CC Sabathia and Jackie Bradley Jr. didn't seem to get along whenever the New York Yankees pitcher faced the Boston Red Sox outfielder, and we all figured there must be a good reason.
Maybe Sabathia threw inside on Bradley one too many times. Or maybe Bradley admired a hit off Sabathia for a second too long.
Or maybe ... Sabathia fabricated the whole feud.
That last explanation seems far-fetched, but it's the one Sabathia told Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder -- and Bradley's former Boston teammate -- Mookie Betts on The Ringer's "R2C2" podcast.
"I made up a beef with Jackie Bradley Jr. just so I can hate y'all. You have to make it intense," Sabathia told Betts.
"I made up a whole beef, dog. I would I do that s--- with different people. I would point out a guy and be like, 'I'm not going to like that guy so I can hate the whole team.' "
So, why did Sabathia single out Bradley as the Red Sox player he'd "hate"? Ironically, the longtime Yankees pitcher blamed current New York manager Aaron Boone for a comment he made about Bradley as an ESPN analyst during the 2013 season.
"I'm going to tell you exactly when it started," Sabathia told Betts. "We played you guys Opening Day when he first got called up. I pitched that day. And I think I walked him bases loaded on a 3-2 close pitch.
"And Aaron Boone was doing the game. And he was like, 'Oh my God, Jackie Bradley. This is so great. CC has lost it. (Masahiro) Tanaka is the ace now. Jackie Bradley just proved that.'
"I just (expletive) lost it. Just hearing his name in that moment made me not like him."
Long story short: Sabathia started an imaginary beef with Bradley after walking him seven years ago.
"That's some (Michael) Jordan-type (expletive)," an amused Betts responded. "That's why you're so great."
Indeed, Sabathia's bizarre motivational tactic worked: He held Bradley to seven hits in 33 at-bats against the Yankees lefty with 13 strikeouts.