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22 April 2011

This Cool, Red-Hot Cardinals-Reds Rivalry

It's only April, and we are barely 10 percent of the way through the St. Louis Cardinals summertime sojourn, but the season seems ripe for a big series.  Behold, it is upon us as the defending NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds cross the Rubicon Mississippi, and invade the battlefield of Busch Stadium tonight to begin a three game tussle.

It's a long awaited confrontation heightened by the hijinks of last August.  This nascent but vibrant rivalry has been brewing since the 1800's, began budding when former Cardinal GM Walt Jocketty was hired by Cincinnati for the same position, and bloomed with The Brawl last season(video).  Add a jigger of the intensive on-field antagonism of managers Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker, fill to the top with a healthy dose of Scott Rolen, and stir with the inflammatory controversy of Brandon Phillips' comments:
"I'd play against these guys with one leg. We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is [bleep] and moan about everything, all of them, they're little [same bleep, plural], all of 'em. I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals."
What you have brewing is an intoxicating cocktail that is served best flaming hot, and is to savored.  Yes, I find this flowering rivalry quite cool.

What wasn't cool was the kicking of frustrated futbol-star Johnny Cueto ripping up Chris Carpenter with his spikes, and the career-ending concussion to Jason LaRue.  Sissy-kicking gets you kicked out of the club, Mr. Cueto.  It's a bigger offense to my sensibilities than shoplifting t-shirts.

This entire brouhaha really was ordered by the big mouth of Reds All-Star second baseman Phillips.  Before what appeared to be a crucial series last August, Phillips made statements about how the St. Louis team were a bunch of whiners, and how he hates the Cardinals.  While whine is not a part of this recipe, the hates the Cardinals thing makes a wonderful garnish.  His comments were met with an icy reception across Cardinal Nation, however this observer thought that his shot across the bow was quite cool.

I mean, what is he supposed to say?  The usual, boring platitudes that most professional spout out these days?  Humbug on that.  The Reds team liked their make-up last year, and were ready to take down the Yankees of the division.  He put his confidence on the bulletin-board for all to read and fit his mates for battle.  Phillips and his mates lost that battle, but won the war - and proved their mettle.

Now the teams meet again, tied for the division lead and looked to be running side-by-side all season.  Without Phillips fanning the flames of rivalry, this would just be another early season intra-divisional series.  Now we've got fun, folks.  Good ol' get-in-your-face, spit-on-your-shoes fun.  

Spring flowers in a long-awaited showdown before Memorial Day.  Such things are rare in baseball.  And myself, I will drink in every drop of this new Cardinal-Reds Rivalry cocktail because victory will smell so sweet.  

Let us all wish that Mother Nature doesn't crash our party, leaving us with naught but karaoke this weekend.  Singing the blues about how our awaited refreshment was spilt.

1 comment:

netherton said...

A great article, Mike. I agree, he has made this series a lot more engaging than it would have otherwise been. Just another weekend 3 gamer has turned into something that has Cardinals (and probably Reds) fans frothing at the mouth, and that's a beautiful thing.

We have Mr. Phillips to thank for that.

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