ST. LOUIS -- To St. Louis pitcher John Brebbia, this fussin' and feudin' between the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs is a perfect winter warmup.
"Honestly, people were kind of forgetting baseball season was coming up," Brebbia said Sunday. "So I think it was a good way to remind everyone that Cardinals-Cubs are going to be back in action soon."
"No more of this football or whatever it's called now," he said. "It's our time."
The whole thing started innocently enough at a Cubs fan event Friday when retired pitcher Ryan Dempster, in a playful talk-show format, asked Chicago star Kris Bryant about the Gateway City.
"Who would want to play in St. Louis? So boring. It's so boring," Bryant said. "I always get asked like, 'Where do you like to play? Where do you not like to play?' St. Louis is on the list where I don't like to play."
Quipped Dempster: "I remember when I was getting traded, and they asked me, 'Hey, how about St. Louis?' I said, 'Zero chance, pal. No way.' I wouldn't even go there as a free agent. Not happening."
Predictably, the flippant banter drew a loud cheer from the Cub rooters in attendance.
In St. Louis, the reaction was a bit different.
"All stars, elite players and leaders of their teams do not speak bad about any city," Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina posted on Instagram. "There should be respect, and you should play and compete with respect. Only stupid players and losers make comments like the ones made by Bryant and Dempster."
Molina, who is no stranger social media, posted a screenshot of Bryant's interview with Dempster. To add a little spice, he added a photo of Dempster giving up a home run to then-Cardinal Lance Berkman.
"If they want to get Yadi fired up for the season that is fine by me. But other than that, it's just a Twitter fight at this point so I'm not all that interested in it," St. Louis general manager Michael Girsch said at Sunday's fan convention. "If Yadi feels like it got him a little bit more excited for 2019, then that will work."
The Cardinals-Cubs rivalry is one of the top ones in baseball, pitting fans on both the red and blue sides against each other all year long.
Brebbia quickly got in his piece, responding to Bryant's comments by writing on Twitter: "cry me a River, loser."#stlcards."
Immediately, the post went viral.
"I was surprised to see that," Brebbia said. "I'm not much of a social media guru. I got a little taste of what it's like to have my photo on an Instagram page or whatever it's called."
Brebbia first learned about the Bryant comments while on a Cardinals caravan stop Saturday in Peoria, Illinois.
"We were doing a Q-and-A, you could call it a Town Hall-style setup," Brebbia said. "Someone asked if we had heard the comment that Kris Bryant made. We didn't know what he said. He mentioned Kris called St. Louis boring and I don't know anybody in St. Louis who enjoys that opinion. So, I just tried to shuffle that off to the side."
"I got to see that (Yadier's reaction) later that evening. He's a guy who is passionate about this city. It's been good to him. So he has my full support, for sure. I love being out here and I love being his teammate. I'm standing by him as long as he needs."
Brebbia and Bryant have faced each other four times on the field — the former NL MVP is 0 for 4 with a strikeout against the righty-hander reliever. With Brebbia becoming an important piece of the St. Louis bullpen, they should have more opportunities to square off in the NL Central.
"You know, I support Yadi's comments completely," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "I don't know Kris that well. He's a really good player. He's clearly entitled to his opinion and everybody's got their opinion on what's considered boring or not. Everybody has their own definition of boring and I always respect people's opinions."
"I respect Kris is a player and he's entitled to his opinion. I also respect our catcher, Yadi, and I back his comments," he said.
Brebbia was talking to fellow Cardinals reliever Chasen Shreve on Sunday when the subject came up.
"Maybe you should be by yourself a little bit," Shreve cracked.
Shreve is from Las Vegas, as is Bryant, and they know each other well.
"I actually haven't seen the video yet," Shreve said. "I'm trying to stay a little out of it because Kris is a good buddy of mine. It's all fun and games, really. We take it seriously but at the same time, maybe we think Chicago is a little boring. I don't know. It's all opinion."
The teams meet 19 times in the regular season this year, starting May 3 at Wrigley Field. The clubs finish the season with a three-game series at St. Louis beginning Sept. 29.
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