Excuse us as we do the cliché thing and quote the “Saturday Night Live” character Stefon, but Tuesday’s matchup between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox had everything. We’re talking one huge first-time ejection, five hit batters and one announcer threatening violence against an opposing player.
Sounds crazy, right? Well, it was. In order to get the full grasp of what happened, we’ll attempt to walk you through one of the angriest games of the season.
You could say it all started in the first inning after John Lackey hit Jose Abreu with a pitch, but that’s not entirely true. It will play into the narrative later, though, so keep it in the back of your mind for now.
Things truly started to heat up in the fourth inning. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant stepped to the plate looking to get things going. In his first two at-bats, Bryant struck out swinging. There had been some gripes about home plate umpire Lance Barksdale’s zone early in the game, but it really boiled over during Bryant’s third at-bat.
Kris Bryant ejected from today’s game. Rare to see him argue but rightfully so on a terrible call. pic.twitter.com/nUcb9kaJB4
— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) July 25, 2017
On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Bryant was called out on a high, inside fastball. He turned to Barksdale to express his frustration. Bryant didn’t seem too out of line with his antics, though we don’t know what he said. As Bryant began walking toward the dugout, Barksdale ejected him.
Cubs announcer Len Kasper was right to note that it’s rare for Bryant to argue a call. It was actually the first time in his career that the 25-year-old reigning MVP was ejected from a game.
That was the point where the game started going off the rails.
With one out in the fifth, Lackey hit Abreu for the second time. Abreu, who’s not usually one to get angry, gave Lackey a brief look before he trotted down to first base. Abreu then stole second with Avisail Garcia at the plate. It was his first steal of the season, and his first successful stolen base since September 2014. We’re going to guess getting plunked had something to do with that.
After Garcia grounded out, Lackey hit Matt Davidson, putting men on first and second. He followed that up by hitting Yoan Moncada to load the bases. That’s right, Lackey loaded the bases on hit by pitches during the inning. He somehow escaped without giving up any runs.
Lackey did not, however, escape White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson’s wrath. Harrelson, who is known for being a colorful personality in the booth, went on one of his signature rants as Lackey was plunking White Sox left and right.
— Josh Frydman (@Josh_Frydman) July 25, 2017
After Abreu was hit for the second time, Harrelson said it was “BS,” and then suggested someone on the Cubs, possibly Lackey, would be hit soon.
You can imagine it got worse from there. Harrelson said Abreu should wait until after the game to fight Lackey, and was openly rooting for a White Sox player to hit a line drive right back at him to “knock Lackey right off the mound.”
hawk harrelson: “in fact id like to see one hit right back through the middle drill knock lackey right off that mound” pic.twitter.com/kxzCrvFF4Y
— Brett (@Cubbieblue97) July 25, 2017
Part of Harrelson’s wish came true in the bottom of the fifth. The Cubs’ first hitter of the inning, Ian Happ, was drilled in the back with a pitch from reliever Chris Beck. At that point, warnings were issued. No one was ejected.
Lackey did actually come to the plate in the inning, but men were already on first and second base. The White Sox opted to pitch to him, and he grounded out to short to end the frame. Harrelson was still upset, saying Lackey was lucky men were on base, intimating he would have been hit otherwise.
Somehow, cooler heads prevailed. The rest of the game went off without any issues. The Cubs took home the 7-2 victory.
The only thing this game didn’t feature, somehow, was an all-out brawl. Even though five players were hit by pitches, it never went beyond that. The only ejection came on a missed call, before any of the madness truly began.
The Cubs and White Sox still play two more games during the series. Things may have calmed down on the field, but we suspect there will be plenty of vitriol from the White Sox’s broadcast booth.
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