CC vs. Rays

Great MLB Rivalry.

Jim Rome
July 17, 2019 - 9:13 am
CC Sabathia

USA Today


When you think great MLB rivalries, you probably think: Red Sox-Yankees, Giants-Dodgers, Cardinals-Cubs, but if that’s your list, you’re overlooking one of the best feuds in baseball. And last night, there was another edition of it. I’m talking about CC Sabathia vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. 

That’s right, CC v. Tampa is one of the stranger, low-key feuds in all of sports and if you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to get caught up. 

A little background – CC has dominated the Rays the last two years with an ERA of less than 2.4 in 7 starts. And he was tossed from a game against the Rays late last year for hitting a Rays batter.

How seriously did he take that plunking? It led to a suspension that cost him a half million dollar bonus for innings pitched last season. The Yankees still gave him the bonus, but it was more important to CC to defend a team and hit a member of the Rays than it was to stack that cash. That tells you all you need to about what kind of a guy, and what kind of a teammate CC is. Oh and how much he hates the Rays. It tells you that too. 

Because earlier this year, he threw at Tampa’s Austin Meadows three times and allegedly shouted insults at the Rays. 

Which brings us to last night in the Bronx and Sabathia versus Avisail Garcia with two outs in the sixth. And let me tell you, the end of the inning isn’t the end of the action. Let’s get it on!

That was the Rays call. And let’s not get carried away with the idea that Garcia was standing up to CC. That was a classic baseball benches clearing incident, where nobody wants to do anything because nobody is exactly sure what happened or why the benches are clearing. They just know part of the code is getting up off your ass and pretending like you want to knock someone the hell out. Because the code also says if you don’t do that, you’ll get knocked out by one of your own.  

But again, exactly what was the offense there? Which appendix of the baseball code that’s written in invisible ink was violated there? Was Garcia pissed that Sabathia stared him down? Was Sabathia pissed that Garcia stared him down? Who is in the wrong here? What exactly happened?

Garcia said afterwards that “nothing happened.”

Sabathia called it a “misunderstanding.” 

So a weird feud somehow managed to get even weirder. Because that's a lot of big bodies running in from the outfield and off of benches considering nothing happened. Then again, nothing happened. Nothing that I could see. Other than the two of them just looking at each other. I guess we can add to that the long list of reasons to go: he threatened me or someone close to me.  He spit in my face. He insulted my race, and or my religion. HE LOOKED AT ME. 

Because essentially, CC was looking at Garcia, like THE HELL YOU LOOK AT, SCRUB?  He even appears to be saying to Garcia: “If I was talking to you I’d be talking to you.”

That’s true. And if he was trying to hit you, he’d tell you that too. Because after he went after Meadows in May, he left the mound yelling, “I definitely was trying to hit his ass.”

And…Afterwards, Sabathia still said he wasn’t talking to Garcia: "I wasn't talking to him. He looked up at me and said something, and it was on. I was just kind of yelling out and pumping myself up. He might have took offense to it, but it is what it is. I'm not going to back down."

He certainly isn’t going to back down. The only way he wasn’t getting into the middle of that weird fight as part of this weird feud was if someone stopped him. 

And because I still don’t know what happened or didn’t happen that led to the bench clearing, let’s go all CSI on a different call of the incident. And please be warned, there appears to be some personal appearance smack coming up.

“Look at Didi trying to hold CC back, he’s going to need some help.” 

Actually, no he did not. Shoutout to Didi who’s listed at 205 holding back CC who’s probably about fifty percent more than that. But Didi used classic technique. He got low. He got leverage. And he drove with the legs and kept CC from getting into it as the benches cleared. 

Gregorius even took a shot to the neck from CC as Sabathia was gesturing, but he stayed strong, even though "it felt like holding a bear." 

After the dust settled, both teams were warned. And then the Yankees went to work. Homer in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-2 Rays, followed by a two-run homer in the 8th from Aaron Judge and then here comes the Bearkeeper himself, Didi Gregorius with the bases loaded hitting a grand slam.

Have yourself a day, Didi. Hold back Sabathia and snap your slump with a grand slam as the Yankees went on to win 8-3. 

CC Sabathia is retiring at the end of this season, which is sad for so many reasons. He’s a legend. There’s nobody else like in him the league, a guy with more than 250 wins, more than 3,000 strikeouts, and one awesome, weird feud. 

Not only do I not want him to retire, I want him to keep playing long enough so he can have a feud with the Rays in Tampa and Montreal. One weird feud with the same team in two different cities and two different countries. Now that is what baseball needs.