Yesterday, in the process of drubbing the Cardinals, the Cubs were on the receiving end of some bizarre, and completely unwarranted retaliation.
To set the scene – apparently, in the minds of the Cardinals – Dan Haren lost the grip on an 86mph fastball (his command was spotty all day), and he hit Matt Holliday in the head. It was an unfortunate moment, and it was immediately apparent from Haren’s reaction that there was no intent. It was the 5th inning of a one-run game with one out and a runner on base. In no universe is that pitch going where it went intentionally.
And yet the Cardinals, or perhaps reliever Matt Belisle on his own, felt it was necessary – after the game was out of reach – to throw at Anthony Rizzo. There was no question about the intention there, and Belisle and manager Mike Matheny were immediately ejected. Rizzo’s reaction, and the words you could clearly read on his lips, said it all.
But manager Joe Maddon wasn’t going to leave it there, and he ripped into the Cardinals post-game:
Angry and ominous words from Maddon, who said “we don’t start stuff, but we will stop stuff.” Maddon didn’t buy any explanations that what Belisle did was an accident, and he wasn’t sure who made the decision to throw at Rizzo. But, whatever the case, it was “absolutely insane and ridiculous and wrong.” Couldn’t agree more.
Incidentally, Haren came up in the Cardinals’ system and pitched with the team in 2003 and 2004, and he indicated after the game that protecting big players by retaliating is something the Cardinals did back then (Cubs.com). He even warned Rizzo, specifically, after the Holliday pitch, feeling there was a chance the Cardinals might throw at him.
Hopefully the Cubs’ “retaliation” is limited to winning the next two days.
We’ve talked about retaliation here quite a bit – and Michael spoke with former Cubs catcher John Baker on the subject in a great read if you never checked it out – and I’ll be quite open about the fact that I don’t want to see Cubs pitchers throwing at any Cardinals in response to this. Not only is it unnecessarily dangerous, but I’m still not convinced it actually sends an effective message at this point. If the Cardinals throw at a guy again today? Well, then maybe we talk.
For now, though, I say the best revenge is living well.
I hope Cubs pitchers smile broadly after every strikeout. I hope every Cubs hitter pimps the hell out of his homers. And I hope the Cubs breakdance on the field after a win. That’s how you shove it back in their face.