Big League Stew - MLB

Brandon Phillips(notes) of the Cincinnati Reds must have calculated that his team needed a little bluster and bravado to get motivated for a key series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

So, Phillips opened his mouth — pro-wrestling style — and told the media what he really thinks of manager Tony La Russa and the Cards.

And as we all know, Phillips' gums can flap faster than his purple car can break the speed limit.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"I'd play against these guys with one leg," Phillips insisted before the game. "We have to beat these guys. ... All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them, they're little bitches, all of 'em.''

He also was quoted as saying, "I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals."

Man. Next thing you know, Phillips won't be high-fiving Albert Pujols(notes) at the All-Star game.

But while Phillips had plenty to say before Monday's game, he and his teammates couldn't back it up once they took the field. Phillips went a quiet 0-for-5 and the first-place Reds fell 7-3, allowing the Cards to move within a game of them in the NL Central.

And not only did the Cardinals get in the last word on the scoreboard, they also did so in the clubhouse. Most notably, La Russa.

"We win the right way; we lose the right way," the skipper said. "Over the years we've done both those things. If we get beat, we tip our caps. If we win, we don't get arrogant and show anybody up."

La Russa was still livid after showering, so much that he chased down P-D reporters Joe Strauss and Bernie Miklasz while still wet and wearing only a towel in order to add a few choice words.

"I don't think that will go over well in his clubhouse," La Russa said. "Phillips is ripping his [own] teammates. [Scott] Rolen, [Jim] Edmonds, [Miguel] Cairo, [Russ] Springer, all of the ex-Cardinals over there.

"He isn't talking about this year. He's talking about the way we've always played. And those guys are old Cardinals. Tell him he's ripping his own teammates, because they were all Cardinals."

Is that the sound of Phillips munching away, having to eat his own words? 

Truthfully, Phillips probably is ripping La Russa first. Tony's a lawyer who leaves no pebble unturned — or opposing batter undusted — in order to get his team an edge. Sometimes it rubs opponents the wrong way — which is not accidental.

Sometimes, opponents just implode on their own and La Russa can just watch as it happens. Is that what's happening to Phillips?

There are still two games in the series and a lot of the season to go. But it's not an auspicious start to the stretch run for the Reds, who showed up on Monday and both looked and sounded like they've never been in a pennant race before.

That may be true, but they're in one now. 

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