If the baseball season doesn't fully begin until the first benches-clearing brawl, then the 2021 season officially got underway on Saturday.
Players from the dugouts and bullpen spilled onto the field during the fourth inning of the Cardinals-Reds game at the Great American Ball Park, with the fracas beginning and ending with Cincinnati right fielder Nick Castellanos at home plate.
Castellanos was plunked on the first pitch he saw from Jake Woodford, and seemed to take issue with it. After exchanging words with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, he picked up the ball and seemingly offered it to Woodford before tossing it aside.
Castellanos ended up on third base and scored on a wild pitch, colliding with Woodford as he slid into home plate. After being called safe, he stood over Woodford and taunted him while flexing, and from there the brouhaha was on.
Here's another angle of the play at the plate, more or less taken from Molina's vantage point:
The Reds, for their part, had some fun with the incident by posting a video that had some, let's say, selective editing:
Castellanos was ejected from the game for his role in the confrontation, though it didn't appear that any punches were thrown. His run gave the Reds a 7-2 lead, which they would extend to 8-2 by the end of the inning.
After the game, Castellanos kept his conversation with Molina to himself, though still expressed reverence for the nine-time All-Star.
These two teams will meet 17 more times this season, with the next series set to begin on April 23 at Busch Stadium. Cardinals and Reds fans, be sure to mark your calendars.
More MLB Coverage: