Opinion

Joe Kelly Becomes Next Pitcher in Storied Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry

Joe Kelly becomes the latest Red Sox pitcher to push back against Yankee aggression.

Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com: (April 10, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

It didn’t take long this season for the Yankees to find a target to direct their anger towards. An April 11th game between the Yankees and Red Sox saw Joe Kelly bean Tyler Austin in retaliation for an earlier confrontation between Austin and Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt. The beaning resulted in a bench-clearing brawl.  Kelly and Tyler Austin received six and five game suspensions, respectively.  With both teams tied for first, it’s clear that the Yankees, and its fanbase, clearly dislike Joe Kelly. However, Kelly is the latest in a string of Red Sox pitchers who’ve defended their teammates against the Evil Empire.

Kelly didn’t hesitate to defend his teammates’ honor by showing Austin that he can’t push Holt around. With that brawl came Kelly’s elevation in status. Kelly joined the ranks of players like Jim Lonborg, Bill Lee, and Pedro Martinez who’ve also pushed back against Yankee aggression. Kelly will now be remembered as a Red Sox pitcher who didn’t hesitate to show the Yankees that they’re not as intimidating as they think they are. 

Jim Lonborg defended teammate Joe Foy during a 1967 Red Sox v. Yankees game at Yankee Stadium when he beaned pitcher Thad Tillitson for hitting Foy in the head with a pitch. Tillitson screamed at Lonborg as he walked towards first before both teams brawled it out.  Bill “Spaceman” Lee sacrificed many more good playing years after confronting the Yankees in a 1976 game. That brawl ended with the Yankees’ Graig Nettles body slamming Lee right onto his pitching arm. Then there’s Pedro Martinez’s takedown of Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer in 2003 during the ALCS series in Boston.

In each instance, the Yankees decided that they could take swipes at the Red Sox before running to hide behind their World Series trophies (metaphorically speaking). Their “How-dare-you-fight-back” reaction in each brawl only reinforces their arrogance.

While Kelly insists that it was just a pitch that got away from him and beaned Austin, it’s clear that the Yankees thought otherwise. Given their storied history, fans can expect more intensity this season, especially since the two teams are now locked in a battle for first place in the American League.

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