It happened on Saturday night after Napoli hit Tanaka's fastball over the short porch in right field for a solo homer that proved to be the game-winner. As he went back to his dugout, Napoli could be heard saying "what an idiot" in regards to Tanaka's pitch.
Napoli, who responded to questions about the name-calling, sort of backpedaled and claimed it was nothing personal and he was only talking about Tanaka's pitch selection making no sense, which it didn't, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
Napoli said, "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."
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 29, 2014
While the Yankees Universe was furious at Napoli's comment, the team itself wasn't anywhere near as upset, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
First, here's what first baseman Mark Teixeira had to say:
“That wasn’t a big deal,” Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “I have no problem with it at all. If everything that was said inside a dugout or clubhouse was public knowledge, no one would ever talk about the game.”
Now, manager Joe Girardi:
“I don’t make much of it,” Girardi said. “It’s yesterday, the heat of the moment, and doesn’t really change the complexion of the game. It doesn’t really change today’s game.”
“I haven’t seen anything in Mike Napoli where he’s a guy that shows people up, or he’s a guy that degrades people,” Girardi said. “Unfortunately, everything is seen now in the world we live in, but I’ve never had the sense that he’s a bad guy. He’s a guy that plays hard and loves to play the game.”
Tex in particular makes a good point because Napoli's comment wasn't supposed to be for public consumption since he said it close to the dugout and FOX cameras just happened to pick up the audio.
Had he shown Tanaka up in some way, shape or form on the field intentionally, it would have been a different story. Instead, as Girardi notes, what Napoli said wasn't done to show up the Yanks' pitcher.
Even Red Sox manager John Farrell commented on the situation, explaining his team has tons of respect for Tanaka as a pitcher:
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that he and his team both have “the utmost respect for Tanaka,” while adding that “the one thing we don’t ever want our players to be is non-emotional.”
In all fairness, Tanaka's pitch selection to Napoli was questionable at best. Maybe if his location had been better he would have been more successful throwing the fastball, but that wasn't the case and instead he paid dearly for his mistake.
Yankees fans may have a huge problem with Napoli's words and want retaliation as a result, but the Yanks not having a problem with Napoli or the Red Sox in this situation means nothing will happen.
Nor should it.
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