UPDATE: Phils irk Mets en route to 11th straight win

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UPDATE: Here’s Chase Utley’s response, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. It’s pretty much what you would expect him to say.

“I have never ever attempted to break up a double play with the intent
to injure someone,” he told MLB.com. “I understand what it’s like to be
taken out. I’ve been kicked, kneed, elbowed, spiked and even flipped
upside down. And as much as I might not have liked it at the time, I
understand that it’s all part of being a Major League second baseman.
Second basemen have had to deal with this for over 100 years. And with
that said, we as a team play the game hard and play it to win. That is
not going to change.”

11:56 AM: The Phillies continue to be the hottest team on the planet. They defeated the Mets 3-2 last night to extend their season-high winning streak to 11 games and reduce their magic number to two. And consistent with when these two teams usually meet up, it didn’t come without a little bit of bad blood.

After the game, a number of Mets told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that they were irked by Chase Utley’s takeout slide of Ruben Tejada during a double play in the fifth inning. You can watch the play in question here and judge for yourself, but here’s what David Wright had to say about the incident.

“You can ask him. He’s a second baseman. If he wants guys sliding like
that into him, then it’s perfectly fine. He knows how to play the game.
If he doesn’t mind guys coming in like that when he’s turning a double
play, then we don’t have any problem with it. It’s a legal slide. It’s
within the rules. But somebody is going to get hurt. So I guess that’s a
better question for him.”

“Chase, he plays the game hard. He plays the game passionately. But
there’s a thin line between going out there and playing the game hard
and going out there trying to get somebody hurt. That’s a thin line.
Nobody is going to push us around. We’re going to have our teammate’s
back. I think cooler heads prevailed, but we’ve got to let them know
that over on our side we didn’t appreciate it and that we’re going to go
out there and have our teammates’ backs. I think our bench let him
know. As far as I’m concerned, it’s done. We move on. We’ll reevaluate
the way we go into second base.”

For what it’s worth, Tejada didn’t have any issue with the slide, though it’s nice for Wright to say something that didn’t come out of a cliche generator. In truth, the Mets should probably be more concerned with the very real possibility that the Phillies will clinch their fourth straight NL East crown right in front of them this weekend. The best way to fight back would be to, you know, actually win some baseball games.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.