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In Case You Hadn't Noticed, Brandon Phillips Is A Superstar

Pay homage or pay the price.

By J.R. Gamble August 21, 2013, 09:09 AM EST

Bp

Brandon Phillips is an NBA personality balling in MLB. The way he carries himself makes him a charismatic contradiction amongst pro baseball’s bland cast of superstars.  

He brags a lot, but he’s also a straight shooter. After all, anyone who calls a six-year $72.5 million contract, like the one Phillips signed last season, “a slap in the face,” is either delusional or has an off-the-charts self image. With Philips it’s a little of both. Sure, he plays second base like a soccer goalie with Blake Griffin ups (don’t believe me, watch him turn a DP and get back to me),  but some baseball heads feel like a career .272 hitter should be more than happy with the bread Phillips is raking in. These guys are wondering, “Is DatDude serious?”

He’s dead-ass, and just the guy to lead Cincinnati’s NL Central dogfight with first-place Pittsburgh and St. Louis. They have 37 more chances to make up 3 ½ games and repeat as division champs, and having Phillips, whose been rocking the Cincy Red and been one of the game’s best two-baggers since he broke into MLB in 2006, can only help.  He’s as efficient and durable as the old Big Wheels kids used to ride through the streets and flip into every tree in the neighborhood.

Phillips, outfielder Jay Bruce (24 homers) and former MVP Joey Votto are the “Big Three” for Cincinnati. Leading the charge is baseball-lifer Dusty Baker, who’s still making crazy maneuvers that have sabermetric cats scratching their oversized domes.

Baker’s not heavy on pitch counts and .OPS, but the old-school skipper has a wealth of talent and a staff featuring three double-digit winners in Mike Leake (10), Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo (12).

If that doesn’t make teams duck and jump behind a car, relief ace Aroldis Chapman’s 100-plus mph laser will. And just for good measure, Homer Bailey is a no-hitter waiting to happen every time he blesses the mound.

The Reds are well equipped for the stretch run, and Phillips has justified the tough talk he was spitting in an August issue of Cincinnati Magazine, when he said he was lied to by general manager Walt Jocketty and owner Bob Castellini. Phillips was salty that they told him the bank was closed, and then offered Votto a 10-year $225 million contract, before braking Phillips off with his cut.

He spit the real.  

“I just feel like they didn’t have to sign Joey to that contract,” Phillips said. “He still had two more years on his. I understand Joey’s one of the best players in this game. But I feel like I am too. I told them that this is where I wanted to be. I begged them. I told everybody I want to finish my career here. And then they give someone a contract who didn’t ask for nothing?

“I’m still scarred…For (Castellini) to sign somebody for $200 million, there must be a new vegetable or fruit coming out that we don’t know about. For him to do something like that and tell me they didn’t have any more money, that’s a lie…I just feel like it was a slap in my face … But how can someone slap you in the face with all that money. It’s a nice slap in the face.”

That’s not as bad as what he said about the Cardinals, in August 2010, when he was overheard in the locker room saying that he hated the St. Louis Cardinals, then said, “they’re little bitches, all of 'em.”

But in both instances he spoke from his heart, and even when he basically called his teammate out, and no one got offended. If Phillips was a rapper he’d be ODB spitting it raw, but with Will Smith fan appeal. Phillips’ Twitter handle @DatDudeBP says a mouthful. The more than 700,000 followers he’s flossing, says even more.

Votto may get more gwop, but Phillips is Ohio’s adopted son and the franchise–face of a Cincinnati team that is a perennial contender. The best thing about Phillips is his addiction to the big stage, and while his career stats may not indicate “greatness,” his clutch gene elevates his status, especially in the fans eyes. After being moved down into the cleanup spot this season, Phillips is second behind Miguel Cabrera with 31 go-ahead RBI and is hitting .625 with the bases juiced.

The Raleigh, NC native is second in the NL in RBI with 92 and thanks to a recent four-game hitting streak, has his batting average up to .267

Don’t think Phillips isn’t counting those RBIs. As sure as he gets his matte black, custom Hummer H3T detailed weekly—he’s playing with a chip on his shoulders.

“Some people say I’m cocky. I’m not a cocky person,” Phillips told cincinattimagazine.com. “I just play with a lot of swag because that’s the only way I know how.”

Jr_gamble

J.R. Gamble writes for The Shadow League. He's been covering pro sports as a radio host and journalist since 1996. He's written for The Raleigh News & Observer, Newsday and SLAM Magazine. He has co-hosted Sportsrap Radio with A Tribe Called Quest legend Phife Dawg. Follow him @fanalyst1 & find him on Facebook.

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