Rivalries can be fun.
And just a little bit hostile at times.
Paranoia can creep in, with fear and loathing on each side.
Pots are stirred.
Accusations are hurled — or at least implied.
There’s nothing insidious about a little gamesmanship.
It’s all in the game. Part of the entertainment.
That’s why the best rivalries — the Cubs vs. Cardinals, for example — come with extra spice.
When the Cubs visited Busch Stadium for the first three games of the 2017 campaign, did the Cardinals try to play fast and loose with the rules? Was the home team guilty of poor hospitality and sportsmanship?
Maybe, if you listen to Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio.
Earlier this week on “The Mully and Hanley Show” on WCSR 670 The Score in Chicago, Bosio jabbed the Cardinals when asked about two notable events during the season-opening series at Busch Stadium.
First: In the Sunday-night season opener, Cubs second baseman Javier Baez was slow to react to hard ground ball hit up the middle by the Cards’ Aledmys Diaz. The potential double-play shot went for a single that set up the Cardinals’ first run, in the third inning. Baez later said his vision was blurred by a white advertising panel located toward the third-base side behind home plate. The sign featured a promotion for MLB’s official app. Baez couldn’t see the ball because it blended into the white backdrop.
Second: In the seventh inning of Thursday’s series finale, won by the Cubs in a comeback, an errant pitch stuck to the chest protector worn by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Highly unusual. No one could ever recall seeing it before. The natural suspicion: stickum or another gooey substance that helps a catcher or pitcher secure a better grip on the baseball. Naturally, the Cardinals offered no explanation for this mystery of physics and science — though it should be pointed out that MLB rules permit the catcher to have an adhesive substance on his equipment. Technically, Molina did nothing wrong.
Unless, of course, he was trying to doctor the ball for Cards reliever Brett Cecil … which Cecil later denied.
Bosio had his own theory. And without specifically mentioning a name, Bosio brought up Chris Correa, the former Cardinals’ scouting director who was sentenced to prison for hacking into the Houston Astros’ private data base.
What follows is a transcription of the pertinent part of the interview conducted by 670 The Score hosts Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley. If you click the link, the questions and answers on the Cardinals begin at 11:23 into the discussion.
Mulligan: I’m not sure I ever saw a ball stick to a catcher’s chest protector before. What was that about? And I’m surprised that you guys didn’t make a bigger deal about it.
Bosio: Well, we were surprised that they didn’t make a bigger deal about it as well. I’ve never seen anything like that. I think the thing that was weird, was also the signage in back; that also wasn’t made a bigger deal about. From my understanding is that MLB was the one that controls the advertising, and it just so happened that when we were in the field the white sign in the background behind the catcher was up, and then when they were there it was dark. And I just want to know how come it wasn’t flip flopped for us. Why wasn’t it white for them, and dark for us?
Hanley: And it was an MLB app sign that had the white background. You think they’d know better to even put a white background back there.
Bosio: Yeah, having a white background behind a hitter, or a pitcher when you’re trying to pick up the ball, that’s not really thinking it through very well. It’s like (if) something happened with the green tarp behind the pitcher out in Wrigley Field, completely white … imagine that as a fan, if you’re sitting behind home plate trying to pick up the ball from the pitcher. That’s what the hitter is seeing.
That’s what the defenders are seeing when the ball is coming off the bat, especially the middle guy. It’s one of those things where you just shake your head and like “how come nobody thought about that?” Things happen, and things can be changed relatively quickly, and I imagine all these things will be.
Yadi’s chest protector? I wouldn’t even know where to go on that. Here’s a guy wearing a chest protector that’s got a little stickum all over it. I mean all he’s got to do is take the ball out of the glove, wipe it on the chest protector, throw it back to the pitcher, and the ball’s loaded up.
Hanley: Is that something you file away for future games against the Cardinals, and if there’s a game type situation where you say ‘hey let’s go have a little look at the chest protector and see what’s there?’
Bosio: I think it was more one of those things like, “Oh boy. Here we go with the Cardinals thing again.”
Hanley: Nothing surprises you in that rivalry?
Bosio: You just kind of shook it off, because we know probably nothing’s going to happen from it like normal. I mean, in one instance where one gentleman’s (Correa) sitting in jail, you know, for tampering with some stuff, but it was just comical, some of the things we saw in that series and so close together, you know really actually surprised there hasn’t been more things that’ve popped up.
Thanks to my good friends at 670 The Score for sending the Bosio interview.