While the Cubs are busy helping the Giants make the playoffs, the NL Central battle of the year is being played at the ballpark formerly known as Wrigley Field East. The Reds and Cardinals are facing off in a series that might set the tone for the rest of the season. The two teams meet to battle for first place, with the Reds entering the series two games up on the Cardinals.
Brandon Phillips helped add a little more juice to these three very important games with his thoughts on the Cardinals.
“I’d play against these guys with one leg,” Phillips insisted before the game. “We have to beat these guys. … All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them, they’re little bitches all of ’em.”
He also was quoted as saying, “I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals.”
Fantastic. There are not many players in this day and age willing to go out and say something quite that bold. Phillips has always been rather confident in himself, he coined himself “The Franchise”, and he showed yet again that he will say whatever is on his mind, no matter the consequence.
The immediate consequence was a 7-3 loss in the series opener, with Phillips 0-5 effort being little help, and should the Cardinals win the series (or sweep) Phillips will look like quite the fool. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t correct in his statement though, the Cardinals are certainly a collective group of whiners, and have never really handled losing well.
According to Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRussa, his team handles both winning and losing with nothing but dignity. No excuses or showboating.
“We win the right way; we lose the right way,” the skipper said. “Over the years we’ve done both those things. If we get beat, we tip our caps. If we win, we don’t get arrogant and show anybody up.”
I first became fully exposed to “Cardinal Nation” and the day to day media coverage of the team in 2006, when I moved to Missouri to go to school. Since that time the Cardinals have essentially been a non-stop whining fest. The first incident I can remember was right after they won the 2006 World Series. Ryan Howard was voted MVP of the National League, and Albert Pujols did not handle losing the award well. I see no tip of the cap there. Of course in 2008, when Pujols won MVP for a fourth place team, there was no issue.
How about last season’s NLDS, when the Dodgers swept the Cardinals. Game 2 of that series will live in infamy due to Matt Holliday’s attempt to use his cup to catch a line drive. Of course, in the world of Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright, the white towels being waved by fans are to blame. Still waiting for that cap to be tipped in defeat.
Finally we come to the incident(s) that spurred Phillips to open his mouth to begin with. Since last September the Cardinals and Reds have been arguing about the proper way to rub dirt on a baseball. When John Smoltz suddenly lost his ability to throw strikes, Dave Duncan decided it was because the baseballs were too slick. The fact that the Reds’ pitcher Bronson Arroyo threw 8 1/3 innings in that same game simply meant he was cheating. Still waiting.
Opening day this year, a Cardinals win, resulted in more complaining about balls from Chris Carpenter. Carpenter pitched fine, yet still felt the need to complain. Way to win with class.
So while Brandon Phillips probably should not have been quite so loud mouthed before the biggest series of the season, his words are still 100% true. Time and time again the Cardinals have “bitched and moaned” about everything. Be it the proper way to rub a baseball, or the 2009 Cy Young (which almost resulted in a riot), the Cardinals have shown through their actions and words that they do like to whine. I applaud Phillips for being the person to finally say it.