The Fall of the House of Plush

Bad blood. It's a real thing, especially in sports, especially between certain teams. The Cardinals and Cubs certainly have a fierce rivalry going back who knows how many years. But much like the Yankees-Red Sox feud, much of the actual animosity occurs between fans, not players. That's usually how it goes in baseball, but for the last couple of years, tempers have flared in unusual ways when the Cardinals take the field against other teams in the National League Central Division.*

In 2010, the Reds and Cardinals got into it good, starting with Brandon Phillips and his big mouth and ending with Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto kicking two Cardinals players (pitcher Chris Carpenter and backup catcher Jason LaRue) in the back like a ___________ (here's the recap of the brawl and accompanying video) (and for the record, LaRue got a concussion and had to end his career).

This year, it was the Brewers' turn to stir the pot. In August, the Brewers hit top slugger Albert Pujols with a pitch, and Tony LaRussa answered (as is his custom, like it or not) by hitting one of the Brewers' best hitter, Ryan Braun. In September, Milwaukee motormouth Nyjer Morgan struck out to Carpenter and immediately started throwing F-bombs out like candy at a parade, punctuation his prose by chucking his chaw toward the pitcher's mound. When Pujols came in to make sure there were no problems, Nyjer told him where he could stick his MVP awards and the benches cleared. All ended without injury, but afterwards Morgan took to Twitter, where as his altar ego "Tony Plush" he launched more mouthy attacks at Palbert.

That sweat on Nyjer Morgan's face was soon to become egg.

Those salty words must have tasted real bitter come October 16.

If you recall, the Brewers came into September with a very cushy 10-game lead on the Cardinals, and when the regular season ended were still six games up despite the Cardinals' unbelievable month. Sporting the second-best record in the National League, the Brewers handled the Arizona Diamondbacks and waited for the Cardinals-Phillies series to end, probably expecting to face the latter. I wonder if they were surprised to find their division rivals coming to town.

Here it was - a chance for the teams to put all the year's scuffles behind them, to go toe to toe and decide for real who was top dog in the ring. It certainly looked good for Milwaukee after Game 1, where they came from behind and kept going to a 9-6 win. The Cardinals jabbed right back and added a left hook in Game 2, winning 12-3 thanks in large part to Palbert and David Freese (remember that second name, kids, it'll be real important later).

Remember this face, too. It's gonna get real famous in the next round.
The next two games were lower on the scoring end, and a split decision meant the series was tied 2-2. But it was all St. Louis from there - they would outscore the Brewers 19-7 over the last two games, winning the National League Championship Series and clinching their second World Series berth in six seasons (third since 2004). The playoffs experience for both teams was far less frictitious than the regular season, but one can't help but note the irony that the dominant-in-August-and-September Brewers are the ones sent packing.

All that jawing and chawing, and Tony Plush got to watch the Cardinals in the Fall Classic. There's probably a lesson there for you, kids. Let me know when you find it.

*One would be justified in wondering why the animosity toward the Cardinals. My pithy response is that they're tired of playing in the Cardinals' shadow - one can't deny the Redbirds have been the dominant team in the Central division for years.


Peeser said…
The lesson I learned is that Tony Plush is a dumb-sounding name, and anyone who picks that name for himself deserves to eat the idiotic words that came out of his mouth.

The other lesson I learned is, Ha ha ha, Milwaukee Brewers! Nuts to you!

I'm sure there are other lessons, but my brain doesn't want to think like that right now.

(Interestingly enough, my word verification is "flout," as in, "I flout the immaturity of the Milwaukee Brewers and their ill-fated attempts to overcome the Redbirds.")

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