For much of the past month, the Cincinnati Reds have been perched atop the National League Central Division standings. Stealing most of the limelight is first baseman Joey Votto, whose offensive numbers put him among league leaders in several important categories. For his efforts, Votto was voted to start for the NL in the upcoming All-Star Game. It is a well deserved honor.
As with any great team, there are numerous Reds players who fly somewhat under the radar and still help the team win. These are the guys that fans love to see rewarded with honors like All-Star Game appearances. Though Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman both received spots on that roster, two Reds will be conspicuously absent from the NL dugout in Kansas City next Tuesday. Neither 2B Brandon Phillips nor pitcher Johnny Cueto were selected by NL All-Star Manager Tony LaRussa. I knew it would happen and I’m not surprised in the least.
In August 2010, Brandon Phillips told reporters (among other things I won’t print here), “I hate the (St. Louis) Cardinals.” The entirety of his quotes were both insulting and inflammatory to the St. Louis organization. It was only a matter of time before something happened on the field.
On August 10, 2010, Reds lead-off man Brandon Phillips made his way to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. In his customary fashion, he tapped the shin guards of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina with his bat. Molina, not desiring to sweep Phillips’s previous comments under the rug, would have none of the bat tapping. You can see the results here:
As review would later show, Phillips was the obvious instigator. Review would also show Cueto’s role in the brawl…pushed against the backstop, Cueto kicked repeatedly at those pushing him.
Though suspensions and fines were handed out by the Commissioner’s office, the episode did not gain closure until the 2012 All-Stars were announced. Tony LaRussa, upon the merits of being the World Series-winning manager in 2011, has the honor and privilege of managing the 2012 NL All-Star squad. With that comes the responsibility ofselecting several of the reserves for the team. Noticeably absent, despite their prolific numbers? Brandon Phillips and Johnny Cueto. Neither was selected by LaRussa for the roster. Honestly, I don’t blame him. (He denies that the brawl had anything to do with it, but I don’t buy that).
Some would label this karma…Phillips and Cueto simply received what the forces of nature or the baseball gods doled out to them. They sent out some bad karma that night against the Cards and it came back on them.
I call it farming. “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap…” (Galatians 6:7). There are consequences to actions, sometimes long after events take place. This isn’t about God getting back at Phillips and Cueto through LaRussa. My point is simply that a person cannot say, do, and live however he wants and not expect to reap from those things. As a father, I thank God for LaRussa’s decision to exclude Phillips and Cueto. It’s a great teaching moment for my son. Let it be a lesson to us all. Decisions have consequences.