CINCINNATI – Brandon Phillips…Cubs fan?
Yes, that’s the same @DatDudeBP character who declared himself the best second baseman in the game and told reporters he thought he got “Punk’d” when he found out Darwin Barney won the Gold Glove last year.
Nothing personal, Phillips essentially said Monday, standing by his locker in the Great American Ball Park home clubhouse. The Cincinnati Reds All-Star has blamed the loss on playing with too much flair, and he creates his own endorsement deals and communicates directly with more than 788,000 followers on Twitter.
“I just be me,” Phillips said. “So if somebody asks me a question, I’m going to tell them how I feel. But don’t get mad at me because that person asked me a question. You get mad at that person who asked me that question. Don’t get mad at me for how I feel, because I’m going to tell you how the (bleep) I feel.”
Phillips will say whatever’s on his mind, but it comes across as playful more than anything else. There are the stories about how he walked into SUBWAY saying: I like your sandwiches, you should sponsor me. And the time he showed up at a youth baseball game in the Cincinnati area when a follower invited him over Twitter.
Growing up in Georgia, Phillips explained how Barry Larkin became his favorite player, while his interest in baseball developed as Deion Sanders emerged as a two-sport star. One team caught his eye because they were always on TV.
“I always loved the Cubs,” Phillips said. “I was into football and I started recognizing baseball. (They) always talk about Ryne Sandberg this, Sammy Sosa this, Ernie Banks…‘Let’s play two!’ You start learning the game a little bit when (you’re) young and they start throwing it in your face.
“You’re just like: ‘Wow, I love that pinstripe Cubbie blue. I love the Reds cut-off with the pinstripes.’
“It would have been nice. I love blue. Blue’s my favorite color. But the thing is, though, I’m very happy and stable and satisfied from wearing this red.”
Phillips laughed at that line and said he always wanted to play for Dusty Baker, the old Cubs manager, before getting the chance in Cincinnati. Phillips also downplayed his rivalry with Barney after winning Gold Gloves in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
“I don’t worry about (bleep) like that, man,” Phillips said. “I just play the game and just worry about who’s on my team. I let everybody else talk about that, man. I’m very happy with my life and what I have. People blow things up more than it is.”
Phillips has a quick smile and can get rolling, which is rare for the modern athlete schooled in media-training workshops and intentionally bland talking points. He’s not afraid to make headlines and won’t become paranoid inside the 24/7 news cycle.
“That was an interview,” Phillips said of the “Punk’d” comments. “If somebody asks me a question, then don’t get mad at me for what I say. No. 1: Don’t ask me a question that you already know what my answer’s going to be.
“But think about it: It’s like if somebody asked you a question about your job (and) they say this person’s better than you or this person deserves more money than you or whatever.
“Your (answer’s) not going to be like: ‘Yes! This guy deserves more money than me,’ even though you don’t think that. You’re not going to say that. You’re going to tell them how you feel. If you’re a real man, you’re going to say how you really feel.”
Or you’re going to be, Phillips said, switching into a high-pitch voice: “‘Well, you know, uh, he deserves it’ and all this other stuff when you really – deep in your heart – know how you feel.
“I don’t worry about that, man. I said what I said and I’m very happy. I mean…do you know how many things I have for myself? I’m very happy where I’m at.”
Phillips said he loves Chicago as a city. Imagine the kind of crossover star he’d be if he played every day at Wrigley Field.
“I’m an entertainer,” Phillips said. “I entertain the fans out here. I don’t try to show people that I’m the best player or the best defensive second baseman or the best offensive second baseman. I don’t go out there showing people that. I entertain people.”