Things seem to be careening out of control in the independent North American League, as the circuit’s second forfeit in three days came last night after a bench-clearing brawl featuring former major leaguer Tony Phillips.
The brawl had its roots in the third inning, when former major leaguer and current Yuma Scorpions third baseman Tony Phillips — yeah, the 52-year-old journeyman infielder whose MLB career started in 1982 with the Oakland A’s and ended in 1999 — incurred the wrath of Chico Outlaws players by asking for timeouts during his at-bat, a tussle that caused both benches to clear.
Things came to a head the next inning when Phillips, positioned at third base, was rushed by Outlaws manager Mike Marshall, coaching at third base. You can see the video here of Marshall tackling Phillips; bad move, because Phillips got in several punches and took down the former Dodger. Both benches cleared, several players were ejected and the Outlaws were awarded a 9-0 forfeit victory. After the game Scorpions manager Jose Canseco was unavailable for comment with the local newspaper; he was busy talking with police.
Now, brawls happen in baseball; tensions rise and players let off steam. The thing is, what the heck is Tony Phillips still doing in baseball and how does the NAL get away with charging fans to see him play? And what sort of situation is it where the brawl is led by two of the supposed adults on the field? It’s one thing to bring in Jose Canseco in to manage and DH as a pretty shred PR move — and by all accounts he was again the voice of reason last night on the Yuma side — but when you’re charging folks to see professional baseball and 52-year-old Tony Phillips is one of the best players on the field (he came into play batting .327), you must question whether the level of play at where it should be. The sad situation of the Lake County Fielders shows there’s some definite problems with the North American League, but this forfeiture shows there are other issues as well.
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