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Yu Darvish defends his pitch selection after Cubs postgame host's critical tweet

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO -- It isn't nearly as nasty as the 2004 Cubs feud with broadcaster Steve Stone, but by modern-day standards it is a rare occurrence.

Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish defended his pitch selection Wednesday night after the team's 12-11 victory against the Giants, answering criticism from NBC Sports Chicago pre- and postgame host David Kaplan.

Darvish served up three home runs in the victory, all on off-speed pitches with two strikes, drawing Kaplan's tweet that read, in part: "This season when he has any 2 strike count on a hitter, @faridyu (Darvish's Twitter handle) is throwing nearly 80% off speed pitches. 3 of the HR's he allowed tonight were with 2 strikes and those 3 all were off speed pitches. #YuTooPredictable"

Darvish responded with a tweet citing his previous numbers with two strikes, which showed he was more effective throwing off-speed pitches than his four-seam fastball. Darvish closed the tweet by saying: "Which one is the better choice" with a "thinking face" emoji.

The back-and-forth continued Thursday morning, with Kaplan citing his stats and Darvish volleying back with Cubs stats, tweeting "You can't win agains (sic) the Cubs database."

About an hour before the game Thursday, Kaplan tweeted that he enjoyed his "pitching discussion" with Darvish, calling it "respectful and fun." Darvish responded: "I'm waiting on the ring David."

Darvish was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Manager Joe Maddon said he heard about the Twitter spat and applauded Darvish for defending himself.

"Again, how many times have I spoken about Yu, regarding the fact that this guy is straight up?" Maddon said. "He's as honest as the day comes. So if he felt he was being attacked in some ways, I have no issue with that whatsoever. It sounds like it was a civil exchange on his part. Was he just pointing out some facts?"

Told that Darvish tweeted some stats, Maddon replied: "From my understanding his facts were more accurate than (Kaplan's) were. That's what I got out of the exchange. So bully for Yu."

Kaplan said he got his statistics from ESPN and stood by them. He said he has nothing against Darvish, whom Kaplan called an "interesting guy," and insisted he wasn't being critical in spite of the YuTooPredictable hashtag.

 

Usually players ignore Twitter comments, and TV hosts seldom criticize players from their teams because the team ultimately approves their hiring and firing.

Almost 15 years ago, on Aug. 27, 2004, Cubs reliever Kent Mercker sent a message to the press box ripping broadcasters Stone and Chip Caray for commentary made during the telecast of a Cubs-Astros game.

It evolved into a long-running feud between the announcers and the Cubs, with manager Dusty Baker defending his players. The feud escalated when Mercker verbally abused Stone on a team flight -- though Mercker later denied that report.

The '04 Cubs fell apart down the stretch and blew a wild-card spot, and Stone quit after the season.

When asked if Kaplan was still the Cubs' pre- and postgame host, a team official replied: "For a month and a half."

The Cubs next season are bolting for Marquee Sports Network, the cable channel the team is launching with Sinclair Broadcast Group in February. Kaplan recently signed an extension to remain at NBC Sports Chicago.

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