August 03, 2011
Tuesday was such a crazy night in Milwaukee there's no way we could sum the madness in just one post.
So let's devote one entire article to the man in the middle of it all. Not surprisingly, our piece on Tony La Russa begins with the St. Louis Cardinals manager accusing an opponent of cheating.
We've been here a few times before. Whether he's confronting the grounds crew at Coors Field, telling them the bullpen mound is too flat, or telling us the baseballs are too slippery in Cincinnati — just to name a couple incidents — it always seems like he has an accusatory finger to point at someone for something.
Now we can add a brand-new accusation to that expanding list. During Monday night's 6-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, La Russa filed an official complaint with umpire chief Gary Darling, accusing the Brewers of tinkering with the lighting at Miller Park.
Here are the details on the complaint as reported by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Apparently, the Cardinals were unhappy about lighting inconsistencies with the ribbon board that surrounds the stands above the loge level. The insinuation was that the home plate area was darker when they were batting than when the Brewers were batting.
Asked about his conversation with Darling after the game Monday night, La Russa said, "I'm not sure if it's the right thing to talk to you guys about, in fact it's the very thing I shouldn't talk to you guys about," La Russa said. "It's something they've heard before."
Darling says he forwarded the complaints to Major League Baseball, but noted that he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary throughout the course of Monday's game, concluding his statement on the issue with the following:
"We'll pay attention to it, but there's nothing there as far as we're concerned."
That pretty much settles that.
Unfortunately, the complaining didn't end there. Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, who always finds himself somewhere nearby these controversies, also accused Brewers base runners of relaying signs from second base to hitters during their five-run fifth inning outburst.
I don't know what the problem is here. If you think they're stealing your signs, perhaps change them? Maybe send a message to one of their hitters? To complain about that after the fact only makes it sound more like sour grapes, which is sadly becoming what I think of first when I hear La Russa or Carpenter's name.
Maybe the Brewers are getting tired of hearing it, too, because there was more to come during Tuesday's rematch, which St. Louis won 8-7 in 11 innings. In the seventh, Albert Pujols(notes) was hit on the wrist by a Takashi Saito(notes) pitch. The same wrist/foreman he broke earlier this season.
Was it intentional? Honestly, it probably wasn't. Given the game situation, it wouldn't have made sense to send a message there, but who knows?
Of course it didn't much matter to La Russa. In the bottom of the inning, Jason Motte(notes) took aim at Ryan Braun(notes). After delivering one pitch away from Braun, Motte came inside and missed. The next pitch didn't miss, hitting the Brewers left fielder squarely in the back. That drew warnings for both managers and benches, but no one was ejected.
It will be interesting, however, to see what Major League Baseball thinks of La Russa's postgame comments that insinuated Motte was intentionally aiming at Braun (a weird decision in its own right, given that Prince Fielder(notes) was on deck and the score was tied):
"We threw two balls in there real good just to send a message," La Russa said, raising his voice. "If he ducks them, it's all over and we don't hit him. The ball that they tried to throw on Pujols was aimed right where they aimed it. Did they try to hit him? No. But there's a small window there."
Thankfully, there were no further incidents in Tuesday's game. Well, aside from that little Yadier Molina blow up. It will be interesting to see if both teams bring a professional approach to Wednesday's rubber match, or if the series experiences even more fireworks.