The benches cleared in the late stages of Saturday’s game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs when Javier Báez took exception to Amir Garrett’s display of exuberance following a strikeout. No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected.
Garrett drew Báez’s ire in the top of the eighth inning after celebrating a strikeout of Anthony Rizzo by pounding his chest and yelling. It’s unclear what Garrett was saying, but Báez found it disagreeable — to the extent that he hopped over the dugout railing and offered to partake in extracurricular activities with Garrett.
Later Báez gave Garrett the universal signal for the fastball while he was being restrained by Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Here’s video of the sequence for those who doubt the validity of that written account:
After the game, Cubs manager David Ross addressed the dust-up. “That’s his style. I don’t agree with it,” he told reporters, including ESPN’s Jess Rogers. “I think its garbage.”
Báez, for his part, said: “I’m not going to let anyone disrespect my teammates or my team,” per Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know what he’s got against Rizzo.”
“I like what he does, he just got to do it to his team and not to us after a strike out,” Báez added. “I’ve hit three homers against him and I didn’t do anything to show him up or his team, you know.”
This isn’t the first time Garrett and Báez have clashed. Back in May 2018, Báez objected to Garrett staring him down and yakking in his direction following an inning-ending strikeout. The benches also cleared then, though again, no fisticuffs were thrown and it amounted to a bunch of ballplayers standing around figuring out who had the least to lose. Here’s video of that incident, for the curious:
It’s perhaps worth noting that the Reds trailed by a 3-2 score at the time of Garrett and Báez’s spat. (The Cubs would hold on to win by that margin.) It’s also perhaps worth noting that the Reds were involved in another kerfuffle earlier this season, clashing with the St. Louis Cardinals after Nicholas Castellanos celebrated scoring a run with an animated display.
The Reds and the Cubs entered Saturday separated by one and a half games in the National League Central. The Cubs had lost six of their last seven while the Reds had won three of four following a seven-game losing streak.