Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A game, a shame, and a name

Also an idiot, and I'll get back to that.

Well OK. The NL wild card game was just that. A single game. But it featured the Chicago Cubs taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Baseball fans know that the Cubbies prevailed. The Bucs are out. The northside Chitowners will go on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

But it really is a shame, as well. If one looks back on their regular season records, they would discover that St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago had the best three records in all of baseball. 100, 98, and 97 wins respectively. And they were all in the same NL Central division. Brutal.

As it turned out, the teams with the second and third best overall records both found themselves "wildcards". In a one game playoff, somebody had to go. Poor Pittsburgh. First the steel mills closed down, just recently they lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a few weeks, and they don't even have an NBA team. And now this.

Yet the playoff game itself presented a couple interesting story lines. Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta was absolutely masterful in pitching a complete game four hit shutout. Along the way he plunked a couple Pirates hitters with hanging breaking balls that obviously got away from him. When a pitcher's team is ahead in a game, as the Cubs were all along, it makes no sense for that pitcher to deliberately hit an opposing batter. Sometimes these things just happen.

But after the Pirates found themselves behind and continually frustrated, it appeared as if a couple of them were just itching for a confrontation. When Arrieta came up to bat in the later innings, a Pirates pitcher drilled him with a heater. Bastardo! Conveniently enough, also the name of the Pittsburgh pitcher, a Dominican. Even in "payback" situations, which this was not, major league pitching etiquette has never allowed for one pitcher to go after another. If it was perceived that one of the pitcher's teammates was intentionally drilled by the opposing pitcher, then OK, drill somebody on the other side. But not the pitcher himself. It's unheard of. Leave it to a Bastardo.

At that, Arrieta took the waist high plunking and appeared willing to trot down to first base. But then the home plate umpire went berserk issuing warnings to both sides, words were exchanged, and here comes the mob scene. The benches emptied, and the guys in the bullpens had to stop texting and jog into the fray. As if they had the faintest clue what was going on. This never would have happened if the home plate umpire hadn't overreacted in the first place.

History has shown that even the most irate major league baseball players typically possess the fighting prowess of -- say -- the cast of Gilligan's Island. Let's just say they're not exactly a fearsome bunch.

There will always be those with short fuses and hot tempers, but one would think professional baseball players making millions of dollars would -- you know -- show a little maturity. Not always so.

Enter one Sean Rodriguez, a utility player for the Pirates. He came charging out on the field from the dugout. Let's remember it was the Cubs' pitcher that just got drilled. But Rodriguez, a Miami native, was all lathered up and wanted to get in a fight with somebody -- anybody in an opposing uniform. Like a rabid dog, he lashed out and it would take a while for him to be subdued. Rightfully, he was ejected from the game. The guys in the bullpen slowly made the long walk back to their euchre games, the subs and coaches back to the dugouts, and it would go on without further incident.

But still Rodriguez raged. This hot-headed moron decided to cuss out -- and repeatedly punch out -- a gatorade cooler in his own dugout. This guy's a 10 year veteran making millions, and he doesn't have any more self control than that? He should be medicated -- heavily.

Better yet, put him in the octagon with Ronda Rousey. Let a woman beat him to a pulp until he taps out. That just might cure him of such behavior once and for all. Did I mention moron?

Bastardo. Not sure what that name exactly translates to from the Dominican-- but somehow it seemed fitting. Regardless, like Rodriguez -- they gone.

The Cubbies and the Cards. St. Louis is a great baseball town, and the Cards posted the best regular season record. A very good team indeed. But I'm pretty sure I know who the sentimental favorite will be in this series across the country.

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