It’s not easy being part of a pennant race let alone being a young player involved in a pennant race. What we have seen in the past week is what keeps teams out of the post season. Not by a lack of talent but by motivating the team you’re in the hunt with to stop you. Now I’m not going to go out and say that the Reds and Giants have blown their chances at making the playoffs. Saying that would make as much sense as what was said to begin with.
So what was said you’re asking?
On Tuesday, Cincinnati Reds All Star second baseman Brandon Phillips said this prior to the series with St. Louis, ‘We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is [bleep] 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.’ During game one Phillips then tapped opposing catcher Yadier Molina on the shins, then discussed the comments made and the odd greeting. Following that a mêlée of talking and shoving ensued with a couple of punches thrown in. You’ve probably seen the replay by now. The point isn’t the fight it is that The Cardinals then responded by sweeping the Reds and taking control of the National League Central. I don’t know that St. Louis needed the motivation but it was an example of things not to say while battling an opponent in a race to win your division.
Now moving out west; while not as inflammatory and crude, here is what San Francisco starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez said prior to the 3 game weekend series, ‘We’re going to play San Diego, and we’re going to beat them three times. If we get to first place, we’re not going to look back.’. Not bad, motivational. Sanchez even has been known to stop Padre hitters having tossed a no-hitter last season. The reality though is that the Giants lost the game he pitched on Friday. Making a sweep impossible. Both teams were scrapping for hits on Saturday and San Francisco managed a win in extra-innings. Sunday the Giants were drilled 8-2 by San Diego. The series kept The Padres in first place and nullified the prediction of Jonathan Sanchez.
Now in no way am I calling out these two Major League Baseball stars.
I am simply highlighting examples of how not to fire up the opposition before playing a series against the team you’re battling to reach the post season.
I understand the motivation to give the folks in the media something to write or pass along to their viewers or listeners.But for future match-ups suffice it to respond by saying you’re going to play hard and hope your opponent does the same. Or words to that effect.