Brandon Phillips is apparently quite sensitive about his on-base percentage and would prefer reporters don’t tweet about it.
Before Wednesday’s game versus the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds second baseman barged into the media’s interview with manager Dusty Baker to berate Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer C. Trent Rosecrans. Phillips didn’t like that Rosecrans pointed out his on-base percentage (OBP) in response to Baker batting him second in the Reds’ lineup.
Here’s a transcript of Phillips’ remarks during the pregame gathering, courtesy of the Sporting News‘ Ryan Fagan:
“Hey, Dusty. The (expletive) on the end, he worries about my on-base percentage. You tell him you’d have me bat eighth, he worried about my on-base percentage. The (expletive) over there. Make him happy, Dusty. The (expletive). You talking that negative (expletive) about our team, dog. I found out your Twitter name now, (expletive). It’s a wrap. Just so you (expletive) know. (Expletive).”
Phillips’ went into Wednesday’s game with a .310 OBP, the lowest of his eight seasons in Cincinnati. He replaced Todd Frazier — whose OBP is currently .320 — at the No. 2 spot in the batting order.
According to Fagan, Phillips confronted Rosecrans in the doorway of the Reds’ clubhouse and obviously drew notice from others nearby. But whatever discussion the two had there wasn’t the end of their argument, at least from Phillips’ point of view. He was still angry enough about Rosecrans’ tweet that he brought it up with his manager in front of the assembled media.
If you’re more of a visual sort, here’s video of the incident from 101ESPN in St. Louis:
Oh, this is the presumably offensive tweet:
Reds go from a hitter with a .320 OBP in the 2 hole to one with a .310 OBP
— ctrent (@ctrent) August 28, 2013
Rosecrans followed that tweet up with another, comparing Phillips’ .272/.320/.430 career slash line to his .277/.320/.424 numbers batting second during his career. Neither tweet appeared to be a slap at @DatDudeBP. (You could argue that it was actually critical of Baker.) But he clearly took it that way.
Perhaps there’s some history between Phillips and Rosecrans that we don’t know about. Players and reporters spend a lot of time with each other during a long baseball season, and it’s natural for people to get tired of one another under such circumstances. Few people will sympathize with the media, I realize, but Phillips making his remarks personal with some insults made the incident uglier than it had to be. (I should clarify that I’m probably biased here, as Rosecrans is kind of a buddy.)
Maybe Phillips is reflecting some tension in the Reds clubhouse after the team has lost three in a row and fallen 4.5 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. (If that’s the case, someone could point out that Cincinnati currently holds a five-game lead over the Diamondbacks for the NL’s second wild-card playoff spot.)
Or, as our Tim Livingston points out, Phillips could be following a tradition of Reds second basemen who don’t think much of on-base percentage.
The Enquirer‘s sports editor, Angel Rodriguez, addressed the situation on the paper’s website, saying that such occurrences are a regular part of sports media and this won’t influence how Phillips is covered. He hopes both the paper and Phillips choose to forget about the incident and move on.
But maybe Phillips gets the last word here. He went 2-for-5 from the No. 2 spot in the Reds’ 10-0 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday, pushing his OBP up to .311. Take that, Rosecrans!