Brandon Phillips is a punk because he didn’t charge the mound to fight Jared Hughes? What?

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The he-said, he-said of the Brandon Phillips-Jared Hughes thing died out a day after it all went down. Probably for the best, given that (a) neither Phillips nor Hughes was willing to say they were wrong; and (b) no one’s interests would be served by having it strung out any longer.

But in today’s Post-Gazette Ron Cook takes what I consider to be a totally demented angle on the matter. He called Brandon Phillips a “punk” because he didn’t start a brawl during the game:

Is Brandon Phillips a punk or what? … After the game, Phillips tweeted that he heard a racist remark. He didn’t mention names, but the implication was that it came from Hughes.

Right there, Phillips lost all respect. He never looked at Hughes even as Hughes was yelling at him. If Hughes slurred him — using the word “boy,” according to Phillips — shouldn’t Phillips have charged the mound and gone after Hughes? Some things are more important than the fear of injury or a suspension or even the impact either would have on your team in the playoffs and World Series. Defending your manhood is one. Phillips came up awfully small there.

Cook goes on to say that Phillips reaching out to Andrew McCutchen in an effort to have a go at fence-mending with Hughes was “impossible to explain.”

This is bizzaro world territory. You’re not allowed to take umbrage at what you perceive to be a racist remark unless you’re willing to get violent about it?  Running at the guy and tackling him is preferable to trying to talk it out?  On what planet is Cook writing this from?  The one in which Jackie Robinson routinely beat the crap out of people in 1947 as he made his way into the majors? The one where Martin Luther King led violent mobs in the streets?

Look, you can take legitimate issue with Phillips over making the incident public. You can even reasonably believe that he was simply wrong about what Hughes said to him and handled it poorly in the aftermath. But to suggest that Phillips or anyone else loses all credibility on a racial matter if they don’t react violently is beyond ridiculous.

Kyle Schwarber: Before and After

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It’s always a bit deceiving to see offseason workout photos of players who are said to be getting into great shape because guys in those pics are wearing compression shirts and crap and we’re used to seeing them in baseball uniforms. I remember pics of Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz in the offseason looking svelte, only to see them in uniform come spring as their familiar beefy selves. Uniforms are often loose and billowy and the players wear  a couple of layers when they’re suited up, so at least visually speaking it’s better to compare apples to apples.

Which brings us to Kyle Schwarber. All offseason long we’ve been getting reports about Schwarber working out, losing weight and, of course, getting into The Best Shape of His Life. And some of those pics have definitely shown a young man who has cut fat and gotten lean. Good for him!

Let’s see how that translates to Schwarber in uniform. Here is is at spring training last year:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 21: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 21, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

 

Here he is toward the end of last season:

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 09: at Wrigley Field on September 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

And here he is now:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 20: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 20, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Nice goin’, kid.