The New York Yankees, who are fighting the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the American League East, also are fighting each other. Billy Martin managed the Yankees in their 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles today with a broken arm, wrapped in a cast and sling -- the result of a late-night tussle with pitcher Ed Whitson at the team's hotel.
It was the second altercation there in as many nights involving Martin, who said this time he was trying to break up what he thought was to be a fight involving Whitson, when Whitson attacked him.
"He kicked me once in the (groin) and once in the arm," Martin said. "Me and Dale Berra went over to stop it, and he turned on me and went crazy. He was kicking at me, and when we couldn't calm him down, I went after him myself after he kicked me. I won't deny that."
Bystanders reportedly tried to separate Martin and Whitson, as security personnel tried to get everyone out of the bar. After the fight seemed over in the lobby, Martin, with some others, went outside. Whitson then apparently came back and renewed the fight, knocking Martin to the ground.
Whitson spent the night at the hotel, but was sent back to New York this morning. A Yankees spokesman said Whitson was unavailable for comment.
As for Whitson's status, Martin said, "As far as I'm concerned, I'm waiting until I talk with George (Steinbrenner, the club owner)." Yankees spokesman Joe Safety said the team would talk to all involved before making a statement.
Steinbrenner, reached by phone in Florida by the New York Daily News, was uttering no votes of confidence.
"As much as I'm concerned about the fights, I'm even more upset about the curfews and the fact that so many players were in the bar that late at night before day games," Steinbrenner said. "That was one thing Billy promised when I made him manager again -- that he'd enforce the curfews. Otherwise, I just don't have anything else to say about all this until I get my reports on everything."
Clyde King, general manager, and Woody Woodward, vice president for baseball administration, were interviewing witnesses, including two New York sportswriters, during the game. King and Woodward were in Martin's office after the game.
"They just came in to see how I was doing," Martin said. "I'm fine, other than that now I'm left-handed."
Berra would say only, "I just held Whitson, trying to break up a fight." Catcher Ron Hassey, also in the hotel bar Saturday night, declined to comment.
Martin, asked if Whitson ever would pitch for him again, replied:
"I've always said I'd play Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini but it doesn't mean I have to like him. If he can pitch, I'll pitch him. If he can help us win a pennant, he's pitching. And I'll yank him out too, if he has to be yanked. But I'll watch his feet."
Martin said he had been sitting at one end of the bar with Berra and Berra's wife, while Whitson was in a booth with a man.
"Some guy comes over and says, 'Get over there quick, Whitson's getting in trouble,' " Martin said. "I went over right away and he had this guy standing up like he was gonna belt him. He turned on me and threw a punch at me but didn't hit me. Everybody tried to grab him. But then he lashed out and kicked me and kicked me again.
"That's when I got mad. I don't think I hit him, I know Dale popped him," Martin said, although Berra denied it. "I tried to hit him, but I can't fight with my feet."
"I don't see why I have any problem," Martin said. "I don't think I did anything. Once I'm a peacemaker and once it was a kook."
The second reference was to a man Martin argued with in the same hotel bar after Friday night's game. Martin said he bought champagne for the man and his wife, newlyweds. Later, the man came back and accused Martin of saying that his wife had a "pot belly." Martin told the man he had made a remark about another woman seated at the bar, not about the man's wife. Martin then told the man "to get out of here," and security people ushered the man out.
Martin, whose past is checkered with fights -- some physical, some verbal -- said the situation with "Billy and bars" is inescapable.
"It's always gonna happen like that," said Martin, who arrived at the club house wearing a Miller Lite All-Star T-shirt from his beer commercials. "I run into a lot of kooks. They seek me out."
In the game, which brought the Yankees within 5 1/2 games of Toronto, Ron Guidry earned his 20th victory of the year, but had a scare in the ninth when Floyd Rayford hit a two-run homer to close the margin to 5-4.
Guidry, who has been a Yankee since 1977 and has seen all the turmoil and tumult, said the Whitson-Martin mess didn't affect him.
"What went on last night, doesn't bother me," Guidry said. " . . . I've got a job to do. I fight nine guys out there, that's enough.