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article imageOp-Ed: Mike Napoli goes deep to beat Yankees, calls Tanaka an 'idiot'

By Mike Rossi     Jul 1, 2014 in Sports
Boston - Like a Hail-Mary touchdown or buzzer-beating three, baseball's ninth-inning home run is one of the signature scoring plays in American sport.
As such it requires little else other than its very occurrence to capture the brief attention of the national sports media.
Yet, when Boston Red Sox, Mike Napoli, managed to hit one off of Yankee ace Masahiro Tanaka on Saturday night, the home run failed to grab the attention of anyone other than those in attendance at Yankee Stadium.
Something overshadowed Napoli's blast to right-field.
Something brief.
Something funny.
Something far more entertaining to the greater American public.
Returning to the Red Sox dugout amidst a sea of high-fives, a laughing and obviously thrilled Mike Napoli called Tanaka an "idiot."
Doubt it? — Have a look for yourself.
Yes, it's OK to laugh. The footage is hilarious.
Down 1-2 in the count, Napoli stood in the box ripe and ready to earn his third strikeout of the evening against Tanaka.
Aware of the batter's previous woes and with the count at his advantage, Yankee catcher Brian McCann signalled for a splitter and then a slider, but both requests received Tanaka's head-shake of disapproval.
Having faced rejection twice, a hesitant McCann finally threw down the single index finger his pitcher had been waiting for. As it would turn out, this third sign — a fastball — would be anything but a charm.
Napoli missed a lot of pitches during the game but he wasn't missing this one. The ball landed in the right-field seats of Yankee Stadium almost as quickly as it arrived at the plate.
The solo shot gave the Sox a 2-1 lead and proved to be the game-winning run just a half-inning later.
Although some could interpret it as a verbal attack, the genuine shock of seeing a belt-high fastball with the count at 1-2 spurred the comment, not any ill-will or spite towards the pitcher or the Yankees.
Even Tanaka couldn't disagree with Napoli's assessment.
Speaking through a translator following the game he said "it was the worst thing I could've possibly done."
The fiery rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees needs no introduction nor any additional fuel. Tanaka knows that Mike Napoli didn't mean to offend him, just like he knows that he shouldn't have thrown that pitch.
Masahiro Tanaka is having too fantastic a year — 11-3 with a 2.10 ERA and 127 strikeouts — to dwell on one mistake and the Red Sox are too bad — seven games under .500 — to gloat on this moment for any length of time. The second half of the season is right around the corner and both Yakees and Sox have bigger fish to fry.
Having said that, don't be surprised if Napoli takes a nice, slow 85 MPH changeup off the thigh the next time he steps into the box against Mr. Tanaka.
This is still baseball after all.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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