NLCS Preview: Cardinals, Giants Have Rich History Of Hostility
Dodgers-Giants? Cardinals-Cubs? How can either of these be considered the preeminent National League rivalries? For me, now, before, and evermore, it will always be Giants-Cardinals.
Of course most of you recall -- as most Cardinals and Giants fans certainly do -- Matt Holliday's hard slide into Marco Scutaro that knocked the Giants' second baseman out of Game 1 of the 2012 NLCS (see above and below). Many say it was a cheap shot of the lowest order, and although no players will admit it, those who are still around from those two rosters have not forgotten the incident.
But if you stick your nose far enough into the dustiest baseball reference books, you'll see it actually all began exactly 100 years earlier. It was in 1892 (the year that James Naismith first published the rules of a new sport called basketball) when the St. Louis Brown Stockings jumped the sinking American Association and joined the National League, where their first official NL game with the New York Giants took place.
Who won? The answer is shrouded in mystery. But the Brown Stockings, later the Perfectos and in 1900 the Cardinals, have been slugging it out with the Giants ever since. In modern times, the Giants or Cardinals will have been the NL representative in the World Series for five straight seasons -- the Giants winning two, the Cardinals one going into 2014.
But it's the scuffles and trash talk between the two -- many times in the playoffs -- that are the meat of the rivalry. A brief history of Giants-Cardinals hostilities:
* 1986: In a July game, the Cardinals' Vince Coleman tried to score from third on a wild pitch with his team up 10-2. His next time up, Giants' pitcher Frank Williams drilled him, touching off a brawl that included both managers (Roger Craig and Whitey Herzog).
* 1987: The two teams met the NLCS, and in Game 1 the Giants' Jeffery "Hac Man" Leonard introduced the "One Flap Down" home run trot. After hitting a blast off of the Cardinals' Greg Mathews at Busch Stadium, Leonard rounded the bases with one arm at his side and the other outstretched in triumph. St. Louis fans were not amused. although their team won 5-3 (Bob Melvin ending the game by grounding into a double play). In Game 2, Leonard homered again, and did the "flap down" again. Busch Stadium fans booed louder. The Giants won 6-0. Following the game, the Giants' Chili Davis called St. Louis "a cow town." In Game 3, Leonard homered again, and one-flapped it again. In Leonard's next at-bat, St. Louis reliever Bob Forsch drilled him in the butt. The Cards won 6-5. Herzog:
"'Wingy' was bouncing around those bases," said Herzog. "I had gone up to Forschie the day before and said, 'You pitching tomorrow?' Forschie didn't say anything but the next day he hit Leonard right in the butt. That kind of put a kibosh on that stuff a little bit. It might have been a turning point."
In Game 4, Leonard homered yet again, but did not one-flap it. The Giants won 4-2 behind starter Mike Krukow. The Cardinals went on to win the series, with Jose Oquendo, now the St. Louis third-base coach, hitting a three-run homer in Game 7.
* 1988: In another July game, the Giants' Will Clark slid wide at second base to try and take out Oquendo in a double play situation, angering both Oquendo and shortstop Ozzie Smith. Another brawl ensued, with Giants catcher Bob Brenly in the middle of it.
* 2002: The Giants beat the Cardinals 4-games-to-1 in the NLCS.
* 2012: In 2011, outfielder Carlos Beltran, who now plays for the Yankees, was traded from the Mets to the Giants for pitching prospect Zach Wheeler and $4 million in cash. Beltran, often hurt, could not lead the Giants to the playoffs. Saying that the Giants did not do enough to improve themselves during the offseason, Beltran bolted to the Cardinals. The Giants won the World Series in 2012, ironically stepping over Beltran and the Cardinals in the NLCS. Beltran made three errors in the series, delighting Giants fans who considered him a traitor.
And of course the 2012 NLCS was the series of "The Slide", in which Holliday football-blocked Scutaro at second to break up a double play in the first inning of game 2. Scutaro eventually left the game with a strained knee, but not before getting two hits in the Giants' 7-1 win.
And now, the two teams meet again. Not only do I think that the Scutaro play will be on people's minds, but all of the above will to some degree.
— Jesse Carretero (@MrRude002) October 8, 2014