Napoli called Tanaka an idiot as he headed back into the dugout following Saturday night's game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, and the statement is causing some buzz this Monday morning. Mike Napoli hit a home run that managed to win the game for the Boston Red Sox. The final score was 2-1. Tanaka threw a fastball at the catcher, and Napoli is known as a fastball hitter. USA Today Sports For The Win reported on the controversial comment by Napoli on June 29.
Napoli was headed back to his teammates after he scored the game-winning homerun in the Bronx, and he said 'what an idiot' to his teammates. The moment was caught on camera. Fox cameras did catch it, and a Fox reporter did ask Napoli about the statement during an interview after the game. Napoli explained the statement he made in the heat of the moment. He said the following:
"Nothing toward him. I thought he was going to throw me a split in the dirt. He had been getting me out all night on it."
This is not the first home run Napoli has managed to hit off the pitcher. Out of seven at-bats, Napoli has managed to hit two homers off Tanaka. Some might say that Napoli has Tanaka's number. Red Sox manager John Farrell also commented on the pitch, and it looked like Tanaka's pitch might make it by Napoli at first, but Napoli hit the ball out of the park instead.
Tanaka was also asked about the pitch after the game, and he knew it was not his best move against Napoli. He said the following via translator following the game, according to the New York Daily News:
"I wanted to show it to him outside, off the plate. and then come back with the splitter."
Brian McCann was the man behind the plate catching Tanaka's pitches, and he even suggested the splitter as Tanaka's first option. The pitcher said no to that pitch, and he also said no to a slider as well. McCann finally gave Tanaka the fastball as an option, and it is that pitch he went with. Tanaka said it was the "the worst thing I could’ve possibly done." Now, Tanaka knows better.
In major league baseball, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have had one of the longest standing rivalries. Things have been calmer between the two teams in recent years, but this statement made by Napoli might stir things back up. He didn't mean anything by it, but he still called the new star of the Yankees pitching staff an "idiot" for a national television audience to hear. He might not have known the cameras were focused on him at the time, but they were. It isn't likely the Yankees will forget the comment either.
What do you think about Napoli's comment? Will it renew the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees? Or is it a comment that happened in the heat of the moment that will be forgotten by both teams before they play again? Check out video of the moment above.