Wow. First, I cannot believe how long it has been since I’ve blogged here. My last post was in July?! A lot has happened – including our week-long blog hiatus while we Diamond Diaries gals met up in St. Louis to watch our boys plays some ball. Fun trip. Absolutely amazing! I finally met Angela and Chris in person -plus a few other great Cardinals fans we knew from our Twitter baseball watch parties. The trip was wonderful even if the Cardinals gave up two games to the Astros and the devastating news broke that our hop-a-long hotcorner David Freese would have season-ending surgery to rebuild his ankle. But enough about that….
Yesterday we learned the penalties imposed on the players and managers for their actions during the mayhem that erupted during the 1st inning of Tuesday night’s game between the Cardinals and the Reds. (Chris disected the basebrawl details in yesterday’s Diamond Diaries post. and Viva El Birdos has broken the entire fight down into an amazing must-see video and picture sequence here.)
MLB’s disciplinary actions targeted 5 players and both team managers:
Johnny Cueto, Reds pitcher – 7 game suspension plus fines
Managers Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker – 2 game suspensions each
Cincinnati players Russ Springer and Brandon Phillips – fines
Cardinal players Chris Carpenter and Yadier Molina – fines
With one glaring exception, I found the penalties acceptable. MLB made a point with the managers, and 4 of the 5 players did not deserve anything worse. Johnny Cueto was the only player in the melee who went berserk – violently kicking Chris Carpenter in the back and Jason LaRue in the head and ribs with his spikes, leaving Jason with a mild concussion and stitches in his lip. Cueto’s actions were reprehensible and thankfully LaRue was not more seriously injured. In my opinion, this was where MLB dropped the ball. Cueto’s repeated thrashing of his spikes at the heads and bodies of players posed such risk to every player in that mobbed backstop that I believe he should be jailed for assault.
Baseball fights are definitely their own creature, much as baseball has its own personality. The fact that baseball’s unwritten rules extend to benches-clearing, emotion-driven pushing-and-shoving matches leaves me smiling at this sport I have fallen in love with.
Sure, these grown men got all riled up and acted like a bunch of gorillas, but (with the exception of Johnny Cueto) they were civilized gorillas.
Not a fan of fights, I do not enjoy hockey. Ultimate Fighting makes me sick and boxing horrifies me. But Tuesday’s brawl between the Cardinals and the Reds was different – mostly because baseball fights, while full of bravado, are rarely violent, but also because I understood and appreciated the underlying emotions behind the furor. Reds 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips rudely and intentionally insulted the entire core of the Cardinal organization and catcher Yadier Molina took exception to Phillips’ attempt to gloss over his comments.
Don’t run on Yadi and don’t insult his baseball family.
Sure, Molina could have let it go. He could have just ignored Phillips and excused him as the publicity-seeking big mouth that he is. Instead, Yadi took a stand, and with that confrontation (punctuated by a heroic retaliatory homerun in the next inning) Yadi ignited what will in all likelihood be the turning point for the 2010 Cardinals.
These Cardinals have been hungering for a unifying moment to ignite the type of fire that drives a talented team forward, and this sweep of the Reds – in the midst of the Phillips’ comment controversy- did just that.
The Cardinals won much more than a sweep in this past series against the Reds. Their bond as a team is now iron-clad. Conversely, the Reds lost more than just these 3 games and 1st place in the NL Central. Cincinnati may now be playing as a team divided. With proud former Cardinals Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds in Reds’ uniforms, Brandon Phillips’ comments make him an unpopular teammate, and Johnny Cueto’s conduct was a disgrace.
Could we have just witnessed the downfall of the 2010 Reds? Time will tell. But the Reds will only have themselves to blame for sinking that ship.
Today the Cardinals take on long-time rival Chicago Cubs with the Cubs seeming much more like that pesky neighbor kid that wastes your time than a bitter adversary. Tony LaRussa serves his two-game suspension at the start of this Cardinals-Cubs series, and our Cardinals have some well-earned momentum.
So, Let’s Play Ball! … and play nice. =)
And if you happen to be looking for more baseball reading, I wrote a story for i70baseball earlier this week about Surviving August Baseball. You can check it out here.