It began last August with Brandon Phillips referring to the Cardinals as “whiny bitches.” It erupted when Phillips and Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina went toe-to-toe emptying both benches. It continued with “rain-gate” in St. Louis and heated up again this past weekend, after Francisco Cordero plunked Albert Pujols. The Cardinal bench took issue with Cordero pitching inside (huh?) and a shouting match ensued.
Since leaving the Queen City, the Cardinals sure haven’t done much to dispel Brandon Phillips’ label. Pitching coach Dave Duncan and backup catcher Gerald Laird both called out Cordero and the Reds in the media following the game for hitting Pujols. Now the feud has extended beyond players and coaches, with members of the media and the fans of St. Louis up in arms over perceived slights by the Reds.
On Monday, Reds’ Hall-of-Fame announcer Marty Brennaman offered his usual candor on the previous day’s dust-up. Brennaman called Cardinals’ pitcher Chris Carpenter a “whiner” for his blaming mound conditions and (get this) lingering smoke from fire works shot off after he surrendered a home run to Ramon Hernandez. Marty then referred to Dave Duncan’s “infantile” comments complaining about hitting Pujols.
Apparently, Cards manager Tony LaRussa is unfamiliar with Brennaman’s “call-it-like-I-see-it” style as he accused the broadcaster of being “unprofessional” on Tuesday. Really? Now Cincinnati sports talk host Lance McAlister is the target of the St. Louis media for (gasp!) reporting all the back and forth between the two teams.
After Brandon Phillips comments last August, the Cardinals swept the Reds and seemed to have responded with the “scoreboard” retort typical of winning franchises. Oh, how things have changed. The Cardinals folded down the stretch allowing the Reds to capture the Central division and now have lost four of the first six contests to Cincinnati. Phillips’ comments now look prescient as the Cardinals organization, from players to coaches to media to fans have imploded. The once proud Cardinal organization is now slinging epithets at Hall of Fame broadcasters and talk-show hosts? The alleged “smartest fans in the game” can’t tell when a pitcher is throwing at a hitter and when one gets away in the rain?
How this river town rivalry will end in 2011 remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: the Reds are getting the better of the Cardinals on the field and getting into their heads off it. If the Cardinals are going to contend this season, they need to stop worrying less about what broadcasters are saying in other cities and more about the black holes in their defense and their unraveling bullpen. But what do I know. I’m just a stupid Cincinnati fan.