Maybe the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are just waiting for Cuban prospect Jorge Soler to be called up Wednesday before finishing the brawl that nearly erupted four games before the All-Star break when a testy Anthony Rizzo decided to toss his glove and hat aside and bluster over to the Reds’ dugout, yelling and waving his arms.
Rizzo stopped short of crossing the line all the way then and nothing foretold of tension between the two teams Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series between them. Maybe with a little extra push from Soler, the Reds and Cubs could have something to fight about.
After all, Soler is well-versed in charging a dugout. In April of 2013, Soler charged the dugout of a minor league opponent with his bat in hand. Soler never swung at or hit anyone with the bat, but still landed a five-game suspension. Between Rizzo and Soler, the Cubs ought to have enough hot blood to go around.
However, the Reds just don’t quite seem to have enough hot blood to match as it turns out, especially their hitters who seem to have little interest in hitting anything including baseballs. Their fans might be a little more heated after watching the underachieving Reds fall flat on their collective face this year, but not the Reds’ players. That seeming lack of intensity wasn’t always the case.
It doesn’t seem that long ago when tempers flared between the Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, but the benches-clearing brawl that blew up after Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina went toe-to-toe at home plate actually was over four years ago (Aug. 10, 2010).
A brawl in baseball probably can’t be a turning point for a team, but it sure seemed that way for the Reds in 2010. The Reds/Cardinals clash definitely coincided with the renewal of the Reds’ franchise, with 2010 marking the team’s first winning season in nine years and first division title win since 1995.
For the Cubs, maybe the near-brawl last month was enough to mark snapping their fifth-place finish streak in the NL Central. The Cubs won that game and perhaps can continue to change their fortunes with the Reds like they did with a 3-0 win over the Reds Tuesday night.
Then the Cubs might not finish fifth again in the division for a fifth straight year.