My BP reaction
I passed on this as a topic on Friday. We were kicking off the 2nd half of the season with an Opening Day Part 2 feel to it at Holy Grail. Brandon Phillips complaining about his contract and calling the front office liars, didn't seem in the spirit of the day's conversation. I read the Cincinnati Magazine article several times over the weekend and thought about what Brandon said. I like the energy and passion that Brandon brings the Reds. He adds an intangible of swagger/bravado that is missing on this team. I like his willingness to reach out and connect to the community and the fan base. I think he's the best defensive 2B I've ever seen. I was a fan of Brandon's before Friday and I'm a fan of Brandon's today. But I was disappointed by his comments. I think his comments make him sound selfish. I think they make him sound self-centered and make him sound petty.
I'm not sure what Brandon thought would be accomplished by saying what he said. If it was his attempt to "keep it real", I'd suggest he needs a new reality. If he wants to feel that way fine, but if he wants to say it, he needs to zip it. He can't say what he said in a team sport and draw everyone else into the conversation. His comments are a flashback to the Brandon that the Cleveland Indians had grown tired of enough to designate him for assignment and eventually trade. I can't imagine disrespecting my bosses and calling them liars.
Phillips signed his contract 15 months ago. This is old news, contract talks under the bridge. Why go there now? Why pit teammate contract vs teammate contract? Why create an issue that teammates and the organization would have to address? It's not like the team has a playoff chase or anything to already worry about as they sit inn 3rd place.
Do I think his comments change the course of this season and send the team spiraling into a funk? Nope. Clearly, led by Joey Votto, the Reds went into circle the wagon and move on mode. Joey provided cover for Brandon. Joey and the team had Brandon's back. It is a shame Brandon did not have Joey and his teammate's backs.
Brandon signed his contract five days AFTER Votto's deal was announced. On April 10, 2012 he said "I cried about this. This is where I wanted to be," Phillips said. "I'm still ... you know ... loss of words right now, for me to play in the city I really love. The fans have embraced me and they love me and I love them back."
If Brandon was hurt, "scarred", lied to and felt a "slap in the face", he could have chosen to reject the contract offer, played out the remainder of his 2012 contract and become a free agent this past offseason. Instead, accepted $72M for the next six years and then opted to complain about it publicly, 15 months later.
Most athletes will struggle to find pubic support when he chooses words like "slap in the face" and "scarred" when it comes to signing a $72-million dollar deal. Fan backlash can come from jealousy, but I'd guess it more likely comes from a place where the Average Joe struggles to find work and make ends meet for his family. Fans around here don't ask for much, if you hustle and appreciate your opportunity you are usually good to go. I get a sense "slap in the face" is a better description of how some fans feel today.
Brandon did tell Cincinnati Magazine's Justin Williams, “But how can someone slap you in the face with all that money? It’s a nice slap in the face.”......"Number one, the fans love me here. I love it here. It’s a blessing. It shows that [the team] invested a lot of money in me to go out there and do my job, and to keep representing the Reds in a positive way,” he says. “I feel like that’s the only reason I got that deal—if they didn’t feel I was important to the city, then I wouldn’t still be here.”
But after making his comments, seeing them in print and hearing the reaction, Brandon told C. Trent Rosecrans (Enquirer), "What did I say wrong? Please tell me, what did I say wrong? I want to know what I said wrong. Please tell me. I want everyone to tell me exactly did I say that was so wrong?"
The fact he doesn't "get" what was wrong might be more disturbing going forward, that what he said to begin with. Would Votto had made such comments? No. Would anyone else on the team have made such comments? Doubtful. Much is made of the "Reds Way". Sadly, the interview to Cincinnati Magazine was "Brandon's Way".