Fan who allegedly yelled racial slur at Carl Crawford is a police officer, could lose his job

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Remember last week when a fan allegedly yelled racist stuff at Carl Crawford during a rehab game in New Hampshire? Well, the next day the fan took to the Internet and called in to a radio station to defend himself. And in doing so, he seems to have outed himself.

Turns out he’s a Leominster, Massachusetts police officer. One who, as you’ll see below, has apparently had a tragic past year, and now, in light of the Crawford business, could lose his job:

Leominster authorities launched an internal investigation into whether one of the city’s police officers is the heckler responsible for shouting a racial slur at Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford during a minor league game last week in Manchester, N.H. … Leominster officials opened the investigation earlier this week after receiving a number of tips and complaints.

The mayor of Leominster says in this NECN report that the officer could lose his job over this.

Reader BigLeagues passed those links along to me, as well as some stuff from last week I missed about who this police officer is.  When he called in to WEEI the day after the alleged incident to defend himself, he identified himself as “Thomas,” and said he didn’t yell any slurs at Crawford, only heckled him over being a big money, no production ballplayer. In the comments section to the WEEI story, he used the name “Thomas Johnson” and “Tom from NH.”  The comment name links to a Facebook page under the name “Thomas Johnson” with a police department patch as its avatar, but not a Leominster one.*

BigLeagues was curious about this story and did some Googling.  He tells me that on WEEI, Thomas/Tom from NH/Thomas Johnson said he was 32 years-old, raced cars in his spare time and, last fall, he and his wife suffered the loss of his baby son.  A search by BigLeagues reveals this story about a Thomas Johnson who is 32 years-old, lives in a New Hampshire town about 30 miles from Leominster, races cars and lost his son last fall. Sounds like the same dude.

What to make of all of this? I don’t know. It’s unclear if this guy yelled slurs at Crawford (the reports reveal this to be a Crawford’s word against Thomas Johnson’s word thing at the moment). If he did, he might get fired. And if it’s the same guy from that last story, I think it’s safe to say that he’s having an awful year and probably could use help from someone.

*A Twitter follower tells me that the police patch on Thomas Johnson’s Facebook page is from Greenland, New Hampshire. This spring four officers were shot, and the police chief killed, in a shootout in Greenland back in April, which presumably makes the Facebook pic a tribute. Gosh, this is all kinds of horrible.

(big thanks and props to BigLeagues for handing me all of this stuff)

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.

There was apparently some miscommunication between Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek

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The Phillies won their first game since last Thursday, beating the Cardinals 5-1 on Thursday afternoon. Starter Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning, but left with one out. Pat Neshek took the mound with a runner on first base and induced an inning-ending double play on a 3-1 count to Tommy Pham.

Given that Neshek only threw five pitches and the Phillies were staked to a four-run lead, it wouldn’t have seemed unreasonable if the sidewinding right-hander came back out to finish the ninth inning as well. But Luis Garcia had that honor, tossing a scoreless final frame to nail down the win in a non-save situation.

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin said he asked Neshek to go back out for the ninth, but Neshek didn’t want to, per Stephen Gross of the Morning Call. Neshek told the media that Mackanin never asked him. There was also a miscommunication on Wednesday. The combination of Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, and Edubray Ramos combined to allow four runs in 2 1/3 innings, helping the Phillies lose 7-6. Neshek never appeared. According to Mackanin, Neshek told him that he wasn’t available to pitch. Neshek said he was told he’d have the day off.

The disconnect between Mackanin and Neshek could speak to a larger divide between the manager and his failing team. The Phillies have underwhelmed across the board due to players like Odubel Herrera (whose head was down and did not see Juan Samuel’s stop sign last night in what became a base running blunder), Maikel Franco, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola (today’s start notwithstanding), and Hector Neris not living up to expectations. The Phillies signed Mackanin to a contract extension last month, but the team has completely fallen apart since then and the latest communications issues certainly don’t reflect well on him. Neither does last night’s travesty of a game.

As for Neshek, he said that going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years” but also realized, given the state of the team, that it remains very likely he winds up in a new uniform by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After Thursday’s performance, Neshek is carrying a 0.63 ERA with a 25/4 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings. He very well could be the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game in Miami next month. That is, if he’s still wearing their uniform. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have shown interest in Neshek.