The Red Sox home opener today was a blowout over Jeff Weaver and the Mariners, but the story within the story is much more interesting. In the eighth inning, Red Sox reliever Brendan Donnelly struck out Jose Guillen; and what followed was a shouting match between the two in which both had to be restrained. In the next at bat, Donnelly hit Johjima with a pitch, leading to his own ejection from the game.
What makes this little feud between Donnelly and Guillen fascinating is that it is now at the level of being completely personal. Both players are just beginning their first seasons with the Sox and Mariners, respectively. The tiff between them now goes well beyond uniform, city, or managers.
Begin Flashback: The story begins when these two were teammates for the (then) Anaheim Angels. The year was 2004. In the last two weeks of the season, Guillen was suspended from the team by manager Mike Scioscia for throwing a fit when lifted for a pinch-runner. In the off season, Guillen was traded to the Washington Nationals. As for public knowledge, we don’t really know if there was any specific beef between Guillen and Donnelly.
In 2005, the Nationals and Angels met in Interleague play. On a tip from Guillen, Nationals manager Frank Robinson requests the umpires to check Donnelly’s glove, where pine tar is found. Donnelly would be ejected from the game and serve a 10 game sentence. (Yes, Donnelly is on my list of pitchers I like for trying to cheat the system.)
At the time, it appeared that Guillen’s anger and wrath was aimed particularly at manager Scioscia. But clearly, now that Donnelly has moved to Boston, he finds himself as a new and distinct party in this complex feud. End Flashback
I don’t intend to glorify the holding of grudges . . . but let’s face it: the long baseball season becomes much more interesting when you mix in these little personal fracases. In the first week of this season, we were already treated to a little rivalry between Vladimir Guerrero and Vincente Padilla; (of which Vlad was the outright winner).
In spring training, it was already made clear that every Angels vs. Mariners match up would be a chance for Guillen to try to one up his old team, adding those games to my must watch list. And now, I’ll include the late innings of every Red Sox vs. M’s game as well, as this Guillen\Donnelly feud is far from fizzling out yet.