Barajas, Drese back to business after dugout scuffle
Posted: Friday May 27, 2005 4:01PM; Updated: Sunday May 29, 2005 2:18AM
Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds provided plenty of fireworks on and off the field.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
There was yet another reminder this week that former A's outfielder Billy North may be the sagest man ever to pull on a pair of sanitary socks.
It was North, a member of the rambunctious Oakland teams of the 1970s, who famously explained the prevailing attitude when it comes to clubhouse politics: "You don't have to love a guy to play ball alongside him."
Rangers pitcher Ryan Drese and catcher Rod Barajas learned as much this week. During the sixth inning of a 4-3 win over the Royals on Tuesday night they were seen rolling around on the floor of the Ameriquest Field dugout, trying to settle an argument about pitch selection. Give them credit: After the dustup they went back to work, and with Barajas guidance, Drese threw a scoreless seventh. "I'm a professional baseball player," Barajas told the Dallas Morning News. "Nothing that happens during a game is going to take me away from doing my job."
That's the great thing about the internal warfare that grips baseball teams from time to time. Rarely does clubhouse -- or dugout, or hotel lobby, or charter flight, or street corner -- acrimony spill onto the field and affect players' abilities. The popular theory about those A's teams North played on and the Yankees clubs of the late 1970s (hmmm, what was the connection between those two teams?) is that they won because their clubhouse chemistry was so out of whack. For a team full of guys that hate each other, the playing field is often the only place where everyone can agree on a common goal.
Submit a comment or question for Stephen.
Drese and Barajas's fracas in Texas was a good one, but it doesn't quite crack the list of the top teammate tussles of all time. The tales of the tape:
Barry Bonds vs. Jeff Kent, 2002: In terms of action, their brief dugout shoving match during a game in San Francisico wasn't particularly memorable. But it created major headlines because a) The blow-by-blow was caught by television cameras and b) People had been anticipating this showdown for years. It erupted after Kent appeared to yell at another teammate; Bonds and Kent had to be separated, and manager Dusty Baker was seen being held back from the battlefield by a trainer. Afterward Kent said the scrap was no big deal and could be added to the "half-dozen times we've done it before."
Steve Garvey-Don Sutton, 1978: The Dodgers teammates threw down in the Shea Stadium clubhouse after Sutton said in a newspaper article that it was Reggie Smith, not the "All-American boy" Garvey, who was LA's MVP, and that Garvey was more interested in his off-field image than winning games. Garvey confronted Sutton at his locker; Sutton confirmed that his quotes were true and, legend has it, then made a crack about Garvey's family. They wrestled on the clubhouse floor for several minutes. Garvey emerged with a bloodshot eye, Sutton a bruised cheek. Then the Dodgers went out and beat the Mets 5-4. It's also been said that when someone yelled "Stop the fight, they'll kill each other," another teammate shouted back, "Good."
Reggie Jackson vs. Billy North, 1973: North knew what he was talking about. He and Jackson tangled in the clubhouse in Detroit, the culmination of an argument that some say was over a woman. (North was also known for riding Jackson mercilessly.) The combatants emerged unscathed, but would-be peacekeeper Ray Fosse wasn't so lucky. While trying to break up the fight, the catcher suffered a crushed disk and had to be hospitalized. (Pitcher Vida Blue also missed his scheduled start that night because someone stepped on his foot during the melee.) Afterward North uttered his famous quote, and he was right. The A's went on to win the World Series. "I was wrong," Jackson said, "but a man can just take so much and North has been asking for it."
Dick Allen-Frank Thomas, 1965: Tired of a stream of what he perceived as racially insensitive comments from his Phillies teammate, Allen attacked Thomas in the batting cage one day, decking him with a punch to the jaw. Thomas' response: He got up and slugged Allen in the shoulder with his bat. After the game Thomas, a former All-Star who was nearing the end of his career, was released by Philadelphia. "A lot of guys in baseball could give the needle, but Thomas never knew when to quit," another Phillie, Richie Ashburn, once said. "He wasn't an evil guy. His timing was just always off."
Yogi Berra vs. Phil Linz, 1964: After a late-season loss to the White Sox, Linz tried to lighten the mood on the team bus by playing Mary Had A Little Lamb on his harmonica. Berra, by then the Yankees manager, yelled for him to stop. Linz didn't hear and, when he asked Mickey Mantle what Berra said, Mantle told him, "He said play louder." When Linz obliged, Berra marched back and forcefully stopped the music. Linz was fined $250 -- but he did end up with an endorsement deal with a harmonica manufacturer, and the Yankees went on to win the pennant.