The Cardinals and their fans have long prided themselves in playing the game the right way, which is more or less like repeatedly admitting they like the smell of their own farts. Their vaunted classiness was on full display Tuesday evening in St. Louis when starter Miles Mikolas threw at Ian Happ twice as a way to avenge catcher Willson Contreras, who’d had to leave the game after being struck by Happ’s backswing. Never mind that Happ hugged his former teammate or that the game was only two outs old.
The first message was a 94 mph fastball up and in that Happ was able to turn away and avoid. The next pitch caught the left fielder on his ample backside, which, while he’s no Sean Murphy, probably stung a little less than wearing one on the hand. There was obvious intent, though the Cardinals TV crew didn’t feel it warranted further discipline.
“You see that Happ knew exactly what was going on too, took his bat, didn’t say a word,” said Cardinals broadcaster Brad Thompson. “Caught him in the hip. If you’re gonna get him, that’s exactly where you get him. Did the job the right way. They’re gonna talk it over they’ll issue warnings.”[Home plate umpire Ryan Additon signals for the ejection]
“They’re gonna throw him out?!” an incredulous Chip Caray reacted. “Wow, they just threw Mikolas out of the game!”
“C’mon!” a perplexed Thompson replied. “You gotta be kiddin’ me!”[Pause that would have made even Hawk Harrelson wonder what the hell was happening in the booth]
“You have got to be kidding me,” Thompson repeated after taking time to collect himself in the wake of the seemingly egregious miscarriage of justice. “Have a little feel for baseball! Have a little feel for the game!”
“That’s awful,” Thompson concluded.
After being run from the game, Mikolas started chirping at the Cubs dugout and may have even challenged them to come out and do something about it. Thing is, they were all pointing and laughing at him and the whole situation because they’re not a group of try-hard douchebags whose claim to fame was eating a live lizard in the minors.
That’s what makes the take from former big leaguer and current MLB broadcaster Ryan Spilborghs so odd. He says the umpires’ decision put more players at risk by escalating tensions between the two teams and that the decision should have been to issue warnings and play on. Of course, no other problems arose over the ensuing eight innings — perhaps because everyone knew Mikolas was being a moron — as the Cubs dog-walked the Cardinals yet again.
I stand by umpires 99% of the time, but this just escalated the tension between Cards and Cubs. And now puts multiple players, pitchers on Cards at risk. Based on Happs reaction after getting hit, it was over. He accepted it. Umpires should have too. https://t.co/vXOc8AC92Q
— Ryan Spilborghs (@spillygoat19) July 28, 2023
Here’s the thing: Buzzing the tower on the pitch before the bean-ball was a warning in and of itself. Even someone like Mikolas who operates more with his limbic cortex than most others should have known that, and maybe he did. I mean, can you really blame him for wanting to hit the showers early on a muggy night at Busch League Stadium when his moribund team is trudging aimlessly through irrelevance?
Mikolas may have seen this as a way to help himself even if it hurt the Cardinals at the same time. Call it subtraction by Additon. Of course, that would mean all of the pitcher’s post-ejection histrionics were just for show, which has a non-zero chance of being the case.
Spillborghs might be correct in that there were escalated tensions in St. Louis last night, though it had nothing to do with the mild kerfuffle in the 1st inning. One team was on its way to a sixth straight victory and is hoping to see an infusion of talent over the next few days. The other was expected to win the division and is instead languishing in last place while its players all stew in the threat of being shipped out to parts unknown.
I’ll sound like a fool if the Cards suddenly wake up and win some games this weekend, but they looked on Thursday night just like the White Sox did over the previous two days. With the exception of that early lead on Wednesday, the South Siders shuffled somnambulantly through the short series as they waited for the other shoe to drop on trade rumors. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López being dealt shortly after the loss was just the start.
The Cardinals could very well see more of the same as this series wears on, and that is surely weighing on them as much as the stifling heat and humidity. St. Louis is kind of an armpit even on good days, but the physical and emotional climate right now is like a taint that not even an industrial-sized tub of Gold Bond can stop from chafing.
Now all that’s left is for the Cubs to take care of business and widen the gap over the next few days, then get the hell out of there and kick the Reds in the teeth. Metaphorically, of course.