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.
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 moancomplain about everything, all of them, they’re little bitcheswhiners, 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
douchebagjerk. 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 rightYes I did. They are all pussieswimps and I wanted to kick the crapstuffing 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 bitchcomplain to the league office because they are a bunch of bitcheswhiners.
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/