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Real or Not? Bad blood brewing after Wednesday's bevy of brawls

From ESPN - April 11, 2018

I blame the cold weather.

And testosterone.

And the time-honored baseball tradition that goes back to the days of Old Hoss Radbourn and King Kelly: an eye for an eye, blood will have blood.

We had three flare-ups from Wednesday's action, two in the Yankees-Red Sox tilt at Fenway and one at Coors Field, when Nolan Arenado charged the mound against the Padres with anger boiling in his veins. Worth noting: Both were intra-division episodes, which perhaps fueled the fires and also means it might not be the last time we see these teams going at each other.

Let's start at Fenway, where the benches first emptied when Tyler Austin slid into second base and caught the back leg of Brock Holt with his spikes. Austin slid into the bag but sort of flipped his leg out as Holt stretched for the throw from third baseman Rafael Devers. The slide was in the gray area of being a slightly dirty play, especially considering Holt was not trying to turn a double play. On the other hand, if you see the replay from the left-field camera, Holt did not stretch for the ball until Austin had started his slide. Holt also should have done a better job of getting out of the way. But again, the spikes were up.

That led to an exchange of words and a more or less conventional emptying of the benches and bullpens, with phone numbers exchanged and dinner dates planned. Aaron Judge had a big grin on his face, although Austin seemed a bit too riled up for his own good and had to be restrained.

Move ahead to the seventh inning. Joe Kelly throws high and tight and plunks Austin, who slams his bat down in disgust, and it's on. I mean, it was not a 1970s or '80s brawl, but there was some pushing and shoving going on and Austin threw at least one punch that landed on Red Sox coach Carlos Febles. Kelly and Austin were ejected, and, really, it could have been much worse:

One of the most fascinating parts of the brawl was how Judge corralled Kelly toward the Red Sox dugout without escalating the situation. Could have buried him

Rob Bradford (@bradfo) April 12, 2018

CC my man bum hip just wrecking guys

pic.twitter.com/3kYm0pAGOB

Jared Saul (@JaredSaul) April 12, 2018

Giancarlo Stanton got his official introduction to the rivalry. He thought the Red Sox were a little out of line. "That slide was not a bad-enough play, if bad at all," he said, although admitting he had not seen the replay. "Their feet got caught up. ... He was not aiming for him or gunning for him. I do not see it at all."

Did Arenado do the right thing when he charged after Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo after Perdomo threw a pitch behind him? Is there a right way or wrong way to handle these issues in the heat of the moment? Obviously, nobody likes a baseball purposely thrown in his direction. Instinct takes over. In this case, however, Arenado needed to show a cooler head. For starters, you are the best player on the team; you do not want to risk getting injured in a fight.

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