June 5, 2008

Coco Explains His Slide

Update below.

Coco Crisp said his hard slide into Akinori Iwamura was payback for Tampa shortstop Jason Bartlett blocking the bag with his knee on Crisp's stolen base attempt two innings earlier.
He put his whole knee in front of the bag, and it's not something you do as an infielder. You can do that, but that's shady. And he's not a bad dude, but that's shady. It is what it is. You gonna hurt me, I'm going to come back and hurt you.

If I would have intended to injure I wouldn't have slid at all. I would have just ran him over like he was a catcher. I went in hard to send a message. ... If Bartlett would have covered, might have been a little more dramatic.
A few minutes later, when Tampa manager Joe Maddon began yelling into the Red Sox dugout from the mound, Crisp yelled back:
I told him, "Look at me. Don't look down the street at Tito." ... I was saying I did that on my own, don't punish anyone else on the team. Don't get Petey, don't get Lugo, don't get AC [by] sliding hard at second base. Get me with a pitch. If you want to retaliate with somebody, I'm the man. That's pretty much it.
That makes sense. But if Crisp feels that way, why did he slide into Iwamura to counter what Bartlett did? Isn't Bartlett "the man" in this case?

[Bartlett] didn't want to cover the bag the second time. They probably had it changed up because they thought Lugo was going to hit the ball to Bartlett's side or something like that. But if you're going to do something like that, I don't care what the situation is, take your own lickin'.
It seems to me that if Crisp wants Tampa to deal solely with him if they decide to retaliate, then he should have waited for a chance to get back at Bartlett. Crisp went after a different Tampa player, so why should Tampa not go after another Red Sock?


Update: I missed this Crisp quote in which he said he told Bartlett in the sixth that if he got on base again, he'd deal with him at that point:
I was going in there to send a message. I did what I said I was going to do, unfortunately it was to the wrong person. I don't know why they didn't have Bartlett covering the bag.
That answers my question.


Rob said...

Do you see any retaliation tonight? I can't see the rest of the season going by without something getting started with these two teams. Usually Tampa was just in the way of the Red Sox, and they'd do their best to shake things up. But now they are the competition, and things like this are happening... It's pretty exciting to watch. A new rivalry beginning.

Jack Marshall said...

I thought it was a clean slide. I've often wondered why players don't go in harder, when there is a chance to make the secondbaseman drop the ball. If Dave Roberts had been in Coco's position in the 9th, same throw, same play, wouldn't you want him to go in hard, and make the ball squirt away? And if it would be OK then, why not last night?

On the "pay-back" aspect, you are right: it makes no sense. But I see nothing wrong with the hard slide.

Benjamin said...

The whole retaliation culture in baseball is bullshit, but if you accept it as a given, then you can't fault Coco for taking the opportunity to retaliate against someone instead of waiting for the chance to retaliate against Bartlett. The only player who gets to choose his retaliation opportunities is the pitcher; baserunning opportunities are pure happenstance.

gary said...

Coco wanted to take matters into his own hands. So he did it in the only way he could. He couldn't throw at a hitter, but he could slide hard into a fielder. He couldn't control who covered second base. It makes just as much sense as throwing at a random hitter because the pitcher hit someone.

Coco now wants the rays to deal with him, and they easily could. But they might not just to piss him off.

Jack Marshall said...

Well, bad blood between the Rays and Sox is hardly new: remember Rays pitchers throwing pitch after pitch at Brian Daubach? As for a new rivalry--soon, perhaps, but these games sure don't feel likethe Yankees-Sox. I think the Rays are on the cusp, but not quite ready for prime time.

Doogie said...

He can request anything he likes as the form of Rays retaliation, but that doesn't mean they'll listen to him.

Gareth said...

It didn't seem like a terrible slide, but the whole thing about "making a point" and the retaliation culture that phil mentioned just gets old to me. One of the most unintentionally funny sights in baseball is bullpen pitchers running in during a "bench-clearing" incident. By the time they get there the storm has usually passed out of the teacup.

Spencer Brown said...

You thought it was a "clean slide" Jack? Take off the homer glasses and try to see objectively. It was a pretty dirty play. Way worse than the "knee blocking the bag" excuse.

Rob said...

One of the most unintentionally funny sights in baseball is bullpen pitchers running in during a "bench-clearing" incident. By the time they get there the storm has usually passed out of the teacup.

And the two bullpens run in side-by-side. I have not yet seen the two bullpens just start duking it out with one another. That would be interesting to see. They all just kind of jog in together and see what's what.

Jack Marshall said...

No, Spencer, I just disagree. He was going for the bag and trying to up-end the guy with the ball. Why is that a dirty slide at second but not at home plate? Why is a slide like that OK to stop a throw to first on a doubleplay but dirty to stop a tag? I don't see it.

It's "dirty" because players don't expect that anymore, because the unwritten rule is "I protect your health and you protect mine"---in other words, winning is secondary. Up until about 30 years ago, I don't think anyone would have questioned that slide. Redsock could probably give us exact dates, but such slides were standard practice up through the 20s and probably much longer. And Crisp didn't try to spike anyone.

The fact that Crisp SAYS he did it for retaliation means that HE thought it was dirty, and that makes a difference. But objectively, it was good hard baseball. Pete Rose would have approved.

Joe Grav said...

Coco is in the wrong on this one. He basically admitted that he was trying to hurt the guy. He should get suspended.

Patrick said...

I'm not a fan of eye for an eye justice. I think Coco should have just bitched at Bartlett and given him a hard time, especially right after the steal. It's important Bartlett know he Fed up, but an elbow to the groin of Akinora is something else.

Plus, I've seen what happens when you attack Iwamura, and it ain't pretty. Just ask Shelly Duncan.

allan said...

Crisp was pretty clear on what he thought he would do if it was his intent to hurt whoever was covering. (Maybe if it had been Bartlett he would have gone in standing up ..?)

The only part of the play that I thought was out of line was what sure looked like an attempted punch in the nuts.

But, in general, I don't have a problem with it. These are the games within the games -- and the players will sort it out. If it gets out of hand, the umpires and league will sort it out.

What burns me more is when players like Varitek (and many others) peel off on a double play about half way to second and don't even bother putting up a screen or do anything to distract the pivot man.

And I would like to see a bullpen brawl! I'm sure it's happened at some point.

Jack Marshall said...

Bullpen battle: I was at Fenway for one full field donnybrook between the Yankees and Sox somewhere between 1969 and 1973---the bullpens ran in and started fighting. Highlight: Reggie Smith picked up some player (Thad Tillotson?)and held him over his head briefly before throwing him down (Reggie was into Kung Fu). The only real "Quiet Man"-quality baseball fight I can remember. It was great. (The Red Sox won the game)

Jenks said...

I love Crisp, but seriously.

Gareth said...

They all just kind of jog in together and see what's what.

That's what I think is funniest of all, and some of them look like they're going to expire from the additional sprinting. If they're going to brawl at all they should be over invading each other's bullpens!

sepia5 said...

@ Jack:

"Why is that a dirty slide at second but not at home plate? Why is a slide like that OK to stop a throw to first on a doubleplay but dirty to stop a tag?"

It's b/c in both of those instances there is a legitimate reason for the hard slide (scoring a run or breaking up a double play). Look, there is just no way you can justify Crisp's slide. If he took umbrage with Bartlett blocking the bag, there's a solution: slide feet first. Trust me, Bartlett won't do it again. And besides, infielders block the bag all the time. I have no idea where Crisp is getting this nonsense about how it is bush league.

Either way, to go after Iwamora, whether he gave some convoluted warning beforehand or not, was the height of hypocrisy when he then turned around and proclaimed the Rays should go after him and not his teammates. Finally, he should have expected to get beaned the next day, as he did. Shields didn't go up and in; he did it the right way. Crisp had no business charging the mound, and by doing so he opened himself up to punches and scratching and anything else necessary to make the point.

Frankly, I'm a neutral observer here, but if I were calling the shots for the Rays I would probably feel it necessary to hit Crisp again after his post-game comments. There's just no justification you can make here. Crisp was in the wrong at every turn.