Baker hopes Phillips' tweeting doesn't cause controversy
Brandon Phillips has taken to tweeting. His manager's reaction? A shudder. Urged on by Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, the outspoken Reds second baseman began tweeting shortly before spring training began. So far, he's limited his tweets to personal musings, posting photos and holding contests for fans to win a trip to Arizona. So far, no problem.
What happens if he has a strong opinion about, say, the St. Louis Cardinals? That could get some folks all atwitter.
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"If something comes up again, I'm just being me, that's how I look at it," Phillips said Sunday. "I'm not going to disrespect anybody. That's just me. I'm going to say what I say. And if people don't like it, then don't listen. That's how I feel."
Last year, Phillips sparked a brawl with the Cardinals by using a derogatory term to dub them complainers. Manager Dusty Baker talked to him afterward about watching what he says. Phillips was careful the rest of the way as the Reds overtook the Cardinals to win the NL Central. Now, Phillips has a new outlet for his opinions. And Baker can only hope he'll be careful not to cross the line in 140 characters or less.
"He already has," Baker said, referring to Phillips' verbal dustup with the Cardinals last season. "That's all I can tell you. You can't necessarily prohibit it, can you? You've got to be really careful because you're kind of setting yourself up for more controversy."
Phillips got turned on to Twitter by one of the NFL's social-media and trash-talking giants. Ochocinco has 1.7 million followers on Twitter, where he provides regular updates and stirs things up. In the off-season, he told Phillips he should do the same.
"Actually, Ocho put me on there," Phillips said. "That's the only reason I got on there. He said, 'Hey, man, you're like the Ocho of baseball. You need to get your face out there and let the fans know who you are.' He said, 'You're too good of a player to try to be private with your life. You shouldn't be low-keying it.'"
Phillips tried it and immediately liked it, posting under the name @DatDudeBP. In three weeks, he has amassed more than 9,000 followers. "I'm not into the computers and stuff," Phillips said. "But now I am. I've got an iPhone now and I've got an iPad. Everything with 'i' in it, I've got it."
Softball takes title in Florida
It was a history-making day at the plate for Kentucky softball junior Brittany Cervantes. Cervantes' first-inning home run was her third in three straight at-bats and it sparked the 24th-ranked Wildcats' 7-2 victory against Florida State in the championship game of the Garnet and Gold Tournament in Tallahassee, Fla. Cervantes finished with a career-best four hits in the game. Freshman Ellen Weaver earned her second career victory by giving up two runs in 51⁄3 innings.
■ Kentucky junior right-hander Alex Meyer pitched seven innings, struck out a career-high 13 and allowed only one earned run, but the baseball team lost 3-1 to Miami (Ohio) in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound junior walked three and allowed two runs. The only run for Kentucky (0-3) came in the fourth inning when Taylor Black led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch.
■ Kentucky's gymnastics team scored a school-record 49.4 on vault and had a season-high team score of 195.05, but the Wildcats lost at 14th-ranked Ohio State on Sunday. Kentucky's previous best on vault — 49.325 — came on Jan. 31, 2003, against BYU.
■ Senior swimmer Chatham Penrod, who one day earlier swam the second fastest 100 backstroke in UK history, bested that with the school's fastest time ever in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:55.30 in the preliminaries Saturday at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Gainesville, Fla. She finished seventh at the meet with a time of 1:56.29 in the finals. Overall, the women finished seventh; the men were eighth.
Baddeley edges Singh at Riviera
Aaron Baddeley returned to his old swing and a title he hadn't seen in four years — a PGA Tour winner. In a battle of generations Sunday at Riviera, the 29-year-old Baddeley played mistake-free over the final six holes to hold off Vijay Singh and deny a fairy-tale finish for 51-year-old Fred Couples. Baddeley closed with a 2-under 69 for a one-shot victory over Singh, who turns 48 on Tuesday.
It was the third career PGA Tour win for Baddeley, whose game had slipped so much that he had plunged to No. 224 in the world. This isn't enough to get back into the top 50, but at least he can book a trip to Augusta National in April for the Masters.
Singh, who only three weeks ago had fallen out of the top 100 in the world for the first time in more than 21 years, had his highest finish since he won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2008 on his way to the FedEx Cup. Despite back-to-back bogeys on the back nine, he gave himself a chance to the end and closed with a 69.
The heartache, though, belonged to Couples.
Two decades after he last won at Riviera, Couples ran off three straight birdies to start his round and take the lead, revving up the Riviera gallery. But it all came crashing down with a double bogey on the seventh hole — where Baddeley made a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe — and Couples never could catch up again.
■ Bernhard Langer shot a 6-under-par 66 to set a tournament record with a 20-under 196 total and win the ACE Group Classic by four shots in Naples, Fla. The 53-year-old Langer held a four-stroke lead going into the final round. Fred Funk got within two after Langer bogeyed No. 11, but Langer came right back with birdies on Nos. 12 and 14. He finished with a 5-footer for birdie on No. 18. Funk also had a 66 and finished second at 16 under. Nick Price (66) and Kentuckian Russ Cochran (67) tied for third, another shot back.
"Overall it was kind of a crazy day," said Cochran, who was tied for the first-round lead with Langer. "I missed some putts you'd thought I'd make and made a bunch of them you didn't think I'd make."
■ Top-ranked Yani Tseng earned her third tournament win in three weeks, shooting a 6-under 66 to pull away for a comfortable five-shot victory over Michelle Wie in the LPGA Thailand.
■ Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia of India earned his second professional win at the Avantha Masters in New Delhi, shooting a 5-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Robert Coles of England.
VanDam wins Bassmaster Classic again
Kevin VanDam tied records by winning his second consecutive Bassmaster Classic and his fourth overall, beating Aaron Martens by nearly 11 pounds Sunday on the Louisiana Delta. VanDam, of Kalamazoo, Mich., had a catch of 28 pounds Sunday to finish with a Classic-record three-day total of 69 pounds, 11 ounces and claim the $500,000 top prize. He tied Rick Clunn for most Classic titles and most consecutive. His three-day total topped Luke Clausen's record of 56-2 set at Toho in 2006. Martens, of Leeds, Ala., had a catch of 25-14 Sunday to finish with 59-0 and come in second in the Classic for a record fourth time.
■ Caroline Wozniacki earned her first singles title of 2011, beating an error-prone Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3 in the Dubai Championships finals Sunday in the United Arab Emirates. Wozniacki didn't drop a set during the week on her way to winning her 13th career title. ... Andy Roddick won the 30th title of his career in his 50th finals, finishing off a thrilling 7-6 (7), 6-7 (11), 7-5 victory over Milos Raonic in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis.
The last word
Tim Collins is hoping to show the Kansas City Royals that his statistics are more important than his stature. The 5-foot-7 left-hander with a 95 mph fastball and a knee-buckling curve has an opportunity to open the season in the Royals' bullpen after putting up eye-popping numbers in the minors. However, his teammates, including 6-foot-5 pitcher Luke Hochevar, have had a fun time so far poking fun of his size:
"I just want to pick him up and burp him."