Joey Votto says he was joking at All-Star game about Cubs, Byrd

Joey Votto(notes), you rascal.

The story about Votto of the Cincinnati Reds not liking the Chicago Cubs and not congratulating division-rival Marlon Byrd(notes) on his performance at Tuesday's All-Star game has changed.

Votto says he was joking — and even laughing — when he told an ESPN reporter in Anaheim that he refused to congratulate Byrd, who helped the National League win, because Byrd plays for the dreaded Chicago Cubs.

"I don't like the Cubs," Votto said then. "And I'm not going to pat anybody with a Cubs uniform on the back."

The original story (written by @ESPNChiCubs) omitted Votto's "joking" mood.

"I was laughing when I said it," Votto said. "I realized it was a Chicago reporter."

Without that context, I wrote a post ripping Votto for being a bad All-Star teammate and for being a "leech" of sorts; after all, he seemed happy the NL had won the game and homefield advantage in the World Series — which the Reds might enjoy — yet he was unwilling to shake Byrd's hand? How rude!

Well, Votto now says he did congratulate Byrd.

Via C. Trent Rosecrans at CBS Sports:

"The shame of it is, Marlon and I got along the best on the bench and in the outfield and stuff. I talked to him and I was one of the first people to congratulate him in Chicago [when the All-Star teams were named]," Votto said Friday. "It was definitely taken out of context. I was laughing when I said it. I have the utmost respect for the Cubs in general — not necessarily for the fans, but ..."

Rosecrans' post is a good read. It includes a mention of the video of Votto denying an autograph to a kid at spring training because he was — yes — a Cubs fan.

"I don't sign for Cubs fans," Votto said in the clip.

But he was only half-kidding about it, he says.

"I don't (sign for Cubs fans)," Votto said, with a laugh. "I try not to. They're in our same division and we play good baseball against them. I think it's kind of fun to play the heel. Not everything has to be friendly, we take it seriously every time we go there. It's not just a game to us, it's our job."

He's laughing, he's serious, all at the same time. Joey Votto, ladies and gentlemen!

So, it appears I was misled by a story that did not take into account Votto's devious sense of humor. I regret that we re-published a story that, apparently, did not tell the whole story.

But you have to admit that it's hard to know the whole story with Votto. He's a strange dude. But probably not a leech. Calling him a "leech" was harsh on my part. I'm sorry for doing that, Joey, and Reds fans.

Something tells me that Votto will get over all of this. He's having too much fun playing the heel.

It's been a lot of "laughs" for all of us.

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Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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