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Biertempfel's MLB insider: Phillips' spat with beat writer goes way beyond the pale

| Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, 11:51 p.m.
The Reds' Brandon Phillips sits in the dugout losing to the Colorado Rockies 9-6 after a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, in Denver.

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips interrupted manager Dusty Baker's pregame press conference Wednesday by walking in and cussing out Cincinnati Enquirer beat reporter C. Trent Rosecrans.

A few minutes earlier, Phillips had yelled at Rosecrans in the clubhouse about a tweet that referenced Phillips' on-base percentage. Apparently, Phillips just couldn't let it go.

Phillips: “Hey, Dusty, the fat (nasty word) on the end is worried about my on-base percentage. Why don't you tell him to have me bat eighth with my on-base percentage?”

Rosecrans: “I don't care about ...”

Phillips: “Fat (nasty word). Make him happy, Dusty. Fat (nasty word). I'm tired of you talking that negative (another nasty word) on our team, dog. I found out your Twitter name now, (nasty word). It's a wrap. Just so you (different nasty word) know. (Nasty, nasty word).”

Well, then.

(Full disclosure: I've known Rosecrans for several years and consider him a friend as well as a colleague. Our politics are on opposite sides of the aisle, so we've had our share of disagreements via Facebook posts and text messages, but we've never resorted to the nasty stuff.)

Baseball writers and players are around each other in cramped quarters practically every day from February to October. Sometimes, reporters have to ask or write about non-flattering topics and rash words end up being written, tweeted, blogged and/or spoken. It happens all the time. And, usually, the player and the reporter work it out face-to-face and all is forgotten in a matter of minutes.

What made the Phillips-Rosecrans confrontation different was there was a video camera running as it happened. The whole time, the camera stayed focused on Baker, who was literally caught in the middle and looked plenty uncomfortable.

Rosecrans was just doing his job when he sent out the tweet (which read: “Reds go from a hitter with a .320 OBP in the 2 hole to one with a .310 OBP”). Phillips can take offense if he wants, but he was wrong to turn it into a public spectacle in the clubhouse and manager's office.

The video was all over the Web, so the spat was a hot topic for a few days. But it won't take long for it to fade. In fact, after the game Wednesday, Rosecrans was the first reporter to ask Phillips a question in the clubhouse. Business as usual. Phillips did not respond to the question. That, too, is not out of the ordinary.

As a side note, this wasn't the first time Phillips wound up in the Twitter-related controversy. A year ago, after a game against the Pirates, Phillips sent a late-night tweet that accused Pirates reliever Jared Hughes of making a racist remark. Hughes denied the accusation — there was never any evidence produced that he had said anything offensive on the field — and the two players eventually reached an uneasy truce.

One last thing: Rosecrans got plenty of support via various social media sites, but he took some more hits too. One message sent to him read (and I'll keep the grammatical errors intact to capture the full flavor): “How about you shut your mouth and stop hating on brandon.he's the heart of our team.don't mess with him because you have no ability at anything and are jealous”

What's really hilarious is, after sending that message, the person followed it up by sending Rosecrans ... a Facebook friend request.

Really.

That's just too precious.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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