ATLANTA (KMOV.com) -- It was meant to be a private moment of celebration with his team. By the end of the night Wednesday, Mike Shildt's rousing post-game speech after the Cardinals took down the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS had made its way 'round the internet.
And once that happens, there's no such thing as undoing it.
Shildt's expletive-laden address had gone viral. This was going to be a thing.
While we won't link the video in this column, it's pretty easily accessible out there if you want to find it. Thanks, of course, to a few ill-fated clicks on his smartphone that Randy Arozarena would probably like to have back.
In the video originally posted as a live stream to Arozarena's Instagram account, the Cardinals manager is seen addressing his team with a fiery monologue that makes reference to the extra curricular activities that ensued during the team's postseason series against the Braves. The tension between several Cardinals and Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was front and center in the series-long squabbling.
Acuna notably earned just a single on a drive off the right field wall in Game 1 after he spent a bit too much time admiring the ball off his bat; when it didn't clear the wall as he thought it would, Acuna ended up with egg on his face, as his failure to hustle out a double ultimately cost the Braves a run in a 7-6 loss. True to form, when Acuna did ultimately get all of one later in the game off Carlos Martinez, he stared down his home run with a particular vigor before performing a stutter step as he rounded third base.
Martinez took exception, describing after the game his preference that Acuna show him the respect he believed he was due.
“I wanted him to respect the game and respect me as a veteran player,” Martinez said.
The situation escalated throughout the remainder of the series. Martinez threw up-and-in on Acuna the next time he faced him. The young outfielder and Yadier Molina exchanged throat-slash gestures. Jack Flaherty then plunked Acuna on the back in Game 5 Wednesday to deliver the finishing blow to the affair.
Basically, stuff went down. To paraphrase Shildt's opinion on the proceedings, as expressed in the viral video: The Braves started some things. The Cardinals finished them.
Shildt then began describing his, well, apathy toward whichever opponent the Cardinals would face next; at the time, the Nationals had not yet defeated the Dodgers in their own Game 5 Wednesday night.
The clean version: Shildt said he didn't care who the Cardinals faced next; he was confident they would handle their business against whichever team it ended up being, just as they did against the Braves. Because nobody 'messes' with the Cardinals.
That's the gist.
Needless to say, it wasn't intended for our eyes and ears—and fair warning, those with delicate sensibilities best not seek it out—but the release of the video into the public sphere has offered Cardinals Nation a glimpse of the passion with which the Cardinals manager leads this team.
We've seen that passion come out on occasion during games, as field microphones or capable lip-readers have caught Shildt employing colorful language in exchanges with umpires. Shildt admits that his tendency for such festive diction is one of his crosses to bear, something he's worked to curb as a representative of the Cardinals organization.
Does it make him a bad guy, though, that he used some frisky phraseology in the excitement of such a memorable moment? Not from where I sit.
Look, this is a Major League clubhouse. Not to splash cold water on anyone's idealistic view of a professional locker room, but this wasn't a big deal. There wasn't anything inflammatory directed with malice toward an individual or group of people. Beyond the nature of the words themselves, nothing remotely controversial happened, here.
This was a manager hyping up his ball club after it accomplished a remarkably gratifying series victory. This kind of thing is no doubt commonplace throughout professional sports—you just don't necessarily have a guy streaming it live to the world on Instagram every time it happens.
Shildt opened his media availability Thursday afternoon with an apology for his language in the video. He also defended Arozarena, saying "As far as Randy goes, completely give Randy grace. He was just excited. He's a great kid with great heart."
Understandably, Shildt regretted that what was intended to be a private moment was made public. But frankly, he doesn't owe an apology to anyone.
Though we weren't supposed to see it, his speech Wednesday night showed just how much he cares. I challenge you to watch that Instagram video and then try telling me that man isn't hell-bent and determined to bring another World Championship to St. Louis.
For Cardinals fans who didn't dig his vocabulary, I imagine they can at least appreciate that.
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