The scene: The Braves were down 5-1 in the ninth inning, but were staging a rally against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Justin Upton hit a three-run home run to bring the score to 5-4, and the Braves kept fighting. Freddie Freeman singled and Evan Gattis walked to put the winning run in scoring position for Chris Johnson. Johnson hit a 1-2 grounder in the hole, but shortstop Jimmy Rollins dove for it and snagged it with just enough room to spare. He got to his feet quickly and fired across to first base to narrowly get the force at first base. Johnson slid head-first into the bag in an attempt to keep the inning going, but he was a few inches behind. The Phillies won 5-4, pushing the Braves one game behind the Cardinals for the best record in the National League.
As Johnson returned to the dugout, he received some consolation pats from his teammates. Out of nowhere, first base coach Terry Pendleton came up to Johnson and grabbed him and shoved him. Johnson didn’t react with any surprise, so it appears as if he did something wrong — perhaps not running hard out of the box, or choosing to risk injury by diving head-first.
Here’s a .gif of the incident:
If and when we hear why this happened, we will update this post with more information.
Update (11:20 PM):
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.