Hate the Cardinals, but Do It Right

On Wednesday, the Dodgers defeated the Cardinals to bring the NLCS to 3-2 in favor of the Red Birds. They go into St. Louis tomorrow hoping to stave off elimination again. That’s important stuff. The winner of the NLCS almost always goes on to play in the World Series. Like, I’m pretty sure it happens at least 75% of the time. It’s uncanny.

What I’m about to talk about is unimportant stuff. I’m sorry. I’m part of the problem.

Way back on Monday, after the Dodgers won game 3 to bring the series to 2-1, a couple members of the Cardinals had some things to say about the antics of a couple Dodgers players. And lots of people have had things to say about the things those Cardinals said. The Cardinals are now the “fun police,” the old men complaining about those yipper-snappers who are just having a good time. They’ve drawn comparisons to Brian McCann, who went so far as to prevent Carlos Gomez from crossing home plate after talking smack to everybody within earshot while rounding the bases. I can’t believe I’m saying this, because believe me, I do not need much incentive to hate on the Cardinals, but this labeling is unfair.

Let’s look at the Dodgers’ so-called offenses. Yasiel Puig hit what he thought was a home run and he celebrated it like it was a home run. He did the bat flip, raised one hand and watched the ball. After a second or two he realized it wasn’t going to go out and he began picking up speed on the bases. Because Puig is an amazingly talented athlete (and because Carlos Beltran misplayed the ball off the wall), Puig manages to be safe for a triple. Beltran had some words to say about Puig after the game, saying Puig didn’t know how to act.

The most quoted line of the night, though, goes to Adam Wainwright, who referred to Adrian Gonzalez as doing “Mickey Mouse stuff.” At first it seemed like Wainwright was talking about Gonzalez celebrating after a double, but he later clarified it to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“[Adam Wainwright] did hear [Adrian] Gonzalez in that same inning talking to him from third base as he tried to make pitches. Gonzalez was essentially heckling the righty as he went into his delivery. Wainwright called it Gonzalez’s ‘Mickey Mouse stuff’ on third base. Gonzalez turned the question into a Southern California joke.

‘Mickey Mouse is only an hour away. It fits us,’ he said.”

That’s an awesome comeback from Gonzalez. I gotta give him that. That said, isn’t heckling an opposing pitcher kind of an egregious act in baseball? Wouldn’t pretty much every pitcher take offense to that?

There’s a Deadspin post that’s been floating around the baseball circles of the Internet which points out several times where the Cardinals have celebrated in this series. The obvious suggestion of the piece is that the Cardinals are hypocrites who are fine with celebrating themselves but won’t tolerate other teams doing it against them. In it are several gifs of situations where players frequently celebrate: Getting an out at a play at the plate, getting a big strikeout, stuff like that.

Here’s what the Dodgers had to say about the Cardinals’ celebrations.

They said nothing, because reporters asked them nothing. Think about that. If nobody asks the Dodgers about the Cardinals’ celebrations, but people ask the Cardinals about the Dodgers’ actions, aren’t they already admitting that there’s a difference between the two? If they are the same, why didn’t reporters ask Juan Uribe if he minded when Matt Carpenter clapped his hands after sliding in safe at third?

Nobody asked the Dodgers about that because it’s something that happens all the time. Heckling an opposing pitcher doesn’t happen all the time. A player strutting out a home run only to see the ball land in play doesn’t happen all the time. Imagine the conversation we’d be having if Beltran had played that ball better and Puig had only ended up at second or had been thrown out.

Feel free to hate the Cardinals. I do! But at least hate them for the right reasons, like Yadier Molina. Maybe you just think it’s lame for players to talk to the media about opponents. I wouldn’t disagree. But if that’s the case, say that.  Stop pretending that two different things are the same.

This…

…isn’t this.

And this…

Carlos Beltran: “As a player, I just think he doesn’t know [how to act]. That’s what I think. He really doesn’t know. He must think that he’s still playing somewhere else. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that — great ability, great talent. I think with time he’ll learn that you’ve got to act with a little bit more calm […] I’m in the outfield. I mean, it’s not great. To me, I don’t like it. But what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here. I just need to do my job. It is what it is.”

… certainly isn’t this.

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