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St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds Brawl: Five Reasons It Sticks

Christina De NicolaCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2017

St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds Brawl: Five Reasons It Sticks

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    Emotions got the best of both the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

    Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips made comments a few days earlier about the Cards that didn't sit well with St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina.

    Before the bottom of the first inning, the pair got into a heated argument and the benches cleared.

    Managers Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker got involved. So did starting pitchers and former allies.

    With a playoff chase on the line and bad blood, this rivalry won't be going away anytime soon.

    Here are five reasons why St. Louis and Cincinnati just made the race atop the NL Central division that much more interesting.

No. 1 Playoff Chase

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    The Cincinnati Reds haven't made the playoffs since 1995, when they last won the NL Central title.

    As this season's surprise team, it provides the St. Louis Cardinals with competition in an otherwise lackluster division.

    Milwaukee, Houston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh all hold below .500 records. The third-place Brewers are 11 games back.

    But with both the Reds and Cardinals exchanging views atop the standings, a rivalry has been renewed and shows no signs of stopping.

    After Wednesday afternoon's game, there are just three more games between the two teams.

    Mark a nearby calendar for St. Louis in early September.

    Will cooler heads prevail in front of a Busch Stadium crowd?

No. 2 Brandon Phillips

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    The NL All-Star second baseman had choice words for the St. Louis Cardinals.

    "I'd play against these guys with one leg. We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is [bleep] and moan about everything, all of them, they're little [same bleep, plural], all of 'em. I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals."

    Last season and again on Opening Day, the Cardinals complained that baseballs weren't properly rubbed up for games in Cincinnati, leaving them slippery.

    When Brandon Phillips prepared for the first pitch in the bottom of the first, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had other plans.

    Until a hot streak of late, Molina's offensive numbers weren't All-Star game starter-worthy despite his defensive prowess: .255 batting average, five homers, and 42 RBI.

    Phillips, on the other hand, made the team as a players' choice (.283, 14 HR, 44 RBI).

    Perhaps this goes along with the Reds' mentality as an underdog and under-appreciated team?

No. 3 Managers

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    These two have been at odds for years as longtime rivals.

    Though Dusty Baker has managed different NL clubs—San Francisco, Chicago, and Cincinnati—since Tony La Russa has been with the Cards, the two still maintain an interesting relationship.

    It borders the line of respect for a guy who manages differently.

    In 2003, Baker and Tony La Russa were at odds over pitchers hitting batters.

    "I took offense to sort of an unwritten kind of threat [from [Tony La Russa]]. And then the threat came to fruition [from [Dan Haren] hitting [Matt Clement]]. If he wants to do it, just do it..."

    "I think each man should take care of his own club. I'll take care of mine. You take care of yours."

    On Tuesday night, both exchanged words with each other while players surrounded them. That is, instead of keeping them under control.

    As a reward? A view of the game from their clubhouses.

No. 4 Scott Rolen and Former Teams

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    Call it the calm before the storm.

    As both teams' players met around home plate, Reds third baseman Scott Rolen and Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter turned it into a brawl.

    Rolen, who played with St. Louis for six seasons, pinned Carpenter against the netting of the backstop as teammates surrounded the pair.

    At first, Rolen played peacemaker, separating Yadier Molina from Brandon Phillips.

    Who knows exactly what Carpenter said to make Rolen snap?

    One day the starting pitcher is arguing with his own shortstop, Brendan Ryan, and the next he says something to set off Rolen.

    Felipe Lopez and Dennys Reyes played three seasons for the Reds. Jason LaRue tops that with eight.

    Jim Edmonds was nicknamed "Jimmy Baseball" for years with St. Louis. Miguel Cairo called himself a Card for two seasons.

    The mixed blood and past history make for interesting story-lines.

No. 5 Yadier Molina

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    Though Brandon Phillips might have made comments about the St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina is the one who brought it to the field on Tuesday.

    While Phillips looked to step to the plate for the first pitch, Molina got up and met the lead-off hitter face-to-face.

    Evidently, the catcher wasn't too happy about the pleasantries Phillips exchanged, which are often customary. 

    Except when the player talks bad about the team he tries to play nice with.

    "He talked bad about my team, he talked bad about me," Molina said on a postgame interview with Fox Sports Midwest. "Don't talk bad and come up and say 'hi' to me. That's stupid."

    As one of the leaders for the Cardinals, don't expect Molina to back down as the season wears on.

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