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Yankees vs. Devil Rays – Spring Training Gone Wild

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Spring Training is usually a time for veterans and rookies alike to get in some much needed practice before starting the regular season. While there is the occasional fiery rookie trying to make the team, for the most part Spring Training is pretty subdued. All that changed when the Yankees played the Devil Rays on Tuesday.

Four days prior to Tuesday’s game, a D-Rays hopeful went barreling into the Yankees’ back up catcher, breaking the catcher’s wrist. Joe Girardi was anything but subdued after the play, saying that it was “unnecessary” for a Spring Training game. In on the act as well was Shelley Duncan, who hinted that the D-Rays display of aggression might not be the last between the two teams.

Fast forward to Tuesday – In the first inning, the impending eruption was already brewing as Yankees pitcher Heath Phillips intentionally beaned a D-Rays batter. Then, in the second inning, all hell broke loose. The Yankees Shelley Duncan rounded first after an infield error, only to take off for second base after hesitating for a brief moment. The hesitation clearly cost him as second baseman Aki Iwamura received the ball well before Duncan arrived at second. But, it seemed as if Duncan would have it no other way as he proceeded to make a hard slide into second base with his spikes high up on the leg of Iwamura. Duncan was instantly tossed from the game, sparking a bench-clearing brawl.

This is where the powers that be in baseball need to step in and take some action. A slide like that of Duncan’s, while protective in nature, was a blatant attempt to injure an opposing player. Yes, his teammate had been injured in a previous game, but it had been unintentional. The MLB needs to differentiate between good, hard play and malicious intent. If not, America’s pastime is going to see a lot more of what transpired between the Yankees and Devil Rays.   


Nishan Wilde is VP of Sales for Robbins Sports, an online resource for Baseball Uniforms, Basketball Uniforms and Track Uniforms.