Chicago Cubs: Did Washington Nationals Brawl Actually Unite the Cubs' Players?
On September 6, the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs played in what turned out to be a very emotional game. While the score would not reflect high tensions (the Nats won 9-2), quite the contrary was the case.
When all was said and done, the benches had cleared twice, three players were ejected and Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk got the boot as well.
Here's how it all went down.
Quirk was the instigator of the chaos, yelling obscenities in the direction of Nationals third base coach Bo Porter. Porter responded to the screaming by going over to the Cubs' dugout to give Quirk a piece of his mind.
Porter was cut off by Cubs manager Dale Sveum, however. Umpires and players alike rushed over to the altercation, the result of which was a mere ejection of Quirk.
Fast forward to the next inning, when 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper led off. Harper, who has been a part of his fair share of controversial moments in his rookie season, was quite a bit upset after Cubs pitcher Lendy Castillo threw at him to open the frame.
The benches and bullpens rushed to the field once more but, this time, they would at least provide a show before leaving.
Cubs pitcher Manny Corpus played the role of instigator this time, inciting reactions from both Nationals outfielder Michael Morse and reliever Michael Gonzalez.
Clevenger took part in the action as well, pushing Morse while also throwing what resembled a punch at Ian Desmond, who went to retaliate, but was held back by umpire Bill Miller.
Corpus, Clevenger and Gonzalez were all ejected, and the game was was completed with no other altercations.
Since the brawl (and loss), Chicago has been playing with a new life.
The Cubs swept a three-game set against the Pirates immediately following the game, and then proceeded to take two-of-three from the Astros and two-of-three from the Pirates in yet another three-game set against the division foe.
The Cubs deserve some credit for this mini-streak. Even though the Astros are the worst team in baseball and the Pirates are back to playing like the team that hasn't had a winning record since 1992, the Cubs aren't exactly a great team themselves.
During the streak, the Cubs have been getting it done with a mixture of rookies and relative no-names, with guys like Anthony Rizzo and Travis Wood standing out as legitimate major leaguers. Though we expected it from Rizzo, Wood has seemingly come from nowhere.
Perhaps the brawl has indeed united the young team who, up until that point, really did not have much to play for this season. After the game on September 6, the Cubs sat at 51-86.
The team had been an embarrassment all season long, and perhaps the beating they took in Washington that night (in a baseball sense), was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Now, the Cubs are playing for their dignity. With not much else to play for this season, you can't help but admire them for still playing their hearts out this late in the season.
No matter what happens this season, Cubs fans should be happy that their young team has rallied around each other at this point in the season. Team chemistry is the first step to building a successful franchise in the long run.
We'll just sit and watch to see if they can continue their recent success.
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