As usual, when I write a piece that’s critical of a guy I like, I have to throw up the preamble: I love Marlon Byrd. Hard, fun, productive player.

But he recently took a steaming pile of blog, and I can’t leave it alone.

To button up the discussion on Matt Holliday’s completely bush league, dangerous leg whip/slide into Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd offered his thoughts on the subject on his blog, the Byrd’s Nest.

“The dude was trying to break up a double play,” Byrd writes. “Holliday plays hard. You have to appreciate the way he plays. He’s not labeled as a dirty player. He didn’t go spikes up. The only thing that made it look bad was that he slid late. That’s it. Whether he could reach the bag or not, I don’t know.”

I just can’t disagree strongly enough with all of this. And it really, really disappoints me.

First, Holliday did go spikes up. He came in high and late (with his right elbow jutting out into Starlin Castro’s midsection), whipping his leg out to the side at Castro. That’s why Castro’s shin was scraped and his pants were torn. Castro himself said the only thing that prevented serious injury was Holliday’s plastic, rather than metal, cleats.

Second, sliding late is itself a bad thing. It’s crazy dangerous, because it means you go in high. That means knee injury is a serious risk.

Finally, it’s ok with you if he did all of that and couldn’t even reach the bag? Marlon. That’s the very definition of a dirty play. I haven’t played the game since high school, but I don’t think it’s changed that much in the last dozen years.

Ultimately, you know what pisses me off the most about the whole Holliday/Castro thing? Not only did the Cubs send the wrong message to the Cardinals and to the fans by not even so much as brushing Holliday back, they sent the wrong message to Starlin Castro.

You’ve got the manager of the team and one of the noted leaders of the team going out of their way to protect Matt Holliday in the media, rather than protect their 21-year-old All-Star shortstop. A 21-year-old who, mind you, called the play dirty immediately after the game. Even if Castro had said nothing, sticking up for Holliday rather than Castro would have been wrong. But doing so after Castro said he felt he was wronged? Mike and Marlon, you just wronged him again.

Does anyone truly believe other teams would have responded this way? It’s baffling, and wildly disappointing. And I’m getting upset just thinking about it again.

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