ST. LOUIS -- A seemingly innocuous series of comments by Cubs star Kristopher Bryant and former Major Leaguer Ryan Dempster elicited a passionate response from several Cardinals -- proving, once again, that some rivalries have no offseason.The back-and-forth began during a comedy-style show at Cubs Convention, picked up steam on
ST. LOUIS -- A seemingly innocuous series of comments by Cubs star Kristopher Bryant and former Major Leaguer Ryan Dempster elicited a passionate response from several Cardinals -- proving, once again, that some rivalries have no offseason.
The back-and-forth began during a comedy-style show at Cubs Convention, picked up steam on the Cardinals Caravan and later extended to Instagram, where Yadier Molina rebuffed the pair's characterization of St. Louis with a harsh retort.
It started on Friday when Dempster, while spoofing a late-night talk show, asked Bryant about recently meeting rapper Nelly -- a noted Cardinals fan -- at a Florida Georgia Line concert in his hometown of Las Vegas. Mention of the Cubs' biggest rival elicited some boos from the live audience, and Bryant obliged the crowd with some good-natured ribbing.
"[Nelly] was trying to work the magic on Bryce [Harper]," Bryant said of his longtime friend and superstar free agent, before playfully adding, "Who would want to play in St. Louis? It's so boring. I always get asked, 'Where do you like to play, where do you not like to play?' And St. Louis is a place I don't like to play."
That comment drew a loud cheer from the Chicago faithful, and Dempster followed suit.
"I remember when I was getting traded," said Dempster, "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."
"It's rough," Bryant concluded. All the while, a bucket of Budweiser beer -- brewed in, of all places, St. Louis -- sat on the table to his left.
The video made its way to Twitter just before the Cardinals kicked off their competing Winter Warm-Up. A fan brought it up Saturday morning during a Caravan stop in Peoria, Ill., to which reliever John Brebbia responded, playfully, by telling Bryant to, "Cry me a river, loser."
Catcher Molina, never one to mince his feelings on social media, then fired back with an Instagram post that included not only a screenshot of Bryant's interview with Dempster, but also a photo of Dempster giving up a home run to then-Cardinal Lance Berkman.
"All stars, elite players and leaders of their teams do not speak bad about any city," Molina wrote. "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."
Several of Molina's teammates echoed his sentiments in comments on his Instagram post. Third baseman Matt Carpenter replied with a series of fire emojis, while left fielder Marcell Ozuna issued a poetic warning to the Cubs.
"From outside they speak and talk like tiger," wrote Ozuna, "but at the end they [sic] gonna be like little cat."
Other teammates offered their endorsement with a simple 'Like.' Molina, in the comments section, continued to engage with fans hours after making his original post.
Cardinals outfielder William Fowler knows this rivalry as well as anyone, having played on both sides. He was signing autographs at Winter Warm-Up when his phone starting buzzing with text messages. Afterward, he learned why.
"Yadi is a fiery guy, which is awesome. I love it," Fowler said. "I think it's good for the rivalry. These are going to be some fun games. I'm looking forward to the Cardinals fans coming out and showing up."
The first of 19 regular-season games between the two teams will take place at Wrigley Field in 105 days.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.