It’s been an interesting behavioral week in Major League Baseball, highlighted by the conduct of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Both players are unique fan favorites, but both made headlines for actions that we as fans tend to revile. My question to you is this: whose behavior this week – Puig’s or Phillip’s – has been more reprehensible? Before you answer, I’ll break down just what has been going on with each.
Puig is not guilty of just one isolated incident. His on- and off-the-field antics have been several, noteworthy and finally reached a boiling point during Wednesday night’s game, causing manager Don Mattingly to pull him and sit him on the bench in the fifth inning.
What, exactly, Puig did Wednesday night that was the proverbial final straw remains a mystery. Everyone within the Dodgers organization, including Mattingly and Puig, have remained tight lipped about it. Mattingly claimed the move was a managerial decision because at the time he felt reserve Skip Schumaker gave the club the best chance to win. Puig announced his agreement with the decision, but said only that he had not properly been preparing defensively for every pitch (whatever that means).
Earlier in the game, Puig had failed to slide on a ground-ball double play hit by Carl Crawford. The lack of effort may have cost Los Angeles a run.
Last week, Puig exploded at home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck after a borderline strike three call on Monday night. He had to be escorted from the dugout by teammates. Puig followed that up by showing up late to Marlins Park before the Dodgers’ game on Tuesday, a violation of team rules. Puig was fined by the club and was also held out of the starting lineup. And if that wasn’t enough, he later screamed obscenities at the media in the clubhouse – “F*** the media!”, to b exact.
You can make a few excuses in defense of Puig. One, he’s still a rookie adjusting to the bright lights, the grand stage and the intense pressure of playing not just in the big leagues, but in Los Angeles. Two, he’s a Cuban defector who is still adjusting to life and culture in the United States of America. Whether that absolves him of wrongdoing – or at least makes his transgressions a little less offensive than Phillips’ – is up to you to decide.
I have to say that personally, the headlines made by DatDude_BP this week really hurt me. I make no bones about a couple of MLB facts: (1) The Cincinnati Reds are my favorite team, and (2) Brandon Phillips is my favorite player.
That being said, there is no defending the tirade he launched against a local beat reporter heading into Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals.
The incident culminated after a question about whether it was a good idea for Phillips to be moved up in the batting order when his on-base percentage was so low. To put things in perspective, Phillips’ on-base percentage was .209 in June, .240 in July and was .297 at that point in August.
Phillips had hit cleanup in 122 games for the Reds up to that point. He approached manager Dusty Baker after Tuesday’s loss to discuss hitting second or third in the Reds’ lineup. When Baker obliged, and penciled Phillips into the two whole for Wednesday’s contest, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer had questions for BP about the logic behind the move considering the second baseman’s low on-base percentage.
I guess it was a sensitive subject. Phillips responded by calling the reporter a fat m****** f*****, saying he didn’t care about his on-base percentage, and threatening to unleash Twitter hell against Rosecrans. Here’s the video of his reaction (don’t worry, it’s bleeped out).
Poor Dusty. He had no idea how to handle this situation.
Unlike Puig’s, Phillips’ tirade was a one-time occurrence. It occurred with the team struggling against a bitter division rival while in the midst of a tense pennant race. It’s understandable that those ingredients can cause tempers to flare and frustrations to skyrocket. But is on-field frustration a justification to treat Rosecrans, asking a relevant and intelligent question, the way Phillips did? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.