Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Brandon Phillips

Trying to find my postseason groove

Logo Credit: MLB.com
Ok, so I have found myself getting into the postseason a little bit more than I expected I would. Yeah, I was really bitter a couple weeks ago and I really just wasn’t feeling it. Then, as game 1 of the NLDS started, I was a little more interested. Sad thing about it all…is the team I have been forced to cheer for. So,who have I been cheering for?
The Phillies. Um, excuse me?!
Yeah, the -gulp- Phillies. My reasoning?
Because, as I said on twitter last Wednesday, having a postseason team to root AGAINST is almost as fun as having a team to root FOR. So, take a breath, I am technically not rooting for the Phillies, just against the teams they play. From the moment the Cardinals were *officially* eliminated, I was ready to root for any team that would be playing against the Reds in the postseason regardless of who they were playing. Of course, I am not the only one who was doing the same – my sentiments have been echoed across Cardinal Nation. But, for not being excited about postseason at all, this was the one thing I was looking forward to. Now, that the Reds have been swept right out of the postseason, I am happy – not to mention, watching Brandon Phillips bawl like a baby in the dugout after the sweep and Johnny Cueto being the LP was just icing on the cake. Now, I am looking forward to the pitching match-ups in the final four teams. (Sort of still rooting for the Phillies since they are taking on the Giants, even as much as it makes me sick to see the Phils in the World Series again).
Cliff Lee & Teammates celebrate his CG and series win.
(Oh hey…there’s a MOLINA!)
Photo Credit: J. Meric, Getty Images
The LCS starts tonight, with the AL going first – Yankees vs. Rangers. I am really excited for this series. There have been stories about how the Yankees were hoping that the ALDS between the Rangers and the Rays would be stretched to a Game 5. I came across this article while doing research for my graduate classes. The Yankees were hoping this because it means that the Rangers starting pitcher would be out of commission until Game 3 of the ALCS. Sounds like a pretty decent reason to cheer on your potential opponents. However, I have never been one to believe in doing better with time off or that it really matters when which of your ace pitchers will be starting. If you have done well enough during the regular season, you should do well even without it being in the order the team desires. The Yankees may be excited that they don’t have to see Cliff Lee until Game 3, but when that game comes, they might need to be shaking in their boots. Cliff Lee pitched an amazing Game 5 of the ALDS – a complete game, 6-hit, one-run game with NO walks and 11 strikeouts. As long as the offense shows up that game, I think the Yankees might be regretting their wishes.

I am also a believer in momentum. Not a “momentum-beats-all” believer, but I believe that it exists. The Yankees haven’t played since Saturday – 5 days off – and the Rangers have only had 2 days off. I think that plays a factor in the outcome of the LCS. During the regular season, no one has that many off days – no one really even gets 2 off days except for during the ASG. So, do I think the Yankees have been sitting around too long waiting for their opponent? Yes. I think that the Rangers have a good chance of coming in and winning. The Rangers won all of their road games (another reason for the Yankees to be worried about Cliff Lee in Game 3, since it will be in New York) in the ALDS, and I think that they have what it takes to make it to the end. The series might last all 7 games, but I think they can pull it off. After all, do we really want to see the Phillies and the Yankees in the World Series
again? I will be rooting for the Rangers this series and for the Giants to lose. I really don’t think I could stand seeing Tim Lincecum winning a WS Ring – even if that does mean the Phillies are playing for the title again. If it ends up being the Yankees in the World Series, you can count me out this year. I’ll just wait for the Cardinals to take the crown next year. 🙂
Everyone enjoy the rest of the postseason. Not much time left before there is no actual baseball being played and we are being bombarded with trade rumors. And while I am anxious for awards season, I am dreading this offseason. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best news on a certain first baseman. 🙂  

Delayed Reaction: LOL Reds

I know, two days later and I’m talking about the Reds losing. Welcome to my busy and random world. Anyway, I was thinking about this time last year, and how awful and pathetic I felt to be a Cardinals fan, having just watched my team flush away the season with some rather lackluster play and a quick three game sweep by the Dodgers. I even made the seven hour trek to St. Louis for game three after lucking into some tickets last minute. I was fairly convinced that I could turn things around and help the team climb back into the NLDS. That didn’t happen, obviously…

I really enjoyed that Braves/Giants series. It felt like watching the Braves games I used to catch all the time on TBS as a kid (yes, I was a kid in the 90’s… sorry). Turner Field was electrified last night, and despite the loss, the atmosphere of that game was a fitting send-off for Bobby Cox. I never had a problem with Bobby (Leo Mazzone was another story… watching him rock away in the dugout made me crazy) and actually enjoyed seeing him get tossed all the time. While I was fairly surprised to see it happen in the playoffs, it almost seemed fitting for it to happen to him.

I did a pretty horrible job picking teams so far, didn’t I? Last week I went for the Phils, Twins, Braves and Rays.
Let’s face it, the Phillies should have won that series, plain and simple.
Picking the Twins was a hopeful thing, not a ‘I actually think this could happen’ pick. Beating the Yankees in a short series is no simple task, so losing that one didn’t really surprise me.
I assumed that the Braves/Giants would be a crapshoot, and I think that was the series I wavered on the most. At times I forgot who I was rooting for and cheered for both teams.
I did not expect the Rangers to make it out alive. They have impressed me. Unfortunately, I pretty much assume that no matter which team comes out on top, they will probably lose to the Yankees in the ALCS. Part of me wants to remember that it’s a funny game (“… eh Monty?”), but the rest of me knows that they are the d*** Yankees for a reason.

Anyway, I did actually do some writing about the Cardinals for today (crazy, right?), but you have to head over to Baseball Digest to read it. I like to-do lists, so I started one for Mo and the front office to hold on to as the offseason really starts to set in. Head over there and give it a read, okay?

One last thing about last year. I might not have been able to turn the team around in the NLDS, but at least I didn’t cry like Brandon Phillips. Just sayin.

Basebrawl: Boys Being Boys

Wow.  First, I cannot believe how long it has been since I’ve blogged here.  My last post was in July?!  A lot has happened – including our week-long blog hiatus while we Diamond Diaries gals met up in St. Louis to watch our boys plays some ball.  Fun trip.  Absolutely amazing!  I finally met Angela and Chris in person -plus a few other great Cardinals fans we knew from our Twitter baseball watch parties.  The trip was wonderful even if the Cardinals gave up two games to the Astros and the devastating news broke that our hop-a-long hotcorner David Freese would have season-ending surgery to rebuild his ankle.   But enough about that….

Yesterday we learned the penalties imposed on the players and managers for their actions during the mayhem that erupted during the 1st inning of Tuesday night’s game between the Cardinals and the Reds. (Chris disected the basebrawl details in yesterday’s Diamond Diaries post. and Viva El Birdos has broken the entire fight down into an amazing must-see video and picture sequence here.)

MLB’s disciplinary actions targeted 5 players and both team managers:

Johnny Cueto, Reds pitcher – 7 game suspension plus fines
Managers Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker – 2 game suspensions each
Cincinnati players Russ Springer and Brandon Phillips – fines
Cardinal players Chris Carpenter and Yadier Molina – fines

With one glaring exception, I found the penalties acceptable.  MLB made a point with the managers, and 4 of the 5 players did not deserve anything worse. Johnny Cueto was the only player in the melee who went berserk – violently kicking Chris Carpenter in the back and Jason LaRue in the head and ribs with his spikes, leaving Jason with a mild concussion and stitches in his lip.  Cueto’s actions were reprehensible and thankfully LaRue was not more seriously injured.  In my opinion, this was where MLB dropped the ball.  Cueto’s repeated thrashing of his spikes at the heads and bodies of players posed such risk to every player in that mobbed backstop that I believe he should be jailed for assault.

Baseball fights are definitely their own creature, much as baseball has its own personality.  The fact that baseball’s unwritten rules extend to benches-clearing, emotion-driven pushing-and-shoving matches leaves me smiling at this sport I have fallen in love with.
Sure, these grown men got all riled up and acted like a bunch of gorillas, but (with the exception of Johnny Cueto) they were civilized gorillas. 
Not a fan of fights, I do not enjoy hockey. Ultimate Fighting makes me sick and boxing horrifies me.  But Tuesday’s brawl between the Cardinals and the Reds was different – mostly because baseball fights, while full of bravado, are rarely violent, but also because I understood and appreciated the underlying emotions behind the furor.  Reds 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips rudely and intentionally insulted the entire core of the Cardinal organization and catcher Yadier Molina took exception to Phillips’ attempt to gloss over his comments. 
Don’t run on Yadi and don’t insult his baseball family. 
Sure, Molina could have let it go.  He could have just ignored Phillips and excused him as the publicity-seeking big mouth that he is.  Instead, Yadi took a stand, and with that confrontation (punctuated by a heroic retaliatory homerun in the next inning) Yadi ignited what will in all likelihood be the turning point for the 2010 Cardinals.
These Cardinals have been hungering for a unifying moment to ignite the type of fire that drives a talented team forward, and this sweep of the Reds – in the midst of the Phillips’ comment controversy- did just that.

The Cardinals won much more than a sweep in this past series against the Reds.  Their bond as a team is now iron-clad.  Conversely, the Reds lost more than just these 3 games and 1st place in the NL Central.  Cincinnati may now be playing as a team divided.  With proud former Cardinals Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds in Reds’ uniforms, Brandon Phillips’ comments make him an unpopular teammate, and Johnny Cueto’s conduct was a disgrace.   

Could we have just witnessed the downfall of the 2010 Reds? Time will tell. But the Reds will only have themselves to blame for sinking that ship.
Today the Cardinals take on long-time rival Chicago Cubs with the Cubs seeming much more like that pesky neighbor kid that wastes your time than a bitter adversary. Tony LaRussa serves his two-game suspension at the start of this Cardinals-Cubs series, and our Cardinals have some well-earned momentum. 
So, Let’s Play Ball!    …  and play nice.  =)

And if you happen to be looking for more baseball reading, I wrote a story for i70baseball earlier this week about Surviving August Baseball.  You can check it out here.

Words? Meet Actions

I wish I could say that I didn’t see the start of this week’s ‘feud’ (for lack of a better term) between the Reds and Cardinals coming awhile ago. I didn’t really see this exactly, but I wasn’t surprised either.

Okay, I’ll explain. I’ve been out of the loop here for a couple of weeks, so bear with me as I knock some cobwebs out…

That slide is a long way away from home plate.
Photo by Ang

July 28 – Reds at Brewers. Brandon Phillips hit a long grand slam in a 10-2 drubbing of the brew crew. I caught an interview the next morning on Sportscenter with Phillips, and when asked how far he thought the home run had gone, his response was something along the lines of ‘500 feet! Woo! The guys were teasing me in the dugout, saying I had embarrassed them. But man, I hit that a long way!’ I apologize for not being able to track down said interview, but trust me, you didn’t miss much. It was quite a blast – hitting off of Bernie Brewer’s slide in left field and measured at 450 feet, not quite the 500 that one of our newest ‘friends’ of the CDD had predicted, but still a solid piece of hitting.

I shook my head at the interview, because I knew that there would not be kind words said about Phillips up here in the land of cheese. Needless to say, I was correct. Brewer fans are frustrated with how their season has played out to say the least, but having an opposing player mouth off did not sit well with anyone I know around here. I wasn’t feeling the love for Phillips myself, but at the time, despite my beginning a feeling of dislike of the player, I took solace in the fact that he wasn’t talking about my team.

Oh how things change. I’m not going to say that Phillips started a fire in the Cardinals, because I don’t want to give him that much credit. He absolutely doesn’t deserve it.

I will say I like the response the Cardinals have made over the last two days. I think the team has a fairly good tradition of letting their actions speak louder than words. There haven’t been a lot of ‘big talkers’ for the Cardinals over the years. You could look at players like a Bob Gibson, who made statements, but we never had a Rickey Henderson or Reggie Jackson, stirring up trouble and talking big to the media. Reach back to the Gas House Gang of the 1930’s and you’ll find such crazy personalities as Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher and  Pepper Martin, who talked loud and played louder, backing up every one of their crazy ideas with results. However, it took me 80 years of baseball history to get to some major Cardinal blabbermouths. I’m okay with that.

Last night’s melee began when Phillips tapped Yadier Molina’s shin guard before the game. I hadn’t really heard of this or noticed it before last night, but apparently it’s a greeting of some sort between hitters and catchers. Yadi rightly took offense and snapped at Phillips, and it escalated from there. BJ Rains had a quote from Yadi here, where we read,

“I was ready to start the game and he touched me,” Molina said. “With the comment that he made yesterday that he’s got no friends over here, why you touch me then? You are not my friend so don’t touch me. That’s exactly what I said. If we are not good for you, then you are not my friend.” 

I couldn’t agree more. Why would you say, ‘I hate the Cardinals’ (among other things), then walk in the box and try to say, ‘Hey man, let’s have a good game.’ Not okay. But you know what? Yadi settled it on the field. Not in the papers, not in the post-game. He walked to the plate in his next at bat after the scuffle and blasted a home run over the wall. The same could be said for Ryan Franklin, who shut Phillips down in the 9th after saying that the comments weren’t worth talking about, as well as Skip Schumaker, who dropped a grand slam over the wall Monday night and said after the game that he wasn’t sure why anyone would say something like that.

When the Cardinal players heard about the comments that were made against them, most of them didn’t have much of a response. They kept their comments to themselves (at least as far as the media is concerned) and just said, ‘We’ll settle it on the field.’ They did, putting up 7 runs Monday night and 8 more last night. I love that, because I’d rather see runs on the scoreboard and wins in the standings than a war of words that are not backed up by solid play.

Game 3 starts early – 11:35 this morning! Let’s finish this shall we? Before I go, I did want to leave our newest friend with a note…

That looks like it hurt! Poor baby!
Jim Prisching – AP Photo

Dear Mr. Phillips,
You said you would play against the Cards on one leg. To us, it’s looking like both your legs are working. Your bat, however, is having some issues. Your mouth might also be in need of a bar of soap, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Diamond Diary ladies. Please wash, rinse, and repeat. Thanks for playing, and feel free to keep that nice 1 for 10 stretch over the past two days going until October. Then you can talk all you want from the comfort of your own home.

October is for people whose actions speak louder than words.

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