- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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ST. LOUIS -- Best we can tell, we won't need to call in any United Nations peacekeeping forces to help the Giants and Cardinals make it through the rest of the National League Championship Series.
They have it under control. Definitely. Or at least probably. Or, come to think of it, make that theoretically.
Marco Scutaro didn't quite declare peace on Earth Tuesday, the day after Matt Holliday tried to turn him into a human tackling dummy at second base. But the good news for pacifists everywhere is: At least Scutaro didn't declare war on the state of Missouri, either.
Asked if he expected his pitchers to retaliate for The Slide, the Giants' second baseman deadpanned: "I don't know. Ask them. I just work here."
OK, let's rephrase the question. Did he WANT his pitchers to retaliate?
"Yeah," he said. "I want them to throw a nine-inning shutout, and we win."
Hmmm, smart man. Those nine-inning shutouts always tend to work a lot better than fastballs off the clavicle this time of year, when the object is to win --not to get fined, get suspended or get recruited by the promoters at MMA.
So much as talk-show hosts everywhere might want to see the benches clear, the haymakers flying and a re-enactment of Will Clark-versus-Jose Oquendo hostilities bust out over the next week, it doesn't look as if that's where this is heading. Sorry, guys. The Life and Times of Alex Rodriguez are just going to have to do.
It's often managers who set the tone this time of year, for this sort of thing. And Scutaro's manager, Bruce Bochy, had zero patience Tuesday for a question that probed in search of his inner General Patton.
Asked if he wanted his team to play "a little angry," the manager's face turned as orange as a Giants rally towel. And the testiness oozed out of his vocal cords.
"What's on our mind is to go out and play our best ball in the ballgame," Bochy snapped. "That's over.
"You have to move on," he said. "You hate to see what happened happen. But what's important is, we keep our focus, and going out there and trying to win a ballgame. That's where we're at right now."
If this is a team with a sensitive streak over high-speed, rough-and-tumble takeout slides that send their most important players to the nearest emergency room, you could understand why. We won't recap all the reasons. Just go back and watch a quick video of Scott Cousins steamrolling Buster Posey last year. That ought to sum it up.
But while the manager continued to act like a man who's in favor of playing baseball, he also continued to make it clear he still thinks the word that best sums up Holliday's slide was "illegal."
Scutaro, on the other hand, wasn't ready to go there -- mostly because (A) he didn't have a rulebook handy and (B) he didn't have a lawyer handy.
"I don't know too much about sliding rules," he said, carefully. "But I think it was a little late. As a second baseman, the only protection you have, pretty much, is your [second base] bag. And when I saw the replay, he just slid pretty much after [he passed] the bag. Like I said, I don't think it was intentional to hurt me. I just think he was trying to do his job, and just break up the double play."
But Scutaro made it clear he considers the left-field side of second base to be a baseball version of the demilitarized zone. So he wasn't happy when he looked up, he said, and "saw this train coming."
Asked if he'd ever had a runner try to take him out any further beyond the bag than that, he couldn't help but laugh.
"I don't think you can slide farther than that," he quipped, "or you're going to get the shortstop."
So if Scutaro wanted to make this an issue and call out the tanks, he probably had enough ammunition to make it happen. But instead, he went out of his way to call Holliday "a great guy." Which, in our experience, isn't traditionally the opening phrase those ring announcers scream at Wrestlemania.
He knew, he said, that Holliday had tried to call him in the clubhouse after the game. And even though they never did actually speak, Marco Scutaro seemed appreciative of that. Sort of.
Asked if Holliday's efforts to converse with him told him anything about the man who tried to run him over with that bus, Scutaro did his best Jay Leno and replied: "That was kind of nice to hear from him -- after he tried to kick my [butt]."
So what might happen Wednesday at Busch Stadium if Holliday approaches Scutaro on the field and tries to say a few words?
"I might kick his [butt]," Scutaro deadpanned.
And when, he was asked, did he plan to administer that thumping? Before batting practice? Or after batting practice?
"Whenever he wants," Scutaro laughed. "He's only 6-4, 250."
Now despite all the efforts to defuse the tension of Monday night, you never know. You understand that, right?
You never know what might happen in the heat of the moment. When grown men find themselves mixed up in games that mean as much as these games mean, who knows where it might lead.
It only takes one four-seamer that accidentally whooshes past under somebody's eyebrows. Or another takeout slide that could head off a game-turning double play. And the flames can shoot out of the pit on a moment's notice.
But if the over/under on ejections in this series is one, we'll take the under. Marco Scutaro has spoken. And Matt Holliday should be eternally grateful that at no point did he describe his painful evening Monday at AT&T Park as "a day that will live in infamy."