There’s nothing make believe about the feud between the Mets and the Cubs. It’s alive and it’s real…just as real as the Mets are. They made believers of their own managers by taking the a three-game series this week at Wrigley Field. They also made believers out of the Cubs and sprinkled a little gasoline on the fire with some cracks that infuriated the Chicagoans.
After the series, it was the Mets, not Ron Santo, who were clicking their heels…literally as well as figuratively. Santo’s heel-clicking was the object of much attention during the recent Wrigley Field battle with the Cubbies. The Met players and even Manager Gil Hodges himself dwelt upon it at various times during and after the games. It seems some time ago, after winning a Cub game, Santo jumped in the air and clicked his heels together on the way to the clubhouse in left field. The famous – or is it infamous? – Bleacher Bums thought it was great and Santo has come to follow the ritual with each victory. But the Mets think it’s bush and they told Santo so – to his face and in print.
In the Mets’ clubhouse, Coach Joe Pignatano called it “bush” and Chicago writers not only relayed the message to Santo personally, but also put it in print. The next day, Santo and Hodges met at the plate to exchange lineup cards. The Cub captain told Gil to tell Piggy that the only reason he does his jig is because “the fans will boo me if I don’t.” Hodges listened patiently and then got out his well-sharpened response. “You remind me of someone,” Gil straight-faced it. “You remind me of Tug McGraw. When he was young and immature and nervous, he used to jump up and down. He doesn’t do it anymore.” Santo’s mouth was still wide open as Hodges turned and walked away from the plate.
Perhaps it’s just as well the two clubs do not meet again until September. The surprising Mets were beginning to get on the Cubs’ nervous. Not only for the way they were beating them, but the way they were making fun of them.