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Darren Daulton once threatened to rip off Mitch Williams’ arm. God bless him.

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Retired Phillies catcher Darren Daulton is, to steal a description, one of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

He is on record believing in alchemy, auras, telepathy, energy transfers, astral planes, planetary ascension, and parallel universes. He believes that he had an had out of body experiences while playing at Wrigley Field one day. He believes that the universe is created and sustained by numerical synchronicities — the number 11 is particularly important in his life — and
that all matter is charged with extradimensional vibrational energy.

Daulton believes that his moods have altered the weather before, that the pyramids were created by a lost civilization — or possibly aliens. He believed that people with knowledge of the workings of the universe were going ascend to a higher plane of existence on Dec. 21, 2012, at 11:11 a.m. Maybe that happened, maybe it didn’t, but you can’t prove Daulton wrong about that. And not just because he’s still here. Maybe he chose to be, man, in order to help those of us who don’t understand everything get by as best we can. Ever think of that? Didn’t think so.

To put it succinctly, if you don’t love and respect the unadulterated Darren Daultoness of Darren Daulton, I don’t really want to know you.

One person who knows Daulton and his Daultoness well is CSNPhilly’s John Kruk. Kruk tells a story about Daulton in the first episode of his new podcast, called the KrukCast. You can hear it in its entirety via CSNPhilly.com, but this here is the good stuff:

“There was an incident, it’s been documented, with Mitch Williams our closer,” Kruk began. “Terry Mulholland pitched the gem of a complete game, which Terry had a knack to do. When he started it, he wanted to finish it. Mitch came in and he was upset. He yelled at Jimmy Fregosi for not bringing him in, ‘If I’m you’re closer you gotta put me in that game.’ Darren took Mitch to the back room and said, ‘Look, that’s not what we’re about and if that ever happens again I’ll rip your arm off and you’ll never pitch again.'”

Darren Daulton is . . . his own man, to say the least. And I think he operates on a level none of us can truly grapple with. But in his desire to put Mitch Williams and all of his nonsense in his place, he comes across as the hero we all want and the hero we all need.

God bless that man. God bless him.

Crowd honors Jose Bautista in his last Blue Jays home game

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Jose Bautista ran onto the field on Sunday afternoon, alone, in what was likely his last hurrah as a Blue Jays player. The 36-year-old outfielder signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the club prior to the 2017 season and is not expected to get his $17 million option picked up for 2018. During Sunday’s series finale, he got a fond farewell befitting a decade-long career as one of Toronto’s most prolific hitters, drawing standing ovations every time he stepped up to the plate.

The Blue Jays came out swinging against the Yankees, building an eight-run lead on Teoscar Hernandez’s first-inning home run and a smattering of hits and productive outs from Darwin Barney, Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales. Bautista supplemented the drive with his own RBI single in the fourth inning, plating Hernandez on an 0-2 fastball from reliever Bryan Mitchell.

Later in the inning, he nearly scored a second run on a Kendrys Morales two-RBI single, but was caught at the plate on the relay by Starlin Castro.

It’s an encouraging end to what has overwhelmingly been a disappointing season for the Toronto slugger. Entering Sunday’s finale, he slashed .201/.309/.365 with a franchise single-season record 161 strikeouts in 658 plate appearances, numbers that somewhat obscure the six straight All-Star nominations, four MVP bids and 54-homer campaign he once enjoyed with the team. Even a bounce-back performance in 2018 likely wouldn’t command a $17 million salary, but there’s no denying his impact on the Blue Jays’ last 10 years, from his signature bat flip to his tie-breaking home run in the 2015 ALDS.

The Blue Jays currently lead the Yankees 9-2 in the top of the sixth inning. Expect a few more standing O’s before the end of the game.

Why more baseball players don’t kneel

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Bruce Maxwell was the first baseball player to kneel for the National Anthem. There may be others who do so, but I don’t suspect many will. Indeed, I’m pretty confident that the protests we’re seeing in the NFL today, and will see more of once basketball season begins, will not become a major thing in baseball.

Some will say it’s because baseball or baseball players are more patriotic or something, but I don’t think that’s it. Yes, baseball is a lot whiter and has a lot of conservative players who would never think to protest during the National Anthem or, for that matter, protest anything at all, but I suspect there are many who saw what Colin Kaepernick and other football players have done — or who have listened to what Steph Curry and LeBron James have said — and agreed with it. Yet I do not think many, if any of them will themselves protest.

Why? I think it mostly comes down to baseball’s culture of conformity.

Almost everyone in baseball comes through a hierarchy. Even the big names. Even if you are the consensus number one pick, you do your time in the minors. Once there, conformity and humility is drilled into you. This happens both affirmatively, in the form of coaches telling you to act in a certain way and passively, by virtue of all players being in similar, humbling circumstances. Bus rides, cheap hotels, etc. In that world, even if you are ten times better and ten times richer than your teammates, you fall in with the crowd because doing otherwise would be socially disruptive.

The very socialization of a baseball player is dependent upon them learning to talk, walk and carry themselves like all those who came before. No one is given special treatment. In the rare cases they are, it’s head-turning. Bryce Harper was a more or less normal minor leaguer, but since he got their earlier by bypassing his final years of high school, he was thrown at and challenged in ways no other minor league stars are. It does not take much for a guy to be singled out for punishment or mockery and even the superstars like Harper are not on solid professional ground as long as they’re still in the minors. Indeed, between a player’s education, as it were, in the minors and their pre-free agency residency in the majors, it can be a decade or more before a unique personality or a true showman is able to shine through, and by then few are willing. They’ve been conditioned by that point.

Even budding superstars can be roundly criticized for the tiniest of perceived transgressions or the most modest displays of individuality. Think about all of the “controversies” we have about the proper way to celebrate a home run or run the bases. If that’s a cause for singling out and, potentially, benching or being traded or being given a shorter leash, imagine the guts a baseball player has to have in order to do something like take a knee during the National Anthem. A guy with multiple MVP Awards would likely be in an uncomfortable spotlight over such a thing, so imagine how brave someone like Bruce Maxwell, who has barely 100 games under his belt, has to be to have done it.

CC Sabathia, a 17-year veteran, spoke out yesterday, but I suspect he won’t kneel for the National Anthem when he lines up with his teammates before the Wild Card game next week. Other ballplayers will likely wade into the fray in the coming days. But I suspect baseball’s very nature — it’s very culture — will keep ballplayers from following in the footsteps of the many NFL players who took a knee today.