Benches clear between Cubs, Pirates after Joe Musgrove slides into Javier Báez

70 Comments

Things have been tense during this series in Pittsburgh between the Cubs and Pirates. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took a lot of heat after he made a controversial slide into catcher Elias Diaz at home plate. The umpires ruled that Rizzo’s slide was clean, but the next day, Major League Baseball said that the slide was not, in fact, legal.

Tuesday’s game was uneventful, even though there were some hit batters. Nick Kingham hit Willson Contreras, Jon Lester hit Kingham, and Michael Feliz hit Contreras. There didn’t seem to be any malice behind any of those hit batters.

The two sides got feisty on Wednesday. In the bottom of the third inning, starter Joe Musgrove stood on first base after hitting a leadoff single. Josh Harrison then hit a grounder to third baseman Kris Bryant, who fired to Javier Báez at second base. Musgrove slid into second base and his momentum took him into Báez, who held onto the ball. Given Harrison’s speed, Báez almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to make the throw in time to complete the double play, but the slide made it impossible.

As Musgrove walked off the field, Báez had a few words for him. Musgrove turned back and then the benches and bullpens emptied onto the field. No punches were thrown and order was quickly restored. Musgrove’s slide was deemed legal.

Wednesday marks the end of the series between the two clubs, but they meet again for a three-game set in Chicago June 8-10. It will be interesting to see if the bad blood carries over a week and a half.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

Getty Images
3 Comments

The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.