Benches Clear After Duncan Spikes Rays Baseman

Do the Yankees & Rays know the real season doesn’t starts until a couple of weeks? So why waste all that anger now when it doesn’t count?

Yankees Rays brawl

ESPN reports that the two teams cleared the benches during the second inning of Wednesday’s game. The bad blood had been simmering since four days ago, when New York catcher Francisco Cervelli was injured in a home plate collision with Tampa Ray’s Elliot Johnson. And a couple of Yanks decided it was payback time.

After the collision, Shelley Duncan had warned that he was ready to fight back, saying of the Rays, “They showed what is acceptable to them and how they’re going to play the game, so we’re going to go out there to match their intensity — or even exceed it.”

And in the first inning, Yanks pitcher Heath Phillips acknowledged, hitting Rays batter Evan Longoria in the midsection. Phillips was immediately ejected.

But it was Duncan who set things off in the second inning by sliding into Rays 2nd baseman Akinori Iwamura - with his spikes up.

Shelley Duncan spikes up

In reaction, Jonny Gomes came running from right field to tackle Shelley, then everyone else joined in on the fun. Duncan, Gomes and two coaches were thrown out of the game before order was restored.

An embarrassing incident in an otherwise meaningless game? Well, YAHOO SPORTS’ BIG LEAGUE STEW found some meaning in the mess, congratulating the Rays for finally becoming a real Major League club:

The Rays were a no-contest 30th out of 30 teams, a franchise that not even the locals took seriously.

All of that’s changed now. You don’t fight fierce against the sport’s spotlight franchise one day and then go toe-to-toe with them a few days later and not walk away without a great deal of respect.

Already the Rays occupied a spot as one of the up-and-coming teams in baseball, but now that they’ve picked a fight with the school bully, they can strut around with a little more cred. I’m already looking at them in a different light.

Maybe they should have kept the “Devil” name, after all. OK, maybe not.