Jeter. You'd better arrest him too."

If one of their players is thrown in jail during the series, would the Yankees be allowed to replace him on their 25-man roster? Probably not. According to baseball rules, a team must forfeit a game if they are unable to field a team of at least nine players. This means that if we can get 17 more Yankees arrested, the Red Sox will win the series, and the Curse of the Bambino will finally be lifted.

It's not exactly Plan A, but we'll take it. Hey, wasn't that Jason Giambi attacking an usher just now?

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