Was Robinson Cano’s homer a case of fan interference?

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I’m going to admit up front that I’m flummoxed. I’ve gone back and forth on this thing two or three times now.

In real time, Robinson Cano’s homer to right in the second appeared to be a case of fan interference, with those awesome, awesome fans in the front row slapping Nelson Cruz’s glove. When it happened I stood up in my living room, outraged, and took Jeffrey Maier’s name in vain.

Then I saw the replays. At least the TBS replays. All of them made it seem like it wasn’t interference. It appeared — looking squarely at the wall from the infield — that Cruz reached beyond the wall. And when you do that you’re doing so at your own risk pursuat to the rules of baseball.  Yeah, part of me wishes that fans would stay away from a fielder even when he’s doing that, but I wish a lot of things that aren’t likely or, oftentimes, even reasonable. Fine, I thought. Homer.

But then I saw this picture:

Sure looks like fans smacking Cruz’s glove on the field of play to me. Wouldn’t you agree? And it’s not like it’s really incidental. That white looking stuff behind the yellow of the wall is a couple feet of concrete that, theoretically anyway, separates fans from the field of play. Regardless of where the ball would have come down — it appeared on that concrete — our friends in the front row there had to make an extra special effort to hit Cruz’s glove right there. If someone has better video or photographic evidence I would like to see it, but barring that I’m now inclined to say that the call was wrong, Cruz was interfered with and Cano’s homer shouldn’t have stood.

Of course the elephant in the room here is why this play wasn’t reviewed in the first place. Right field umpire Jim Reynolds was pretty far from this play. How could he see it clearly? Even if you think I’m wrong and this wasn’t a case of fan interference, Reynolds’ call to that effect was just a guess. Just a couple of batters later he got the call wrong on Lance Berkman’s non-homer. Thankfully replay was utilized to overturn that one.  Why was it not utilized to review Cano’s blast? Reynolds was far from the action on both occasions.

The official answer is that some calls are boundary calls and some are judgment calls and blah, blah blah. I won’t have it. There are two kinds of calls. Correct calls and blown calls. And there is no excuse for baseball not allow and encourage the umpires to utilize the technology that is easily at their disposal to get the calls right. It may not have made a difference in the outcome of last night’s game. But someday soon it will.  And when it does, all hell is going to break loose.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

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The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.

Here’s what Jackie Robinson had to say about the national anthem

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For a lot of people, athletes expressing their political viewpoints by protesting the national anthem is a relatively new concept. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jackie Robinson is celebrated every year across baseball on April 15, marking the day he broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson was an activist well beyond that momentous occasion, highlighting issues black athletes face as editor for Our Sports magazine. He openly criticized then-GM of the Yankees George Weiss on television for the lack of diversity on his team. He helped spur restaurants and hotels to serve black people by criticizing their segregation publicly. Robinson became the first black vice president of an American corporation when he joined coffee company Chock full o’Nuts, and he became the first black baseball analyst when he joined ABC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week. Of course, Robinson was also the first black member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Robinson had an issue with the national anthem as well. As Deadspin’s Lindsey Adler pointed out, Robinson wrote about the anthem in his memoir, I Never Had It Made.

There I was the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps it was, but then again perhaps the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Robinson is referring to systemic power that has entrenched whiteness and ostracized blackness. Robinson may have ascended as one of the greatest players of all time and he may have broken the color barrier, but the league was still owned and run entirely by white people, which is what he meant by referring to himself as a “principal actor” in Branch Rickey’s “drama.” Rickey was the white executive who signed Robinson and supported him as the color barrier was broken. Robinson could not have done what he did without the aid of white people like Rickey who have the ability to leverage their systemic power.

Without question, Robinson would have supported the protests of Colin Kaepernick and many others who want to bring attention to the unfair ways in which black people interact with the police and the justice system. And it makes one realize that the people who purport to admire Robinson and his many accomplishments would have said the same things they say about Kapernick et. al. now to Robinson back in 1947. And to Muhammad Ali. And to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. The more things change, the more they stay the same.