Why we should respect Brandon Phillips

No, I have not lost my mind.   And no, this is not some long drawn out history lesson, nor will there be a clever twist at the end.  I am serious.

Yadier Molina and Brandon Phillips

Momentary break from the train of thought to enjoy one of my favorite Cardinals photos, ever.

I don’t know if I would like Brandon Phillips.  I have never met the man, and it is unlikely that our paths will ever cross.  I certainly don’t admire him.  Phillips is irritating, gets under my skin, has a big mouth, and is a lightening rod for all of the angst accumulated during last summer’s slide from first place into something other than first place.

He also reminds me of a number of other similar players: Maury Wills, Matty Alou, Ron Hunt, Len Dykstra, Carlos Zambrano.   Even though most of these players kept their mouths shut during their playing career, they could get under your skin quicker than a mosquito in August.  The reason is simple – when it came time for them to beat you, they generally did.   And that made it more even more frustrating – like scratching that August mosquito bite.

And so it is with Brandon Phillips.   It’s worth repeating, in case one reader might have been off planet last August – Brandon Phillips made some inflammatory comments about the Cardinals prior to the start of their series in Cincinnati.  Specifically, he said

I’d play against these guys with one leg. We have to beat these
guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is bitch and moan complain
about everything, all of them, they’re little bitches whiners,
all of ‘em.

I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love
the Chicago Cubs.  Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals.

                              -- Brandon Phillips, August 9, 2010

An important point – the comments themselves show a certain respect.  I don’t recall anything said about the Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks or Pittsburgh Pirates.   He was right, St. Louis was the team to beat.   He respected them enough to single them out with that little piece of vitriol.

Phillips’ words led to a confrontation the following night.  A benches clearing brawl quickly followed, and the result was Johnny Cueto repeatedly kicking Jason La Rue and Chris Carpenter with his spikes.  La Rue would suffer a severe concussion and would never play baseball again.

There’s a small part of this story that has gotten lost – Brandon Phillips never apologized, nor did he distance himself from those remarks.   And when it came time for him to back them with his play, he did.   Well, actually, he pretty much laid an egg during that series and the final one in St. Louis, but my point is that he went out and did his job without any excuses.   He got beat, and he took it like a man.   That deserves our respect.

Let’s make a quick comparison to Johnny Cueto.   Rather than own up to what Cueto did to Chris Carpenter and Jason La Rue, he claimed that he was overwhelmed and felt threatened by the swiftly moving cacophony of baseball players.   He was fearful for his life, and just used his legs to protect himself.   Or something like that.

My daughter made up better excuses when she was 3.

If that was true, why the kicking motion ?   And why was it that just Cardinals were injured – why were no Reds kicked.   If he was truly fearful, I would think his lashing out would be irrespective of uniform.   But it wasn’t.

This morning, I saw this in my Twitter timeline, and it made me laugh.

God, Brandon Phillips is a douchebag jerk. I want to put him in a
room all alone with Jason LaRue.

I’ll bet that if Brandon Phillips were given that challenge, he would take it.  Even if it meant getting the goobers beaten out of him.

Let’s make up a hypothetical situation, replacing Johnny Cueto with Brandon Phillips in that same kicking scenario from last August.   If asked if he meant to hurt any of the Cardinals, Phillips might have said something like

You're damn right Yes I did.   They are all pussies wimps and I
wanted  to kick the crap stuffing out of each and every one. 
The only  reason I didn't was that I couldn't reach them all.

Now Tony La Russa and the Cardinals are all going to bitch
complain to the league office because they are a bunch of
bitches whiners.

Johnny Cueto has yet to visit St. Louis, and he’s beginning to run out of family emergencies before we all start calling it the way it is.

When the final words were written on the 2010 season, Brandon Phillips was a big part of why the Cincinnati Reds played in October, and the Cardinals didn’t.  He wasn’t the only one, and the Cardinals certainly defeated themselves more times than we want to recount, but Phillips made his contributions.  As a good two way player, he was rewarded with a Golden Glove award for the 2010 season.

If he wasn’t good, he wouldn’t get under our skin.

You don’t have to like Brandon Phillips.   But you should respect the fact that he does not hide and distance himself from the controversy he seems to create.   Perhaps a little less controversy would be nice, but in the mean time, as long has he stands by his words and is willing to take his lumps, I will respect him.

Johnny Cueto – well, that’s a story for another day.

Update – June 10, 2013 – Our friend Dennis over at Manfridge Baseball wrote this excellent piece on the media’s fascination with Brandon Phillips.  I know that we disagree somewhat over this issue, but the big points that Dennis makes are certainly spot on, and I highly recommend that you take the time to read it.

The full link to his article is http://manfridgebaseball.com/2013/06/10/disconnected-media/

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7 Responses to Why we should respect Brandon Phillips

  1. Mike Turner says:

    A wonderful post. My thoughts exactly. In fact, it’s amazing how brilliant minds think alike 😉 I wish I would’ve read this before I posted my piece on it all, I could’ve just linked here for what took me such a round about way of reaching my point (if I did!).


  2. Kat says:

    I agree he can take what he dishes out. Cueto is another story. BP reminds me of Tanner Boyle in Bad News Bears, his mouth is always running to almost a comical ending. He’s having fun and the fans are having fun with the silliness. (the fans might not admit it) I do think that there ought to be a bunch of lunchables delivered to the plane for the flight home. Nice article and once again on the nose of reason.


  3. elmaquino says:

    I’m kinda done with Phillips. The whole “b—- that launched a thousabd ships” comment was good theater at the time, but his recent stuff is flatlining (ie the restaurants, the dreaming, the bad booing, et al). He’s irrelevant now.


    • Thanks for the comment, Aaron. The Phillips situation is a bit like Howard Stern – once you’ve shocked an audience, it is really hard to do it again 🙂 I think it was all fun for this series and made for some entertaining baseball. Unless he comes up with something better, next time it might be just annoying.


  4. Tiss says:

    I recently joined twitter and I follow Brandon Phillips. He actually seems like a pretty decent guy. Baseball announcers always say good things about him both as a player and as a person. As a Cardinal fan I almost feel guilty saying this – but I’m starting to kind of like the guy. Honestly – we’ve all said rude or inappropriate things that were disrespectful or out of line at some point on our lives. He does a great job of interacting with fans like crazy on twitter, and his pokes at StL are more mild and entertaining than his one rant last summer. After his luncheable comment I got a good little stab at him myself, and ended up getting a bat from him for it! Here’s my post about it – http://ionlyspeakbaseball.com/2011/04/25/brandon-phillips-is-a-good-sport/
    It was pretty funny. Anyway – I don’t think he’s such a bad guy after all, but he is definitely fun to watch play ball, and to follow on twitter!


  5. The Berlfry says:

    Respect Brandon Phillips? He hates the Cardinals and calls them little b####es. That’s OK. Then why come up to Molina and “tap” his shin guards?? Who the heck is Brandon Phillips to be tapping any catchers’ shin guards, anyway? Why tap the shin guards of a guy you just said you hate? Phillips was back tracking his big mouth and Molina would have none of it and rightfully so. “If you hate me, don’t touch my shin guards and act like my friend.”. That’s what Molina said. So Cincy fans boo Molina for calling out your “tough guy” Phillips. The Reds and their fans are taking on Brandon Phillips Big Mouth attitude and that won’t help their team. So respect for Phillips? Don’t think so. Only cares about himself and his comments certainly hasn’t helped the Reds handle the Cardinals since.


    • Thanks for the comment, Dan. And sorry that we seem to disagree over some parts of it.

      I do agree with you about some people taking on an over the top persona on social media or trolling various blogs and forums which aren’t doing fans of either team any good. There is just no reason to be like that. I dislike ugly winners as much as sore losers – and even that seems to bother some folks. Variety is a good thing, I guess.

      Even though we disagree, I do appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion in a thoughtful manner. I do respect that 🙂


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