Philadelphia Phillies legend Mike Schmidt has been an iconic figure for the franchise over the past several decades for his play on the field. Schmidt totaled 548 home runs and 2,500 hits and helped lead the Phillies’ franchise to their first World Series title in 1980 during his 18 years with the ball club. He is often remembered as the greatest athlete to ever put on a Philadelphia Phillies uniform. Today, however, Schmidt is in the news for something most people wouldn’t believe would come from his mouth. While on a radio show in Philadelphia discussing the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies, Mike Schmidt made a controversial comment about the team’s highest-paid player.
Schmidt told Sports Radio WIP that he did not believe Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera would be a player you could build around because English is not his first language. Herrera signed a five-year, $30 million contract last offseason, making him the only Phillie to be under contract past the 2017 MLB season. So far this year, Herrera is batting just.243 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 54 games played. However, Herrera has kicked into gear since the beginning of June and has hit 8-of-13 with two home runs and eight RBIs in his past three games. ESPN wrote about Schmidt’s comments regarding Herrera and even quoted him in their story explaining his side of the story.
“My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things. First of all, it’s a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game. Or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game. Or come over to a guy and say, ‘Man, you gotta run that ball out.”
While it is true that there are many teams who experience a language barrier in the clubhouse, it should not affect who or who is not a leader in the locker room. A large majority of players in the MLB are from outside of the United States and still manage to be the leaders in the locker room. Schmidt must have forgotten guys like Miguel Cabrera and Pedro Martinez who were the leaders of their respective club houses despite not having English as their dominant language. Most players often let their play on the field mold their personality in the locker room instead of knocking them down a peg because they can’t speak the same language as some of the others.
Odubel Herrera was not fond of Schmidt’s comments and the word soon made it back to Schmidt, who quickly reached out and apologized to the Phillies outfielder. Despite the apology, Herrera was still hurt by the comments and let the media know he wasn’t going to let his comments go unnoticed. Todd Zolecki of the MLB website wrote about the comments Schmidt made regarding Herrera and quoted Herrera in response to the Schmidt apology.
“I don’t agree with his comments, but I respect him as a player. It is disappointing because you never want to hear negative comments, but he called me, he apologized and explained what happened. Everything is good.”
Mike Schmidt said today an MLB team can't build around a player/leader who doesn't speak English first. Someone tell that to David Ortiz.— Glen Macnow (@RealGlenMacnow) June 6, 2017
Even though Herrera has forgiven Schmidt, one can only imagine what is being said behind the scenes in the locker room. It is likely that Herrera’s teammates will have his back on the issue over the Phillies Hall of Famer, but it will be interesting to see if these comments light a fire under Herrera and cause him to play better throughout the course of this season.
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