American Legion to require ballplayers to show “proper respect” for National Anthem

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American Legion baseball is a grand American tradition. So too is our National Anthem. So too is freedom of speech and the right to protest. If you’re a Minnesota American Legion ballplayer, though, your right to protest during the National Anthem is something you have to check at the door:

American Legion Baseball players in Minnesota will be required to show “proper respect” during the National Anthem, or they won’t be able to play. The Minnesota American Legion committee adopted a no-tolerance policy when it comes to players’ behavior during the anthem before games.

“Proper respect” is being defined as players standing at attention with their hats off, and hats over their hearts. By the American Legion’s own admission, there has never been an Anthem protest during a Minnesota American Legion baseball game but the spokesman said that they just wanted to get out in front of the issue in light of Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the NFL season. He said they wanted to prohibit “kneeling down, back to the flag, stuff like that.” If you violate the new rule, you’ll be kicked out of Legion ball. The Minnesota prohibition was first reported last week and, apparently, follows on a national American Legion edict about Anthem decorum. Which I can’t recall hearing about when it happened, but apparently happened a few weeks ago.

It’s their league, so they can do what they want. And, of course, they’re an organization which cites advocating patriotism as part of its mission, so their stance on this matter is not surprising.

Anyone wanna help me form an ACLU baseball league? I’m guessing the players we’d get wouldn’t be quite as good, what with them all arguing that no one should bat first but, rather, they should all be represented in the lineup on equal terms, but our National Anthem would be fun and the arguments between the coaches and the umpires over rules interpretations would be worth the dang price of admission, that I can tell you.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.