Take The Gloves Off

by on May 16, 2011 · 17 comments

Let me begin with a huge disclaimer, because I like disclaimers a lot.  The Reds are presently constructed a lot like I would like to see the Cardinals put together right now.  They have a lot of speed and power in the right places, defend well, and they appear to have just enough pitching to compete in the NL Central.  I respect the way the organization has put the pieces in place to compete for a 3-4 year timeframe.  That said, I think that their fatal flaw is that they simply don’t have enough top shelf pitching talent to fight all the way through the playoffs to win a World Series.  While I may not like them, I do respect them as an opponent, and I don’t underestimate them.

With that out of the way, it’s time to get down to business.  This is for the Cardinals.  Take the gloves off, gentlemen.  None of you are named Gandhi, have the title of “Pope”, or have been exiled from Tibet.  If you get hit with a pitch, don’t hesitate to express your displeasure.  If you keep your mouth shut, you’ll just get hit again.  Don’t anybody out there try to tell me that the pitch from Cordero to Pujols was harmless, either.  Reds fans may call this whining.  Fine.  Maybe they haven’t seen their starting third baseman go down as the result of a HBP in a while.  Cordero’s pitch was a dangerous one, and that’s not whining, either.  Just ask David Freese.  Besides, it’s not like Cordero looked all that concerned about the potential damaged he might have caused.  Great sportsmanship on display.  Even if he didn’t intend to hit Pujols, he sure didn’t seem to upset about his WHIP going up, did he?

Maybe Gerald Laird said something that got under Cordero’s skin.  Maybe.  Maybe Cordero just wanted to make a scene in front of a bunch of empty seats masquerading as Reds fans.  That tends to happen when your team is 12th out of 16 teams in paid attendance in the NL.  I’d bash Cincy fans for that, but it really wouldn’t be fair.  They have a lot of economic reasons why they don’t have higher attendance numbers.  For example, some ticket prices are as high as $1, it’s expensive to travel across the state by pack mule, and the cost of canned chili has gone way up recently.  Still, Cordero could have really played it cool and walked off the mound like he’d been there prior to yesterday.  He had a golden opportunity to act like he expected to get the job done and walk off to the dugout.  Instead, he acted like a punk.  Maybe it’s just an inferiority complex or something.  Maybe the Reds and their fans just want respect.  Well, they sure aren’t going to get it by ending games and yelling into the opposing team’s dugout.  Their fans aren’t going to get it by posting anonymously on websites and calling Cardinal fans “whiny bi*^#es”, either.  If anything, they are going to just lose what respect they do have.

I keep going back to one incontrovertible fact.  Cueto ended Jason LaRue‘s career, and a lot of Reds fans act like that is no big deal.  If a Cardinal player had done the same thing to someone like Jay Bruce, how do you think the Reds fans would have reacted?  How many of those fans have even considered turning the tables in that manner and thought about how they would react?  Based on the signal-to-noise ratio for the feedback I get in my Twitter timeline, I’m guessing that the number isn’t all the high.  As a matter of fact, it’s probably low enough for even Cueto to count without using Rolen’s fingers and toes. 

As a fan, I just can’t watch the Cardinals allow themselves to be bullied.  As a blogger, I can’t defend their inaction on the issue at all.  I’m not advocating that they go out headhunting, because I think that’s just plain wrong.  I do believe that retribution in the form of a fastball off the thigh is perfectly fine.  Warnings are then issued, and everything is back to square one, because that’s how it’s always been in baseball.  It’s kind of like a mafia rule.  You hit my guy.  I hit your guy.  We’re even.  It’s just understood, and it’s one of the few unwritten rules in baseball that everybody gets.  Not this time.  This time it’s more like “you hit my guy, and then you hit my guy, and you can keep pushing my guy as well”.  It’s time to push back.

TIDBIT:  If there are any Reds fans out there reading this, I do have a hypothetical scenario for you to contemplate.  Let’s say that there is another brawl.  Let’s say that a Cardinal player kicks Votto in the back and ends his career?  Would you be satisfied with a 5 game suspension or something along those lines?  I bet not.  Tough luck, though.  A precedent has already been set.  Stew on that one for a bit.

MORE BITS OF TID:  I think that most of the Reds fans I’ve encountered understand something that the few obnoxious ones do not.  Cardinal fans already respect the Reds organization and history.  In my case, I just don’t respect all the current players, and I certainly don’t respect obnoxious fans of any team (including obnoxious Cardinal fans). 

I’m gr33nazn, and I approve this message.

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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{ 15 comments }

PH8 May 16, 2011

Of course the pitch up and in to Pujols wasn’t harmless – once it hits him, there’s potential for harm.

I don’t think it was intentional, though. From there it’s all flapdoodle.

*shurg*

Robert D May 16, 2011

You hit the nail on the head great minds think alike

CommiePuddin May 16, 2011

Are you seriously comparing Jason LaRue’s impact to the Cardinals to Jay Bruce or Joey Votto’s impact to the Reds? Did you honestly just do that? LaRue then, like Laird now, never saw the field. Ever. Because the Cardinals start an all-world catcher. You’re being disingenuous and appealing to emotion.

And why is it incumbent on the Cardinals’ opponents to be better behaved than the Cardinals themselves can be bothered to? Last August, you and every other Cards blogger sat at your keys and defended the actions of Yadier Molina in response to the words spouted off by Brandon Phillips. Now, when Laird and Duncan (the coaching staff? Really?) do essentially the same thing as Phillips did one season ago, you chastise the Reds for responding in kind (and, unlike Molina, refusing to escalate the situation into fisticuffs).

But double standards are nothing new among sports fans.

PH8 May 16, 2011

Not that you asked me, but FWIW, Molina didn’t act upon the words spouted off by Brandon Phillips. At least not the words alone. Phillips further instigated by tapping the shin-guards. I know he “does it all the time” – but c’mon. He knew what he was doing.

Doesn’t make shouting at Cordero any more palatable, but comparing the two is not apples to apples, IMO.

Both sides have behaved and are behaving like children, there’s no double-standard there. Unfortunately, it’s resulted in one of ours being knocked out of the game, and that sucks.

Dennis May 16, 2011

Commie – It’s obvious that you didn’t understand the article. Maybe I can help. I never compared Bruce/Votto to LaRue, and I never implied that I was comparing them. I was simply including a subtle, hidden message that you simply missed.

I value all ballplayer’s lives equally, and I take nothing for granted. While I do think that Bruce and Votto are undoubtedly more talented than LaRue, I take issue with the notion that it would be a far greater injustice to truncate one of their careers. While LaRue was nearing the end of his career, he was still denied something, even if that something could be measured in small quantities. Cueto was the arbiter of an artificial ending. Neither of us knows what will happen tomorrow. There are no guarantees that Votto or Bruce will have long careers, so it is silly to assumr such. A single game denied to a player is as great an injustice as there can be, because that game could be that player’s last one.

Dennis May 16, 2011

By the way, maybe you should do your homework, Commie. I wasn’t even a blogger as of last August, so your accusation is absolutely devoid of meaning. Nice work.

Venetian May 16, 2011

I think it’s just as likely that LaRue was going to retire anyway, since his career was effectively over, and La Russa encouraged him to take one last cheap shot. Retiring due to ineffectiveness becomes retiring due to concussion issues. Immoral? Sure, but anything to get that chip on the shoulder.

Dennis May 16, 2011

How was LaRue’s career “effectively over”? It’s not like the incident happened on the last day of the regular season. It’s not like he had declared his intention to retire at the end of that season. Even if he had made such a declaration, it’s not like he was bound to it.

Regardless of what you THINK was going to happen, you have no way of knowing what would have happened. More importantly, his life after baseball has been impacted as well. Had he been knocked out by a foul ball, you could have then said that maybe he was leaving the game on his own terms – by playing the game. Instead, his career was interrupted by a kick which was not in any way part of a baseball play.

Alan May 16, 2011

Answer one question for me please? If hitting Pujols was intentional, why didnt the Reds hit Pujols in the eighth inning when they had a six run lead and no one on base? A “punk” team would do something like that when the game wasnt in danger. But no, according to you they decided to hit Pujols at a time in the game when it would bring the go ahead run to the plate, Do you even think about what you write before you write it? You have every right to be discouraged by the Cardinals trip to Cincinnati but to react this way just proves Brandon’s point over and over again. At no time in the series did the Reds or Cardinals react in a “punk” manner until Laird and Duncan started spouting off and you blame Cordero for his reaction? Grow up!

Dennis May 16, 2011

I never wrote that hitting Pujols was intentional. Period. That fact renders pretty much everything else you wrote completely moot. Do you even think about what you’ve actually read before you rant about it?

cincymatt16 May 16, 2011

HAHA what a joke! Go Reds!

Tommy May 16, 2011

Disclaimer: Reds fan, but I like to think I’m rational.

A couple things: PH8 makes two great points, the most important of which is there is no moral high ground between the two teams; the brawl was going to happen at some point during the year and it’s no surprise that the bad blood has carried over and will as long as these are the two teams competing for the division, especially with Baker and LaRussa managing. And the only issue with Cordero’s pitch should be whether or not it was intentional. Either Cordero is the dumbest pitcher in the league or it wasn’t on purpose. So if it wasn’t intentional, hit Votto or Phillips next series and that should be the end of that issue. Pujols himself wasn’t even upset, but his opinion doesn’t matter right?

Second, you absolutely made a comparison between LaRue and Bruce. “Cueto ended Jason LaRue‘s career, and a lot of Reds fans act like that is no big deal. If a Cardinal player had done the same thing to someone like Jay Bruce, how do you think the Reds fans would have reacted?” In what way is that not a direct comparison?

You can talk about Cueto kicking all you want, but everything was cooling down until Carpenter came over and started it up again by getting in Dusty’s face. Then everything went to hell, and Cueto got pinned up against the netting in an awkward position. By no means am I defending the kicking but it’s not like the Cardinals are blameless for the situation. Also, LaRue was our starting catcher for a few years–do you really think Reds fans were happy about what happened to him? I sure wasn’t, but MLB doled out the suspension, so take it up with them. Are you using a freak injury as the basis for an argument? Or are you really saying that it was Cueto’s intent to END LaRue’s career? Neither concept holds much weight.

You talk about Cordero’s poor sportsmanship after he hit Pujols. He hit him in the HAND. Not the head. What he’s supposed to do, run back to the Reds dugout and get him a bag of ice? Blow on it so it doesn’t hurt so bad? I’m not trying to be inflammatory, I just don’t understand what you want him to do in that situation. I’m pretty sure he was focusing on getting two of the most dangerous hitters in the NL out, not if Albert’s hand was going to be ok. When was the last time a pitcher hit somebody anywhere other than the head and then rushed over to check on him, especially in the middle of an intense game for the division lead? He kept his emotions in check until after the game was over, which is what you’re supposed to do as a professional. Dave Duncan sure looked like the epitome of a good sportsman when he was screaming at the top of his lung after the game. Take your lumps and go home, just like any “professional.”

Finally, don’t call people out for not doing homework when you don’t do your own. Cincinnati is the smallest population base in the NL other than another central foe, Milwaukee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_United_States_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas). And avg yearly attendance has been over 2000000/year since opening GABP for a team that has been in contention only 1 of those 8 years. So a more reasoned analysis would be that attendance has remained consistent even with a crappy product on the field. But I’m sure you’ll have some dismissive comments for why this information isn’t relevant.

Notice, not anonymous and no name-calling. I’m smart enough to respect the Cardinals organization and their fans. I mean, I’m a Bengals fan and have to deal with the Steelers. If you’re looking for an inferiority complex in Cincinnati fans, that’s the one–not the Cardinals. It’s just hard to accept you calling out Reds players and fans for behavior that occurs on both sides of the field.

Dennis May 16, 2011

The direct comparison point was in reference to comparing impact of Bruce and LaRue. I did not make such a comparison, so try again.

Are you suggesting that you know what Cueto’s intent was when he started kicking? I am truly impressed. Yes, I know a lot of Cincy fans were upset about LaRue, but very few bothered to say so in forums that I frequented at the time. Keep in mind that I’m not calling out all Reds fans. I’m just calling out the obnoxious ones (and every team has them).

As for the attendance jab, I get your point, and I agree that it’s valid. However, St. Louis isn’t exactly huge (20th largest media market), and the Cardinals are 4th in the NL in attendance. Metropolitan area is just one part of the paid attendance equation.

You do get a lot of respect for admitting to being a Bengals fan, though.

Tommy May 16, 2011

Thanks for the reasonable response. I didn’t even realize how long-winded my post was until I saw it up there. It’s nice to be able to have a (mostly) cordial and informed discussion with rival fans/writers rather than the usual incoherent shouting match/p***ing contest. And hey, maybe that relay time from right will be a little shorter now that Berkman’s back at 1b…

Dennis May 16, 2011

We usually try to avoid the shouting matches, but they do occur. I’m all in favor of well-informed, civil discourse among passionate fans as long as critical thinking is involved. I should also note that I’m not blindly anti-Reds. I’m already on record as stating that I’m in favor of Barry Larkin getting into the HOF.

I don’t mind seeing Berkman at 1B, but seeing Pujols at 3B makes me shudder.

Thanks for reading.

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