David Ortiz Don't Blame Boone For Yankees' Woes ... 'Managers Don't Play'

CHEMISTRY, NOT MANAGERS
TMZSports.com

David Ortiz has a message for all of the Yankees' fans blaming Aaron Boone for their disappointing season -- STOP IT.

TMZ Sports got the Boston Red Sox legend out in Beverly Hills this week to talk about his old rival's team ... and he made it clear, Boone is not to blame for New York's early playoff exit this year.

"Managers don't play, man," Ortiz said. "Managers just make moves."

Instead, Ortiz said if the Yankees want to be successful, they just need to work on "chemistry."

"If you don't have chemistry, it doesn't matter if you have talent," Ortiz said. "They have the talent, they just need to work on their chemistry. I think they'll be all right."

Many New York fans would disagree ... Pinstripes supporters have been clamoring for the team's brass to fire Boone ever since the Yanks disappointingly dropped the AL Wild Card Game to the Red Sox.

Boone has been safe for now ... which Ortiz appears to think is the right call in New York, despite what fans may believe.

As for if former Yankees great Alex Rodriguez would make a good replacement for Boone if the guy is canned ... Oritz said he could see it, though he ain't sure A-Rod would want it!

Red Sox Star J.D. Martinez Missing Do-Or-Die Game Vs. Yankees ... After Tripping Over 2nd Base

The Red Sox will be without one of their best players in their do-or-die game against the Yankees on Tuesday ... and it's all 'cause the dude tripped over 2nd base last weekend.

Seriously.

J.D. Martinez rolled his ankle over the bag while heading to the outfield in Boston's game against Washington on Sunday ... and video revealed it was a complete, freak accident.

Ballpark cameras showed as Martinez was on his way to right field, his left foot caught the base -- causing his lower leg to bend awkwardly.

The injury didn't seem too terrible at the time ... but the team announced Tuesday morning it's apparently is so bad, Martinez will not play in the big American League Wild Card Game against NY.

Of course, it's a huge deal for the Sox ... Martinez has been perhaps the team's best player this year -- batting .286 with 28 home runs and 99 RBI.

With Boston going up against Gerrit Cole -- it's certainly going to miss all of that.

With Martinez out, the Sox are now expected to roll with an outfield featuring Kike Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo, with Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter.

Game starts in a few hours ... getcha popcorn ready.

Francisco Lindor Nearly Ignites All-Out Brawl With Yankees ... Over Dugout Whistling

The Yankees and Mets almost fought each other in the middle of the diamond Sunday night ... and it was all 'cause a pitcher in the Pinstripes' dugout had been whistling.

For real.

The wild scene all went down at Citi Field ... just seconds after Giancarlo Stanton hit a huge home run in the 7th inning of the final game of the New York teams' weekend series.

As Stanton was rounding the bases, Francisco Lindor yelled at the Yanks superstar ... while making a whistling motion.

The smack talk was so aggressive, it caused the entire Yankees dugout to clear ... and a brawl almost ensued.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed ... and we learned a short time later, Lindor was furious with Stanton and the Yanks after he and the rest of the Mets believed the Yankees were whistling in order to tip their batters off to potential pitches.

"I can't accuse them of them whistling for the signs because I'm not 100 percent correct," Lindor said. "But, I know what I heard, and I felt like there was something out of the ordinary going on."

"And, yeah. I heard what I heard. I'm not accusing them. I'm not saying they're doing it 100 percent. Because I don't know 100 percent. But, it definitely felt that way. And, I took that personal."

Lindor and the Mets had believed the Yankees were using whistling not just during Sunday's tilt, but in their previous meeting on Saturday as well.

Yankees slugger Joey Gallo tried to offer an explanation for it all after the game, saying reliever Wandy Peralta was doing the dugout whistling, but ensured the sounds were "100 percent not" for pitch tipping.

"It's just him trying to be -- like I said, bring energy to the dugout," Gallo said, "especially early in the game."

Lindor and the Mets ended up with the last laugh regardless ... the shortstop hit 3 home runs in the game Sunday, with his third leading to a 7-6 lead that the Mets wouldn't relinquish.

President Bush Sends Letter To Ex-Yankees Catcher ... To Commemorate Post-9/11 Pitch

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks ... and the man who caught President Bush's ceremonial pitch before World Series game 3 in NYC says #43 sent him a letter this week, commemorating the powerful moment.

TMZ Sports talked to former New York Yankees catcher Todd Greene -- who was Jorge Posada's backup at the time -- about that unforgettable October night in the Bronx, only 49 days after 9/11, when GWB fired a strike from the mound, symbolizing America's resolve.

CATCH OF A LIFETIME
TMZSports.com

"I get the same feeling too when you think back to that moment and how electric the stadium was that night and just what it meant for our President Bush to walk out on the field and as a symbol of strength, as a symbol of healing, as a symbol of unity for our country which is really, really important," Greene, who played 11 seasons in the big leagues, tells us.

"To hear the USA chants and then have President Bush give the thumbs up on top of the mount -- it was, again like you said, it will get the hairs standing on your arms now."

Of course, baseball season was in full swing when the terrorist attacks happened ... and the sport played a critical role in bringing back a sense of normalcy to America.

The 2 most unforgettable moments were Mike Piazza's go-ahead home run against the Braves 10 days after 9/11 ... and of course, Bush's pitch.

It'll never be forgotten.

The Yankees ended up winning the game (down 2 games to none, they had to), behind a strong performance from Roger Clemens, 2-1.

Greene -- who wasn't even supposed to be the catcher who caught the pitch -- says he hasn't spoken to Bush over the years, but did receive a letter in the mail on Wednesday from the former president.

"He sent me a personalized letter that I just received yesterday. President Bush saying how much that moment meant for him and that he was honored, well not honored, I was honored to be on the field with him at the time and just in remembrance of that moment."

"So, it was a really cool deal to get a letter like that from President Bush."

Tino Martinez Aaron Boone's Job Is More Than Safe ... After Yankees' Surge

HERE TO STAY
TMZSports.com

Aaron Boone no longer has to worry about being fired ... so says Yanks legend Tino Martinez, who tells TMZ Sports NY's latest surge is more than enough to keep the manager safe.

"I think he's done a great job," Martinez said out in NYC this week. "He's great for the team, the organization -- so I think he deserves to be here as long as he wants."

Of course, Yankees fans and perhaps even ex-NY players didn't always feel that way this season ... 'cause for a while, the Pinstripes were REALLY struggling under Boone.

But, the Yankees have turned the ship around in a big way -- winning 11 in a row ... and vaulting to just 4 games out of first place in the AL East.

Martinez says it's all been impressive to watch ... and should keep Boone around well into next season and beyond.

"The ups and downs of a season make a great manager," Tino told us, "and he's been even keeled the whole time."

For as good as Boone has been in turning around the Yankees ... Martinez clearly feels the manager owes Anthony Rizzo a bit of praise for the recent win streak as well.

Tino tells us the first baseman "changed the culture of the team" after his trade from Chicago to New York -- and is "one of the best ever."

By the way, we also asked Tino about next year's Field of Dreams game ... and while he's clearly in favor of a Sandlot-style replica game, ya gotta hear why he thinks that's just not a feasible option.

NY Yankees Fan Obliterated by Security Guard ... After Running Onto Field

Sports fans are still demonstrating very bad behavior while attending games, but one Yankees fan really paid the price for his shenanigans ... by getting completely owned by a security guard after running on the field.

The chaos went down during the top of the 6th inning against the Phillies Tuesday night, when the fan made his way onto Yankee Stadium field and started racing across the outfield.

He made it to center field before a stadium security guard took him down with an impressive tackle ... then kept slamming him to the ground as he tried to escape.

The security guard's apparent wrestling skills were enough to contain the fan -- who NYPD has ID'd as 25-year-old Leonardo Lertora-Leiva -- until about half a dozen other security workers showed up to help escort the guy off the field ... to the delight of the crowd.

NYPD tells TMZ ... Lertora-Leiva was arrested for running onto the field of an active MLB sports event and disrupting it. He was booked for 3 misdemeanors, including criminal trespass.

As we reported, another Yankees fan was just banned for life from attending MLB games in the Bronx -- or anywhere else for that matter -- after he threw a ball onto the field Saturday night during a game against Boston, and hit Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo.

Do better, Yanks fans.

NY Yankees Fan Banned From MLB Games For Life ... After Drilling Red Sox Star With Baseball

A New York Yankees fan who drilled Red Sox star Alex Verdugo in the back with a baseball this weekend is now banned from attending MLB games FOREVER.

Yanks and MLB officials confirmed the decision Sunday ... after the fan hurled a ball at Verdugo from his seat in left field during the Boston vs. NY game Saturday night.

The scene was wild ... Verdugo tossed a baseball into the crowd to give a souvenir to a young fan, but seconds later, a man in a Yankees shirt heaved it back at him while he wasn't looking.

The ball plunked the Sox outfielder ... and he was FURIOUS over it, pointing up at the fan and yelling with rage.

Ultimately, the fan was booted from the game ... and then hit with a perma-ban from ALL MLB ballparks by officials less than 24 hours later.

"While the Yankees appreciate the spirit and passion of our fans in our various rivalries -- especially with the Red Sox -- reckless, disorderly and dangerous behavior that puts the safety of players, field staff or fellow fans in jeopardy will not be tolerated," Yankees officials said in a statement.

"There is absolutely no place for it at Yankee Stadium. The safety of everyone at Yankee Stadium, including guests in the stands and players on the field, will always be the top priority for the Yankees organization every time we open our doors."

Both the Red Sox and Yankees managers, Alex Cora and Aaron Boone, denounced the fan's actions ... with Boone calling it all, "awful, embarrassing" and "unacceptable."

The fan was somehow not arrested, NJ.com reported over the weekend ... though it's unclear if criminal charges are being pursued.

Verdugo, meanwhile, escaped the incident without injury ... and was able to play in Sunday's Yanks vs. Sox series finale -- though he went 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts.

MLB Fan Body Slammed By Security ... After Running Onto Yankee Stadium Field

NOT SO FAST
TMZSports.com

An MLB fan got absolutely ROCKED by security after he tried to run onto Yankee Stadium's outfield Tuesday night ... and TMZ Sports has obtained video of the entire incident!!

The chaotic scene all went down in the 6th inning of the Yankees' game against the Angels in New York ... when a man thought it'd be funny to hop the wall and take a lap around the grass.

Turns out, though, the idea ended up being a painful (and dumb) one ... 'cause he made it just steps before he was annihilated by a stadium guard.

Check out the footage ... the fan didn't even make it off the warning track before he was body slammed to the ground!!

Two other stadium officials ran in just seconds later to subdue the guy ... before they ultimately took him off the field.

Our sources say the guy was detained for around five HOURS after the incident ... but they insist the dude did NOT receive any sort of perma-ban from the stadium.

Instead, our sources say he was hit with a citation and allowed to leave.

As for the game, the guy ended up missing a pretty good one ... the Yanks went on to beat Los Angeles, 11-5.

Gerrit Cole Begs MLB To Ease Foreign Substance Crackdown ... 'Please Just Work With Us'

TALK TO US
YesNetwork

"Please, just talk to us. Please, just work with us."

Gerrit Cole is BEGGING MLB officials to ease their latest stance on pitchers and foreign substances ... telling reporters Wednesday night he's VERY concerned a league crackdown on it all could lead to serious injuries.

The Yankees star kept it real in his meeting with the media after New York's huge win over Toronto ... saying the lack of sticky substances on his hand really hurt him during the game.

In fact, Cole said he struggled so much with gripping the baseball all night long ... he became not only concerned about his arm, but also batters in the box.

"I would just hate to see players get hurt," the 30-year-old said. "I would hate to see balls start flying at people's heads. I had a really tough time gripping the baseball tonight, especially early when it was windy."

Cole is now imploring MLB officials to back down from their threat to impose fines, ejections and even suspensions on pitchers who are caught putting foreign substances on their hands and baseballs.

"It's so hard to grip the ball," Cole said after the Yanks' 3-2 victory. "For Pete's sake, it's part of the reason why almost every player on the field has had something, regardless if they're a pitcher or not, to help them control the ball."

Of course, the comments echo Tyler Glasnow's concerns from earlier this week ... when the Tampa Bay Rays ace said he believed the league's crackdown ultimately caused a serious injury to his elbow.

"WITHOUT A DOUBT"
Tampa Bay Rays

For his part, despite grip issues and a dry hand, Cole still dominated a strong Blue Jays lineup ... throwing 8 innings and giving up just 4 hits and 2 earned runs while striking out 4.

"I would encourage the commissioner's office to continue to talk with us, please, because we're the ones that throw the ball," Cole said.

"They don't. And, we're the experts in this situation."

Rougned Odor Shaves Famous Beard After Trade To Yankees ... 'I Feel Weird'

One of the most epic beards in baseball is no more ... Rougned Odor shaved his famous face sweater after being traded to the Yankees -- AND IT LOOKS WEIRD!!!

The 2nd baseman was jettisoned from the Rangers to New York last week ... and, in complying with the Yanks' no facial hair policy, he busted out the razor for the first time in YEARS.

And, check out the 27-year-old's new appearance ... he's damn-near unrecognizable -- even to his own 3-year-old daughter!!!

"It was weird. I feel weird,” Odor said of his newly shaved face. "Even my daughter, she didn’t even want to look at me. It is what it is. I’m happy to be here."

Don't worry ... Odor didn't lose any of his baseball magic after he ditched the follicles -- in fact, dude came in CLUTCH for the Pinstripes against the Rays in his 1st appearance with the team Sunday.

After starting the game 0-for-4, Odor knocked in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning with a single to centerfield. He later came around to score, too, helping NYY win 8 to 4.

Good luck in your new smooth-faced journey Rougned ... try not to punch anyone!

Yankees' Aaron Boone Feeling 'Awesome' After Heart Surgery ... Already Crushing Peloton Rides!!!

Yankees manager Aaron Boone says he's feeling "awesome" less than 2 weeks after heart surgery ... telling media members Sunday he's already back in the saddle -- on Peloton!!

The 48-year-old had a pacemaker installed into his body in Tampa on March 3 ... a scary procedure that required Boone to step away from the Yanks for a few days.

But, in a positive update over the weekend, Boone said he's now feeling as good as ever ... noticing a huge uptick in his daily energy.

"Done some [Peloton] rides I haven’t done in a few months that I didn’t even realize, 'Oh, this is what it’s supposed to be like,'" Boone said, according to the Associated Press.

The NY head man -- who had previously had open-heart surgery in 2009 to fix a swelling issue -- needed the latest procedure after docs discovered his heartbeats per minute were well below average.

Boone said he still can't lift weights like he'd like to ... but explained he's only a few more days from clearing that hurdle.

"Still have some arm restrictions,” Boone said. “So I can’t like lift weights like I normally do but that will be hopefully a few more weeks."

"But as far as just getting around, energy in the mornings and all day, so much better."

Boone is expected to be in the dugout managing the Yanks when they open up their 2021 season April 1.

Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig 1927 Yankees Signed Photo Hits Auction Expected To Fetch $500K!!

The family of the legendary 1927 NY Yankees team is selling an authentic signed team photo passed down through the generations ... and yeah, this thing is worth a fortune.

The '27 squad features icons like Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig -- and the slugging power was so insane, they were dubbed "Murderers' Row."

One of the pitchers from the 1927 team -- Don Miller -- was savvy enough to get everyone on the roster to autograph a team photo ... and it stayed with Miller's family for decades.

Miller never appeared in a game for the Yankees that season -- but clearly, he knew securing the signatures would just as important as getting on the field!

Now, the Miller family has decided to sell it -- and they've taken it to SCP Auctions to find the highest bidder.

The photo has been authenticated by multiple leading memorabilia companies -- including PSA and Beckett -- which is huge for the hardcore collectors willing to pay top dollar.

As far as the expected sales price, we're told it could fetch around $500,000 ... but with the sports collectibles market being on FIRE at the moment, who knows where it could end up!?

As we previously reported, a rare Babe Ruth baseball card from 1933 just sold for $761k ... more than DOUBLE the price a similar card sold for just 6 months earlier.

Point being ... people are paying CRAZY money for Babe Ruth items.

If you're not familiar with the '27 Yanks ... they're one of the most legendary baseball teams ever. They finished the regular season 110-44 and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.

Ruth was in the midst of setting the single-season home run record (60 HR's) that ultimately stood for decades. He also had 164 RBI's and batted .356.

Not to be outdone ... Gehrig won the AL MVP that year -- also putting up ABSURD numbers. The Iron Horse slugged 47 HR's, drove in 173 runs, and had a batting average of .373.

But, it wasn't just Babe and Lou ... the rest of "Murderers' Row" was made up of solid players like Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, Joe Dugan and Pat Collins.

In other words, the photo is a piece of history ... hope you saved up!

MLB's Zack Britton I Lost 18 Lbs. In 10 Days Due To COVID-19 ... 'Wiped Me Out'

I GOT HIT HARD
New York Yankees

New York Yankees pitcher Zack Britton says he was ROCKED by COVID-19 ... revealing he lost 18 pounds in 10 days while battling the virus ... and he's still not fully recovered.

The 33-year-old southpaw says he contracted the coronavirus back in January ... and went into detail with reporters about his experience on Wednesday.

"I was surprised," Britton said. "I think I got it at the hospital when we were having our kid, so it was even worse."

"I was not expecting to be hit that hard by COVID. It wiped me out pretty good."

"The weight loss was surprising and just the after-effects I've been dealing with showed me how serious this can be, even for somebody that's healthy and how that can impact you months even after you've gotten over the roughest symptoms."

FYI -- Britton is 6'1" and reportedly usually weighs around 200 pounds ... in other words, he's in pretty good shape.

"It just wiped me out pretty good for about 10 days," Britton said. "Lost about 18 pounds, which could be good, I guess? But, I wasn't looking to lose 18 pounds and it happened quickly, so that's not good on your body and puts pressure in a lot of places."

Britton says the virus prevented him from throwing for about 3 to 4 weeks during the offseason ... but he's finally starting to feel like himself again.

But, COVID isn't the only health issue Britton's dealing with -- the 2-time All-Star is set to undergo surgery to remove a bone chip in his left elbow ... and is expected to miss several months of the season.

Despite all the health issues, Britton still hopes to suit up in 2021 ... which is great news for Yanks fans.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone Needs Pacemaker ... Taking Medical Leave

3:14 PM PT -- The Yankees just announced Boone is out of surgery ... and is currently recovering at a Tampa area hospital. The team says the surgery went well.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is immediately stepping away from his team ... after announcing he must undergo surgery Wednesday to have a pacemaker installed.

The 47-year-old skipper underwent open-heart surgery in 2009 ... and says he's recently experienced "mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath."

After getting checked out by several doctors, it was determined Boone would require a pacemaker.

Of course, the Yanks are currently prepping for the 2021 MLB season at Spring Training in Tampa ... but the good news is Boone says he expects to be back full strength in no time.

"They are confident that today's surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life."

Boone joined the Bronx Bombers as manager in 2018 ... and has led them to the playoffs each season. Before he was a manager, AB played in the big leagues from 1997 to 2009.

Most famously for the Reds and Yankees ... where he hit one of the most memorable post-season home runs ever against the Red Sox in 2003.

Get well soon!!

Originally Published -- 11:44 AM PT

Johnny Damon Arrested for DUI in Florida Wife Booked for Battering Cop During Stop

8:47 AM PT -- TMZ Sports has obtained the police report ... in which cops say Johnny Damon's blood-alcohol level was .30, nearly FOUR TIMES the legal limit.

Cops also say Damon's wife was in the car at the time of the arrest -- and describe her as being completely out of control.

In fact, cops say Michelle Mangan-Damon was uncooperative, combative -- and at one point, she actually pushed a police officer.

While Johnny was booked for DUI, Michelle was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

In the police report, cops say Damon was pulled over at around 1:23 AM after officers observed his SUV swerving all over the road.

During the stop, cops say Damon was slurring his speech and unsteady on his feet -- and ultimately admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the evening.

In fact, when asked if he had consumed alcohol, cops say Damon replied "just a little bit" while "motioning with his left hand and fingers in a small pinching motion."

Before Johnny and Michelle were taken to the station, cops say Michelle told the arresting officer she had a nanny at home with their six children. So, the officer called the nanny and told her that Johnny and Michelle "were going to jail and would not be home for some time."

While at the station, cops say Johnny agreed to take a breathalyzer test, but noted his wife was advising him against it. Ultimately, cops say Johnny gave two valid breath samples, .30 and .294.

Cops asked Johnny where he was partying before the incident ... to which they say he replied, "London House," which Johnny described as "it's a guy who had a lot of money ... we're just having a good time there."

Ex-MLB superstar Johnny Damon was arrested for DUI in Florida early Friday morning -- and cops say his blood-alcohol level was more than TWICE the legal limit.

The 47-year-old -- who played for the Boston Red Sox and NY Yankees -- was pulled over by the Windermere Police Dept. (in the Orlando area) around 8:15 AM.

During the stop, cops say Damon showed signs of intoxication and at some point, they tested his blood alcohol level which came back at "greater than or equal to .20."

The legal limit to drive is .08.

Damon was arrested and booked on multiple charges including driving under the influence and resisting arrest without violence.

Damon was hauled to a nearby station where he posed for a mug shot -- and spent time in a holding cell.

Damon is a 2-time World Series champion and made 2 All-Star teams during his 18 seasons as an MLB player.

After his playing days, Damon appeared as a contestant on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2014 as well as competing on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2018.

Damon was one of the key cogs in breaking Boston's famous World Series draught -- banding together with his "idiots" to win the title in 2004.

He later left Boston to play for the rival NY Yankees -- and cut his famous long hair in the process.

Story developing ...

Originally Published -- 7:49 AM PT

Yankees' Aaron Hicks Rips 303-Yard Hole-In-One With Tiger Woods' Niece

BIG SWING

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Hicks just pulled off what some golfers only dream of -- ripping a 303-yard hole-in-one on a Par 4 on Sunday ... and Tiger Woods' niece was present for the feat!!!

The 31-year-old has been showing off his serious golf skills recently ... launching a 330-yard drive during a recent trip to Top Golf earlier this month.

GOING, GOING, GONE
@therealjoehicks / Instagram

Now, the center fielder has proven his talents translate to the links ... by hitting an insane hole-in-one shot at Silverleaf Club in Scottsdale, AZ with his 3 wood.

There's no footage of the accomplishment, but we gotta take Aaron and Cheyenne's word for it ... as the golf legend's niece shared vid of a rightfully stoked Hicks jogging up to the hole, pulling out his ball and giving a fist pump that would make Tiger proud.

It's been nothing but success for non-golf pro athletes on the links recently -- as we previously reported, Wayne Gretzky nailed a hole-in-one on New Year's Eve.

Sure looks like Hicks could hold his own if he decides to hang up the bat in exchange for a golf career!!

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