Yost sticks up for his players

17 02 2008

I had been looking forward to Tom Haudricourt’s Sunday article for a few days. Ever since he promised to shed some light on the Pujols-Fielder plunking situation from last year, I’ve patiently waited until today to read it. Most of the story is on Ned Yost’s growth as a manager during the off-season, but let me outline the Brewers-Cardinals game that is of interest.

St. Louis pitcher Brad Thompson throws a fastball up and in at Prince Fielder‘s head during the series finale. It was so well aimed at Prince’s head, in fact, that Prince had to lift his shoulder to protect his head and deflect the ball. Prince had belted his 49th and 50th home runs the inning before, so it became obvious to him that the Cardinals threw at his head on purpose.

Ray King, who used to pitch for the Cardinals, knew the sign for throwing at a batter. King went back into the clubhouse and saw the replay. He saw Kelly Stinnett call for the fastball at Prince’s head. King relayed this message to manager Ned Yost, and when Prince did not tell his manager not to retaliate, Ned knew he needed to stick up for his player.

The following inning, Yost calls in Seth McClung from the bullpen with one mission, to throw at Albert Pujols in retaliation. McClung and Yost were predictably thrown out of the game, but Yost said that he would not have changed his decision. He would do anything for his players to let them know that he was in their corner.

Derrick Turnbow then came into the game trying to keep the deficit at 3-2, and his control had abandoned him once again. The Cardinals ended up cruising to a 7-3 victory, and Milwaukee was effectively eliminated from the playoff race.

This story is fascinating to me. Tony LaRussa, who originally called for Brad Thompson to throw at Prince’s head for no other reason than he had dominated them thus far, got in no trouble whatsoever, yet Yost got ejected and ridiculed for sticking up for his players.

People have accused LaRussa for baiting Yost into that situation. But why would he do that? The Cardinals had nothing to gain by winning that game. They had already been eliminated from the Wild Card race. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that St. Louis intentionally threw at Prince Fielder and could have caused a career threatening injury had his reflexes not been so great. I don’t expect this story to go away. It will be interesting to see what happens when Milwaukee plays St. Louis next. Expect an angry Prince Fielder to show up. That should be scary enough to any Cardinals fan.

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