If you can’t beat ’em…punch ’em?

Peter Dennis, Columnist

For those of you that haven’t been listening to any sports news recently, there were two main incidents that caught the headlines.

The first was a little, let’s say, “altercation” if you will, between Jim Harbaugh (’82), coach of the 49ers and Jim Schwartz, the coach of the Detroit Lions, after the Niners’ win.

The second was four days later, during the UCLA/Arizona football game, in which a U of A fan dressed up as a referee, and then followed it up with attempting to streak across the field before getting tackled by like five security guards. This was then punctuated with UCLA (who was down 42-7 at the time) and Arizona getting into a brawl. Link to video

The Harbaugh/Schwartz was such a non-newsy type of deal. I’m appalled at how much publicitity it got. But here, I’m going to outline my top 10 sports fights, ones that actually caught the headlines, and rightfully so.

1. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (Game 3, 2003 American League Championship Series)

I hope I don’t need to go into detail about the whole Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. Everyone knows about these two teams’ hatred for each other, I hope. It all started with the classic “I’m the pitcher, I’ve got to help out my team by brushing players back” ordeal, with both Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox and Roger Clemens of the Yankees helping out their respective teams. The first time, Martinez threw behind Karim Garcia’s head, while Clemens threw up and in to Manny Ramirez. After Clemens’ pitch, both benches cleared and in the heat of the brawl, Don Zimmer, Yankees bench coach and then living quite happily at the ripe old age of 72, charged at Martinez. Martinez then followed it up by grabbing Zimmer’s head with both hands and threw him to the ground. The Yankees ended up winning the game 4-3, and also the series by that same margin.

Sorry for the pixelation. But hey, it was 2004. Apparently, the guy in the blue shirt was the one who threw the drink at Artest. Artest however, went after the guy who looks like he's straight out of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

2. Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons (November 19, 2004)

The infamous Ron Artest (or should I say Metta World Peace?) brawl, or “The Malice at the Palace” (referring to the Piston’s home court, the Palace of Auburn Hills). After Artest fouled Ben Wallace hard going up for a shot, Wallace, enraged, shoved Artest, igniting a brawl. Artest then layed down on the scorer’s table (literally. He just sat down on it. He also took some announcer’s headphones and put them on too.) until some fan threw a drink at him (good one bro, that’s a good idea). Artest then charged the stands, swinging, and then left of his own free accord. Artest was suspended for the rest of the season following the brutal brawl. The funny (or not so funny) part is that Artest first swung at the wrong person. The person who threw the drink at him wasn’t even the person he went after. Link to video

 3. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets (December 9, 1977)

This brawl I heard of thanks to our own English teacher, Mr. McNulty (thanks Mac!) What actually happened is a bit controversial. But, we do know that Rudy Tomjanovich, captain of the Rockets at the time, ran towards mid court to help break up a scuffle between Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Kunnert. Kermit Washington, also at half-court, turned and swung at Tomjanovich. Tomjanovich’s facial bone structure was detached from his skull and he had a cereberal concussion, and broken jaw and nose. He leaked blood and spinal fluid into his skull capsule, which was broken in such a way that he could actually taste the fluid leaking into his mouth. Link to video (skip to 1:25 to just see the punch. Otherwise, the commentary is actually kinda interesting.)

4. Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers (October 18, 1977)

This has got to be the quickest one ever. Two minutes into his first game of the season, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got into a nice elbowing match with the rookie Kent Benson, the first overall pick of the most recent NBA draft, who was fresh out of Indiana. Kareem obviously didn’t take too kindly to the errant elbow, and clocked Benson with a right-hook, breaking his own hand, and giving Benson a concussion topped off with minor cuts on the face. Boom goes the dynamite.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants (August 22, 1965)

Now if you’ve read any of my past columns, you may know that I love the Dodgers. Which then would mean that I hate the Giants. Here is no exception, but I’ll try to relay the points in an unbiased fashion. Giants pitcher Juan Marichal earlier in the game had hit two Dodgers players with brushback pitches. Like I mentioned earlier, it is usually understood that the pitcher will step up and take one for the team to send a message. But, Sandy Koufax, the legend that he was, disliked retaliation, so while he didn’t straight up bean anyone, he did throw inside just to keep the Giants honest (as much as that’s possible). While Koufax didn’t throw at Marichal when he came up to bat, apparently Marichal disliked the way Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro was throwing the ball back to Koufax. I guess it got “too close.” Suck it up bud. Anyways, Marichal and Roseboro got into a minor scuffle, yelling at each other and such. But, Marichal, the great guy he was, decided to put an exclamation point on the game by BOOM! Hitting Roseboro over the head with his bat. Good one! That’ll show him! The benches cleared for a 14 minute brawl. Roseboro needed 14 stiches to fix the two inch gash that Marichal gave him.

6. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics (Game 4, 1985 NBA Finals)

Kevin McHale clotheslines Kurt Rambis. Just watch the video. Not much needs to be said. “Nuff said,” would say Brennan Miller (’12). Link to video

7. Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics

Calvin Murphy (a skyscraper at 5’9”), was a Golden Gloves boxer as a teenager. Murphy grabbed Sidney Wicks, then playing for the Boston Celtics, (6’8”, 225 lbs.), by Wicks’ Afro, pulling him to the court, and punched him into submission.

8. New York Yankees vs. New York Mets (Game 2, 2000 World Series)

Ok. So maybe this isn’t a brawl. But still, Roger Clemens threw a bat at Mike Piazza. That’s gotta count for something. Link to video (skip to 2:25. All the stuff before it is boring and irrelevant.)

9. Any hockey fight

Again, not much needs to be said here. This is a sport that allows you to fight. You would think that that would then make you practice for the inevitable rhubarb, which therefore makes each and every one a special event.

10. Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox (May, 20, 2006)

Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, covering home plate, was barreled over by White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was coming home to score. Barrett didn’t have the ball however, and didn’t appreciate Pierzynski toppling him over. Barrett also didn’t have the right mind just to talk it out, because he simply socked Pierzynski in the jaw, creating a bench-clearing brawl. This may not seem like such a huge deal, however, I thought it prudent to add this in at the end, because look at that picture. What an action shot. Gets you right in there doesn’t it? And that’s how I’ll end this week folks. With that loveliness.

Michael Barrett's SICK right hook. BOOM! Photo used under Creative Commons from delusionalcubsfan.