Rays Get Heated in Texas Sun, Fight Each Other

Do not shake off Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro’s signs. The man practically invented signs. Don’t tell him how to throw signs. The Bloods, Crips, and Johnny Otis (progenitor of the hand jive) all came to him when they needed signs. Dioner Navarro’s whole life is one big sign, man. Don’t shake off his signs.

Pitcher Matt Garza didn’t listen to us Sunday, though, shaking off Navarro twice in the fourth against noted slugger German Duran. We assume he wanted to give him the heat and announce his presence with authority. Navarro shrugged, possibly imitating Crash Davis, and let Garza throw the heat. Duran deposited the ball into the seats.

Navarro went out to the mound one batter later to explain calmly to Garza exactly how he started the use of fingers, hand position, and timing to convey the best pitch selection to a hurler in 1874, pressing his mask against Garza’s face. The pitching coach had to rush out to break up the impromptu meeting.

But the fun really started after the inning ended.

That’s when Garza and Navarro tumbled into the dugout with Shieldsian force (and accuracy) to deliver their own signals: one fist means concern about communication and respect. Two fists means stuttering.

Everyone’s getting along now, of course. We’re brothers and we’re a team and it all stays in the clubhouse and do ball players really hear themselves say these things sometimes? After all, what’s so hard to explain about this? Garza simply explained to Navarro to take caution in his tone. He’s a fair guy, but this Texas heat is making him absolutely crazy.

(What, you thought we’d go for a second Bull Durham quote in the same piece? We do have standards. Theoretically.)

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