As soon as the pitch left Dan Haren’s hand, you could tell it wasn’t going to be good. 60 feet, 6 inches later, it struck Matt Holliday at the base of his helmet and brought a collective gasp from all those watching.
The situation alone — 5th inning, Cubs up only one run with one out and Brandon Moss on second base — told you that the pitcher didn’t mean to plunk Holliday. And despite what Cardinals fans might think, even the uncouth members of other teams know that you never throw at a guy’s head.
I suppose some could have felt that Haren was exacting revenge for Anthony Rizzo’s 28th hit by pitch in the previous half-inning, but such a thought is completely devoid of reason. When fandom is involved, reason doesn’t always legislate thought. That same team-centric thinking, however, isn’t supposed to extend to the pressbox.
Ah, but these are the Cardinals, and that we-do-things-the-right-way mentality permeates all facets of the organization.
Leaves out the fact that a Cubs pitcher hit Matt Holliday in the head earlier in the game. https://t.co/7oYUVSWQGi
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) September 18, 2015
This is so awful on so many levels and Ms. Langosch has surely kissed her mentions goodbye at this point. Not only is it a bit sour-grapey, but it’s also incredibly inaccurate since Maddon did, in fact, bring that up. And what Carrie Muskat had tweeted was in rereference to the second time Rizzo was hit.
Understandably, the Cubs’ leader was a little unhappy. It was obvious Joe Maddon was upset with Matt Belisle’s choice to throw behind/at Rizzo in the 7th too, as you can see from the video below.
This kind of thing is just completely bush league, there’s no other way to look at it. The whole concept of “you hit one of mine, I’ll hit one of yours” is an anachronistic holdover from baseball’s old days and really has no place in today’s game. That’s not to say the game should be different now, just that I don’t think this kind of retaliation belongs in baseball in the first place.
Seeing it justified by a journalist in the employ of a team (MLB.com) is pretty disappointing as well. Then again, I suppose when you’re steeped in Cardinals culture and are facing the very real possibility of the Cubs becoming the superior team in the division, it could trigger some reactionary statements.
Holliday left the game after being hit, though I think that was more about the health of his legs than it was his head.
Castro dictates the game
Starlin Castro, you are ridiculous! I wrote about it last night so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much here. The quick and dirty is that Castro has really embraced his new role and is absolutely raking as a result. And if he can even maintain anything close to his current production the Cubs are going to be sitting pretty.
Wild Card and NL Central races tighten
The Cubs won and the Cardinals, Pirates, and Giants all lost. That means the Cubs are now 9 games up on San Francisco, only 1 behind Pittsburgh, and only 6 back of the Cardinals. The magic number for the playoffs has dropped to 7 with 15 games remaining.
The Giants are pretty much dead in the water at this point, but the Cubs and Pirates will still have a lot to say in terms of who gets to host that coin-flip game. And remember, the Cubs’ edge in the season series grants them home-field in the event of a tie.
Read any good books lately?
Maddon: “I never read this book the Cardinals wrote way back in the day regarding how to play baseball."
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) September 18, 2015
If you haven’t already done so, go back and watch that embedded video. Not only is it incredibly quotable, but it shows a bit of a different side of the Cubs’ normally laid-back manager. There was never any doubt in my mind that he was the man for the job, but seeing and hearing the passion with which he delivered this little diatribe completely galvanized things for me.
And so I’ll leave you this morning with one of the more definitive statements from the post-game soliloquy: “We don’t start stuff, but we will stop stuff. We will end stuff”