The 85th edition of the MLB All-Star game is just 27 days away, which means it's time for teams to get serious about promoting their top All-Star candidates. Cue the Milwaukee Brewers, who have definitely taken the initiative on such matters.
On Monday, the Brewers released a politically motivated video promoting hot-hitting catcher Jonathan Lucroy for the NL starting gig. In it, Milwaukee took aim at the St. Louis Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina in a tongue-in-cheek attack ad that was filled with more humor than it was hate.
"Yadier Molina is a great catcher, but did you know he plays for the St. Louis Cardinals? Do you want another St. Louis Cardinal to star in an All-Star Game? Isn't there a better way?"
That's how the video begins. A couple quick jabs to be sure, but aside from stating that Jonathan Lucroy is the best catcher in the league in their estimation, that's pretty much the extent of their attack on Molina and the Cardinals organization. It was really quite harmless, yet the Cardinals camp, and more specifically manager Mike Matheny, were not amused by the video and have since expressed their displeasure.
"I think you have to take it in the nature in which it was meant and it was meant to be geared toward their fan base," Matheny said. "It was just amazing that it was that much directed at our organization. I think that part probably caught me off-guard the most.
"Not saying that's surprising. We've gone through this the last few years, especially last year with the Cardinal Way stuff getting blown way out of proportion. I think it can put a bad taste in a lot of peoples' mouth. But in defense of the recognition that our guys have had -- whether it's having a number of guys on the All-Star team -- that stuff isn't just handed out. These guys have worked hard for that. They have deserved it, and they have earned it, and I don't think that's anything for us to apologize for."
Anything beyond a chuckle is probably putting too much thought into the video. Yes, the Cardinals and Brewers have history dating back to Tony La Russa's days in the dugout. Yes, they're currently hooked up in what could be a fun race to the finish in the NL Central. But the video was a spoof done in good fun to promote a deserving player for the All-Star game. That's it.
Naturally, Cardinals fans disagreed. Here are a few of their "cleaner" responses, as furnished by Baseball's Best Fans on Twitter.
@JLucroy20 you showed no class lashing out at Molina. Do you know what sportsmanship is? Learn it!— Ole Jus (@Jaykeese) June 18, 2014
Of course, the anger quickly turned toward their own players after their 3-2 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon, but before that it was open season on Lucroy.
Fox Sports Midwest, which broadcasts Cardinals games locally, offered to put together a video in response to the Brewers. That could have been fun — or nasty — depending on their perspective, but Matheny and the Cardinals shot the idea down.
"Not something I'm interested in. It's an easy no," Matheny said on Wednesday.
Apparently the sensitivity that has overtaken games on the field doesn't quite end there. Seriously, lighten up, folks, this is supposed to be fun and it's supposed to inspire some debate, which could also be fun if handled in a civil manner.
By the way, Lucroy, who entered play on Wednesday with a .340 batting average, eight home runs and 37 RBI, will have his work cut out for him in the voting. In the latest results released by MLB this week, he trails Molina for the lead by 900,000 votes. He's also behind San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey by 300,000 votes.
It will take a miraculous surge to overtake two of the best and most popular players in the game, which means his fate could rest in the hands of Mathney, who will manage the NL squad this season. Part of responsibility is selecting a handful of players for his roster.
That's a potential negative. Working for Lucroy is the fact that his resume is growing by the day. His dramatic grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night should only help his cause, especially with the circumstances surrounding Arizona's decision to plunk Ryan Braun. And who knows, the Cardinals' sour response may send a few more voters in Lucroy's direction as well. We'll see how it plays out soon, because voting finally ends on July 3.
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