In honor of the (possible), end of Chris Carpenter's time in St. Louis -- not to mention a potentially career-ending situation -- we here at the Riverfront Times thought it was high time we took a look back at all the biggest moments from his tenure here.
No, not his tenure as the staff ace for one of the more successful runs of baseball in Cardinals history, though he was certainly that. We're talking about his tenure here in St. Louis as the scariest, angriest, most intimidating sumbitch there ever has been. The man owned the Busch Stadium mound, and had a lease with option to purchase on your ass. He was also an incredible potty-mouth whose profanities were as hard and nasty as his fastball.
Here are just a few of the highlights...
#5: August 10th, 2010 -- Cardinals at Reds, Carp vs. Cueto
This will forever be remembered for Johnny Cueto's Jean-Claude Van Damme impersonation, and Brandon Philips' whiny little bitches comment that started the whole fracas. The Cardinals and Reds were embroiled in a pennant race, Philips tapped Yadier Molina on the shinguard with his bat, and it was on.
This one really is kind of an honorary inclusion on our list, since Carpenter himself wasn't really even one of the initial instigators of the brawl, but you've got to hand it to the man for getting himself right into the middle of it anyway. Jason LaRue got the worst of Cueto's Rockette show, suffering the concussion that eventually ended his career, but Carpenter took a couple kicks as well, with lacerations all over his back. You know, from the metal spikes Johnny Cueto was kicking people with.
(I have to admit, even if Carpenter can't come back this year, I would like to see him in a game against the Reds, just to throw at Cueto's head every time he came up to the plate.)
Plus, Carp gets inclusion here just for one impossibly brilliant quote I came across while researching this article. When asked later about Cueto resorting to kicks in the on-field brawl, Carpenter said there were, "No excuses," and had the following to say:
"He can say whatever he wants," the pitcher said, "He came in there with intent to do something from the backside."
Funny. Usually when I intend to do something from the backside I end up getting kicked, rather than doing the kicking. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.
Up next: Carp goes bonkers on Mike Napoli, a.k.a. that "piece of shit."
#4: October 24th, 2011 -- Cardinals at Rangers in Game 5 of the World Series, Carp vs. Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli flies to center field after homering earlier in the game.
Chris Carpenter's reaction: "Fuck you! You piece of shit! Fuck you!"
Read his lips at the end of this clip:
It was brilliant, particularly considering the fact it came in the middle of a World Series game, with roughly a billion people tuned in. Everyone in America had a front row seat to Carp's crazed outburst, and it was just...it was just the best day. We even made a song about it.
Up next: Not even his fellow Cardinals are safe from Carpenter's wrath.
#3: August 9, 2010 -- Cardinals at Reds, Carp vs. Brendan Ryan
Boy, that was a crazy week for Carp, wasn't it?
This is, quite honestly, the only one of these instances when I thought Carpenter was kind of in the wrong. And it makes the list specifically because of that. To yell and scream obscenities at an opponent is one thing; you may not like it or agree with it, or may think it's uncalled for, but still. Heat of the moment, competitive juices, all that stuff.
But dragging your own shortstop down into the tunnel to dress him down because he was late getting to his position when you were ready to pitch? That's a little less...something. Combine this with the persistent rumors that Ryan Ludwick's luggage-related injury was actually the result of a drunken altercation with Carpenter, and you start to think this might not be the guy you want to fuck with.
This was the moment I think most of us realized Carpenter might really be crazy, instead of just pretending.
Up next: Carp curses out Nyjer Morgan telepathically.
#2: September 7, 2011 -- Brewers at Cardinals, Carp vs. Nyjer Morgan
The best part of this one? The fact that pretty much everyone remembers Nyjer Morgan as being the crazy dude in this situation.
Morgan screamed at Carpenter, threw tobacco at him, and referred to Albert Pujols as 'Alberta' in post-game comments, coming off looking certifiable in the process. Never mind that Carp went on his own profanity-laced tirade at Morgan earlier in the game and that the whole thing was really just a continuation of bad blood which had been brewing (get it?), between the two clubs -- and their most volatile members in particular -- for quite awhile. It also came at the height of the whole ridiculous Tony Plush nonsense, when Nyjer Morgan decided to invent himself an alter ego as if he were MF Doom or something.
This was Carpenter's Keyser Soze moment, when he went nuts on Tony Plush and then came out looking like the victim. Brilliant.
And finally: A possible explanation for Carpenter's expletives?
#1: April 2004-October 2012 -- Chris Carpenter vs. The World
Chris Carpenter was an immensely talented pitcher his whole career, and particularly his nine season with the Redbirds. But his talent isn't what made him great. What made him great was that lock-jawed, steely-eyed determination, the intensity of a gunfighter staring down the man that wronged him. Carp gave no quarter, took no prisoners, and occasionally threatened to rip off the head of whoever was in the batter's box and shit down their neck hole for daring to hang out over the plate.
In other words, Chris Carpenter is a bad fucking dude. And we're frankly still terrified of him. Or, as the following clip from an empty ballpark in Pittsburgh suggests, perhaps he just suffers from Tourette's? Either way, the Cardinals won't be the effin' same without him.