Big League Stew

Brandon Phillips charges racism against unidentified Pirates player

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(AP)

Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds said a Pittsburgh Pirates opponent made a racist remark in the eighth inning of a game Monday night, but he did not identity the alleged offender.

Phillips made his charge on Twitter after the Reds beat the Pirates 4-3 in 14 innings:

That's one heck of an ugly charge, especially in this so-called enlightened age, but that's all Phillips has said about it so far in public. Here's the play from which it apparently stems.

UPDATE: Phillips and Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes reportedly have spoken and made nice. Just a misunderstanding? Well, Phillips wouldn't elaborate. But it's over and done with.

With one out in the eighth, Pirates right-hander Jared Hughes hit Phillips in the left leg with a pitch, and Phillips flipped the ball back toward Hughes' direction as he walked to first base. Phillips probably wasn't being courteous. He apparently thought Hughes delivered a purpose pitch, possibly to retaliate for Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison getting hit the previous trip into Great American Ball Park. These ballplayers don't forget squat.

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Tempers flared. Phillips glared. Hughes jawed. Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett left the dugout and yelled at Phillips (not seen on the highlight clip). Umpires warned both benches. Reds announcer Thom Brennaman talked about the "bad blood" between the two teams, some of which comes from the McCutchen and Harrison plunkings and the thought that Phillips would make a likely target for retribution. Phillips frequently finds himself generating the ire of the opponent. He's ... playful, shall we say? Ask the Cardinals.

Now what about the "racism" part? Was Phillips (who is black) talking about Hughes (who is white)? Or another Pirates player? Maybe even someone on the Bucs bench? Reporters John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Mark Sheldon of MLB.com were unable to answer the question.

After the eighth inning ended, Phillips got the attention of McCutchen, who apparently acknowledged whatever Phillips said to him. As Getting Blanked on The Score also noted, Phillips appeared to say something to an umpire. If we can interpret those conversations as having to do with Phillips' racism complaint, then his tweet won't be the end of it. He's already said something to the Pirates and to a major-league official. There has to be an investigation, right?

But it would be helpful if Phillips elaborated on his charge today.

UPDATE: Phillips said he spoke with Hughes before Tuesday's game and the two have reportedly cleared the air, according Mark Sheldon of  MLB.com.

Said Phillips:

"Last night, it was a heated moment for me, especially being from Stone Mountain, Ga., a lot of crazy things go down and a lot of racist stuff happened from the south," Phillips said on Tuesday. "I was real (ticked) off about the situation. Me and Mr. Hughes, we had a great conversation before I came to the stadium today. It was the best thing that ever happened, talking to him in general about what happened and talking to him about things that I heard and stuff. It was great just to hear what he had to say and for him to hear what I had to say. It made us feel better about the situation.

"I respect him as a player and also as a man from the conversation me and him had. It was just a big misunderstanding. When you say certain things in the heat of the moment, you don't really mean it. I understand that and you forgive people. He forgave me and I forgive him."

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