Since 2013 it has been one of the great mysteries every time the Yankees played the Red Sox.
Why did CC Sabathia seem to hate Jackie Bradley Jr.?
There were no logical explanations for the former Yankees pitcher consistently staring daggers and occasionally shouting at the Red Sox outfielder throughout their meetings, with Bradley Jr. not necessarily having outrageous success against the lefty (7-for-33 with 13 strikeouts).
And every time the pair were asked about the dynamic, neither had a plausible reason.
"I made up a beef with Jackie Bradley Jr. just so I can hate y'all. You have to make it intense," explained Sabathia. To which Betts responded, "To this day, we never know. Me and Jackie would be like, 'I don't know why ...'"
Sabathia continued, "I made up a whole beef, dog, I would I do that shit with different people. I would point out a guy and be like, 'I'm not going to like that guy so I can hate the whole team.'"
The reveal clearly impressed Bradley Jr.'s former teammate.
"That's some (Michael) Jordan-type (expletive)," Betts said. "That's why you're so great. How do you do that?"
Sabathia went on to further explain the impetus behind his approach.
"I had to," he said. "And because I was so cool with you and CY (Chris Young) I didn't want you all to be comfortable in the box. I wanted you to be like, 'This mother(expletive) is still crazy. He still wants to win.' I had to keep that little edge so that's the way I did it. I did it with pretty much every team. It turned into a real hate with the Rays. I would pick somebody and be like, 'I don't like that guy. (Expletive) that guy.' So now I'm pissed off at the whole team. That's just how I had to play my last seven, eight years. That's a long time to be fake pissed off as somebody.
"I'm going to tell you exactly when it started. We played you guys Opening Day when he first got called up. I pitched that day. And I think I walked him bases loaded on a 3-2 close pitch. And Aaron Boone was doing the game. And he was like, 'Oh my God, Jackie Bradley. This is so great. CC has lost it. Tanaka is the ace now. Jackie Bradley just proved that.' I just (expletive) lost it. Just heating his name in that moment made me not like him."
The game Sabathia referenced was on Opening Day in 2013, which was Bradley Jr.'s major league debut.
In the top of the second inning Bradley Jr. walked in his first big-league at-bat, helping key what would be four-run frame for the Red Sox against Sabathia.
"All he did was have a good at-bat," Sabathia said with a laugh."And Booney egged it on. That's how it happened. That's how the whole (expletive) started."
The story seemed to offer a sense of relief for Betts, who had joined Bradley Jr. in his confusion over the rivalry. He was genuinely, 'I don't know why he hates me so much,'" the Dodgers outfielder said.
Sabathia relayed that he had talked to Bradley Jr. at Young's wedding, but didn't tip his hand when it came to the source of hisfake animosity.
"It ain't no hard feeling. It's just how I had to play," the former pitcher said.
Added Betts, "At that point you were too invested in hating that you couldn't go back."
Sabathia responded, "I couldn't go back."