Yeah, I know the image leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s a screen-grab from a video, so you get what you get. In case you missed it, Junior Lake’s little showboating act Wednesday night caused tempers to flare and benches to clear. But as is so often the case, this was more a show of alpha-male dominance than anything.
I’m sure Starlin Castro’s admiration of his own home run earlier in the series, not to mention his 30-second home run toddle, had kind of put the Marlins on edge. But Castro’s got enough of a resume to earn at least a small measure of slack. Junior Lake is, well, Junior Lake.
So when he spent a little too much time watching his massive blast off of Dan Haren, the Fightin’ Fish took umbrage. Someone in the dugout must have said something, prompting a “shhh” gesture from Lake as he rounded third. Under normal circumstances, he might not have heard anything during his triumphant trot, but it’s not as though there were any fans to drown out the home team’s catcalls.
If I were Lake, I’d probably have admired the homer too; it was quite majestic. But perhaps more impressive than the moonshot itself was the fact that he managed to put it near a fan, no mean feat when you consider that the crowd might have made it into the five-figure realm. Maybe that’s why he spent so much time watching; Junior just wanted to make sure someone found the ball.
Unwritten rules, schmunwritten schmules, I don’t mind this kind of thing in the least. Do I think Lake should have been acting hard at this particular moment? No. But I also don’t get the whole bench-clearing business, despite the fact that it provided a bit of comedy relief.
As he crosses the plate, it appears as though Lake gets an earful from catcher J.T. Realmuto. This sends the Cubs outfielder into a bit of a tizzy, which prompts Anthony Rizzo — who was driven in by the homer — to restrain his teammate. Then, as the pair is moving away from the burgeoning fracas, Rizzo hears something he doesn’t take kindly to.
No it’s Rizzo’s turn to get hard and walk into the fray, at which point Kris Bryant is forced to intervene. Again, a lot of this is a charade. Players act offended and pull the “hold me back, bro!” move so they can say they would have kicked some ass had they not been stopped. The guys from the bullpen didn’t see anything that happened and are like, “what’s this all about again?”
It’s not a real South Florida brawl until Jeff Van Gundy is hanging from Giancarlo Stanton’s leg to prevent the melee from devolving into all-out carnage. Now that would be fun to watch.
I’ll give the fans a little bit of credit though; for being a small group that apparently could find nothing better to do on South Beach, they mustered up a pretty nice spattering of boos for Lake when he made his next plate appearance. It was kind of cute, really, like a negativity-fueled Miami Sound Machine.
If you haven’t had the chance to see the little episode in all its fake-baseball-fight glory, you may now do so below.