Big League Stew - MLB

We as a baseball nation probably don't appreciate Brandon Phillips(notes) of the Cincinnati Reds enough. He's a good ballplayer, he's a funny guy and he's an entertainer.

Sometimes, he's all three at the same time.

On a slow roller hit by Houston's Jason Bourgeois(notes) in the third inning Tuesday night, Phillips had neither the time nor the proper angle to make a conventional defensive play to retire the speedy baserunner at first base.

So, running toward home at full speed from his position at second, Phillips bent down, barehanded Bourgeois' grounder and quickly flipped the ball between his legs — near his ankles — for the out at first base.

Watch Phillips go to work

The flip wasn't perfect — Votto had to make a nice scoop — but it was effective enough. The whole thing was art, actually, like jazz on a baseball field. The kind of play that makes you gasp, then yell, then smile and laugh. And Phillips' own reaction said it all:

Watching replays closely, you can catch a glimpse of Votto making a similar face. It was as good as (or better than) any well-timed assist on a hockey rink, nifty alley-oop on a basketball court, or Barry Sanders-esque juke on a football field.

UPDATE: And yet, via Phillips' Twitter account — @DatDudeDP — the man himself says he has done better elsewhere:

"Thank u #BPFansShawty for the support and TRUST ME, it's just the beginning! LOL... I still think the play I made in San Diego was better!"

I'm not sure which play he means, but OK.

Overall, the Reds experienced another rough night, falling under .500 for the first time this season thanks to a 10-4 drubbing by the Houston Astros. Team owner Bob Castellini even came down to the clubhouse for a meeting with manager Dusty Baker — to offer encouragement, Baker said.

They'll probably play better, but even if they don't regain their NL Central champion form of 2010, the Reds still have Phillips to watch. And that's often worth the price of admission, or your time.

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