In this age of “you gotta tip your cap to the other team” kinds of quotes it’s rare to hear real animosity coming from a major league clubhouse. But you heard it yesterday from Victor Martinez, referring to the Pirates. And not just at a single player. He is not pleased with that entire team. From the Detroit Free Press:
“I have no respect for no one on that team, including Cole and their coaching staff.”
The context: Justin Verlander hit Starling Marte with a pitch on Tuesday night. It was not, it appeared, intentional, as it came in a 1-2 count, there had been nothing to provoke Verlander and, to be fair, Verlander’s command has not been fantastic lately. Later, however, when Martinez was up, Gerrit Cole hit him in the ribs in what everyone on the Tigers, Brad Ausmus included, thinks was intentional. Martinez:
“Yeah, everyone knows that,” Martinez said when asked by WXYT-FM reporter Jeff Riger if he thought Cole’s pitch was intentional . . . If they think that Verlander hit Marte with a 1-2 count — he was battling that at-bat — if they really think we did it on purpose, they’re playing the wrong sport.”
No matter what you think of this situation — and you have to be opposed to guys throwing at other guys intentionally — you have to love Cole’s comment when told of Martinez’s words: “That’s his opinion, man.” The dude abides.
For purposes of interleague play, the Tigers and the Pirates are designated as “rivals,” mostly because each lacks a traditional or natural rival in the other league. Now, one assumes, the rivalry actually has some teeth.