Cubs

Maddon blows up at Cardinals: 'We're not going to put up with that'

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Maddon blows up at Cardinals: 'We're not going to put up with that'

Joe Maddon was just itching for a reporter to ask him about Anthony Rizzo's hit-by-pitch in the seventh inning.

The Cubs manager was all prepared and used the platform with media and a half-dozen TV cameras to send the Cardinals a message: "We're not going to put up with that."

When Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday pinch-hit in the fifth inning, he took a pitch in the helmet from Cubs pitcher Dan Haren, who insisted over and over that it was an accident. After all, the Cubs were only winning 3-2 at the time and the tying run was already on second base.

The Cardinals retaliated by plunking Rizzo in the seventh, and pitcher Matt Belisle and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny were both ejected.

"I'm really disappointed in what the Cardinals did right there," Maddon said. "Absolutely. We did not hit their guy on purpose at all. It was an absolute mistake; there was no malicious intent on Dan Haren's part. None.

"So to become this vigilante group that all of a sudden wants to get their own pound of flesh, that's absolutely insane, ridiculous and wrong. We don't start stuff, but we will stop stuff."

Maddon went on to say that his team plans on stealing bases late in blowout games against the Cardinals if they refuse to hold runners on the bases.

Maddon cited a desire to score more runs and ensure important relievers like Hector Rondon can just get a rest and not have to worry about warming up.

[MORE: Heads up: The Cubs are coming after the Cardinals]

"I never read this book the Cardinals have written on how to play baseball," Maddon said. "That particular book that you guys got was written right around the turn of the last century. Like 1900, when it took several singles to score runs as opposed to one big guy coming up to hit a home run.

"So that all has changed. You can take that book and you can read it yourself. 'Cause I don't give a crap about that book. I want everybody there to understand that. We don't start stuff, but we stop stuff."

Maddon is known for his mild temper and positive, patient nature. It's a major reason why the Cubs thought he'd be a perfect fit on a young team getting their first taste of winning at the big-league level.

Friday's postgame press conference was probably the most fired up Maddon has been all season.

He refused to believe Belisle's pitch may have been an accident.

"Of course not. That is ridiculous," Maddon said. "I don't want to hear that. I don't want to hear about pitching inside. I don't want to hear any of that crap.

"The pitch [Haren] hit their guy with was an absolute mistake. It was awful. We all hated it in the dugout. I'm happy that he's fine, absolutely, but you don't do that under those circumstances.

"We don't start stuff, but we finish stuff."

That one-liner will probably end up on a T-shirt in the Cubs clubhouse before the homestand is over.

When Rizzo was hit, he started walking toward the mound slowly, but other than that, there was no altercation between the two teams or any players. Maddon stayed at his perch on the top step of the Cubs' dugout.

[RELATED: Redemption: Starlin Castro has game of his life as Cubs beat Cards]

Maddon mentioned he didn't have any personal history with the Cardinals organization prior to Friday, but ask him again in a week.

"I don't know who put out the hit - I don't know if Tony Soprano was in the dugout; I didn't see him in there," Maddon said. "We're not gonna put up with that from them or anybody else.

"I didn't cause a ruckus out there because I have a lot of respect for the umpire crew that was out there. I thought they did a great job. ... I just want people to know just because we didn't go out there in that particular moment is not a sign of weakness. We didn't go out there out of respect to the umpires."

Haren came up in the Cardinals organization and said he expected there to be retaliation, to the point where he even apologized to Rizzo right after the fifth inning in case the Cardinals went after him.

Haren talked about how it was ingrained in their minds in the Cardinals organization to protect the big guys - like Holliday or Albert Pujols - when they were hit.

"They've been known for doing these types of things and policing it that way," Haren said. "Sometimes they take it to a little bit of an extreme, but you just hope that they know it wasn't on purpose. I don't know if they do [know].

"They were yelling at me pretty good from the dugout. I didn't know what to say; did they want me to say 'I'm sorry'?"

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry didn't need much of a spark now that the Cubs are competitive and coming after the Cardinals in the divisional race.

But this will be an added point of contention between the two teams for at least the rest of this season.

With emotions running high, it's fair to ask: Is the beanball done for the weekend?

"I think it's up to them," Haren said. "I certainly don't think anyone on our side is going to come out and throw at anybody, that's for sure. Since I've been here, there's never been any type of order to hit anybody or anything like that.

"It's up to them. If they want to continue, that's on them. Like I said to you guys, it was an accident and hopefully they threw at Rizzo and it's done with.

"You don't want to see someone get hurt, especially on two teams that are likely to be playing baseball a little bit deeper."

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

With the Milwaukee Brewers about to kick off the NLCS, many Cubs fans and pundits have taken to comparing them to the 2015 Cubs.

At first glance, it's easy to see why — they're in the playoffs for the first time as something of an underdog and "surprise" team — but that's not the recent Cubs squad we should be comparing the 2018 Brewers to.

This Milwaukee team is a lot more like the 2016 Cubs.

Here's why:

1. They're not a surprise.

Nobody expected the 2015 Cubs to win 97 games and wind up in the NLCS. They were expected to compete very soon, but everything went right in a red-hot August, they rode Jake Arrieta's right arm to the NLDS and then toppled the Cardinals to get to the LCS, where they ran into the brick wall that was Matt Harvey and and the Mets pitching staff.

The 2018 Brewers are not — and should not be — a surprise. Anybody who was caught off guard by this team being so good hasn't been paying much attention. The Brewers were leading the NL Central in 2017 for much of the year before a late-season fade that coincided with the Cubs' late-season surge.

This Milwaukee squad was always supposed to be one of the top teams in the NL in 2018 and they really hit their groove in September to chase down the Cubs. Still, it took a Game 163 to force a changing of the guard atop the division.

2. They greatly improved expectations with a big free-agent OF signing over the winter.

The Cubs had Jason Heyward in between 2015 and '16. The Brewers had Lorenzo Cain.

Cain has provided quite a bit more offense in the first season of his 5-year, $80 million contract but both Cain and Heyward provided leadership in the clubhouse and elite defense in the outfield in the first years with their new teams.

3. The Brewers have the NL MVP.

This one's an easy comparison to make, though Cubs fans will hate it.

Christian Yelich is this season's NL MVP. Sorry, Javy Baez fans. "El Mago" had a great season, but it's impossible to give the award to anybody but Yelich.

Yelich winning the league's most coveted accolade would be another perfect tie-in to the 2016 Cubs, who had Kris Bryant take home NL MVP.

4. They have a dominant LHP out of the bullpen.

Josh Hader has been doing his best Aroldis Chapman impression in 2018 as an absolutely dominant southpaw out of the bullpen. Unlike Chapman, Hader's spent all season with the Brewers, but like Chapman in '16, Hader will be leaned on heavily for multiple innings throughout the rest of the playoffs.

5. They picked up some valuable in-season assets.

The 2016 Cubs dealt for Chapman, but they also traded for reliever Joe Smith and called up Willson Contreras in the middle of the year, who provided a spark for the offense.

The 2018 Brewers have acquired plenty of valuable assets along the way this season from Mike Moustakas to Jonathan Schoop to Erik Kratz (more on him later) to Gio Gonzalez. But one of their most important additions (especially in October) was the promotion of top prospect Corbin Burnes, a flame-throwing right-hander who posted a 2.61 ERA in 30 regular-season games and allowed only 1 hit in 4 shutout innings in the DS.

6. They're on a mission with a chip on their shoulder.

The 2015 Cubs had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder as they attempted to take down the divisional powerhouse that was the St. Louis Cardinals. But again, they were a surprise contender - even within that clubhouse (especially early in 2015). But after falling short in the NLCS, the Cubs retooled over the winter and came back with one goal in mind - to win the World Series.

It was a goal they accomplished. We'll see if the Brewers will be able to do the same, but they certainly came to play in 2018 with a chip on their shoulder and the ultimate goal of winning the final MLB game of the year.

The Brewers didn't lead the division from Day 1 and weren't able to coast into October, but they still wound up with homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

7. They have journeyman catcher who is winning over fans' hearts.

This is a fun one.

The 2016 Cubs had David "Grandpa" Rossy who still elicts deafening cheers whenever he's shown on the giant video board at Wrigley Field. The 2018 Brewers have Kratz, who has become a fan favorite recently and was mic'd up for the final out of the NLDS.

Ross was 39 when he helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series and Chicago was his eighth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey. Kratz is 38 and on his ninth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey.

In fact, Ross and Kratz are so intertwined, they've already been compared to each other by MLB.com.

But the major difference is Kratz has zero postseason playing experience until a week ago. Will he be able to ride off into the sunset with a championship ring on his finger the way Ross did?

We'll have an answer to that over the next few weeks in the final chapter of the Brewers' 2018 season, though Cubs fans surely wouldn't be too happy to see their division rivals celebrating with a World Series parade just 90 minutes north of Wrigley Field.

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

The Cubs just lost one coach with hitting coach Chili Davis getting fired. Another opening on Joe Maddon's coaching staff could also open up.

According to report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed with the Rangers on Thursday.

Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler was the first candidate the club interviewed, but Hyde and Astros bench coach Joe Espada were also interviewed.

The 45-year-old Hyde has been with the Cubs since 2014. He was a bench coach in 2014 under Rick Renteria before moving to first base coach from 2015-17. This past season he moved back to his original role as bench coach.

He played four seasons in the minors for the White Sox.

The Rangers job opened up when Jeff Banister was fired on Sept. 21. Banister won AL Manager of the Year in 2015 and guided the Rangers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, but couldn't get out of the ALDS either year. A 78-84 season in 2017 was followed by an even worse 2018, which led to his firing late this season.