The St. Louis Cardinals suffered a sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, which provided a depressing backdrop to the Oli Marmol-Tyler O’Neill feud.
While Cardinals manager Oli Marmol may want to put the Tyler O’Neill feud behind him, it was evident that wasn’t the case in St. Louis’ sweep at the hands of the Braves on Wednesday. Said drama carried significant weight in the clubhouse and eventually on the field.
To put things lightly — the vibe was not right.
Marmol set the tone for this series heading in, calling the Cards lineup ‘scary’ and suggesting he wasn’t afraid to give certain players a night off. That’s exactly what occurred with O’Neill, though Marmol made it clear this was not a scheduled event.
“There is a standard here. You meet it, you play. You don’t, you don’t,” Marmol said upon benching O’Neill.
Cardinals: Oli Marmol-Tyler O’Neill feud sets the wrong tone
O’Neill seemed upset that Marmol made their discussion public. One lone mistake is fine, but should he not address it, Marmol is at risk of losing the clubhouse very early into a 162-game campaign.
“He didn’t think I gave the best effort,” O’Neill said. “I’m out here every day grinding my ass off, giving it my all and trying to stay on the field for 160 games out here.”
O’Neill does have a history of leg injuries, specifically last season. It shouldn’t be all that surprising that he took things slow on the basepaths, especially considering it had rained not long before. As FanSided’s Kevin Henry noted, O’Neill has an eye on the end goal, while Marmol is focused on the day-to-day.
"“There are, however, other circumstances to keep in mind here. O’Neill’s sprint speed for 2023 ranks in the 79th percentile according to Baseball Savant. At 27.8 feet per second, that’s almost two seconds slower than previous years when O’Neill ranked in the 97th and 98th percentile. Part of the slowdown has been a focus O’Neill has admitted to not once again aggravate a hamstring injury that kept him out for part of the 2022 campaign. Add in the rain that was coming down as O’Neill rounded third base and it’s a recipe for running at a different speed than he might have a year or two ago.”"
It’s this disconnect that could have a lingering effect on the Cards clubhouse if not addressed. St. Louis is a talented team — one that should be destined for the postseason. Marmol is focused on getting them there, while O’Neill already has an eye on a September push. Something has to give.