Friday, August 13, 2010

Johnny Cueto Issued Harsh Suspension, but Brandon Phillips Prompted Brawl


It wasn’t a typical skirmish in the Reds-Cards showdown, but it was the wildest melee in the history of sports, as each team was unable to stay above the fray when a verbal altercation initiated a physical altercation.

It was utterly amazing that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, an agitator who caused tempers to flare and blatantly singled out the St. Louis Cardinals with verbal trash talk, merely was handed a fine for escalating and instigating an ugly war between two teams with bad blood.

In truth, the animosity triggered a benches-clearing brawl that was so atypical at a time when peace and unity spreads throughout the game. And besides, a brawl very seldom materializes unless it is Yankees-Red Sox and UFC brawls, which are mundane and happens to be some of the greatest fights in sports.

This week, the most controversial issue happened, as usual, when Major League Baseball issued suspensions for players involved in a repulsive brawl, but the league mishandled to impose a befitting penalty for the instigator who was the cause of an ugly incident.

How utterly compelling we continue to ignore the causes and effects in life and deny the visible evidence, finding someone else liable for their wrongdoings in a tawdry and uncontrollable scene.

But this is the era we live in, a sport blinded by the truth in regards to steroid scandals, awful no-calls, or even an asinine brawl, as baseball shows favoritism and remains unsuccessful in punishing those who fuels a free-for-all.

Whether he wants to admit it or not, Phillips should be hanging his head in shame, blaming himself for prompting the dispute and adding to the hostility. When he publicly lashed out at the Cardinals the other day, his abhorrent remarks backfired and cost Cincinnati and starting pitcher Johnny Cueto a seven-game suspension for his actions during the brawl of Tuesday night’s game.


Few believe, however, that Phillips broke baseball’s unwritten rule and suggested that he should have served a suspension. All of his talk was fighting words and led to absolute nonsense, as Phillips became famous for publicly calling out the Cardinals and unpleasantly starting a fight -- similar to the heated, back-and-forth disputes that are common at nightclubs or even in sports bars, such as this fracas.

The theory is, of course, play nice and perform the task with class and good sportsmanship. Have they ever heard of playing nice? Sometimes I wonder and gush over the significance of sportsmanship and respect for peers and teammates, whereas reconciliation can harmonize things for a friendly, relaxing night at the ballpark.

Point is, it was hilarity with no purpose, for what could have been a harsher punishment.

And since Phillips said he despises the Cardinals on Monday, it had antagonists emotionally livid during a matchup that turned out to be appealing, captivating baseball devotees who are now anxious to witness a rematch between the Reds-Cards in the NLCS. It’s suddenly the dream matchup? From contamination to knockouts, baseball has suddenly turned into WrestleMania and Ultimate Fighting?

If there is any excitement and noise in baseball come October, it would be a hostile meeting between two heated, ill-tempered rivals, and it would be equivalent to the outrageous Jerry Springer studio-brawls, or fights that take place on the playground during recess.

When the news first surfaced, it strictly revolved around Phillips and no other player or manager. As of recently, he was overly talkative in his public rant and obviously broke the Cardinals' hearts, but they were smarter by not responding to Phillips' fighting words. Yes, words that were foolish, words that were an explanation for antipathy.

“I’d play against these guys with one leg. We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is [beep] and moan about everything, all of them, they’re little [same bleep, plural], all of ‘em. I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals.”

Oh, he clearly elaborated and stated how he felt about the division rivals. The harsh words probably made the Cubs speechless. The spiteful words probably opened many eyes. The insulting words probably awakened the Cardinals, and have inspired them to come out with much fortitude, strength and firepower.

It’s very interesting to see whether the Cardinals ride an emotional surge from Phillips' bickering, and maybe this was a momentum push to increasingly expose the strengths of the unbeatable and unstoppable Reds. But if anything, the latest incident was mishandled and managed wrongly, failing to acknowledge the core of the problem and fairly suspend Phillips, who impelled both teams to act inappropriately in a much-anticipated altercation.

It’s very surprising to some degree that only three players were suspended for the brawl, when there were evidently more than three players involved in the incident. This is unfortunate in a way, as Cueto is hit with seven games and we all know why. But I have a problem with Reds pitcher being forced to sit out seven games, as the enforcers were too harsh.


In some way, Cueto could have gotten away with kicking as if he was a whiny baby stuck in a stroller, in a brawl that drifted toward the fence behind home plate. At that point, players were pinned against the backstop netting, including Cueto who showed off some of his Kung Fu movements. From a sensible viewpoint, he used self-defense.

In perspective, this is one martial arts expert who is being used as an example, and he’s fortunately projected to miss one start and will appeal the suspension, after landing several kicks to the back of Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter and the ribs of catcher Jason LaRue, who suffered a mild concussion and sore ribs according to manager Tony La Russa.

So now, the insults by Phillips aren't the only problem and the storyline receded into distant memory. And now, we are focused on Cueto’s actions. The peeving nonsense is why baseball is so corrupted and battered by a crisis, whereas it is gradually turning millions away. How Phillips receives a fine, and not a suspension? This is another nightmare for baseball, and perhaps only this time it involves a brawl.

While La Russa and Dusty Baker were suspended two games apiece, Phillips, Carpenter, Yadier Molina and Russ Springer were all fined. What? That’s all?

They were all part of the brawl and just as liable as Cueto. There's a clear understanding that Phillips is being painted as the victim, even when he prompted a face-to-face shouting match with Molina and taunted him with his bat. Wow! Really, you forgot that fast? How could you? It just happened a few days ago.

In my mind, it is insanity that people today are not killing Phillips for this.