Carpenter called out Houston’s Carlos Lee after Lee popped out to shortstop in the third inning of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 4-1 loss to the Astros.
Lee was frustrated with his at-bat, expressing it in a way Carpenter didn’t appreciate. The two exchanged words as the benches and bullpens emptied. Plate umpire Jim Joyce then issued warnings to both teams.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” Carpenter said. “I don’t know why it turned into a big deal.”
Carpenter, a fierce competitor, implied that players from both teams have become too soft in their relationships with one another.
“I guess it’s turned into we’re all supposed to be best friends in this game,” Carpenter said. “That’s what (Lee) did. I said something, he said something. He kept coming at it. He’s the one that caused everybody to come out, not me.”
Lee said Carpenter yelled something after allowing Lance Berkman’s RBI single before Lee came to the plate.
“I guess he’s allowed to yell and say anything he wants, because when Lance got that hit he was screaming and yelling and saying all kinds of stuff,” Lee said. “He can get emotional and we can’t get emotional as hitters?”
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa blamed Lee for the disagreement escalating.
“It’s really an unfortunate thing to get Carp highlighted there,” La Russa said. “Pence hits the ball out of the ballpark. Carp didn’t make a good pitch. Carp doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t say anything to the guy that hit it. It’s his mistake.
“Well, routinely now, hitters pop up a pitch they think they should deal with and they start making noises, and that really is disrespectful to the pitcher. Most of the pitchers just turn around and ignore it. Carp doesn’t. I think Carp’s right, and I think Carp’s in the right. Respect should go both ways.
“If he gets you out, he gets you out. Zip it and go back to the plate. If he gives it up, you zip it and let the guy go around the bases — or single, double, whatever it was. Most pitchers let the guy jabber. I don’t think Carlos Lee is anything special as far as a guy who disrespects, but it’s so common now. Carp will let you know.”
So Player A thinks a certain action was a sign of disrespect, while Player B has no idea what the guy is talking about, nor do most fans. Hmm, where have I heard that before?
This story, coupled with the Dallas Braden silliness, just displays how silly the unwritten code of baseball is. Players take themselves so seriously that they expect the opposition to be automatons who never celebrate or get frustrated. Baseball is the only sport where excitement, joy, and frustration are taboo, and the refrain of “be a professional” means to take a business-like approach to what is, at heart, an enjoyable game. Players simply need to grow up and ignore the fistpumps and bat-slams of the opposing team, and focus on doing their own jobs and regulating their own behavior. The “Code” is a nebulous group of self-important, undefined rules that allow players like Carpenter and Braden to justify their own actions by disparaging the actions of others. It is time to let it fade into oblivion.