Zimmer issues lone apology

BOSTON -- The Yankees and Red Sox did not play Sunday, after a day of heavy rain here forced the postponement of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. But members of both organizations waged public relations wars, dueling news conferences and statements in the aftermath of the Game 3 mayhem.

Both teams also juggled their pitching rotations because of the rainout. The Yankees' Mike Mussina was supposed to pitch Game 5, but will pitch Monday's Game 4 instead; Mussina usually feels better when he takes his regular turn, every fifth day. David Wells, who was already preparing to pitch Sunday's game when it was called off, will start Game 5, with Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens scheduled to follow in Games 6 and 7.

Tim Wakefield, who beat the Yankees with his knuckleball in Game 1, will start Game 4. Boston manager Grady Little has not yet identified his starter for Game 5. It's possible the outcome of Game 4 will be a factor: If the Red Sox win, then John Burkett could start Game 5; if the Red Sox lose, then Little might choose Derek Lowe.

No matter who pitches, the incidents of Game 3 will color the rest of the series -- the head-high fastball of Pedro Martinez, the verbal battles between the two teams, the confrontation between Yankees coach Don Zimmer and Martinez, which ended with Martinez throwing Zimmer to the ground. And, in the ninth inning, members of the Yankees' bullpen had an altercation with a Red Sox groundskeeper.

Martinez, outfielder Manny Ramirez, Zimmer and Yankees outfielder Karim Garcia were all fined Sunday by Major League Baseball, and commissioner Bud Selig ordered all the parties involved to refrain from comment -- a mandate that was honored for at least two hours.

Zimmer spoke briefly, through tears, expressing regret. "I'm embarrassed of what happened (Saturday)," Zimmer said. "I'm embarrassed for the Yankees, the Red Sox, the fans, the umpires and my family. That's all I have to say. I'm sorry."

And with that, the 72-year-old Zimmer stepped off the podium, weeping.

Shortly thereafter, three Boston executives -- owners John Henry and Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino -- sat at the same dais, fielding questions about the Game 3 incidents, a news conference that seemed to directly contravene Selig's dictum.

They also responded to comments made by Randy Levine, the Yankees' president, who said -- among many things -- that the Yankees deserve an apology from the Red Sox for what occurred in Game 3, using the word "lawlessness."

Henry called Levine on Sunday afternoon and asked him to retract his remarks, and in what Henry portrayed as a genial conversation, Levine declined. "I would say that we certainly do take exception to his remarks, though," said Werner.

The Boston executives painted a sympathetic picture of Paul Williams, the groundskeeper who was involved in the bullpen altercation, as an upstanding employee of the organization, and Henry mentioned seeing the injuries Williams allegedly sustained. Lucchino stressed that both the Yankees and the Red Sox shared "some degree of fault" for the Game 3 incidents.

The Boston executives were asked whether they had spoken with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and Lucchino -- who tagged the Yankees with the moniker of "The Evil Empire" during the offseason -- quickly responded, "You bet I haven't."

Martinez's pitch, Lucchino said, "was a message, pitching inside is part of the game, and it went both ways (Saturday). Again, I think there's a danger that we are going to overdramatize what happened -- not that it wasn't significant, particularly the attack in the bullpen, I find enormously significant."

Henry said he appreciated Zimmer's statement of regret, and mentioned he "wouldn't mind seeing the same thing come from our side just as conciliatory." When Henry was asked from whom that apology might come, he said, "I think it could come from us."

But no apology was made, and late in the news conference, Major League Baseball spokesman Rich Levin stepped into the room and beckoned a Red Sox official; it seemed clear to reporters in the room that Levin was nonplussed about the fact the news conference was being held. Shortly thereafter, the questioning ended.

Yankees' officials were furious about the Boston news conference, and asked for permission to release a statement of response, which was read by club spokesman Rick Cerrone to a crowd of reporters in the visitors' clubhouse. The Yankees have complied with the commissioner's request for silence, Cerrone said, and "after we learned that the Red Sox violated the commissioner's order, we called the commissioner's office and received permission to issue the following statement (from Levine): "Both I and the Yankees stand by our statements of (Saturday). We will have nothing further to say until the commissioner's office concludes its review."

Don't bet on it.

Jeff Nelson, one of the players involved in the bullpen altercation, talked to reporters nearby, reasserting that the groundskeeper was responsible for the incident. And on and on and on it goes, in this heated rivalry.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.