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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.

  • Cubfanrusty

    First off I am a Cub fan for many painful years. The Holliday slide was one of the dirtier I have seen in a while. I am not one for retribution, however humiliation suits me fine. Holliday went 0 for 4 the next game, with 3 K’s. I think I liked the mental pain we got him with over any personal pain we could inflict.The way the Cubs are playing right now… do we really need to put someone on base for “payback”?
    Second, and final. Marlon, Pena, and Quade…TEAM FIRST!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t think of it so much as “payback” as sticking up for your teammate and sending a message to the other team. Namely, the message is “that shit ain’t gonna fly with us.”

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      I was thinking it was cool that Dempster struck him out and he went 0-4 also. Even though I wanted someone to plunk Holliday, I thought maybe the Cubs took the higher road and made Holliday pay for it mentally, but the more I’ve thought about it, thats not really the case. We can’t honestly think Holliday went and sat in the clubhouse after his 0-4 night at the plate and thought, “damn, maybe I shouldn’t do any more dirty slides if they’re going to strike me out 3 times in a row the next day.” I think his thoughts were more along the lines of, “damn, I had a crappy game at the plate tonight”. Maybe in the Cubs minds they felt like they got revenge by doing that, but in Hollidays mind he simply just had a tough night at the plate. Im sure he’s had plenty of 0-4 games where he hadn’t done anything wrong to the opposing team the day before. Im not so sure though that he’s had a baseball thrown at him as hard as a pitcher can where he hadn’t done anything wrong to the opposing team the same/prior day. He has no reason to feel like he couldn’t go and do that again to the Cubs or any other team for that matter.

      It looks like the Angels and Jered Weaver know how to handle a little business. Business that wasn’t even as warranted as ours. An opposing player admiring a home run isn’t as bad as an opposing player making a dirty slide and potentially injuring one of your teammates. I don’t think Weaver needed to aim for the head, but regardless of the location, he showed that he’s not going to be shown up, bullied, or pushed around. Guys will now think twice about admiring a home run they hit off of Weaver or any other pitcher for that matter. Matt Holliday has been given no reason to think twice for what he’s done.

      Really surprised and disappointed in Byrd for his blog post about this. He’s entitled to his opinion and maybe it didn’t seem that dirty of a slide to him from out in centerfield, but he should just keep those thoughts to himself in a situation like this. At least for the sake of not looking like your going against your own team. Maybe he’s right, maybe it wasn’t really all that bad of a slide. I was just thinking how it seems like the whole Cubs nation is up in arms about a measly dirty slide. I think we’re extra sensitive because this team is playing so poorly right now but even more so because it happened to our young up and coming star. Either way, Byrd, you’re a Cub. If you don’t have something nice to say about the Cubs, don’t say anything about the Cubs at all.

  • RY

    brett, i think you are right with regards to ramirez and soriano and we should all be worried if thats the case, those two play with no passion, care or commitment! very disturbing that the savior of our future is hanging with these two all the time!

  • John Durbin

    The veterans on this team should look at how Darwin Barney or Tony Campana play the game. Even on a simple routine fly ball campana and barney are always busting in down the baseline and usually standing on second when the ball is caught. Ramirez, Soriano and half the other guys in that dugout BARELY make it to first base… I know its a small example but the younger guys seem to get it.. So why dont they???

  • RY

    i typically would say a brawl would be the best medicine, but i would be willing to bet that half the cubs wouldn’t have the ambition or desire to get in the mix. soriano and ramirez would probably take a nap on the bench while the fracas was going on, i guarantee wood and samardiza would be involved

  • cdc

    i mainly think we’re all upset because the cubs suck…i was more upset that castro said “i wasn’t thinking about the runs scoring”. Byrd’s comments re-affirm what i was thinking. i mean it’s not like he needed a stretcher to get up off the field or even needed a teammate or a trainer to come over and pick him up off the dirt. the look on Castro’s face was one of poor little kid who’d just had his candy taken from him. Tony LaRussa’s teams play a certain way and it helped lead to what a 7 run inning! if reed johnson does the same thing to theriot and we’re the team fighting for a division crown we’d all be saying “deal with it cards fans, that’s what theriot gets for saying he’s finally on the right side of the rivalry”. i didn’t think it was a dirty play. i hate the cardinals but i’m not ripping Matt Holliday for this one. And i’m definitely not gonna rip Marlon Byrd for what he said. He’s defending how HE plays the game by saying what he said. if it had been Reed Johnson sliding in on theriot like that Byrd would be saying the same thing, in fact defending his teammate. and had we thrown at Holliday later and started a brawl the Cardinals would have kicked the shit out of us!

    • Internet Random

      “i mainly think we’re all upset because the cubs suck…”

      Of course we’re upset that the Cubs suck. That changes what happened not one bit.

      “i mean it’s not like he needed a stretcher to get up off the field or even needed a teammate or a trainer to come over and pick him up off the dirt.”

      That’s not the point. If you fire a gun for no reason into a room crowded full of preschool children, it’s the wrong thing to do whether you hit anybody or not.

      “He’s defending how HE plays the game by saying what he said.”

      So you’re trying to defend Byrd by making the point that he’s acting in his own best interest and not that of the team?

      • Joe Cartwright

        “I wasn’t thinking about the runs scoring.”
        Colliding with the ground tends to do that.

        How does the Johnson-Theriot example apply? All you did was change the situation to fit Byrd’s comment. Obviously, he would be defending his teammate in that situation. The fact is he defended the other guy and not who he should’ve defended. If he thought it wasn’t a dirty play, then he should’ve kept his mouth shut, so it doesn’t appear like it does.

      • Joe Cartwright

        Sorry. Other guy’s comment.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        By the way, I’m calling it now: IR is either a lawyer or a law student.

        We can smell our own.

        • Internet Random

          I wish I could truthfully deny it.

          If I were in law school these days, I’d quit. There are better ways to make a living… at least I hope there are.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I’m trying to find out…

  • Louis

    Personally, I would love to see that brawl…
    Jeff Samardzija 6’5″ 225
    Randy Wells 6’5″ 230
    Kerry Wood 6’5″ 210
    Carlos Zambrano 6’5″ 270
    James Russell 6’4” 200
    Sean Marshall 6’7” 220
    Matt Garza 6’4” 215

    The Cubs ERA is big and so are they.

    • Joe Cartwright

      I wouldn’t want to get in Zambrano’s way. I might end up like Campana.

      • Internet Random

        Word.

    • hardtop

      Yeah, but they are all pitchers… they’d have to throw punches with their non throwing hand. If you’ve ever seen Ted Lilly’s left shoulder in a t-shirt you’d know: all the power is in the throwing arm (Lilly is the extreme example, he looks like a mutation)

      This is kind of a fun topic:
      “If you had to bet on a rumble against another bunch of baseball guys, who would you take”?
      Hmm, let’s see, Cubs that might kick some ass (in no particular order):

      1. Woody – fiery cowboy. Don’t mess with Texas.

      2. Smardzja – tough enough to play college football

      3. Geo- I don’t know why, but think he could land a punch, and he’d have some mass behind it.

      4. Z – I got 10 to 1 that Z could layout Holliday with one swing. I fought a Venezuelan once… I’m now a pacifist.

      5. A-ram – this is like 50-50 stud or bum… no middle ground. Right now I’m leaning toward stud, but who knows, it might be what I had for lunch. I know he’s kind of a lazy baseball player, but I have a feeling he’s got a thug-like approach to fighting: brass knuckles and heel kicks.

      6. Marmol – he’s a total nut bag. This isn’t about being tough or knowing what you are doing as much as just totally “snapping”. I could see him going ape shit on carpenter, maybe some biting involved.

      7. Starlin – with a name like Starlin you had to grow up fighting every day. “A boy named Starlin” c’mon. He looks goofy and awkward, but I going with the name thing.

      8. Wells – this guy is a drunk, bar brawlin’, country boy. All those years in the minors delivering beer for booze money (he didn’t need beer money, because he just took it from work). I’m not sure he would fight well, but I’m sure he would fight.

      9. Demp – he was playing hockey before he could grip a baseball. These Canadian kids come out of the womb throwing jabs. No shit, I think he’d bust a nose or two.

      10. Koyie – I know you hate him, and I know he’s got a hamburger hand, but I also know he’s a hay bail tossin’ farm boy from Oklahoma. He went to school in Kansas… where they fight just ’cause there ain’t nothin’ else to do.

      86ed. Kosuke – I know he’s off the team, but it’s a well known fact all Asian people know marital arts!

      Okay, Now… Big weenies

      1. dar-bar – love the kid to death but he’s a tiny guy who grew up the well-to-do son of a suburban Portland dentist. Although he is half Asian, so he can probably lay down some wicked karate chops (see above)

      2. Reed – I think he plays “tough”, and despite his “totally metal” beard, he’s a suburban wine country kid who participated in gymnastics! Yikes. I have no doubt that he would try really hard.

      3. Fonzie – I’m not sure he is able to lift his arms if there isn’t a baseball bat in his hands.

      4. Pena – big dude, good intentions, but I have a feeling he’s a preppy east coaster. His talk of “chemistry” and the fact that he has a brain in his head, make me think he’s more of a lover than a fighter

      5. Byrd man – until today I would not have put on the weenie list. Dude’s got some pipes. But it’s obvious he’s afraid of Holliday. He acted like weenie so he must fight like a weenie.

      6. Tyler/Tony – Tyler was tough when he got stabbed in the chest…but his name is Tyler. Little Tony, I don’t think we need any explanation beyond he’s 120 lbs in his cleats and a steel cup.

      • Louis

        Awesome post hardtop!!!

  • TSB

    Well of course, Byrd might have Holliday as a team mate on some future team, so he might as well kiss-up now..

  • Toosh

    Dempster’s failure to drill Holliday, Quade’s failure to order him to do it, Hendry’s failure at the deadline, Rickett’s acting as if he doesn’t care. It’s sad. Chicago is the greatest city in the world. It deserves better than this.

  • cdc

    i don’t mean to irritate fellow cub fans with my earlier post. it’s just my opinion. flat out Byrd didn’t see it as a dirty play, mainly because i think that’s how byrd plays and he’d have done the same things when trying to beat his arch rival, in a pennant race, down in the ballgame, and trying to do whatever it takes to win.

    And it was Castro, so everyone wants to make sure the savior of the franchise is ok and being protected.

    I just honestly thought it wasn’t that dirty of a play. i have no problems with Byrd’s comments and i CAN’T WAIT FOR FOOTBALL SEASON TO START!

    • hardtop

      i know! it seems like this most years; im hopefully that the bears can have a good season because ive lost hope in the cubs… and vice versa. but i’m super scared by letting kruetz go. mostly becasue the shortened training camp and learning the mike martz offense in 2 week seems impossible; a lot of info flows through the center and our line sucks!…. but thats for another day and another blog. any good bears info sources out there?

  • cdc

    My final thoughts on holliday/castro/byrd drama…i think it should have been called a double play! but that said i don’t think it was a dirty play…Holliday put the onus on the ump to make the call and the ump did not make the call. so had he called it double play that still wouldn’t have meant it was dirty. And to me STILL the biggest thing that no one is really talking about is that Castro blatantly said after hitting the ground “i wasn’t really that concerned about the runs scoring”…what??? He lives with Soriano right? not surprising that that would be his attitude.

    Tulo, or a guy like pedroia or any other hardnosed ballplayer, barney now that i think of it, would have been up and not allowed Pujols to score.

    so should have been called double play, wasn’t dirty play by holliday, and Castro should have been more of a dirtbag ballplayer and gotten up and made the play, and i have zero problem with what Byrd said! i know the opinions are varying on this those are just my final thoughts.

  • Toosh

    Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one, you just don’t wont to hear from them. Especially true in your case.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s pretty harsh.

  • Toosh

    Sorry, Ace. There was no grey area in that play. It was plain as day. Anybody that knows baseball knows how the Cubs should have responded. Too bad nobody in the organization, top to bottom, gives a shit.

  • Coal

    Marlon Byrd’s comments notwithstanding, is it *possible* that the threat of retaliation contributed to Holliday’s meek showing at the plate? And that plunking Holliday the very next day would have ended up in an immediate ejection and brawl at a time when the Cubs were still trying to make some deals and didn’t need any tarnish on any of their players? The Cards and Cubs have a lot more baseball to play against each other yet this year. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it and am willing to give the Cubs the benefit of the doubt about the non-plunk through the next Cubs/Cards series at Wrigley. Until it happens, Holliday is probably not going to dig in quite as far. I predict it will happen Saturday afternoon 8/20.

  • Zbo

    The thing that irked me most is that Holliday didn’t get hit ASAP. THE future of the franchise gets taken out on a questionable (at least) slide and nada from the Cubs. Lame…even the jackholes on ESPN said it would’ve been very different had it been reversed (and we all know that without a doubt). Anyway…I couldn’t believe how pissed I got over this. Why can’t I just relax and quit watching until next year? Anyone?

  • http://matt-marlon.blogspot.com/ Matt Marlon

    Hi, my name is Matt Marlon. You have written indeed a nice comment. I really enjoy reading online blogs on every subject as I myself is a professional blogger. Thanks for writing such a good post and I have subscribed to your blog with a view to have more good posts like this over the coming days.

    • Internet Random

      Sweet.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I can’t tell if that is unintentionally hilarious, or the smartest meta joke I’ve ever seen.

      • Internet Random

        See comment here: http://j.mp/nQxsUr

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Damn. I thought I was special.

      • Internet Random

        I’ve found it’s generally best to assume that strangers are mildly retarded.

        • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

          I feel the same way about people who follow me on Twitter. I mean, you’d kinda *have* to be to read my drivel.

          • MichiganGoat

            drool

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          (said loudly and slowly) Thank you for that suggestion, Internet Random.

      • Internet Random

        Also, you should totally read his blog. It’s very inspirational. Matt Marlon is obviously a saint… who writes about himself in the third person.

        Perhaps he *is* a comedic genius after all.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That’s what made me wonder…

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