There’s no need to call baseball’s fun police and alert Bob Costas. Alexei Ramirez making the no-no-no gesture and Pedro Strop’s fist-pumping celebration probably says more about the state of the Cubs-White Sox rivalry.
There’s not enough buzz or raw emotions or in-your-face personalities. The city – or at least the Chicago media – got spoiled with Ozzie Guillen, Lou Piniella, A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Zambrano.
So roughly 24 hours later, people were still talking about how Strop felt like Ramirez showed him up during a key eighth-sequence in a one-run game the Cubs would hang on to win at U.S. Cellular Field.
“To me, it’s rather amusing, actually,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Saturday. “I don’t have any issue with it at all. If you’re the kind of guy that looks at that kind of stuff on the other side to get upset by – if you need that as motivation – then come on.
“Why do I need the other team to be exorbitant or extravagant in their celebration for me to become motivated? I don’t get that stuff. I’ve never been a bulletin-board guy. I’ve never been that guy to create my motivation.
“Your motivation has to come from within. And if anybody else has to provide it for you, then you’re really not the professional that you thought you were. So it’s a lot about nothing for me.”
Whether Strop strikes out two White Sox in the eighth inning – or gets knocked out of the game – he routinely points to the sky and pounds his chest when he walks off the mound.
Like when Costas wondered if Strop was “asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance” after a meltdown against the St. Louis Cardinals on MLB Network.
Maddon wants the Cubs to feel loose and play with emotion and that identity will probably bother other teams. Maddon drew the line at Junior Lake pimping a home run at Marlins Park, shushing Miami’s dugout and sparking a bench-clearing incident.
“I know this year I did admonish Lake on the bat flip in Miami, only because I don’t want us to be that particular guy,” Maddon said. (That guy got traded to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Tommy Hunter at the July 31 deadline.)
“I think what Stropy did yesterday was just, like, natural. He’s jacked up. He wasn’t showing anybody up. He was excited for himself. That’s how I saw it.
“I think we’re way too touchy about things. I do like a lack of (celebration), like when you score a touchdown and just put the ball down. Hit a home run, put the bat down. I kind of like that. But if you don’t do that, it doesn’t bother me.”
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Robin Ventura – the low-key White Sox manager who played 16 years in the big leagues – didn’t have any issues with the back-and-forth between Strop and Ramirez.
“Everything has kind of evolved and changed,” Ventura said. “It used to be something (where) a guy would probably get hit. And that’s not necessarily how it is today. You see it all the time. I’ve seen worse than that. That’s just a guy who’s emotional.
“He’s in a tight spot and gets out of it – same as a guy who hits a homer and stands there for awhile and watches it…and then takes off running. (With) every position and every guy on the field, there’s a different level of what people think is acceptable and what’s not.”
For the record, Maddon seems to get a kick out of Ramirez, the Cuban shortstop he watched up close while managing the Tampa Bay Rays against the White Sox.
“He threw me a baseball before the game yesterday,” Maddon said. “I put my phone number on it and I threw it back to him. He does that stuff all the time.
“I love when he sits in the dugout smoking a cigar…God, I wish I could. He does a lot of cool things.”