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Oakland's Braden sends message ... but to whom?

4/23/2010

LoHud's Chad Jennings on that weird dustup this afternoon involving Dallas Braden and Alex Rodriguez:

    “He just told me to get off his mound,” Rodriguez said. “I was a little surprised. I’d never quite heard that. Especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career.”

    The whole thing started when Rodriguez went from first to third on a foul ball by Robinson Cano. On his way back to first, Rodriguez ran across the pitcher’s mound, which Braden saw as a sign of disrespect.

    “I don’t care if I’m Cy Young or the 25th man on the roster, if I’ve got the ball in my hand and I’m on that mound, that’s my mound,” Braden said. “... He ran across the pitcher’s mound foot on my rubber. No, not happening. We’re not the door mat anymore."

I was watching that game, and my half-hearted attempted to read Braden's lips did suggest the word "mound" preceded by f-bomb. So I thought maybe this was it, except 1) I hadn't actually seen Rodriguez running over the mound, and 2) I didn't know anyone would take exception to such a thing. There's something odd about this, though: The inning was over. Braden wasn't on the mound anymore. It wasn't his mound. Before Alex touched it, the third out had been recorded and it was CC Sabathia's mound. So there is, I think, something else going on here, something to which we're simply not privy.

My take on this is that your take is all about the context. If you're Alex Rodriguez or 20,000,000 Yankees fans, you have no idea what Dallas Braden is talking about. If you're one of Dallas Braden's teammates or 1,000,000 Athletics fans, you're thrilled to see one of your guys doing his small part to suggest the A's won't just roll over their collective back when the Alpha dog trots into the room.

No, the Yankees won't be intimidated by Dallas Braden or anyone else. They're too good, too experienced, too confident. But Braden wasn't yelling at the Yankees. Not really. He was yelling at himself, and at his teammates. Players have won MVP Awards for such things.

Correction: As a few people have pointed out, my description of the events was missing something: A-Rod didn't barge across the mound after the double play; he'd done it a moment earlier, after a foul ball that left him near third base. So it was still Braden's mound. And whatever A-Rod's intent (or not), Braden had, according to long-held tradition, a legitimate beef. For more on this, check It's About the Money.