PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Pirates have been playing the Cincinnati Reds every year, so it isn't like this is anything new.
But now it's different as the two teams compete for the lead in the National League Central, and that's why the intensity has picked up a hundred notches or so.
The heat was on for this past weekend's series in Cincinnati, and that's a good thing.
It's a reminder of when games between the Pirates and Reds automatically had some extra juice because both teams were good, they were competing for championships and they didn't like each other a lot.
Things heated up this time when Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw a 101-mile per hour fastball up and in on Andrew McCutchen on Friday.
McCutchen observed the code. He glared but didn't say anything, and took his base. He didn't even rub his shoulder, even though it had to be throbbing. The code says you don't let the pitcher know it's hurt.
The Reds say there was no intent in Chapman's pitch. Who knows? The point is, when you can throw 100 miles per hour, you should be very cautious about throwing pitches at shoulder level.
McCutchen was clearly angry as he left the dugout after the game. Any thoughts the Pirates had of immediate retaliation were scuttled when umpire Brian Gorman totally botched the situation and issued a warning after Josh Harrison was hit in the leg by a pitch from Mike Leake in Saturday's game.
But there will be other games, and Chapman's dangerous pitch will be remembered. The Pirates and Reds have something going on again.
Out of Focus
ROOT Sports, The Home of Dubious Ideas, has a new one this year.
Several times during a Pirates game, a camera in the booth now shows the broadcasters. What's the need for that? To prove they didn't leave early to beat the traffic? To show what great mileage they're getting out of those black shirts with the gold "P?"
It's just more unnecessary clutter, like the endless crowd shots and the shots of Clint Hurdle chewing gum.
Baseball is a slow game, but it still unfolds on the field. Why not keep the cameras aimed in that direction?
It's OK if the announcers are heard but not seen while the game is in progress.
The Houston Astros sent ex-Pirate Brian Bixler to the minor leagues last week. If you can't play for that team, maybe it's time to reassess baseball as a career.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org