Longtime Braves announcer Joe Simpson, who played six years in the Dodgers organization and was drafted by Los Angeles, took time during the fifth inning of the Fox Sports South broadcast to show a clip of Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and Chase Utley taking batting practice before the game. Simpson was irked by what he saw.
“I grew up in the Dodgers organization, and certainly taught to play professional baseball and do the right things,” Simpson said. “I want you to look at some things that were going on in batting practice here with the Dodgers. What do you see, t-shirts? You see Chase Utley with no socks and pants up over his knees. This was prevalent with their whole team.”
Simpson somehow not only delivered this with a straight face, but also with the gravity of Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone’s vault. With similar results, Simpson continued his rant.
“I think about fans that come to Sun Trust Park who were Dodgers fans and want to see their players. They had no idea who any of them were,” Simpson said, as if Turner’s red beard doesn’t set him apart. “Nobody had any kind of uniform or batting practice shirt on it with their name on the jersey. They looked very unprofessional.
“If I were a Dodger fan, I’d be embarrassed. I don’t know how Major League Baseball allows such attire when the gates are open and the fans were watching.”
The Dodgers don’t wear names on their official batting practice pullovers — the players in question weren’t wearing these on Saturday, but often don’t because it’s not mandatory — but they do have numbers on the sleeve, which is the norm around baseball as pointed out in 2017 by Paul Lukas at Uni Watch. The Braves are a rarity by having names on their normal pregame attire, not that they always adhere to it.
Just look at Ozzie Albies here, a mere eight days before the Dodgers’ apparent transgressions.
Wearing a t-shirt during batting practice is not unique to the Dodgers. Just look at a few examples, like new Astros catcher Martin Maldonado:
Even in the minors, shirt happens, though in fairness Tim Tebow was a football player for so long we can probably give him a pass here:
Jose Bautista is a 15-year major league veteran:
Mike Trout is too busy being the best baseball player in the world to go out of his way to market himself, so his Angels teammates sometimes have to promote him, like at Dodger Stadium here just before the All-Star break:
Simpson has been in and around the game for more than four decades, but instead of embracing the many changes in baseball he has to have witnessed during that time Simpson still clings to the way things were during his playing days, which ended in 1983.
Simpson added later in the broadcast, “Walter Alston would be rolling over in his grave,” referring to the Hall of Fame Dodgers manager — Simpson’s first major league manager — who retired in 1976. Forty-two years ago.
To add to the absurdity of all of this, one of the shirts Simpson was complaining about was from major league reliever Jason Motte’s foundation, which raises money for cancer research.
After seeing some backlash on Twitter after the game, Simpson’s partner Chip Caray, the longtime play-by-play broadcaster, had his partner’s back.
I’m not the guy taking BP in Capri-mimicking pants, no socks, and no ‘’uniform.’’ My partner merely pointed it out. Only mlb teamhesxseen be so non-‘’uniform.’’ Why not wear MLB-issued BP jerseys with names on road so paying customers know who’s who? Lighten up. https://t.co/s40vjMFbVP— Chip Caray (@kapaya1234) July 29, 2018
Those “capri-mimicking pants” were worn by Utley, a 16-year veteran who will retire at season’s end. Current Braves pitcher Brandon McCarthy, a teammate of Utley for three seasons in Los Angeles, chimed in:
Chip, it was Chase Utley. The near universal choice for how to conduct yourself as a professional baseball player.— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) July 29, 2018
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts took offense to his team getting labeled unprofessional, specifically the veteran Utley, calling it “a cheap shot.”
“The thing that is more bothersome is when you’re in the broadcast booth you have an opportunity to intentionally put a package together instead of calling the game, like you’re supposed to do,” Roberts said. “To talk about it in the fifth inning of a one-run ballgame and to take time from the viewers.”
Roberts said that Simpson on Sunday morning took time to talk to Utley before the series finale.
A Braves official said Joe Simpson expressed remorse as he spoke to Chase Utley regarding comments made during last night’s broadcast about the Dodgers’ BP attire.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 29, 2018
While the Braves do not support Simpson’s comments, the club believes the matter is over.
Sunday being a day game meant there was no batting pregame practice, which potentially robbed us of a glorious response from the Dodgers, many of whom had some fun with this on Saturday night.
That this was even raised as an issue is laughable. It’s not a problem for Major League Baseball that players wear what they want during batting practice. What is a problem is announcers — the conduit through which this game is conveyed to fans — who spend more time pushing archaic nonsense on how today’s game isn’t as good as it was years ago, rather than embracing how great baseball actually is.