The situation where a couple of Chicago Cubs badmouthed the St. Louis Cardinals were supposed to be all in good fun, even though some players and fans didn’t seem to take it that way.
If you somehow missed it, Kris Bryant, who ought to be more worried about the tremendous fall off his production numbers took last season than working on a comedy routine, said he doesn’t like to play in St. Louis because it’s “boring.” Former Chicago Cubs batting practice pitcher Ryan Dempster, joined in making some sort of bizarre assertion that the Redbirds wanted to trade for him and he said “no way” even though I can’t imagine that scenario could have any basis in the truth whatsoever because he was a terrible hurler over his career while working at Busch Stadium.
What those guys had to say doesn’t really make any difference to me. They were trying to be cute at the Cubs version of the Winter Warm-Up in front of a partisan audience. I get it. The only part that annoys me is that the St. Louis front office sits there and takes it. Oh, if team president of baseball operations John Mozeliak just once would say “Oh, yeah? I’m gonna show you who the boss is” and went out there and made a seismic free agent move to put the Wee Bears back where they belong, I don’t know what I’d do.
Bryant’s remark came after he admitted that his buddy Bryce Harper wasn’t going to sign with the Cubs. It was an implication that at least the Cubs don’t have to worry about Harper joining the competition because no one wants to play for the Redbirds.
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For a major league player to imply that he won’t go where the biggest paycheck is amounts to nothing less than total dishonesty. Otherwise, why did Bryant turn down a $200 million-plus contract to stay with in Chicago for the rest of the year? I wonder how many Cubs fans in the room when he made his stupid remarks thought quietly to themselves “yeah, right” because they know Bryant would play in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Seattle, Minnesota or even — gasp — St. Louis if that’s where the money is.
Furthermore, it’s pretty dumb of Bryant to pour cold water on one of the three top regional rivalries in all of baseball. The Cardinals and Cubs have been battling it out since the 1920s and, in case he hasn’t heard, St. Louis has gotten the better end of that deal more often than not. It would be phenomenal for baseball to see Bryant land with the Cardinals to turn up the rivalry a notch. Instead, fans are the losers as first the Cubs run up the white flag of surrender to do their \rebuild when St. Louis was winning National League pennants in 2011 and 2013, and now the Redbirds have taken a pass four years in a row on a chance to return to prominence as the Cubs won a championship for the first time in more than a century.
The Cardinals sat home last year and assured us they felt the sense of “urgency” to get back on top. Then they made a trade for a big-name player who is only under contract for one season and signed a relief pitcher surrounded by question marks after his health wasn’t consistent in 2018. Since then, they’ve sat back and watched while the Cincinnati Reds got off the floor and dusted themselves off and the Milwaukee Brewers stole a tremendous upgrade behind the plate.
The Winter Warm-Up is the time of the calendar year when we’re supposed to get excited about the approaching season. But I don’t feel much better about this club now than I did at this time last year.