The Philadelphia Phillies had a whirlwind of a 2018 season. They sat in first place in the National League East in early August, only to finish the season under .500, in third place in the division and out of the playoff race entirely.
Carrying the youngest roster in Major League Baseball, the Phillies early season over-achieving was inevitably going to be met with some regression. But as the season began to slip away, an incident in the clubhouse revealed the Phillies issues ran deeper than just their inconsistent play on the field.
Carlos Santana, who signed a one-year deal with the Phillies ahead of the 2018 season after spending his entire MLB career with the Cleveland Indians, was shocked to find members of the team sneaking into the clubhouse in the middle of games to play Fortnite, the wildly popular battle royale video game.
Santana, who was coming off a World Series run in 2016 and two straight playoff appearances, was appalled. So he took action into his own hands. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
When the Philadelphia Phillies lost their ninth consecutive game toward the end of last September, veteran first baseman Carlos Santana felt like he needed to send a message to his teammates who he said spent portions of the game against the Atlanta Braves playing video games in the clubhouse. Santana grabbed a bat, retreated to the room at Citizens Bank Park where the gaming took place and smashed the TV to ensure there would be no more Fortnite the final two days of the season.
“I see a couple players — I don’t want to say names — they play video games during the game,” Santana told ESPN. “We come and lose too many games, and I feel like they weren’t worried about it. Weren’t respecting their teammates or coaches or the staff or the [front] office. It’s not my personality. But I’m angry because I want to make it good.”
The Phillies reloaded this offseason, signing Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto to add to an already potent lineup. Santana was traded to Seattle on Dec. 3, but his television-smashing rampage left a mark on GM Gabe Kapler.
“We brought in some respected veteran leaders that have been through the ups and downs of a long season,” Kapler said. “They will help us stay locked in through any tough stretches. Our young players gained valuable experience going through their first pennant race. We saw what worked last year, and we’ve made some adjustments where things didn’t work as well. I’m excited about our group and the culture we have.”
As the Phillies look to make a run at the World Series, it’s probably safe to assume Fortnite won’t be a part of the locker room entertainment system anymore.