Friday, June 7, 2013

A recent timeline of the heated Reds-Cardinals rivalry

Get your popcorn ready, folks. The Redlegs and Redbirds hook up for another 3-game set this weekend at Great American Ball Park and thus, renew arguably the most intense modern day rivalry in all of Major League Baseball. While it may be well known around the league that these two clubs don't like one another, it's often unclear to outsiders as to just why that is. If you're among those who don't know, have no fear, I shall get you caught up on the recent history of the Hatfield/McCoy-type feud in this very post!

Here's a brief overview of all the events in recent years that have led to the deep-seeded animosity that exists between the two franchises:

*September 2009 - (GABP) Cards skipper Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan accuse Bronson Arroyo of having pine tar in his hat to sticky-up "slick" baseballs. Speaking of slick baseballs, Chris Carpenter and John Smoltz also allege that the baseballs were too slick and weren't properly rubbed-up with mud before the game (a normal practice among all MLB parks). Smoltz walked five hitters in a game that series for only the third time in his 20+ major league seasons.

Molina & Phillips
August 2010 - (GABP) Brandon Phillips makes a comment to a local reporter calling the Cardinals "whiny little bitches". St. Louis players call a team meeting after getting wind of his comments. Later that night in his first at-bat, Phillips walks up to the dish and greets Cards catcher Yadier Molina with a simple tap of the shin-guard (a gesture he normally does). Molina takes offense and the two get face-to-face to exchange pleasantries. Naturally, the benches clear and a heated brawl is on. Johnny Cueto eventually finds himself pinned up against the backstop. Fearing for his safety, the Reds right-hander begins to try and kick himself out of the crowd and while doing so spikes Carpenter and delivers a blow to the head of former Red Jason LaRue. LaRue retires after the season amid the concussive-like symptoms he suffered from the brawl.

La Russa
*April 2011 - (Busch Stadium) After receiving information that hints of a possible rain delay, manager Tony La Russa decides to have reliever Miguel Batista warm up before the start of the game instead of his scheduled starter, Kyle McClellan. Unaware of the impending weather, Dusty Baker has scheduled starter Edinson Volquez to warm up as usual. The game time then gets pushed back for over two hours because of rain by which that time Volquez is unable to pitch. After the delay McClellan warms up and helps guide the host Cardinals to a 4-2 win.

*May 2011 - (GABP) Cincinnati manages to sweep away the Cards at home, but not without stirring up a little controversy. In the final game of the series the Redlegs take a comfortable 9-2 lead into the 9th inning -- just three outs away from completing the sweep. St. Louis rallies before closer Francisco Cordero is forced to enter the game. Cordero comes way inside on a two-strike pitch that hits Albert Pujols on his left wrist. Although clearly unintentional with the game on the line, reserve catcher Gerald Laird begins to jaw at Cordero from the St. Louis dugout. Two batters later the Reds closer records the last out and celebrates with his usual flinging of the hands in the air. Members of the Cardinals dugout are not amused as they and Cordero get in an unusual back-and-forth shouting match. Cordero motions with his glove for the Cards to leave the dugout and enter the underground clubhouse as St. Louis players and coaches motion for him to get off the field.

*October 2011 - La Russa and the Cardinals pull off an improbable postseason run to capture their 11th World Series championship in club history. They do it by winning the National League Wild Card on the last day of the regular season, upsetting the favorite Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS in five games, steam-rolling the rival Milwaukee Brewers in six games in the NLCS and then capping it all off with an epic World Series victory against the AL-champion Texas Rangers in seven. At this point, every Reds fan who loves to hate the Cardinals are living a nightmare.

November 2011 - Just days after leading St. Louis to the title, La Russa announces his retirement to the baseball world. Reds nation rejoices at the thought of not having to go against one of the best skippers in history anymore. However, La Russa would prove to be a thorn in the side of Cincinnati at least once more -- and does so from the cowardly view of the sidelines. More on that in a moment.

December 2011 - The Reds and the rest of the NL Central Division receive an early Christmas gift as the Los Angeles Angels announce the signing of legendary Reds-killer Albert Pujols. Pujols' departure from the division, and league for that matter, clears another huge hurdle standing in the way of Cincy and another division title.

* July 2012 - Old wounds turn up as La Russa, manager of the NL All-Star team, inexplicably leaves off Cueto and Phillips from the roster. Many around the league immediately raise questions over his decision to leave two deserving players off the squad -- claiming that his motive is to seek retribution for the scuffle that occurred in 2010. La Russa back tracks and reasons that he left Cueto off the team since he's scheduled to pitch two days prior and would seemingly be unavailable to use in the Midsummer Classic -- an explanation that is likely a lie and also a clear violation of baseball's new collective bargaining agreement ("Sunday Pitcher" rule). Both Baker and La Russa exchange jabs through the media and by doing so, reignite a rivalry that had simmered down in recent months.

* September 2012 - Cincinnati clinches its second division title in three years as the Cardinals finish a full nine games back at the conclusion of the regular season.

* October 2012 - St. Louis sneaks into the postseason thanks to the newly added second Wild Card slot and proceeds to outlast the Reds. The Cardinals get by the Braves in a winner-take-all Wild Card game before dispatching the Nationals in five games. Meanwhile, the Reds blow a 2-0 series lead against the Giants, becoming the first team in NLDS history to lose the series after winning the first two games. The Cardinals race out to a 3-1 series lead versus San Francisco before fate kicks in and the Giants overcome them, as well. The Giants go on to win the World Series with a sweep over the Tigers. But the Cardinals once again have bragging rights as they advanced further in the playoffs than their counterparts in the Queen City.

*June 7-9, 2013 - (GABP) ??? (Get your popcorn ready...)

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