Until June 25 neither Roberto Alomar nor Roger Cede�o had done much for the Mets this year. The inability of the two off-season free-agent acquisitions to set the table was a large part of the reason that New York's offense had gone hungry. Then, before a division showdown with the Braves, they made what could turn out to be their biggest contribution to the Mets' cause all year: They got into a fight in the clubhouse.
The spat started with Cede�o's teasing Alomar about the picture on his 1988 rookie baseball card: Alomar is sporting a pencil-thin mustache that makes him look rather like '80s pop star El DeBarge. Alomar took exception, and the pair had to be separated by Mo Vaughn. Alomar then went out and homered in the first inning, and Cede�o sparked a Mets rally in the second with a single and a stolen base. Clearly pleased, manager Bobby Valentine dismissed the imbroglio that preceded the 7-4 win as "a little Latin yelling." He added, "We were up for the game. There was a lot of fluids going."
Well, if there's one tiling good teams seem to have in common, it's that they have more fluids going than Patrick Ewing wearing a wool topcoat in a sauna. Two days after l'affaire Alomar, longtime nemeses Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent nearly came to blows in the Giants' dugout during a win over the Padres; each later homered in the game. This is of course nothing new: Oakland pitchers Blue Moon Odom and Rollie Fingers battled before Game 1 of the 1974 World Series, in which the A's beat the Dodgers in five games. Three years later Reggie Jackson went from nearly smacking Bronx Zookeeper Billy Martin to smacking three home runs against the Dodgers to win the Series. In '97 Kevin Mitchell pushed Chad Curtis into a Ping-Pong table during a dispute over music in the Indians' clubhouse; the Tribe came within one out of its first World Series title in 49 years. Two years later Curtis, a serial feuder, ripped Yankees teammate Derek Jeter when the shortstop chatted up Alex Rodriguez during a bench-clearing brouhaha with the Mariners; the Yanks went on to become world champs.
After Alomar and Cede�o followed their tiff with solid performances, Mets G.M. Steve Phillips joked, "I might instigate something, kind of a team brawl before the game." Here's a look at some equally tense situations that could soon erupt and fuel history-making second-half surges.
? Scott Rolen vs. Everybody
The refusal by the Phillies' former golden boy to re-sign has led to strained relationships with the fans, media and his teammates, one of whom anonymously called him a "clubhouse cancer." The last time that Phillies players had a common enemy—their manager, Dallas Green, in 1980—they won the World Series.
? John Rocker vs. Jamie Quirk
The Rangers' interim pitching coach found himself on the business end of a Rocker hissy fit last week when manager Jerry Narron pulled the reliever after just one batter.
? Richard Hidalgo vs. Jimy Williams
The Astros' rightfielder didn't take kindly to being benched last month by the ever-grumpy manager. Hidalgo chucked his bat bag across the clubhouse and broke a chair upon learning that he had been removed from the lineup.
With this kind of dissension these teams should get hot soon. And a quick note to all those general managers whose teams aren't mentioned: Chad Curtis is available.