CC Sabathia may have added some fire to a recently dormant Yankees-Red Sox rivalry by saying Boston was “weak” for trying to bunt on him.
These aren’t the days of Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez incurring the wrath of Yankees fans. And David Ortiz is retired. Alex Rodriguez is no longer being lustily jeered at Fenway. The low-key Aaron Judge is the face of the Yankees. Dustin Pedroia is a two-time World Series champion and AL MVP winner who would be a fan favorite if he played in the Bronx.
And the teams haven’t finished first and second in the AL East since 2009, when the Yankees won the division and World Series while Boston took the wild card.
Sabathia was pumped yesterday, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the first and pitching six innings of one-run ball. Sabathia is now 8-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 10 starts after a Yankees loss.
Sabathia being vocal about his unhappiness with Boston’s bunting was fine with the Yankees manager.
“I think it’s the good that is coming out of CC and why he is good in these type of games,” Joe Girardi said on Friday afternoon. “It’s the competitor in him. And CC wants to match his best against their best. And to me, it’s an old school mentality. It is what it is.”
Funny that Sabathia’s mentality can be criticized while former players who acted in a similar way are canonized. Bob Gibson spoke about beating his daughter at tic-tac-toe, never letting her win.
“To me, things that you might have heard from a Bob Gibson or Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens, if you try to bunt on them in certain situations they would get angry,” Girardi said. “So I don’t think CC is trying to cause a rift or is putting the Red Sox down, I think it’s the competitiveness in CC, who wants to face their best and he knows there’s a bunch of very good hitters over there.”
Part of it is that Sabathia wears a knee brace, and it can be looked at as Boston is trying to reach with cheap bunt hits. Yankees fans might ponder why the Bronx Bombers didn’t become the Bronx Bunters against Curt Schilling and his bloody sock in the 2004 ALCS.
Sabathia’s gripe is more about the bunting than the fact that it’s the Red Sox doing it. “He even got to the point where he said he doesn’t like his son to bunt. So maybe he’s becoming part of the analytics world, too,” Girardi joked.
Maybe more than if the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is rekindled, the real question is will other teams start bunting on CC?