Memorial Day weekend was not without incident for the Cincinnati Reds. Despite playing very good baseball of late, the team made headlines for other reasons this weekend. On two consecutive days, the motives of Reds pitchers were called into question by their opponents. On Sunday, Matt Garza called for Johnny Cueto to "grow the hell up." Garza was upset by a pitch that Cueto threw over the head of Cubs outfielder David DeJesus. After being told of Garza's comments, Dusty Baker responded with this gem:
Take care of it, then. You know what I mean? I mean, he couldn't hit Wilt Chamberlain with that pitch... Just put them in a room, let them box and let it be over with. I always said this, let it be like hockey, let them fight, someone hits the ground and it’s over with. I’m serious about that.
Unfortunately, the boxing match will have to wait for another day, as Sunday's game concluded the series with the Cubs. Less than 24 hours later a new opponent and a new "controversy" emerged. In the 9th inning of yesterday's game against the Indians, Aroldis Chapman threw a fast-ball at 100 MPH that missed Nick Swisher's face by inches. The Cleveland bench was visibly angry and Swisher was seen telling Chapman, "Don't do that."
The implications of these incidents are yet to be determined. Will the Indians retaliate before the series ends? Will the Cubs be looking to make a statement when the Reds travel to Chicago next month? Either way, it appears as though the Reds are developing a reputation around baseball, albeit unwarranted in my view.
It seems unlikely that either of these incidents were intentional on the Reds part. Both Cueto and Chapman have been known to deal with bouts of wildness from time to time. As Dusty pointed out, anyone who's seen Chapman pitch regularly has likely seen him throw one to the screen.
As a Reds fan, you have to love the comments from Dusty Baker. Situations like this are when Dusty is at his best, providing quotes that the local and national media love. He never fails to live up to the reputation of a "player's manager." Then again, I'm not sure Cueto would look forward to a boxing match with Garza...