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Cardinals and Reds Fight, Clear Benches

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said on Monday that he hated the Cardinals and called them bitches. Word must not have gotten to the Cards until Tuesday because when Phillips came up to bat in the bottom of the first, catcher Yadier Molina had some words. The two started to exchange words and benches rapidly cleared.

Managers Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker seemed to have words for each other and both wound up ejected. Chris Carpenter, who verbally fought with teammate Brendan Ryan on Monday, was in the middle of the fight between the squads. Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who played for the Cardinals from 2002-2007, was the peacemaker, calming Carpenter and Molina at times.

There’s no way anyone can be surprised that the teams threw down. How could the Cardinals not respond after being called bitches by Phillips? Of course they had to, and obviously each manager defended his team. Here is the Cardinals and Reds fight video and here are some pictures:

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Tony La Russa Struggles With the Alphabet During DUI Arrest

We all know how volatile Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa can be at times. Usually he’s a pretty sharp fellow, on edge, defending his players and team. But when he was arrested for a DUI during spring training, he appeared completely helpless. Tony was hammered worse than a pledge at big sis night. Check out the following video of his DUI arrest that was recently released (around the one minute mark he struggles walking the line, then around the two minute mark is his attempt at the alphabet). Must see:

Now, as justice would have it, is a DUI bust in my future? Heck no. I’ll steer clear of that. At least if there is a bust, I’ll get the alphabet straight. Video via Ballhype.

When Will Pujols Get it Going?

I was discussing this yesterday with my Dad as he was playing consultant to a friend who wisely drafted Albert Pujols with the first pick in a fantasy baseball draft. No, I’m not bringing this up for the purpose of a fantasy discussion. Instead, I would like to have a real-life discussion. When will Albert Pujols — the man who’s enjoyed a finer start to a career than any other hitter in history — get it going?

My Dad seemed to think he was hurt, possibly headed for the DL. I’m not so sure about that. I think Albert’s just in a month long slump — which is long for him — but considering he’s still OPSing a respectable .755, it’s not too bad. Albert showed some signs of himself going 2 for 5 against the Dodgers on Tuesday night, with a double and two RBIs. But damn, it’s May 16th already, and John Buck has more home runs than Prince Albert. I think a hot streak is coming soon for Pujols, and a winning streak is nearing for the Cardinals.

Moreover, anyone else notice the preponderance of slumping first baseman in baseball? Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, Todd Helton, and Derek Lee are like the only ones swinging it. Studs like Berkman, Teixeira, Howard, Delgado, Konerko, and Sexson are all hitting like chumps. In fact, none of those guys are batting higher than .279, and none of them have more than six home runs. Pathetic.

No More Beer in the Clubhouse?

By now mostly everyone knows that Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in a car crash, and that there’s heavy suspicion Hancock was driving drunk. I’ve already discussed several factors about the tie in between alcohol and baseball, for instance Tony La Russa’s Spring Training DUI, and the fact that the Cardinals home venue is named after Busch beers. Well in an effort to try and combat drunk-driving amongst players and staff members, Major League Baseball might be contemplating a ban on alcohol in clubhouses. It’s something the A’s did when pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested for drunk-driving, and it’s something to which Cubs manager Lou Piniella would not be opposed:

The Cubs don’t have any immediate plans to ban alcohol in the clubhouse, but if that’s what Major League Baseball or the club determines can help avoid tragedies such as the death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he would support it.

”I’m for what’s good for the player,” Piniella said Wednesday.

To tell you the truth, long gone are the days of players hanging out in the clubhouse after games, cracking open cold ones and enjoying a heater. From my one year of experience in a major league clubhouse, the players all get dressed, and get on out sooner rather than later. Meaning, even though most clubhouses are stocked with beer, there aren’t too many guys who are drinking them. But, in my eyes, it’s not the drinking that’s the problem — players should judge whether or not they can have a beer or two. To me the real problem is when people drive after drinking. That’s what must be stopped. I just don’t understand why people can’t call a cab or limo to drive them when they’re drunk. Doesn’t that seem to be the best solution?

(via Fark)

St. Louis Writer Said DUI Was Good for La Russa

Yes I realize that Tony La Russa’s DUI, mentioned in the previous post, is a month old, but now this issue is completely relevant. As my buddy Matt Watson pointed out to me, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan (pictured) wrote in March that a DUI could help Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s image with the local fans.

So while everyone will agree that drinking and driving is a bad thing, this will, in a strange way, help his relationship with St. Louis.

I guess that was McClellan’s way of saying the DUI gave La Russa street cred. But correct me if I’m wrong — McClellan’s espousing a message that DUIs are OK. Are you saying anyone who read that would’ve taken back the sentiment that getting a DUI would endear them to the public? Maybe you should have thought twice before you wrote that McClellan. Seems to me like it’s about the worse way you could possibly spin a prominent figure getting busted for a serious offense. You should have been using your position to remind people what a poor choice that was by La Russa, and what the potential dangers and harms there are of driving drunk. Instead, you decided to point out that a DUI will help La Russa’s image. Given what has now transpired with the St. Louis ballclub, I hope you regret your words and will choose to pen your next column on the message of why drinking and driving is wrong.

Oh, and if you’re about to leave a comment defending La Russa’s DUI, or what McClellan wrote, then you clearly are missing the point.

Crash Was Josh Hancock’s Second Car Accident Last Week

Thanks to fellow MLB FanHouser, Matt Watson, I have learned of a few more key details leading up to the unfortunate death of Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock. Turns out that the collision which ended Josh Hancock’s life early Sunday morning was his second collision of the week.

Three days earlier, Hancock had a close call when his vehicle edged several inches into the intersection of Yellow Brick Road and Illinois Route 3. A Sauget police spokesman said Monday that a tractor-trailer struck Hancock’s GMC Denali, tearing off the vehicle’s front bumper. “Just another inch or so and he could have died two days earlier, because that tractor-trailer was traveling about 45 to 50 miles per hour,” according to Sauget Police Chief Patrick Delaney.

Hancock walked away from that early Thursday morning crash uninjured, but he was late for the team’s afternoon game a few hours later. The club and several teammates said he had overslept.

Speculation was that he was hungover therefore rendering him unable to pitch in the game. And the Thursday crash sounds about on-par to me with a driver who would rear-end a parked tow-truck. What’s also of note, is that prior to Sunday’s collision, witnesses say Hancock was consuming alcohol at Mike Shannon’s restaurant (Shannon is a former Cardinals player and their current broadcaster):

The two witnesses said Hancock appeared impaired.

“He had a mixed drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other,” Vince said. “And my wife’s comment was, ‘He can barely put a sentence together.’”

And I’m guessing that’s an honest report. So I don’t care what the autopsy reveals, the story (without implicating Hancock) still serves as a reminder to everyone not to drink and drive. You may think it’s cool, you may carry a nonchalant attitude when you’re drinking, but there’s not a person who will care how badass you were for trying to suck it up and drive, when you crash.

As Matt and I discussed in a conversation, there are all sorts of other parallels you can tie into this story as speculation. First, you had Tony La Russa who was busted in Spring Training for a DUI, which would make you wonder whether or not drinking and driving was part of the clubhouse culture. Couple that with a stadium named after a brewing company — Busch Stadium — and you have to wonder what type of message was being relayed. I’m certainly getting into far off reaches, so I’ll leave you with this bottom line: just don’t drink and drive, and don’t let anyone you know drink and drive. Save your life, and save the lives of others.

Tony La Russa Does Not Like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

As I alluded to in the previous post, Tony La Russa had a shouting match with St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz on Friday after the Cardinals 5-3 loss to the Cubs (click here to listen). La Russa was upset over an article that ran earlier in the day on Friday, detailing in literally poetic form, why the Cubs would not break their curse.

We put a new twist on an old poem* to capture in verse why the Cubs will never break the curse … and list the reasons they are destined to not win a World Series.

These are the cruelest of echoing words:

No Tinker. No Evers. No chance.

Spend all they can, Cubs still chasing the ‘Birds.

Clearly La Russa was not happy about reading the article. It’s bad enough to deal with one of his own players giving the Cubs bulletin board material and more incentive to win. But it’s much worse when a local reporter does the trick. As a result, he boycotted questions from Post-Dispatch reporters both before and after the game until getting into an argument with Miklasz.

“That cheap shot against the Cubs, I don’t want to be a part of it, and I want them, I want everybody to know that the St. Louis Cardinals and their manager have an absolute disregard for that,” La Russa said.

“I know it’s the editor [who] makes those decisions,” La Russa said. “But I have a couple of ways [to protest], and the one way I’m going to do it is I’m not going to answer questions from the Post-Dispatch. If you disagree with that, write that you disagree with it. I don’t care. I really don’t. What I care is that I don’t put my stamp, any way shape or form, on the cheap shot like that at a Major League organization.”

I understand La Russa here, problem is, by not talking to the Post-Dispatch, it provides more fuel for their writers to tear apart the Cardinals in the paper. Probably not the wisest move by La Russa, but I understand why he’d be pissed about what was written.