Posted: Friday September 15, 2006 9:58AM; Updated: Friday September 15, 2006 1:54PM
Lee Bowyer (left) and Kieron Dyer didn't mind coming to blows during a game.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Have a question or opinion for Pete? He might answer/address it in his mailbag.
With Royals teammates Runelvys Hernandez and John Buck exchanging punches and, more seriously, Northern Colorado's backup punter allegedly going bizarrely vigilante on the starter, it's been a tough week for teamwork. Naturally, the 10 Spot is here to put these contretemps in historical perspective with our list of 10 notable fights between teammates.
1. Lee Bowyer vs. Kieron Dyer, 2005: This might be unfamiliar to most American sports fans, but the former teammates for Newcastle in England's Premiership soccer league might be the only teammates to scuffle during a game. In the 80th minute of Newcastle's 3-0 loss to Aston Villa, Bowyer threw a punch and then grappled with Dyer. Bowyer said later that he was upset Dyer hadn't passed him the ball when he had a scoring chance, though naturally one British tabloid found the juicier angle that Bowyer was distraught over being dumped by his model girlfriend. Both players were immediately ejected and suspended (four games for Bowyer, three for Dyer). Bowyer was also docked six weeks' wages (about 210,000 pounds) and later pleaded guilty to criminal charges of using threatening behavior, for which he was assessed another 1,600 pounds in fines.
2. Darryl Strawberry vs. Keith Hernandez, 1989: When the Mets lined up to take their team photo during spring training, the Straw Man was assigned to sit next to Hernandez. "I'd rather sit next to my real friends," muttered Strawberry, evidently upset that Hernandez had told a reporter that Kevin McReynolds, not Strawberry, should have been the 1988 Mets MVP. Replied Hernandez: "Why don't you grow up, you big baby." Strawberry promptly fired a left jab that grazed Hernandez's cheek, in full view of rolling TV cameras, before teammates separated the pair. The running joke afterward was that Strawberry failed to make solid contact because he couldn't hit lefties.
3. Michael Westbrook vs. Stephen Davis, 1997: One of the nastier (and shorter) teammate dustups. While watching a Redskins practice from the sideline, running back Davis made comments suggesting that wide receiver Westbrook was gay. Westbrook cold-cocked Davis with a sucker punch and then beat him savagely, leading to a $50,000 fine and a one-game suspension. After his NFL career ended, Westbrook returned to the limelight briefly in 2005 when he pummeled another running back, former Giant Jarrod Bunch, in a somewhat more legitimate setting. Westbrook defeated Bunch in the first round of a "King of the Cage" mixed-martial-arts bout.
4. Rod Strickland vs. Tracy Murray, 1997: Murray told a lady friend, who was tape-recording the conversation, that he thought Wizards teammate Strickland was gay. The woman then replayed the words on Strickland's answering machine. Later that day, a few hours before a game in Charlotte, Strickland knocked on his teammate's hotel door. When Murray answered, Strickland landed a haymaker to Murray's left eye. Murray needed seven stitches to close the wound; both players were fined $25,000 by the team. In addition, the girlfriends of both players were reportedly upset by the reports linking their men to the tape-recording woman.
5. 1970's A's: Owner Charley Finley's gang threw so many intramural punches while winning three straight World Series titles that it become Exhibit A in the argument that team chemistry is overrated. In one memorable dustup, Reggie Jackson squared off with fellow outfielder Billy North. Catcher Ray Fosse tried to break it up and received a neck injury that would require surgery for his trouble. The day before the start of the 1974 World Series, pitchers Blue Moon Odom and Rollie Fingers tussled in the locker room after Odom reportedly razzed Fingers about his troubled marriage. Odom twisted his ankle and Fingers needed stitches in his head, but the reliever pitched in Game 1 as the A's beat the Dodgers in five games.