On July 5th, the St. Louis Cardinals benched outfielder Tyler O’Neill after manager Mike Shildt called out his “unacceptable” effort on a play at the plate during the team’s game against the San Francisco Giants.
The play in question occurred in the top of the seventh inning, when O’Neill attempted to throw out Giants runner Mauricio Dubon at home plate. O’Neill’s throw sailed wide of the plate, and Dubon scored easily.
After the game, Shildt spoke to the media and expressed his frustration with O’Neill’s effort on the play. “It was an unacceptable effort…The one thing we can control every day is how we compete, and we’ve got to do better than that.”
Shildt went on to say that the decision to bench O’Neill was not punishment, but rather an opportunity to refocus and regain his competitive edge. “It’s a chance for Tyler to reset…We’re pulling for him, but we’ve got to get better.”
O’Neill, who had been struggling at the plate before the incident, acknowledged his mistake and said he was ready to move forward. “I’m disappointed in myself…I’m going to continue to work hard and be ready when my name is called again.”
The benching of O’Neill is just the latest episode in what has been a disappointing season for the Cardinals, who currently sit at fourth place in the National League Central division. While injuries and inconsistent play have contributed to the team’s struggles, Shildt’s decision to bench O’Neill demonstrates the manager’s commitment to holding his players accountable for their effort on the field.
As the Cardinals continue their chase for a playoff spot, it will be interesting to see how O’Neill and the rest of the team respond to Shildt’s call for greater effort and competitiveness. Whether or not the benching leads to a turnaround in the team’s fortunes remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the Cardinals cannot afford to continue accepting “unacceptable” efforts from their players if they hope to succeed in the second half of the season.