Memories of the 1997 fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield returned to the spotlight as a scuffle broke out in the Albuquerque dugout Tuesday. During the Triple-A game against Salt Lake, Los Angeles Dodgers minor league teammates, Miguel Olivo and Alex Guerrero, came to blows with each other between innings. After players were able to separate the two teammates, Olivo had part of Guerrero’s ear in his mouth.
The question of why Olivo would physically attack a teammate during Albuquerque’s loss to Salt Lake is one of many items the Dodgers will be looking into over the next few days. The 35-year old catcher signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers this past January after a 12 year career bouncing between seven different clubs. Olivo’s career is marred with fights and questionable acts that point towards something bigger going on in the catcher’s head.
In his first Major League at-bat, Olivo hit a home run for the Chicago White Sox. Early speculation was positive for the rookie. However, he only played six games his first year and sat on the bench as a back up catcher until being traded to the Seattle Mariners. After a year in Seattle and another season in San Diego, Olivo found himself in with the Florida Marlins for two seasons. In a September 2007 game the catcher, who was standing on the pitchers mound during a time out, charged towards the New York Mets’ Jose Reyes. Reyes was standing on third and had been jawing with Olivo. This led to the catcher charging after the Mets player. A bench clearing brawl ensued. Olivo was ejected from the game and the Marlins chose not to offer the catcher a new contract at the end of the season.
The next year Olivo found himself at the center of another bench clearing brawl. Now with the Kansas City Royals, the troubled catcher charged White Sox’s pitcher DJ Carrasco after being hit by a pitch. The temper Olivo has shown over the years may have led to the scuffle with Guerrero. However, the memories of the Tyson and Holyfield fight brings to light even more questions about the catcher’s state of mind. After his fall from the top of the boxing world, word came out that Tyson suffered from mental disorders, which may be have been aggravated by years of boxing. Looking back at Olivo’s career, the question of the catchers mental health is creeping forward.
Olivo suffered a concussion after being hit accidentally by the bat of St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols in 2010. The years of bouncing between teams and between the Minor League and Major League may have led to a building frustration for Olivo. In 2013, again with the Marlins, the catcher found himself in a state of frustration over lack of playing time and walked out on the team.
The events of Olivo’s career came to a boiling point on Tuesday. The catcher attempted to throw out a runner stealing a base and became upset that Guerrero did not make the tag. The two went to the dugout at the end of the inning and as Guerrero walked past Olivo on his way to warm up for the infielder’s at-bat, the catcher decked him. The scuffle did not last long as players and coaches separated the two, and Guerrero had to be taken to the hospital.
When Tyson bit part of the ear of Holyfield off back in 1997, the boxer was disqualified and was temporarily banned from boxing. Olivo biting part of the ear off of Guerrero may end the career of the 35-year old catcher. Guerrero is having surgery to repair the damage to his ear from the scuffle and will discuss potential legal action against Olivo after discussing the situation with his agent, lawyer, and the league officials. Memories of the scuffle are sure to haunt both players as they make their next moves.
Commentary by Carl Auer