DENVER — Here in Chicagorado, the Midwest's home away from home, it’s not enough to clog the highways and crowd our trout streams.
The Cubs had to bring Nolan Arenado into it. Blasphemy! Now they've done crossed the line.
After the Cubs plunked Arenado with a 90.5 mph fastball, Colorado's All-World third baseman turned to the Cubs dugout and shared his side of the story, often in four-letter snippets. Hold on, it gets better. Cubs manager Joe Maddon fired back with a shot at Arenado after Wednesday’s game: "Right now we lead the league in hit by pitches. And our guys go (straight) to first base.”
And we’re off! Instead of baseball on a perfect summer afternoon at Coors Field, the Rox and Cubs took it back a step further, to another silly game played by boys: But Mom! He started it!
When the dust settled on a 10-1 Cubs win that closed the series, four batters were hit by pitches: Cole Hamels and Anthony Rizzo for the Cubs, Arenado and Tony Wolters for the Rox. Plus, Charlie Blackmon almost got baseball's best beard trimmed by an aggressive fastball up near the dome.
The Rox smelled this coming, and it smelled worse than a splat of mustard on one of the new Cubs jerseys that invaded Coors Field. They'd hit Kris Bryant twice the day before. Asked if he thought the Arenado beanball was payback, Bud Black said, “Ask them.”
Never one to turn down a spat between grown men, I did.
“I’m not going to accuse their guys of hitting ‘KB.’ Everybody has the right to pitch inside,” Maddon said. “I managed two years in Midland, Texas. And it’s very similar to managing here (at cavernous Coors Field). My guys that would not pitch inside got their ears pinned back all the time. If you’re going to pitch here successfully in this ballpark, you must pitch inside. Then some guys are going to get hit.”
There’s a better way to handle a dangerous tradition that could end an All-Star's season, you know. If the batter and pitcher have a problem with each other, let them figure it out, hockey-style. If folks leave the dugout and cross the first- or third-base lines, suspend 'em without pay. All this jibber-jabber from 40 feet apart is nothing more than a business decision.
The Cubs won the game.
With T.I. blasting over the speakers in the visitors clubhouse, Maddon won the debate: “I’ve always had a rule among my guys. ... you’ve got two options: go to the mound or go to first base. But don’t sit there and jabber. Make up your mind. Do one or the other. And either one is fine. But you have two choices, I think.”
Seeing a 10-game home win streak come to an end wasn’t the worst sight for the Rockies. That was seeing their perennial MVP candidate and $260-million slugger take a fastball off his golden left arm.
“It didn’t look right to me,” said Black, who after the game was as ticked off as I could remember in his two-plus seasons here.
“I kind of had a feeling it would happen,” said Arenado, who left in the fifth inning with a left forearm contusion. “I just thought (the pitch) was a little high.”
Arenado said he also expects to play Thursday against the Padres.
“Listen, it’s baseball, man,” he said.
You may have noticed certain series or games are a sore spot around these hills. That’s partly because there’s a false rumor going around. It labels Colorado as a crummy sports state because there are so many Cubs, Chiefs or Lakers fans at the game. Gimme a break. Truth is, it’s an indictment of other cities, which are going in the tank so those folks make the smart decision to ship out to booming Colorado.
Riddle me this: if Chicago’s the coolest as they claim, why are they all moving here?
Sure makes for sweet property values and a juicy day at the ballpark, though.
A 460-foot home run off the bat of Javier Baez made the score 10-0. Taking his time to round the bases, Baez celebrated a double-digit lead like this was the Women’s World Cup or something.
“It’s a big homer there for us,” Anthony Rizzo explained.
Will the Rockies and Cubs continue their war of words? To make sure we all still fit in around here, let’s use a phrase the present company will understand: Wait till next year. They don’t play again this season, unless Tony Wolters and the Rockies find their way into another postseason matchup with the Cubs.
Shoot, maybe Michael Buffer's available: In one corner, weighing in with one World Series title in 111 years, it's the Cubbies! In the other corner, with a purple, polka-dotted dinosaur roaming these mean streets, it's the Rox!