Earlier, Craig wrote about a potentially inflammatory comment made by relatively new Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels with regard to a potential rivalry between the Cubs and Brewers. Hamels said, “When you have the majority of Cubs fans in the stands, I don’t know if that’s a rivalry. They aren’t going to like me for the comment, but look at the ticket sales.”
Brewers manager Craig Counsell had a terrific, level-headed response to all of the rivalry talk. Via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, Counsell said:
I really look at it like we’re spending way too much time trying to classify rivalries. Like, enjoy the baseball games, man. I mean, home, road, I’m happy I’m in the building. Let’s be in the building and enjoy those games. If you’re not enjoying the game last night — sorry, Cubs fans, I know it didn’t turn out the way you wanted — that’s a great baseball game. I mean, the moment with Rizzo, I could be a fan for a minute, too. That’s a great moment. I remember being in New York [during the 2001 World Series] when Tino Martinez hit a home run off Byung-Hyun Kim. I’m standing at second base, and for a second you think, “That’s an incredible moment. I’m happy to be in the building.” Josh Hader hadn’t given up a home run to a left-handed hitter in his big league career. Give Rizzo credit, man, he did a great thing. The building went crazy. It’s a huge moment, it’s a fun moment. It’s why we’re all here right now — we love this sport.
Rivalry? Whatever, man. Put me in the building and let me enjoy the game, I’m good.
Rivalries are great when they’re not manufactured. It feels like this rivalry between the Brewers and Cubs is being forced. Hamels has experience in a natural rivalry between the Phillies and Mets, which started when the Phillies overtook the Mets late in 2007 to win the NL East, then did it again in similar fashion in 2008. Hamels may be trying to drum up a rivalry as a way to help motivate his teammates to finish out the regular season strong and maintain their current four-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central. That, of course, has some merit, but for the rest of us, Counsell’s right: just enjoy the baseball games, man.