All this James Shields talk had me down a James Shields YouTube wormhole last night, and this is obviously where it started. I’ve said this before, and I stand by it. The Red Sox/Rays rivalry at its peak was more heated than Red Sox/Yankees. Hear me out.
Historically, yes, nothing can compare to the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry on the field in the 40’s, the late 70’s, the 90’s and 2003-06. And yes, they had their occasional dustups, but for the most part, their battles were settled on the field. The on-field rivalry between those two teams is second to none. But when it comes to Red Sox/Rays, a majority of their battles were settled in actual fights, because the Rays weren’t talented enough to settle it on the field.
It all started when Gerald Williams charged the mound on Pedro Martinez in Tampa. From there, you had Trot Nixon throwing a bat at Ryan Rupe in 2002, benches clearing in 2005 after David Ortiz got a fastball up by his head, Julian Tavarez closed-first slapping/punching Joey Gathright in the face during a spring training game, the Coco versus Shields fight shown above, and then David Price versus Ortiz in 2014. The rivalry didn’t get much pub in its infant stages because the Devil Rays were the biggest joke in baseball, but once they figured out how to use the draft, it was on.
But in regards to this fight, it’s been a while since I watched it, and I forgot how close Coco came to getting decapitated by that Shields right hook. Coco was a boxer in his spare time, and anticipating that first punch from Shields probably saved Dennis Drinkwater from ending up with Coco’s head in his lap. This fight was also why I hated Jonny Gomes so much before he came to Boston. Dude was throwing haymakers on a defenseless Crisp. Then you have Carl Crawford throwing little bitch punches in on Coco when he’s being pinned to the ground. Wow, this just pissed me off all over again.