Cheap Seats

NL Central fans: Cardinals, not Pirates, guilty of cheap shot

I'm more than a little surprised this morning by the fact that the Cardinals are the target of internet venom regarding their game last night against the Pirates.

In case you missed the contest, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina got freight trained by Pittsburgh second baseman Josh Harrison in a play at the plate. Molina had to leave the game with a headache and strains to his back, neck and shoulder.

While there is some debate about the hit applied to Molina, which I'm torn about because Molina was in the path to the plate -- but Harrison appeared to aim his upper arm at Yadi's head during the hit -- it seems more people are angry that the Redbirds plunked Harrison on his leg a couple of innings later.

Why can people justify a hit that injured a player and forced him from the contest as "part of the game" but in the same breath call Jake Westbrook's plunking of Harrison a "cheap shot?"

If we're going to play by the old school rules of the game, Harrison got off pretty easy. In the days of Sal "The Barber" Maglie, Harrison wouldn't have had to worry about his knees as much as his noggin. The same could be said for the days of Bob Gibson. I wish I had a nickel for every time Gibby's former teammate Mike Shannon talked on the radio about players in the sixties knowing they were going to get hit if their team hit a batter, bowled over a middle infielder trying to turn a double play or even if they hit an ill-timed homer.

I thought it was symbolic -- but merciful -- for Westbrook to hit Harrison on the knee. If it was 30 or 40 years ago the Birds wouldn't have done that. They would have gone after Pittsburgh's best player, presumably Andrew McCutchen, and they would have hit him high on the body. It seems in those days there was one just under the batter's chin (hence the nickname "The Barber") just to let him know that what was coming was no accident. Then the batter got the pitcher's best fastball between the shoulder blades.

I remember the Cardinals playing the Giants in the 1980s and shenanigans broke out. Whitey Herzog didn't tell Greg Matthews to throw a change-up at a San Francisco players' knee. He warmed up Todd Worrell in the bullpen -- in about the third inning -- and Worrell conspicuously warmed up with fastballs in the St. Louis bullpen along the right field line before coming in and throwing a heater into the ribs of the only batter he faced. End of discussion.

Harrison seemed to understand the way things work. After the game he said he thought it was a clean hit and that's the way the game is played -- but it is also the way the game is played for the Cardinals to be upset their teammate got hurt and to send a message that it wouldn't be tolerated.

Still anonymous internet cowards who claimed to be not only Pirates fans -- but also Reds and Brewers fans -- were all over the internet last night saying that the Cardinals should be run out of baseball for hitting Harrison and that they hoped Molina was out for the season or that his career was over. Of course there was the typical argument that the Birds are arrogant and whiny so they deserve whatever they get.

Apparently, because they've been in three World Series in the last decade, they're not allowed to stand up for themselves anymore. It's sure a sorry state when baseball "fans" know so little about the game but have such access to spread their idiocy across the internet.

Shame on people who wish to win by having an opponent be severely injured. I have less respect for those people than ever.

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