Chris Carpenter is competitive and he demands the best from his teammates when he’s on the hill. The story has been told countless times over the last few years. Carp is nuts when he’s out there and it’s that fire that makes him great.
This story isn’t about that Carpenter. This story is about flat out disrespect to a teammate.
During Monday night’s game in Cincinnati, Carpenter showed up Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan. The St. Louis ace took Ryan aside in the dugout to scold him for delaying the game in the bottom of the first inning just as he was about to start pitching. Ryan was apparently late to the field and grabbed the wrong glove so he had the right one thrown out to him.
Instead of brushing it off and using the extra minute to relax, Carpenter chose to stare down his shortstop. As if that wasn’t enough, he made sure to give Ryan an earful when the inning ended.
ESPN caught it on one of its many cameras and Ryan looked like an idiot. Carpenter looked like a leader. Only that’s not what this was about. [...]
Ryan is not some rookie or minor league call-up. He is a major league ballplayer who has been a heck of a shortstop for St. Louis. Forget about the hitting woes this year. This incident is strictly about defense. And Ryan is one of the best in the game. For Carpenter to act so high and mighty is embarrassing. He isn’t perfect. No one is and baseball does a pretty good job proving that every night.
Does Ryan give Carpenter hell every start that he gets rocked? Or what about the time Carp takes his time in between an inning of a forgettable start (and yes, it’s had to have happened once in a career as long and with a fuse as short as Carpenter’s) does Ryan wait at the mound holding the ball in disgust?
The confrontation at the start of the game wasn’t nearly as bad as the one to end Carpenter’s night. With the Cardinals up 7-1, Juan Francisco hit a ground ball in between short and third. Ryan was shading the middle and then stutter-stepped towards the ball but never had a chance to make a play. It was a base hit and a meaningless run scored.
Carpenter screamed and shouted in frustration with Ryan as if he just lost a perfect game. It’s always someone else’s fault in sports. The star pitcher can’t handle that he threw some meatballs that resulted in two runs. Carpenter could learn a thing or two about respect and humility from some young pitchers around the league.
Armando Galarraga and Brandon Morrow both lost no-hitters (Galarraga had a perfecto) due to questionable plays. Galarraga thought he had a perfect game until an umpire took it away with a mistake – nothing more, nothing less. Remember, human beings make mistakes. Galarraga’s response was one of the best stories of the summer. He was a perfect model of class in a tough situation. Morrow had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the ninth yesterday on a play that some feel should have been made by Aaron Hill. He didn’t stare down Hill or call him out in his press conference. He smiled and said he was happy to get his first complete game shutout and 17 strikeouts because: hey, that’s pretty good.
Carpenter had nothing on the line. He pitched a solid game and kept the Reds off balance, but he wasn’t even close to perfect. He didn’t even have a shutout going. He should have been happy to have a nice seven-run cushion all night thanks to Skip Schumaker who never hits grand slams.
But Carpenter is too big to have fun. He’s too great to take a deep breath on an easy night. He wants all the credit.
Well, Chris, Monday’s win wasn’t about you. It was about Skip Schumaker and the Cards lineup in the fourth. They won the game and you benefited.
I love the competitive guys and the serious guys in sports, but this was beyond that. Carpenter was a jerk, plain and simple.
Ryan didn’t deserve the embarrassment the second time with his team enjoying a comfortable win. I wouldn’t have minded seeing the shortstop give it right back to Carpenter. But Ryan is above that; he understands the team concept. He may not be the best player and he may be struggling, but he’s still a key part of this team and its success.
He makes a lot of plays for Carpenter and the rest of the staff and they should all remember that.
There’s a fine line between leadership and disrespect in pro sports. These guys are all professionals and they’re all adults. They don’t need to be shown up by a teammate because his ERA went up a hundredth of a point.
Don’t worry Chris; it won’t hurt your Cy Young chances this year because you’re not even in the discussion. And after a mediocre career in Toronto and two missed seasons in St. Louis, your 130 wins aren’t taking you to Cooperstown.
So remember that the next time you play God and straighten someone out. The word today isn’t competitive, it’s classless.