Cubs Catcher Willson Contreras is the Kind of Guy Baseball Needs

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Last night’s 8-3 Chicago Cubs win over the Atlanta Braves saw a major beef between the two catchers, Willson Contreras and Tyler Flowers, ensue, followed by the emptying of both benches. In other words, even the most strident “baseball is boring” kind of person would have found this game, in which tempers flared on both sides, riveting.

ICYMI, and you’re trying to catch up via media coverage today, just make sure you consider the source of what you’re viewing/reading. While there are some out there approaching this with a journalistic, fair and balanced approach, the Chicago media is largely taking a pro-Cubs slant while most of the Atlanta media is on Flowers’ side here.

This video below, with lots of NSFW language, breaks down every thing that happened very well (almost too well as it’s just brutally honest and strikingly realistic)

As you might expect, the actions of Willson Contreras didn’t fly in the Braves broadcasting booth, and here’s what Contreras had to say about that; taking the smack talk from the field to the post-game interviews.

Below that is what Flowers had to say about the contentious back and forth.

It does look like Contreras was the instigator here, but even so, this exchanging of pleasantries/tiff/flap/very brief box social was extremely entertaining:

Well then, tonight’s ballgame will take on an added layer of intrigue and the first Willson Contreras at bat will be appointment television. Not to mention there are two more games left in this series beyond tonight. If the Atlanta Braves community is offended by what transpired last night, it’s very understandable as it does appear that Contreras started it.

However, they shouldn’t be too egregiously offended because this is sports at the highest level- it’s winner take all, cutthroat competition and naturally emotions run high. As former Cubs manager Leo Durocher famously said “nice guys finish last.” (except in dating, where nice guys don’t finish last, because nice guys don’t even place; they’re never even in the running as they get friend-zoned instead).

It’s interesting that this brouhaha/melee/argument occurred against Atlanta, the team/city that is synonymous with overt showmanship in sports.

wilson contreras

No matter what you think of Deion Sanders, and of what his public persona has morphed into post-retirement, he really did usher in the era of Ballers/Playmakers/Any Given Sunday style ostentatious flamboyant showboating in sports. And where did Neon Deion/Prime Time put himself on the proverbial map? With the Braves/the city of Atlanta.

So while yes, baseball is the old-timiest/stodgy/stuffed shirt/prim and proper of American sports, and hence the game where this kind of behavior could be most frowned upon, hey deal with it. Baseball could use more “incidents” like this and colorful characters like Willson Contreras who can consistently provide them.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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  1. From the beginning of the game the Cubs were “playing the umpire”, trying to get favorable calls. Some umpires have a reputation of being manipulable. (It worked.) Naturally, the Braves did not like this tactic. It happens in every sport. It was shocking that Contreras did not get thrown out after he crossed home plate and did not go right away when the umpire pointed him to the dugout. There is a reason why you are not supposed to be allowed to argue ball and strike calls. Contreras earned an ejection several times. The umpire should have taken a firmer hand.

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