McKay wants Cubs to play with same edge as Cardinals

McKay wants Cubs to play with same edge as Cardinals
June 19, 2013, 11:00 pm
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ST. LOUIS – No one sees this rivalry quite like Dave McKay, who helped write the base-running sections for “The Cubs Way” and “The Cardinal Way.” 

It’s difficult to create bad blood between these two teams when the organizations are in such different places. Though Starlin Castro called out Shane Robinson for being unprofessional – “he tried to kill me” – there shouldn't be any spillover.

The Cubs understood where Robinson was coming from late Tuesday night, taking a wide angle, sticking out his leg and sliding hard into their All-Star shortstop. The interference call went their way, and they hung on for a 4-2 win at Busch Stadium.

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“I had no problem with that slide,” McKay said Wednesday. “I thought he was doing whatever he could to try and break it up. Because if he doesn’t get a piece of him – double play, game’s over.”

The Cubs first-base coach, who spent 16 seasons on Tony La Russa's staff in St. Louis, credited Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney for pointing at Robinson and drawing attention to the slide. Umpire Fieldin Culbreth made an unpopular call in front of the 44,139 fans expecting another hometown comeback.

That takeout slide came straight out of the player-development manuals used at every level of the two organizations.

“It’s all about playing hard,” McKay said. “We talk about just that – breaking up double plays. You see a lot of guys that break up two and (stick) their chest out jogging off the field. We tell the guys: ‘You don’t have to do that. Help the guy up and dust him off. Ask him if he’s OK. Just show him that you’re playing the game right.’

“It wins a lot of games when you do that. I have no problem with teams playing that (way) with us, because that’s how I want our guys to play."

During batting practice on Wednesday, McKay chatted with several Cardinals by the cage, including manager Mike Matheny, general manager John Mozeliak and MVP candidate Yadier Molina.

McKay has used Matt Holliday as an example while teaching the Cubs. Holliday made a game-changing play here in July 2011, taking out Castro with a hard slide on a potential double-play ball. The Cardinals didn’t clinch a playoff spot until the final day of the regular season, making a surprise run to a World Series title.

“I think I created a monster in Holliday,” McKay said. “That’s what I like the players to do: At the end of the season, I want you to think back to the three or four games that we won because of you. I want you to be able to say: ‘Because I did this, we won this game.’

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“And then when you win on the last day of the season and go on and win a world championship, you feel pretty good about yourself."

The Cubs are building to try to get to that level, taking pages out of “The Cardinal Way.” Bottom line: Manager Dale Sveum didn’t think it was a dirty play or a cheap shot, knowing that hard edge should be part of his team’s identity.

“It was the right call,” Sveum said. “I hope our players would do the same thing in the same situation.”