Red Sox

Jason Varitek, Alex Rodriguez were 'teammates' after Sox-Yankees brawl, and things got awkward

Jason Varitek, Alex Rodriguez were 'teammates' after Sox-Yankees brawl, and things got awkward

Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez were never destined to be close friends.

That much was confirmed almost 15 years ago, when on July 24, 2004, Varitek and A-Rod sparked one of the wildest moments of the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry.

You remember how it went down: Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo drilled Rodriguez with a fastball, Rodriguez took exception and Varitek confronted Rodriguez, shoving his glove in the Yankees slugger's face to set off a wild fracas.

 

The Athletic's Jen McCaffrey published an entertaining oral history of that famous brawl Friday that includes some terrific quotes, including what Varitek allegedly said to A-Rod that got him so heated.

"Him and ‘Tek are going face to face," Sox pitcher Curt Schilling recalled. "He says, 'Throw that s--- over the plate.' And ‘Tek says, 'Hey dude, we don’t hit .260 hitters.' And then that’s when you see Alex look at him and go, 'F--- you. F--- you.' "

But little did either player know that they actually would be teammates two years later on Team USA in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Here's Arroyo on asking Varitek if things got awkward between the two -- and the Sox catcher sharing a hilarious story.

When he got back I said, “Jason, how was it being on the same fricking team with Alex?” And he said, “Man, there was one game we were about to play and both of us ended up in the training room and no one else around, both taping up our wrists right next to each other.

And neither one of us spoke a word. We never spoke a word about it. We never acknowledged it. We never acted like we didn’t like each other, but we weren’t going to act friendly, either.” So he said it was the most awkward dead silence ever, taping up those wrists.

What we'd give to be a fly on that wall.

Both Varitek and A-Rod have come a long way since then -- the former is a special assistant in the Red Sox baseball operations department, while the latter has enjoyed a career renaissance as an MLB broadcaster -- but we'd guess they still don't send each other holiday cards.

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Inside 12 magical minutes at Fenway Park as Red Sox, fans share unexpectedly uplifting win

Inside 12 magical minutes at Fenway Park as Red Sox, fans share unexpectedly uplifting win

BOSTON -- Mitch Moreland wondered if anyone would show up. Brandon Workman prepared to watch a game he could not participate in by rule. J.D. Martinez dragged himself to work drained from two straight losses.

And then something kind of crazy and maybe even a little magical happened.

Fenway Park started filling with a crowd like no other in its history. Kids upon kids upon kids. Moms with strollers. Dads with one child on each hand and another on their shoulders. Kids in 4T Rafael Devers jerseys that won't fit by Christmas. Kids with gloves. Kids in caps. Kids of every race and nationality. Kids everywhere.

They were there for a unique experience. With the Red Sox concluding a suspended game against the Royals from Aug. 7, they basically opened the park to all comers. Kids under 18 got in for free, and everyone else needed only donate $5 to the Jimmy Fund.

The carnival atmosphere they created for what turned out to be only 12 minutes of baseball before Brock Holt sent the Red Sox on their way to San Diego with a 5-4 win, should give baseball some hope that the next generation of fans is not, in fact, lost.

"Dude, we said it today, it was the best atmosphere we've played in all year," Martinez said. "We were all saying it. It's crazy. Everyone was like, 'Man for real, there's a good energy in here.' Everybody noticed it. Everybody dancing, having a great time.

"I was tired before I came in, and now I'm fired up. These guys got me in the mood right now."

When every last turning of the stile was counted, 16,441 had entered the park for an afternoon they won't soon forget.

"I asked a couple of guys, I wonder how many fans will be here today with the situation like it was, work day, middle of the day," Moreland said. "Obviously Fenway never disappoints."

The Red Sox did their part, too. The strain of a long season has taken its toll on the defending champs, but for the first time in forever, the postgame clubhouse felt joyous. Players mocked Holt, the walk-off hero, for sprinting straight across the diamond to slide into home rather than be mobbed at second.

"I don't know what got into me," he said. "I was trying to dodge the guys and I saw home plate I just went for it."

As cameras assembled in the center of the clubhouse to interview the stars of the game -- Holt, catcher Christian Vazquez, reliever and winner Josh Taylor -- third base coach Carlos Febles strode into their midst and demanded to be interviewed.

"Any questions?" he asked in mock seriousness before saluting himself for waving home the winning run.

"Now we can get on an airplane, happy flight, couple cocktails – sorry, I didn't say that," Febles said. "Well, I've already said it. Get on the airplane, take a nap, and have fun in San Diego."

Across the clubhouse, an incredulous Andrew Benintendi and Holt watched in disbelief. "It's exactly what it looks like," a reporter told them. "He just called his own press conference."

"Sounds about right," Benintendi said.

"Did he get fired?" Holt joked.

Eight or so lockers away, shortstop Xander Bogaerts reflected on his own childhood in Aruba, when he was so excited to meet Braves outfielder Andruw Jones at a celebrity softball game, he asked him to sign the only item on his person.

"My Sony Ericson flip phone, bro," he said with a laugh. "I was right by the dugout back at home, and he was there and I asked him to sign my phone. Those are memories I still have, and I'm 20-whatever now, and I was so young at that time, I was so in awe."

The Red Sox opened the park early and let fans walk the warning track. They kept it open late, selling over 11,000 $1 hot dogs and letting kids run the bases while the stadium blasted everything from "Hey Soul Sister" by Train to "Hey Mr. DJ" by Zhane to "Safe and Sound" by Capital Cities. The Red Sox kept concessions open late while families posed for photos all over the park. At one point, two little girls raced around the bases -- one wearing a yin-yang t-shirt shaped like a panda, her blonde hair in a ponytail, the other sporting dark braids and wearing a glove for the entire journey.

"The kids gave us some great energy," Bogaerts said. "I was walking out to stretch and everyone was screaming like it was the World Series."

Manager Alex Cora wasn't sure what to expect. He prides himself on staying positive, but he admits wondering, "the way things have been going, we might play 16 innings." Instead they only played 12 minutes, giving the kids in attendance a lifelong memory.

"We've got to do everything possible to get the young fans involved in this beautiful game," Cora said. "For those kids, it's probably their first big league inning. That's what they're going to remember. We've got to remind them that this is not the pace we play. Usually we play four hour games. I praise the organization for the job they did. Hopefully we can get more young fans involved with Red Sox nation and they can enjoy it."

As the Red Sox prepared to catch a 2:30 bus to the airport for the six-hour flight to San Diego, they had a hop in their step.

"We had a really good time," Martinez said. "The energy was amazing. We were all laughing about it. It was the perfect day. Come in, show up, play an inning, and you're done."

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Inside the Numbers: Red Sox need only 12 minutes to beat Royals in extra innings

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AP Photo

Inside the Numbers: Red Sox need only 12 minutes to beat Royals in extra innings

You could say what happened Thursday at Fenway Park was either the longest game in baseball this season... or the shortest.

Fifteen days after the game between the Red Sox and Royals was suspended in the 10th inning due to rain, the Sox needed less than 12 minutes to win the game in walk-off fashion when Brock Holt drove in the game-winning run with a walkoff single into the left field corner.

Let's go inside the numbers on a truly bizarre afternoon at Fenway Park.

21,018 — The length of the rain delay in minutes between the start of the game on August 7 and the start of the 10th inning on Thursday, according to the Globe's Alex Speier.

695 — Total length of Thursday's action in seconds. Chris Owings scored the game-winning run only 11 minutes and 35 seconds after the first pitch.

16,441 — Fans in attendance Thursday. The Red Sox offered free tickets to children, while adults got in with a suggested $5 donation to the Jimmy Fund.

369 — Mileage flown by the Royals from Baltimore to Boston for Thursday's one inning of action. (Kansas City plays in Cleveland tomorrow, while the Red Sox start a series in San Diego.)

22 — Total pitches thrown on Thursday.

7 — Total batters in the 10th inning.

6 — Total amount of substitutions used by the Royals and Red Sox in the 10th inning, including replacing players who were on the roster earlier this month but aren't on their team anymore (Billy Hamilton is now on the Braves).

3:48 — Official time of the game, adding to the Red Sox' MLB-leading average, despite Thursday's action lasting less than 12 minutes.

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