Another genius move by Joe Maddon
The Cardinals and Cubs had a back-and-forth with hit-by-pitches on Friday, and Joe Maddon was none too happy about it.
Dan Haren hit pinch-hitter Matt Holliday with a fastball in the helmet. The pitch was obviously unintentional, but that didn’t matter to Holliday. He was visibly upset. Later in the game, St. Louis relief pitcher Matt Belisle hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch, clearly payback for the Holliday pitch.
After the game, Maddon expressed his displeasure. His quotes to the Chicago Tribune:
"I never read that particular book that the Cardinals wrote way back in the day. I was a big Branch Rickey fan, but I never read this book that the Cardinals had written on how to play baseball."
Maddon also referenced "The Sopranos" character Tony Soprano when he brought up "the hit" the Cardinals put on Rizzo. He also mentioned the often disparaged and misunderstood term by fans and media: "unwritten rules."
Maddon accomplished a couple of things here. First, he put a dent in what has seemed to be the Cardinals’ impenetrable armor. St. Louis is seen as the model franchise in MLB. The Cardinals have a storied history, they win consistently, they have an excellent track record in developing young players and they have what has often been described as "the best fans in baseball." That reputation took a hit.
In the process, Maddon also heightened the rivalry between the Cubs and the Cardinals. But he was genius in painting the Cubs as the picked-on underdogs compared to the bully Cardinals.
Despite the fact that they have similar payrolls, the perception after Friday was this: The Cubs are David, the Cardinals are Goliath.
If you’re benign in the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, Maddon just did his part make sure you start pulling for his team. Genius.