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For years, Chase Utley has been one of the faces of old school baseball. He takes hit-by-pitches with no visible pain, he leads by example in the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse and he slides hard into the bases (probably harder than he should).
That reputation apparently took a hit on Saturday, when Utley and his Dodgers teammates dared to … wear T-shirts during batting practice?
In a bizarrely somber commentary complete with multiple prepared clips of the Dodgers before Saturday’s game, Atlanta Braves announcer Joe Simpson spent a full minute calling the Dodger organization “unprofessional” and an “embarrassment” for wearing T-shirts and shorts during batting practice at SunTrust Park. The rant was captured by Dodgers Digest and The Athletic blogger Chad Moriyama.
Simpson, who spent the first four seasons of his career as an MLB player with the Dodgers, criticized Utley in particular and implied he no longer thinks Utley plays the game the right way. Simpson’s broadcast partner Chip Caray also lamented MLB’s loss of exposure for their batting practice uniforms, which are priced at $99.99.
Dodgers’ BP wear lamented by Braves announcers
Here are Simpson’s comments in full:
SIMPSON: You know that I grew up in the Dodger organization and certainly was taught how to play professional baseball and do things the right way. I want you to look at some things that were going on today 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. And I think about fans that come to SunTrust Park who are Dodgers fans and want to see their players. They had no idea who any of them were. Nobody had any kind of uniform or batting practice shirt with their name on their jersey. They look very unprofessional. I think I can say this because I know what the Dodger organization was all about-
CARAY: There’s the bunt, it is perfect.
SIMPSON: But if I were a Dodgers fan, I’d be embarrassed. And I don’t know how Major League Baseball allows such attire when the gates are open and the fans are watching. Chase Utley, I have nothing but respect for him, his whole career, thinking he’s a great player and I thought he always played the game the right way. That was an embarrassment what he had on today during practice.
CARAY: You think of all the merchandise Major League Baseball does with their batting practice uniforms and the batting practice jerseys, I’m with you. It’s called a uniform for a reason.
Caray later doubled down on his opinions on Twitter, mocking the Dodgers’ wardrobe choices and betting Dodgers broadcast legend Vin Scully would have liked to see them in uniform, even though the team wore basically the same BP clothes during Scully’s final season with the team in 2016.
While Simpson and Caray are entitled to their opinions, there’s an unfortunate fact they missed about Utley’s shirt.
Chase Utley was wearing Dodgers’ K Cancer T-shirt
What Simpson very clearly did not realize about Utley’s T-shirt while calling him an embarrassment is that it was the team’s K Cancer T-shirt, part of a collection featuring designs for all 30 MLB teams. Including the Braves.
Utley’s wardrobe choice was pointed out by former Braves reliever Jason Motte, whose foundation uses funds from the shirts to fund cancer research. The Dodgers’ shirt in particular is sponsored by Enrique Hernandez and benefits the San Juan Children’s Hospital.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts takes criticism ‘personally’
After the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the Braves, manager Dave Roberts was asked about Simpson’s comments. He did not seem amused about what Simpson had to say.
The studio team of Dodgers television affiliate SportsNet LA also blasted the Braves announcers’ comments, saying the Braves had no place telling the Dodgers how to run their own team.
“Worry about your team. There’s a lot to worry about the Braves right now,” former Dodgers player Jerry Hairston said. “So many guys on this team play the game the right way and it’s unfortunate that some other network is starting to pick on our players. That’s not their place.”
Even Braves pitcher and former Dodger Brandon McCarthy rebuffed Caray on Twitter, noting that Utley is the consummate example of professionalism in baseball.
In case you were wondering or hoping, there will be no batting practice before the Dodgers series finale on Sunday against the Braves since it’s a day game. That’s unfortunate, since at least two members of the Dodgers had creative ideas for what they were going to wear in response.
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