BOSTON -- The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is heating up again,
and Alex Rodriguez is still in the middle of it.
A-Rod helped spark a brawl on Saturday when he stared down Red
Sox starter Bronson Arroyo after being hit by a pitch.
Jason Varitek, still wearing his catcher's mask, got in the
middle of it. After what Varitek said were some "choice words,"
he catcher pushed Rodriguez in the face, bringing both teams out of
"I just think it was intensity on my part," said Rodriguez,
who was ejected from the game and watched from the clubhouse as
Bill Mueller homered off Mariano Rivera in the ninth to give Boston
an 11-10 win.
"It just shows you how much both teams were hyped up,"
Rodriguez said. "Once you're in the moment, competing against the
team you don't really like ... you can't really control your
Rodriguez is just getting to know one of baseball's most bitter
rivalries after he was courted by both teams last winter. With
Texas seeking to get out of his record $252 million, 10-year
contract, he was almost traded to Boston before the deal fell apart
in December; the Yankees acquired him right before spring training.
With a move to New York and third base -- Yankees captain Derek
Jeter was ensconced at shortstop -- it took Rodriguez a while to get
his bearings. He was 1-for-17 his first series in Boston in April,
but he went 3-for-5 with the go-ahead hit in the ninth inning of
the Yankees' 8-7 victory Friday night.
On Saturday, Rodriguez reached on Bronson Arroyo's error in the
second inning. He came up again in the third, and Arroyo plunked
Rodriguez moved slowly toward first base while glowering at
Arroyo, and when Varitek stepped between them tempers flared.
"You're talking about one of the greatest players in the game.
He lost his emotions. I lost mine," said Varitek, who claimed to
be protecting his pitcher. "It's not a good thing for our sport,
but it happens. "
The Red Sox had been looking for a spark to awaken them from a
slump that had them playing .500 ball for the last 76 games to fall
8½ games behind New York in the AL East race. Boston is fighting
with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics for a wild-card
"We've been waiting for some catalytic event," Red Sox general
manager Theo Epstein said. "Maybe this whole day ... will serve as
The teams also brawled last fall at Fenway Park during Game 3 of
the AL championship series, when Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez threw
72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground. Zimmer, a
former Boston manager who is now with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays,
apologized the next day.
In 1976, New York's Lou Piniella collided with Boston catcher
Carlton Fisk at home plate in Yankee Stadium and came up swinging.
In the ensuing fight, Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee was body-slammed and
wound up with a broken collarbone.
"You never expect a brawl. But last year in the playoffs and
now this year. It's an intense rivalry," Jeter said. "It's pretty
intense they're trying to catch us. They've been trying to catch us
the past few years."