Hatred toward baseball fights is the dumbest thing in baseball this week

In the words of Ken Watanabe in "Godzilla," let them fight.

The most interesting thing to come out of Wednesday's Yankees-Red Sox heat wasn't what happened during the brawl, but what happened before it.

As Aaron Judge took the plate in the first inning, he exchanged Christmas Day pleasantries with Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. They both shared a smile and a laugh.

Gone are the days of Alex Rodriguez getting his mush stuffed by Jason Varitek, or Pedro Martinez throwing bench coaches to the ground, I thought to myself. This rivalry is dead, never to be revived again.

Then came a questionable slide by Tyler Austin. Followed by a Joe Kelly fastball to Austin's ribs. Before you knew it, the Yankees and Red Sox were making their pitch to be in WrestleMania 35's Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

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There's a lot of poo-pooing of fighting in baseball. More often than not, benches clearing amounts to a bunch of chest-puffing and saber-rattling that might also include a couple of light shoves and hugging. But between the Yankees and Red Sox and Rockies and Padres on Wednesday, it was a breath of fresh, competitive air. Take baseball fights and inject them straight into my veins.

Sure, we're trying to wash baseball of its toxic masculinity. I am fully aware that the culture of baseball is undergoing a serious facelift: The sport's unwritten rules seem to be rewritten on a game-by-game basis to the point where they're nothing but a punchline for Twitter folk and morning talk shows. In many cases, rightfully so. Even further, it's generally a bad look for baseball culture when its excessive machismo and junk-swinging take center stage, especially in today's social climate.

Is it barbaric? Sure. Does it appeal to violence, the lowest-common denominator of human nature? Absolutely. But in the words of Ken Watanabe in "Godzilla," let them fight. Let 'em throw bombs. I see nothing wrong with mixing it up and defending yourself with an opponent who nailed you with a 98-mph heater in the ribs. We don't want to see players hurt, but sometimes that's a byproduct of it.

I'm not saying every game needs to devolve into the fight-scene finale of the latest comic book flick. That, obviously, is bad for baseball. But players showing they're willing to stand up for teammates and risk their health defending themselves and their honor — cheesy and cliché, but not inaccurate — is great for the game. It's nice to have friends on a field, but at some point the pre-game pleasantries between opposing rivals can be a bit nauseating.

Baseball fights lend themselves to a sense of real competition — even if a bunch of these guys have the same agents and work out in the same gyms during the offseason. Just look at how the fans reacted on social media. Even Paul O'Neill — who saw his share of Yankees-Red Sox bad blood in his playing days — acknowledged it during the broadcast.

MORE: Former Red Sox, Yankee player places brawl blame on slide rule

"The fans are gonna love it. This is gonna add excitement and this is gonna add drama to every game that Boston and New York are gonna play now," he said.

Isn't that what fans want? Excitement, drama with every game, especially with division rivalries? I don't want to hear the arguments of "what will this mean for the children?" Not to say baseball fights are an inherent part of the game, but sometimes things degenerate to that point. They're grown folks. Why can't they take a stand for themselves?

After all, sports are entertainment above all else. What's more entertaining than seeing Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and CC Sabathia moving a pile of Red Sox players like an All-Pro offensive line running a 32-belly option? Or Joe Kelly morphing into "Joe Cool" and calmly telling a charging Austin, "Let's go" and then blowing a bubble in the midst of a scrum afterward.

The last thing anyone wants to see is Judge, Stanton, Andrew Benintendi, Brock Holt or any player on either team get hurt. But these are grown men, pulsing with testosterone and adrenaline, in the heat of battle with a division rival. The Yankees got spanked the night before and the Red Sox are defending their home turf.

Typically, these things sort themselves out. "Baseball polices itself" is a popular phrase. But there might be nothing fans — especially this one — enjoy more than a rivalry feeling legitimate as opposed to manufactured through the media.

Does baseball need players fighting? Of course not.

But ice cream is that much better with toppings.