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Strong Coffey: Reliever's Remark Reflects Roiling Rivalry

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Buried in cubs.com writer Carrie Muskat's recap of the Chicago Cubs 15-3 blowout win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday was this choice quote from Brew Crew reliever and sprinting enthusiast Todd Coffey:

I guarantee you, the next 18 times, he'll be out.

Who was Coffey referring to? Why none other than Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who hit a three-run, pinch-hit home run off the right-hander after going 1-for-17 against Coffey in his previous 18 at-bats.

Now I've heard of athletes guaranteeing victories before. But a relief pitcher guaranteeing 18 "wins" against a given batter? I can't recall a precedent for this. Can you? I realize I'm probably taking Coffey's words too literally but, seriously, what an odd, arrogant and antagonistic remark.

That's not to say the Milwaukee reliever's vow is particularly surprising. There's a Great Lake of bad blood between the Cubs and Brewers right now. In Milwaukee's defense, the North Siders' bullpen peppered Brew Crew hitters with hit-by-pitches this past week - including a vicious shot to center fielder Carlos Gomez's head hurled by soon-to-be-demoted Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter. And, to add insult to injury, it was the Brewers' pitcher LaTroy Hawkins and manager Ken Macha ejected from Wednesday's blowout.

But whether any of the plunkings was intentional is hard to say. Sure, the two teams have become heated rivals. But the Cubs do have a markedly young bullpen that Sweet Lou is regularly casting into high-leverage situations. And, c'mon, Prince Fielder attracts HBPs like a small moon attracts asteroid strikes. (Please note: That's not necessarily a comment on his weight. Cubs' center fielder Marlon Byrd has been pegged repeatedly this season, too.)

In any case, it'll be interesting to see the result the next time Aramis Ramirez comes to the plate after Todd Coffey finishes his latest imaginary 50-yard dash to the mound. I, for one, would love to see ARam knock Bernie the Brewer off the top of his slide in the upper deck. And the Cubs slugger, who's had an up-and-down season to say the least, might get the opportunity when the two teams meet up at Miller Park for their last series of the season on September 10-12.