The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays game went in an odd direction that no one saw coming when lineup cards were exchanged at home plate. The Yankees 38-year-old former ace, C.C. Sabathia was on the mound in a game that meant something. The Yankees are trying to secure a home field advantage for the upcoming A.L. wildcard game against the Oakland A’s. That was the team motivation to play to a high level. For Sabathia, it was also a chance to reach an incentive marker in his contract that could earn him $500,000.
According to USA Today, the Yankees and Sabathia were cruising. The Yankees had a comfortable lead, and Sabathia was throwing a shutout while keeping his pitch count very low. Statistically, it was one of his most efficient games in recent memory. The problems began when Sabathia hit Rays’ first baseman Jake Bauers with a pitch in the fifth inning. While it didn’t look intentional, and there was no reason for Sabathia to plunk anyone, as is the case in baseball, sometimes a pitch just gets away.
— Stone Coast Academy (@stonecoastweb) September 28, 2018
Coming back in the sixth inning, Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge threw what appeared to be a retaliation pitch at Yankee catcher Austin Romine according to MLB Trade Rumors. As the pitch nearly hit Romine in the head, both benches were warned, as is the rule, that if the beanball exchange escalated, someone was getting tossed from the game.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 27, 2018
When Sabathia came out for the top of the frame and faced Rays’ catcher Jesus Sucre, he hit him in the leg with a pitch, earning an instant ejection. When he did that, he also gave up his chance to finish off the two innings needed to earn the $500,000 innings incentive of his contract. Boone, the Yankees’ manager, told the New York Post he wasn’t aware of the clause in Sabathia’s contract, and all he expected out of him was a solid effort.
By hitting Sucre and getting tossed, Sabathia cost himself potential $500,000 incentive bonus (he was 2 innings short). But CC, who is already a leader in the clubhouse, just showed why his teammates love him. That’s a teammate backing up a teammate.
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) September 27, 2018
For Sabathia, the $500,000 incentive bonus would probably be appreciated, but as he has earned over $250,000,000 on babseball contracts alone over the course of his career, as reported by MLB Trade Rumors, he is still going to be okay financially in all likelihood. What was likely more important to Sabathia, and his teammates, is that he retaliated when he took the mound, “defending” Romine, and sending the message that he is a guy that is going to take care of business. While beanballs were once considered an integral part of the game a half-century ago, they are now officially frowned upon. Unofficially, they are still considered to serve a purpose in certain situations.