The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals opened a four-game series against each other on Thursday. In less than one-half inning, we got controversy, ejections and some incredulous commentary.
Ian Happ, Chicago’s No. 3 hitter, came to the plate in the top of the first inning with two outs and nobody on. When Happ swung and missed at Miles Mikolas’ 2-0 pitch, his follow through hit St. Louis catcher, Willson Contreras in the head. Contreras, who was bleeding from the head, was removed from the game. As Contreras left the field, he and Happ, former teammates with the Cubs, embraced. Mikolas, though, wasn’t going to let it drop there.
Once the game resumed, Mikolas’ first pitch to Happ was high and tight. Chip Caray, St. Louis’ play-by-play man for Bally Sports Midwest acknowledged that “a message might have been sent there.” Mikolas’ 3-1 pitch then hit Happ on the backside. As Happ took his base and the umpires conferenced together, Caray and his broadcast partner, color commentator spoke on the situation.
“Buzzed the tower once. Got him flush the second time. And now let’s see if the umpires issue warnings after Happ knocked Contreras from the game,” Caray said.
“You see that Happ knew exactly what was going on, too,” Thompson added. “Didn’t say a word. Took his bag. It caught him right in the hip. If you’re gonna get him, that’s exactly where you get him. He did the job the right way. They’re gonna talk him over, they’ll issue warnings…”
At that point, the umpire conference broke up and home plate umpire Ryan Additon ejected Mikolas. It’s safe to say that Thompson didn’t agree with the decision.
“Come on,” Thompson shouted. “You gotta be kidding me. You have got to be kidding me. Have a little feel for baseball. Have a little feel for the game. That’s awful.”
Mikolas began yelling at the Cubs dugout as he exited the game.
“And now, things get even more dicey for the Cardinals,” Caray said. “Jack Flaherty’s hot. As the Cardinals lose Contreras because Happ couldn’t control the backswing. Mikolas hits Happ and gets thrown out of the game without any warning whatsoever.”
“I’m sorry, that is absolutely having zero feel,” Thompson said, restating his position. “He didn’t hit him in the head. He didn’t go at him above the shoulders. He caught him in the hip. You cannot do that.”
Miles Mikolas throwing at Ian Happ, and then being ejected, as seen and heard on Bally Sports Midwest (Cardinals).
"COME ON! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! HAVE A LITTLE FEEL FOR BASEBALL! HAVE A LITTLE FEEL FOR THE GAME! THAT'S AWFUL"- Brad Thompson https://t.co/y3cTZo1OiN pic.twitter.com/IUTU4ij8pV
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) July 28, 2023
Thompson’s argument might be easier to get behind if the 2-1 hadn’t, as Caray said, “buzzed the tower” of Happ. Because seeing that just one pitch before, Thompson’s argument that “He didn’t hit him in the head. He didn’t go at him above the shoulders” loses a lot of significance. Sure, Mikolas didn’t actually hit Happ in the head. And maybe he wasn’t even trying to. But he clearly didn’t have an issue throwing one close.
Given that even Caray acknowledged that the pitch near the head “might have been a message,” it’s hard to say that Mikolas did it the “right way” by hitting Happ at the waist.