Bonin looked at Wells and snarled, "Did you say I was horse——?"
"You're outta here."
Fortunately for Wells's ERA, the game was rained out midway through the third inning. Unfortunately for the Yanks, Torre had had to dip into an already taxed bullpen. "It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," Wells said of the comment that got him ejected. "I did what I did, and I'm not going to criticize myself."
He left that to Torre, who called his behavior "terrible and unprofessional" and added, "He left us hanging." Torre and New York pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre refused to speak to Wells until he expressed contrition. Wells apologized three days later, just before he pitched the Yanks to a 6-3 victory over the New York Mets. One tabloid's headline read LEFTY'S FEAST STARTS WITH HUMBLE PIE.
TWO-HEADED BEAST FOUND IN REDS DUGOUT CAN PITCH AND MAKE LINEUPS!
Davey Johnson has managed Wells—if that's possible—twice: in Cincinnati (1995) and Baltimore ('96). "Boomer's a little different," Johnson says. "Even his signs were reversed. One finger meant a curve; two, a fastball. He made the catcher adjust to him. He made everyone adjust to him. The guy wasn't afraid to butt heads." Johnson ought to know. Wells once head-butted him.
Wells had gone 10-3 for Detroit in '95 before being dealt that July to Cincinnati, where he won six games down the stretch for the playoff-bound Reds. In one of those wins, he had no-hit Philadelphia through six innings when Johnson made two defensive switches in the outfield. In the seventh inning Wells gave up two hits and a run, and he blamed the changes for disrupting his rhythm. After the third out, Wells made straight for Johnson. "I yelled, 'You a——,' then smoked him," says Wells, savoring the memory. "It was a nice little bump."
His noggin and Johnson's collided with such force that it seemed they might be permanently fused together, like Rosey Griefs and Ray Milland's in The Thing with Two Heads. "I think it hurt his head more than mine," says Johnson. "Mine's harder."
But not much. "Boomer can be real hardheaded about staying in a game," says Yankees catcher Joe Girardi. "Which is exactly the attitude you want from a starter." It was probably not the attitude Torre wanted from Wells in a May 11 game with Kansas City. Top of the ninth, one out, nobody on. The Yankees holding a roomy 3-2 lead. Torre scaled the dugout steps, signaled for a reliever and headed for the mound. "Good game," he told Wells.