- The line goes around the block:
25 players in Cardinals uniforms wanted to brutally beat Reds 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips.
Presumably, (at least) 20 players in Reds uniforms wanted to brutally beat Reds 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips as well.
The most stunning thing about the Cardinals-Reds brawl wasn't that it happened; wasn't that a series of scrums broke out after the initial back-and-forth between Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Phillips; wasn't that Reds manager Dusty Baker and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa were screaming at one another (again); wasn't that Scott Rolen and Chris Carpenter (former teammates) were fighting; it wasn't even that Johnny Cueto was kicking his way out of being pinned against the screen behind home plate. None of that should've come as a surprise.
The most shocking thing to me was the way the Reds TV announcers (I'm not sure which broadcasters were working the game last night) were blaming the Cardinals for starting the ruckus. Ignoring the fact that Phillips walked up to the plate and tapped Molina on the shin guards in a universal greeting among players, and that Molina rightfully took exception to the gesture after what Phillips had said, they ripped into Molina and the Cardinals for going after Phillips.
One person and one person only was responsible for the fight and that's Brandon Phillips.
In case you missed Phillips's quotes about the Cardinals before the opening game of the series, he said the following:
“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 about everything, all of them, they’re little bitches, 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.”
Are there teams that the opposition hates? Of course. The Red Sox are bullies; the Yankees are pompous; the Phillies are arrogant; the White Sox are obnoxious; and Tony La Russa teams aren't out to make friends among other teams. They go in hard on double plays; they retaliate when thrown at; and they play to win. If these comments were coming for a respected voice who doesn't have a penchant for self-promoting behavior, then maybe they would've been taken more seriously; but you'll notice the only people who say things of this nature are the Brandon Phillips/John Rocker-types who think controversy is leadership.
Phillips is not the leader of the Reds and I guarantee that the rest of the clubhouse shook their heads and rolled their eyes at the ridiculous statement and were angrier at Phillips than the Cardinals were; I'm sure a large segment of the Reds clubhouse wouldn't have minded seeing Phillips get popped in his flapping mouth.
What might have happened had things not gotten out-of-hand immediately is that the Cardinals would've waited until an opportune moment and popped Joey Votto in the ribs making it clear that if Phillips is going to represent his team in such a way, his teammates are going to pay for it. But that highlights the most egregious part of a player anointing himself as a leader while having neither the respect nor the capacity to do the job----it affects the rest of the team negatively. If Phillips was told by Scott Rolen, Votto, Arthur Rhodes or another respected veteran in the Reds clubhouse to zip it, he'd ignore them.
Phillips's showboating by raising his fists on homers and overdone displays would've gotten him beaned in the 60s; but those actions aren't such a terrible thing nowadays; saying such inflammatory things about a proud and feisty opponent like the Cardinals, who are managed by an old-school type like La Russa is lighting the fuse to a bomb.
The bomb exploded because of Phillips and no one else.
As to the fight itself, it went according to the general plotline. There were the guys who like to fight looking for some action; the players with vendettas against former teammates looking to get their chance to settle the score; pacifists looking for a like-minded dance partner to grab hold of and show team solidarity while keeping a safe distance from any potential for injury; and the peacemakers trying to break things up.
I'm wondering if there's a history between Carpenter and Rolen considering the fervency with which they went after each other. Also, I don't blame Johnny Cueto for kicking his way out of being cornered; who came up with these drifting "rules" for fighting? Carpenter was complaining about it, but if the 6'6" pound Carpenter is willing to get on his knees to fight the 5'10" Cueto, or have one arm tied behind his back, then we can get into the list of dos and don'ts; until then, it's a fight, all bets are off.
On another note, Yadier Molina has a Reggie Jackson-like flair for the dramatic. His game-winning homer in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS against the Mets made him a clutch player if he never gets another big hit for the rest of his career, but homering after getting into the fight with Phillips is another notch for Molina's reputation. Very few players can go up to the plate that fired up and still perform, but Molina did it and it's the type of thing that the big-time playoff heroes like Reggie and Lenny Dykstra used to thrive on.
No one----no....one----could beat Reggie's ability to get knocked down by a pitch under his chin, stand up, look down at the plate in what appeared to be an anger-fueled state of mediation, step back in and hit a homer. I remember one game against the Cleveland Indians in 1981 when Indians pitcher John Denny knocked Reggie down, Reggie homered, stepped on home plate and charged the mound. Denny is a black belt in karate and liked to fight*, so he was ready to rock. A brawl ensued and Reggie was carried off the field, physically, by Dave Winfield; Reggie was in full William Shatner-style overacting mode as he laughed hysterically and clapped his hands.
That was Reggie.
And apparently, that's Yadier Molina as well.
*Denny was with the Reds in 1986 and in the middle of the classic Mets-Reds fight that year. He performed what amounted to a Vulcan nerve pinch on Gary Carter, incapacitating him during the festivities.
Oh, and the Cardinals won the game 8-4 to move into first place by two percentage points.
- Ah, the Pirates:
It's a good thing the Pirates fired those troublemaking coaches Joe Kerrigan and Gary Varsho following their dramatic win on Saturday so they can get back down to their chosen business----losing. And business is good in Pittsburgh. As usual.
- Viewer Mail 8.11.2010:
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Mariners:
Where's your "Bobby Valentine for Mariners Manager" paragraph? I must have missed it.
Actually, immediately after Don Wakamatsu's firing Buster Olney floated the idea of Valentine and it makes sense. Whether Jack Zduriencik would be on-board with Valentine----especially if Zduriencik is in a weakened position----is debatable; Valentine has a Machiavellian, predatory nature where he'd subtly and slowly accumulate power to do things his way. But after the way this season has gone for the Mariners, Zduriencik might not have a choice. Valentine could be managing the Mariners next year.
Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Mariners:
Yeah, I'm with Jane.
Bring back Lou.
It could happen, after all, Zduriencik is a "genius".
I'm on the side of believing Lou Piniella when he says that this is it as he leaves the Cubs. I don't think he needs the aggravation anymore, but I've underestimated greed and limelight-seeking before; if someone offers Piniella enough money (though I don't see why they would with the way the Cubs have degenerated), perhaps he'd consider it. There's no chance Zduriencik would want Piniella, but as with Valentine, he might not have a choice.
You brought up the word genius and I have to do it. I just have to. The following clip was once reserved for Billy Beane, but it applies to all "geniuses".
Here we go, Gabriel...I would greatly prefer Gonzalez because he plays on both sides of the ball, and as Paul mentioned, Fielder does have weight issues that if nothing else, cannot be ignored. Both will cost a ton of money regardless, and a boatload of prospects. However, we are unsure if Youkilis can handle 3rd base. If he can -- in 2011 AND beyond -- the possibilities open up. If he can't, then Gonzalez would be partially wasted DH'ing. Fielder however, would be perfect at DH. But I am not one to invest $20 million a season into a designated hitter. Not to mention, I would rather roll the dice with Ortiz and his option next year.
If the Red Sox don't make the playoffs----despite the fairness of the injury excuse----they are not going to stand pat with David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre, et al. They'll go and get a long-term power bat in Gonzalez and possibly make a big move on Carl Crawford. Jonathan Papelbon's not going to be back either. Their starting pitching is essentially locked up. They're not going after Prince Fielder. I don't know if Kevin Youkilis can handle 3rd base full-time, but my hunch is he can given how determination more than anything else transformed him into a Gold Glove-caliber 1st baseman.
The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE the Mets:
Welcome to Day One. Tonight the Mets put 9 home-grown players on the field. NINE! Alas they seem fully committed to transitioning this team and my angst will transition with it. Whatever Omar and Jeff talked about when Jeff flew down to Atlanta to check into his team is sitting well with me due to the changes they've instituted since that meeting of the minds. OK Boyz...Welcome to Citi...Let's Go Mets.
It's heartening to see the Mets developing talented young players and, for once, not trading them for expensive rentals or mediocrity.
I haven't been listening to Mike Francesa, but I would hope people are taking note of the negativity regarding these youngsters----Fernando Martinez, Ruben Tejada----to fire back into his face if they become productive big leaguers. As is his wont, he's "forgotten" the scoffing he and Chris Russo launched at the Yankees decision to recall Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang early in 2005. For most rational people, criticizing that which they've never seen wouldn't happen, but this is Mike Francesa we're talking about. Expect the worst and get it.
Max Stevens writes RE Dan Haren and the Angels:
Watching Dan Haren work earlier tonight just reemphasized for me what a great acquisition he was for the Halos. How did they do that? How did they get such a great arm while giving up so little? Haren didn't have his best stuff tonight, but he pounded the zone all night long. The guy throws strikes and rarely makes a mistake out over the middle of the plate. The Angels may make it interesting down the stretch, but I don't see them catching the Rangers. Still, right now they may have the best 1 through 4 starting pitchers in baseball. It'll be interesting to see what they do in the off-season. The starting pitching is good, but the bullpen is suspect, and I think they need some more offense. ...Btw: Your other blog is cool, too. I will link to both as soon as I get my blog up and running.
The Diamondbacks wanted to dump the salary and got volume for Haren. It was criticized, but Haren hadn't pitched all that well this year (although I believe that to be a byproduct of being on a bad defensive team that did nothing but lose), and has pitched a lot of innings in the past few years. They got rid of him before he got hurt, got a slightly younger mid-rotation starter in Joe Saunders and some very young prospects.
The Angels never quit, but I'm starting to see that they're outgunned this year. They're transitioning from their veterans to younger players as the Torii Hunter shift to right field in favor or Peter Bourjos shows; they focus on pitching, speed and team-oriented play and will always contend because of that even in a down year like this one.
Max is referring to my alternate blog It's My Father's Ring. Check it out if you're interested in non-baseball related rants/fiction/poetry/whatever.
I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz 8 days ago talking about the trade deadline, Ozzie Guillen and the pennant races. Click the link above or go to the site to download it on I-Tunes. Or you can get it directly here.
It's August, but it's still useful. For real.