Five days after the Phillies were eliminated from playoff contention in September, frustration boiled over inside the home clubhouse at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Watching a couple of his teammates playing Fortnite, the popular multiplayer online video game, during the Phillies’ ninth consecutive loss was the final straw for veteran first baseman Carlos Santana, who smashed a TV with his bat to put an end to the fun.
“I see a couple players — I don’t want to say names — they play video games during the game,” Santana told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. “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 TV-smashing anecdote is part of a broader piece in which Passan looks at how the Phillies attempted to improve their clubhouse chemistry during the offseason. Bryce Harper was Philadelphia’s most expensive addition, but the team also acquired catcher J.T. Realmuto, shortstop Jean Segura and outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who is expected to bring veteran leadership to a franchise that was among the youngest in baseball last season.
Someone else will have to keep the team’s Fortnite habit in check, as Santana was traded during the offseason to alleviate the Phillies’ logjam at first base. Santana told Passan he’d never seen teammates playing video games during a game in his nine-year career, though he didn’t blame Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler for the behavior of a couple of players.
Phillies veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta told Passan that he only later learned of the Phillies’ in-game Fortnite sessions, and said it wasn’t a regular occurrence. “It may have happened once or twice,” said Arrieta, who added that he would’ve responded similarly to Santana if he came across teammates playing Fortnite during a game.
“You have to set certain rules and boundaries,” Arrieta said. “At a certain point, your focus needs to shift toward preparing for the game. And some people like to lock in on their phone and watch a show. I’m okay with that. I really don’t care if you want to play Fortnite up to a half-hour before the game. If that’s what locks you in, I don’t mind that. But during the game? That’s a different story.”
At least one other major league team has established new clubhouse rules in direct response to Fortnite’s popularity. Toronto Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters Monday that his team will shut off video-gaming consoles at a certain point before first pitch beginning this season.
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