On Tuesday an all out brawl broke out during the Reds vs. Cardinals game, after a seemingly friendly bat tap by Brandon Phillips towards Yadier Molina.
The thing most people didn't know about was the remarks Phillips made about the Cardinals before the game to Rob Neyer and Hal Mccoy. He told the two reporters that, "I'd play against these guys with one leg. We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is [bleep] and moan about everything, all of them, they're little [same bleep, plural], 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."
It is different when this kind of talk occurs in the clubhouse amongst teammates, but it is never a smart idea to disrespect the opposition through the media.
These words set off a really nasty brawl that never needed to occur. That said, Brandon Phillips needs to start letting his play do the talking. Phillips was an All-Star this season and is one of the best all around second baseman this season. There is no reason that a player of this caliber should give the team they are in a division race with bulletin board material.
The Cardinals are a very talented team, and the last thing the Reds need to do is motivate them. Besides that, does Phillips really think that he could beat this team with one leg? He might need a reminder that the Cardinals have players such as Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, and Chris Carpenter. Phillips is a good second baseman, but he is not in those players' league.
There is no room in baseball for these types of fights. The way Brandon Phillips should have shown that the Cardinals are an inferior team is by getting hits and making plays in the field. In the end Phillips, neither words nor play (2 for 14 at the plate in the series with two legs), were enough to stop the Reds from being swept by the Cardinals in impressive fashion.
Talk about having to eat your words and swallow your pride, Brandon. This was a critical series in terms of the division standings, since now the Cardinals have a one game lead. Phillips obviously knew the magnitude of the series and the importance of the Reds being able to take the series against the Cardinals, but he has to learn to keep his mouth shut.
There are still 40+ games left in this season, so the National League Central race is far from over and should become more interesting because of this incident on Tuesday night. The players will be motivated not only by the race for the playoffs, but the hatred for one another for the rest of this season.
These two teams will meet only three more times this season, September 3-5. After a brawl like this, it is hard to believe that three weeks will be enough time for all parties to forget the words exchanged. It is sure to be a hostile and contentious three games in St. Louis late in the season.
If the race continues to be this close, those three games could play a huge role in determining which team wins the National League Central. Hopefully all the talk is done and Brandon Phillips has learned his lesson that the game is won on the diamond and not through the press.
So, my suggestion to Brandon is to show up the first week of September with both of his legs and leave the trash talking at home.