There was no love lost between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night as the two division rivals took the field for Game 1 of the NLCS. Ahead of the series, the league warned both teams to keep their cools, reminding them that big brother was watching for any fishy behavior after a bit of pre-series trash talk.
The war of words began with a shot across the Cardinals' bow by Zach Greinke.
"There's other pitchers in the league that do it, but, I don't know," Greinke said about Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenters habit of staring down and yelling at batters, "a lot of guys on our team don't like Carpenter."
Tony Larussa was booed by the crowd at Miller Park and the atmosphere was electric as the Brewers and Cardinals opened the NLCS. Greinke said he heard it from the Cardinals dugout, as well, but added the barbs didn't fall outside the normal ribbing that goes on during a game.
"They're yelling from the dugout some, but most teams do that," Greinke said. "Everyone always makes fun of me grunting when I throw a fastball. It's kind of funny sometimes, but no big deal."
In the first, though, it did appear tensions were about to boil over after Ryan Braun went deep to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead. On the next pitch, Jamie Garcia dotted Prince Fielder, and both benches were given a warning. Did it have anything to do with the war of words ahead of the game, though? It's highly unlikely, especially when taking into account that Garcia walked the next batter, Rickie Weeks, on four pitches.
Truth be told, this is exactly what the typical fan wants from a League Championship Series. High tensions, high drama and high stakes combine to create an enthralling product, as we all saw on Sunday. The Brewers got the last laugh, though, exploding for six runs in the fifth en route to a 9-6 win.