Cardinals take issue with Dodgers' celebrations
Waino mentions 'Mickey Mouse stuff' by A-Gon; Beltran wants Puig to calm down
LOS ANGELES -- It didn't take long once the National League Championship Series shifted to Los Angeles for Mickey Mouse to become involved.
The Cardinals and Dodgers exchanged verbal barbs through the media following Game 3 on Monday night, which was won by Los Angeles, 3-0. St. Louis leads the series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Tuesday (7 p.m. CT on TBS).
At issue was whether the on-field celebrations by Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez constituted enthusiastic players expressing genuine emotion or if they were an affront to the way the game is supposed to be played.
The first incident in question came when Gonzalez doubled home Mark Ellis in the fourth inning. It was the first run the Dodgers had scored since the third inning of Game 1, a span of 22 innings. Gonzalez gestured in celebration towards the Dodgers' dugout when he reached second base.
One out later, Puig picked up his first hit of the series, a triple off the wall in right. When he made contact, Puig flipped his bat and watched the ball, thinking that it was going to be a home run. Instead, it hit the wall, but he still managed to reach third, where he threw his arms up in the air.
Cards starter Adam Wainwright was the pitcher who gave up both of those hits, and he was asked what he thought about Puig's bat flip and celebration.
"I didn't see it," Wainwright said. "I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff on third base, but I didn't see what Yasiel did. Those guys are fired up. This is playoff baseball, they want it over there."
Gonzalez was asked about Wainwright's comments following the game.
"I did what I always do," Gonzalez said. "We are in L.A., so Mickey Mouse stuff does go. ... Mickey Mouse is only an hour away. So, you know, it fits us. I did what I always do."
Before Gonzalez's hit, the Dodgers were a combined 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
"Yeah, both pitchers were throwing the ball great and putting up zeros," Gonzalez said. "For to us get the lead there was huge. [Wainwright] continued to make pitches, and I was just able to fight one over the first baseman there. So driving him in was a big boost for us. With the struggles we've had with runners in scoring position, it kind of gave us a little bit of a release there to just kind of relax and keep going. For me, that was a big situation, and it was just a great feeling to come through."
As for Puig, well, he's been down this road before. Several times this season, Puig has drawn the wrath of opposing players for his exuberance -- or in their minds, overexuberance -- on the field.
D-backs catcher Miguel Montero took Puig to task for it earlier this year, touching off a war of words between the two teams. Monday, it was outfielder Carlos Beltran's turn.
"I think he doesn't know," Beltran said. "He still thinks he's playing somewhere else, I don't know. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that. Great ability, great talent, and I think with time, he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm. Not only with trying to show up other teams, [but also], like, umpires. It's going to take him time, but he's going to learn."
For his part, Puig seemed surprised by the outcry. The on-field emotion is something that he says is common in his native Cuba.
"In Cuba, you always see a lot of emotion on the field," Puig said. "Everyone is really giving it their best. It's their job to go out there and do the best they can, just like it's here in the big leagues. The people in Cuba are born to play baseball, and that's what you see on the field mostly."
Puig's antics certainly seemed to draw the attention of the Cardinals.
"You don't want to wake up nobody," Beltran said. "I always say that if you hit a homer off a pitcher, you have to make him believe that he made a mistake. You don't wake him up, because next time, the pitcher is going to be more focused with you and is going to try to get you out, try to be more aggressive. As a player, he will learn. I don't think he's a bad kid, I just think he doesn't know right now."
So did Puig wake up the Cards on Monday night?
"Actually, I'm in the outfield," Beltran said after a long pause. "I'm watching him. It's not great, I don't like it, but what can I say? I don't play for them. I just play over here and need to do my job."
Stay tuned. This series may just be getting Goofy.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.