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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.

  • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

    “Chemistry”

  • Dan0mite

    I said the next day to a friend and I’ll say it here. “The Cubs are pu**ies.”. Demo had the perfect chance. Two outs, nobody on and Holliday at the plate.

  • Bails17

    I just wish we had players that would actually play that hard (other than Byrd and Pena). I think given the play…it wasn’t “dirty”. It was hard…and it got the job done. I think you need to look at the intent. The was no intent to harm…there was intent to break up the play.

    Our problem is that as a whole…we are soft. Do you think Soriano would have even made it to the bag on that play? NO

    Too soft…too lazy. If you don’t like getting beat (or beat up)…do something about it. And as an organization…if you don’t like it and our players don’t respond…get better “make-up” type players.

    • Internet Random

      This is just plain wrong. The bad intent is evident in going in spikes up and making no effort whatsoever to touch the bag.

      Similarly, when you make the decision to drive drunk, your intent is bad. You know, or should know, that what you’re doing can kill people. Saying that you didn’t intend to plow through the family of five after you decided to drive drunk is besides the point.

      • Bails17

        HAHA…it seems our fans are as big a pansies as our players are.

        1. He didn’t COME IN spikes up. That happened as he continued to extend out to break up the play.

        2. I am not saying that this PLAY does not deserve some type of retaliation (pitching way in on a guy or even hitting him in the middle of the back). I said I don’t see it as DIRTY. Sometimes things happen in the heat of the moment and players make contact with each other. It’s called playing hard…something the Cubs have really struggled with as of late.

        3. People are making way to big of deal about this. Let’s just let the Cardinals and their annoying fans get under our skin even more. Like I said before…if you don’t like being some ones b**ch….then do something about it!

        • Bails17

          And really bad analogy by the way. Really…drunk driving?

          Did you ever even play this game? Have you ever tried to go up and in on someone and smoke em in the head? You wanted to go up and in…but you hit em. Does that make it dirty? No…it makes it BASEBALL.

          • Internet Random

            Why is it a bad analogy? Break it down for me, tiger. Keep in mind that the topic was Holliday’s intent.

            Yes, I’ve played. No, I never hit anybody in the head (while pitching). And if you’re so unreasonable that you can’t see the difference in a wild pitch and trying to spike somebody, then nobody’s going to be able to change your mind with reason.

            But as to your claim that, “He didn’t COME IN spikes up. That happened as he continued to extend out to break up the play,” . . . if that were true, it would serve to make it look even more intentional.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Players make bad decisions in the heat of the moment. Absolutely right.

          And this was one of them. It was a bad decision to make a dirty play.

          • Bails17

            What I am saying is this boys…just because you spike someone doesn’t make it dirty. It wasn’t dirty when Marlon Byrd took that fastball off his face either. No intent.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              You’re conflating “intent to injure” and “intent to do the dirty thing.”

              Holliday didn’t intend to injure Castro (probably). Holliday did intend to slide high, late, and whip his leg out with his spikes up. Aceves neither intended to injure Byrd, NOR did he intend to throw at his head.

              • Internet Random

                You are correct, Sir.

                • Bails17

                  Not a chance…his INTENT was to break up the play! Again…take off your skirts and realize this is a game from men.

                  • Internet Random

                    Of course. He didn’t intend to run, slide late and high, put his spikes up, and whip his leg out and into Castro. That all happened without intent, by accident — like dropping a soapy dish or slipping on an icy sidewalk. You know, because all of those are the kinds of things that happen without intent to make them happen.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Fat chance. My skirt matches my purse. You’ll look at it and you’ll like it.

  • dreese

    Teammates come first Byrd!

  • cccubfan

    I cannot believe that anyone, let alone Marlon Byrd, would defend what he did. Is Holliday such a great man that people would not think he would play dirty. Come on folks, look at it again if you have to DIRTY -DIRTY-DIRTY……What’s next…..Carlos Pena wanted “chemistry”…this just shot that down the drain Carlos. Sorry!

  • Internet Random

    (1) “The dude was trying to break up a double play.” You could try to excuse nearly anything with this statement. Holliday could have thrown a flurry of punches at Castro’s head and body and some deluded apologist could say, “The dude was trying to break up a double play.”

    (2) I’m still concerned that Mike Quade’s vagina might be the main problem here.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I just spit out a little of my drink.

    • Jeff

      I believe your second point can be used to excuse nearly anything. Hilarious stuff.

    • MichiganGoat

      Nothing better than a good mangina joke

  • Hogie

    I for sure agree, the coach and teammates should have had Castro’s back reguardless of thier feelings on the play. For all the emphasis on chemistry for this team, this would be a great way to build it. The leaders and management on this team are all backwards. I really do like Byrd, but couple this recent defense of the enemy with his “take me with you” comment, and I am really doubting how great of a clubhouse presence he is. If he was a less likeable guy, he would get torn apart for some of the things that have come up this year! There have been a lot of s**t experiences this year for Cubs fans, but this one is really getting under my skin, and Byrd’s comments have embedded it there.

  • RoughRiider

    I played a lot of shortstop and 2nd base. If someone had done that to me or a teammate, the next time they were on the way to second and I had the ball, my throw to first would have been through them. I had one guy fall to the ground half way to second just to avoid my throw.

  • John Durbin

    Brett I Totally agree with this entire article. As a senior in high school i had my right arm boken because of a guy who decided he wanted to come in hard and late into second base when i was going to turn a double play off a bunt and run situation. The throw from my catcher was low and he completely smashed my arm and broke my nose and cheek bone. Its dangerous and not necessary if you coming in hard and slide through the bad to break up the play FINE… If you go out of your way to take out the shortstop/second baseman…. TOTALLY BUSH!!! I dont consider Matt Holliday bush leauge or a dirty player … but the particular play was BUSH!!! NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!!

    • John Durbin

      and sorry for the mistype .. slide through the bag.. not through the bad*

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        Totally undercuts the whole story, John. How can we believe a word you say now?

        • Internet Random

          For real. The whole story is obviously made up.

          • Internet Random

            We’re kidding you, John. No one thinks a typo means that you made up the story.

        • John Durbin

          Im not defending what Holliday did in that particular play… It was garbage and not called for. If you are coming in clean with the intent of making it to second base to break up a double play that is totally acceptable and that is how every player should play. What holliday did was not clean and not in the good nature of the game. That is a no bull story of what happened in the summer going into my senior season. And CUBS pitcher Chris Carpenter can attened to it as i was a high school friend/teammate of his, and i had to sit out the state playoffs that summer because of that broken arm.

          • Joe Cartwright

            TWC was definitely joking. Internet Random….. I have no idea (probably joking too).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good story, John. And spot on.

  • willis

    Ouch. This plus the “take me with you” jab last week are confusing. Byrd has been a model player since he arrived last year. But this is ridiculous. And pretty bush league.

    And this from a guy who had a serious injury from a dangerous pitch earlier in the year? You would think he knows better. A-hole.

  • Joe Cartwright

    Bye bye Byrd! Have fun getting traded! It’s too bad for you that it will most likely not be the Cardinals!

  • John Durbin

    and in no way should Byrd defend Holliday for what he did… no matter what he feels about it he should have either kept he mouth shut and not said a thing or backed up his teammate and ALL-STAR shortstop! and the simple fact that is was a Cardinals player just makes it worse!

  • Joe Cartwright

    Considering i’m a current SS/2B, the stories are scaring me a bit (especially John’s story. That’s f’d up.) And/or giving me tons ideas about what to do to the next guy. Worst I’ve gotten so far is three fractured fingers.

  • Mike Foster

    Bryd’s comments were made before the trade deadline…maybe that means something, maybe it doesn’t. It is stupid of Baseball for it’s rules to allow and promote contact in a mostly non-contact sport. You want injury contact in a sport go to football or basketball. Holladay was playing the player, not the bag or the ball, the leg whipping action is undisputable. That rule needs to change. Now, when will Hollday get BEANED! If Quade doesn’t call for it then he’s not Major League IMHO.

  • EQ

    The only reason Byrd should have said this is if we returned the favor.. and it would have been awesome to take out Theriot if possible..

    I actually had my wife and kid waiting in the car while I watched the bottom of the 1st inning of the next game because I assumed Demp was gonna bean Holliday right in the back.. he didn’t, I just shook my head and walked out the door amazed at the fact that we didn’t retaliate..

    I played ball in high school and college, to me it was a no-brainer that you hit him the next game.. maybe a little brawl could have ignited a fire and maybe we could go on a run and actually win.. I dunno.. 4 games in a row??

  • hardtop

    As most of us seem to be, I’m pretty disappointed with Byrd. Not only because he could have supported Starlin by say nothing, and instead said something, but because he may really think this is okay. Byrd has a reputation for playing hard, but if he did this, in our uniform, I would be sick. The intent was clearly to do some type of physical harm. Breaking up a double play involves obstructing view and causing movement away from the play. Whipping a kid with your cleats is to draw blood. I can’t tell you how pissed I am at dempster for letting this slide, I don’t give a shit what Quade said, and I know Demp doesn’t care either.
    Ill tell you what though, no one on this team supports Castro, except for us, the fans. Q-ball hates him and the players obviously don’t stand up for him. I hope he takes it into his own hands and does what roughriider suggested, throw the ball at him. Maybe then the teams will learn a lesson from a 21 year old kid. Don’t f%^k with me! Confidence wins games and Starlin is going to need it if he’s going to lead our team in the years to come. I hope these idiots haven’t damaged him too much already.

    • EQ

      yeah and Tim F-in McCarver kept defending the play saying it was clean as the replay clearly showed Holliday going out of his way to kick Castro.. I wanted to go through the TV and punch him and stupid Joe Buck right in the face.

      • http://www.bobbyfunzone.com bobbyd

        Yeah, but Joe Buck is such a smarmy little fuck you can’t do anything but want to punch him in the face, regardless of what he says.

        I mean, really.

        [In my dreams, after I punch Joe Buck in the mouth, I kick Tim McCarver in the crotch.]

  • Dan Raupp

    The fact that we didn’t stand up for ourselves really irks me, but the fact that we didn’t stand up for ourselves to the Cardinals makes it even worse. We are supposed to despise the Cardinals, we should be brushing them back off the plate for that reason alone, and when we have a real reason to and don’t, that outrages me. Terrible message to send to the young players and the fans. If we won’t stand up to them when we are supposed to how are we expected to go head to head against them year after year competing for a division title. I hate everything about the Cardinals.

  • Mike Foster

    Sunday night even Bobby Valentine questioned if Holliday was going to get hit. Think he would have let that go…no way! We still get the Cards for 3 more games in Chicago, hopefully this isn’t over.

  • Brian

    I’m almost positive my response is going to follow along the general ideas of the other responses but this also pisses me off greatly.

    Pena talks about “chemistry”. I heard Bob Brenley talking about Pena’s statement last night and he basically said the same thing that Brett posted the other day about “chemistry”. Perhaps a fellow reader?

    Holliday should have been pegged, cloths-lined or just something to show respect for Castro. It was enjoyable to see him strike out so many times against Dempster but it would have been so great to see him in some sort of pain or discomfort or anything that would not only piss him off, but the entire St. Louis organization. We let them walk all over us along with many other teams.

    Basically man up Cubs!

  • willis

    Oh the announcers were killing the Cubs for not retaliating. It’s just typical of Quade and the pussies on this team. Quade doesn’t have Castro’s back nor best interests in mind. And it’s a shame too. I only hope (and last night seemed to be a good indicator) that this doesn’t mess with Castro mentally and he can somehow be the bigger person and let this go.

    But damn to hell what Byrd said. I’ve gone from loving him to despising him thanks to this post. Thanks Ace.

  • PFK

    I wish more Cubs played hard like that – but a bit cleaner. The article you posted by a reader written by a St. Louis columnist about the sorry state of the Cubs said it perfectly. Byrd, Quade and everyone else should have stood up for Castro. Its a sad reflection on the organization. That writer was correct when he said that neither Pinella or Baker would have let that go by unanswered. The next time Holliday came up he would have gone down for sure. I always loved to watch Pete Rose play because he played it hard. And, if that meant going duke city with a player, he did. I like a good dust-up now and then. I fully expect there to be one the next time the Cards are in Chicago. Playing like lambs? I hate to watch that kind of ball. We need a few less nice guys and few more take charge rough and tumble types. We need attitude. A big case of attitude. You come to our home – you are going to face the music pal.

  • RY

    i wonder what the general consensus of the other cubs towards castro is??

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      I was curious about that, too.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Great question. After all of this, I’m absolutely wondering. Weren’t there rumors that the two he hangs out with most are Ramirez and Soriano? (*not saying that’s the case, I just seem to recall hearing that*)

      • hardtop

        the dominican trifecta.
        when we had castillo and mateo up for a little bit, the cubs had 7 dominican players! (‘los was born there but moved to the states). that has to be the most on one active, non-expansion, roster at a given time. maybe not, im too lazy to find out.
        soto might have been on the dl when we castillo up, my memory is rusty, but if not, we would have had a total of 12 players not born in the US in the dugout or bullpen. Dont know why im bringing that up, i dont really care about that stuff. but i do prefer the mvp of americas game to deliver his acceptence speech in ‘merican…. i mean, english.

        i really need to know the answer to this question! I know a player on the team casually, but not well enough to call him up this question. c’mon, one of you guys must know one of the players, its not like chicago is a big town or anything ;)

  • Ralph

    I hope they retaliate when the Card come to Wrigley next. Sunday’s game seemed a little too close, or there were already runners on base when Holiday took his AB’s. It also seemed that the Cubs were working him away in the zone and Holliday was perhaps expecting one in the ribs… could this have resulted in the 3 K’s and 1 grounded into Double Play…. Holliday got 5 outs in 4 AB’s maybe because he had getting drilled in the back of his mind… nice…. keep him guessing until Woody ends up plunking him when they come to Chicago.

  • Louis

    If the roles were reversed the CUBS player would be hit in the middle of the back the first chance the Cards got. The CUBS did nothing except strike him out 3 times, which is great, but next year the spikes will be up again. If Castro was actually seriously hurt on that play everyone would call it “dirty”, but since Castro is fine it’s no big deal. BS

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Bingo and bingo.

      There is a 0.000001% chance Tony LaRussa would have let that go without repayment. And can you imagine this discussion if Castro had his knee blown out?

      • Jeff

        If he had tore up Castro’s knee, I would have flown to St. Louis, bought a ticket, jumped the rail, and beat the snot out of Holliday on the field in front of everybody with nothing on but a giant C painted on my naked body. That would show those Cardinal bastards not to mess with our Cubs.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          There is literally nothing more humiliating than being beaten up in front of thousands by a naked man. Trust me.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            So that was YOU in that video on YouTube? Yikes.

  • vitaminB

    I don’t think it was dirty. I did initially, but in that situation, if were battling for first and breaking up that double play gets us back into the ballgame I’d have been all for it.

    The biggest problem I had with the play was Castro just sitting there with the ball, with no sense of urgency whatsoever as Pujols rounded third and scored easily. He wasn’t even hurt. I would rather see Byrd pull him aside in the locker room and explain to him that while the ball is live, keep your head up.

  • Butcher

    Ralph — does it matter that the game was close? Honestly, do wins mean anything at all at this point in the season? I would have gladly accepted a loss if it meant Holliday took a fastball in the ribs. If we were in a pennant race and the win against the Cards meant a game in the standings, then I get not putting Holliday on base. Obviously, that wasn’t the situation.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Gotta agree.

  • Glenallen Hill’s One Home Run

    This looks to be engendering a great clubhouse atmosphere for Starlin. Damn, even when the Cubs get a player right, they have to do stuff like this to potentially retard his development. He looks like he has fun in the dugout but I would be outrageously pissed if this were me (which it totally could be, since I’m an all-star shortstop too). Even if you think Holliday was right, you HAVE to do something to show your teammate you have his back. Oh well, I’ll just have to go back to forgetting that Byrd’s blog exists.

  • Louis

    Hey VB,
    What reaction would you have If Matt Holliday just ran outside the base path and aimed at you? The ump should of called him out instantly, but since he didn’t the ball was live. Another garbage call by the garbage umps in the MLB.

    • cccubfan

      I have to go along with the awful umpiring this season. This is by far the worst “calling: season I have seen in my 40 years of watching the Cubs or any team for that matter. From not calling Holliday out to the ump taking the game from the Pirates the other night PITIFUL is all that comes to mind. Maybe they are wanting instant replay so they have something to fall back on. Let’s give them however much they want a year and let them call it from the TV booth. Len and Bob could call it for that matter…..

  • Chris

    I commented on that blog post. I stand by my implication that perhaps Byrd is hoping to be traded to St Louis.

    Maybe this is the Cubs new strategy? Destroy the will of the young players so they don’t get too big for their britches. (note – I don’t agree with it and I doubt that’s actually what’s going on, but I can only imagine what’s going through Castro’s mind right now. Personally, I’d be pissed.)

  • al

    yeah it was dirty..Ive been calling high school and small college ball for 30 plus yrs now..yeah i kow the rules are different and yes he was just trying to break up a double play,but what disturbs me about this play was the leg whip..it wouldve been fine if it wasnt for that …MLB needs to clean this sort of bullshit up before someone has (im sure its happened already) their career ended..but if youre waiting for quade and the pussy pitching staff to MAN UP and get even in wrigley…dont hold your breath.. they will have long forgotten about this by then…all it would take is MLB to hold its umpires accountable for this type of crap and then enforce it by reprimanding umpires that dont and it WOULD end…and one last thing CUCK the FARDINALS!!!

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