On This Day in 2008: Hard Slide Leads to Bench-Clearing Brawl at Fenway

Here is a story from 2008 that may be of interest to fans who have followed the Anthony Rizzo slide controversy in the Cubs series in Pittsburgh last week, since some familiar names are involved.

On June 4, 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays were visiting the Boston Red Sox when Red Sox OF Coco Crisp took a hard slide into TB INF Akinori Iwamura at second base after Crisp had taken exception to TB SS Jason Bartlett’s positioning on a caught stealing play earlier in the game in which Crisp believed Bartlett’s block of the bag had resulted in an injury to Crisp’s left thumb. After that game, then-Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, future Cubs manager and longtime slide rule critic, said Crisp had intentionally attempted to injure Iwamura.

This belief was evidently shared by TB SP James Shields, who took the opportunity to throw at Crisp’s hip in the next game. Crisp then charged the mound, Shields threw a punch at Crisp, and the benches cleared, leading to ejections of various players involved. MLB later handed down suspensions for a whopping eight players, including BOS OF Coco Crisp (seven games); the future teammate of Anthony Rizzo,  BOS SP Jon Lester (five games); BOS 1B Sean Casey (three games); TB SP James Shields (six games); TB DH/OF Jonny Gomes (five games); TB SP Edwin Jackson (five games); TB OF Carl Crawford (four games) and TB INF Akinori Iwamura (three games).

Here’s some video of the incident for your viewing pleasure. The fight itself is pretty vanilla as basebrawls go, since there are no helmet throws, glove slaps or hair flips.