Craig Calcaterra

In this photo taken Sept. 19, 2015, Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) smiles in the dugout after hitting a two-run homer during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park in Washington. Harper is a lot of things, namely the Washington Nationals’ best player and the reigning National League MVP. One thing he’s not is a leader. Harper arrived at Nationals spring training early and quietly took his place in the corner of the clubhouse with Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Danny Espinosa. Even after being a unanimous MVP selection, the 23-year-old Harper would rather leave the leadership to those veterans.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A Rays minor leaguer takes issue with Bryce Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun Again” hat

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At some point you learn not to get baited. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I’m an old man who has been in the trolling game since before some of you were born, and even I get baited into making a dumb argument when silence or an eye roll would be the wiser choice. It happens. If you’re a 21-year-old kid, though? God help you. You’ll learn eventually, but in the meantime you’re gonna take the bait more often than you don’t.

That’s the story of Rays minor leaguer Brent Honeywell, who took to Twitter today to respond to Bryce Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun Again” hat from yesterday’s postgame. Harper, of course, set off a new round of “Respect the Game” politics last month with an interview in ESPN the Magazine. That made a bunch of old coots angry and they raged for a bit and then, as it always does, it died down. This hat is a sly wink wrapped up in a Donald Trump joke, not a new offensive in this long and brutal war. Even if you’re so crusty that you think Goose Gossage is a baseball-hating wuss, you’d probably, at best, think that Harper is a fool and go on with your day.

Not Honeywell. His account is here. I’ll present his tweets as screencaps, because I feel like this one ends up with the Rays PR department telling him to delete the tweets:

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It seems he may have already deleted a tweet in which he suggested that Bryce Harper — a man who, while not that much older than Honeywell, DOES happen to be the reigning MVP — “respect the game a little bit.”

Godspeed, Brent. I hope, as one of your tweet replies said, that you get to face Bryce Harper one day. I imagine that would be pretty interesting.

People are talking about a Chase Utley slide again

Chase Utley
Getty Images
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At the outset, let’s be clear about something: Chase Utley did not do anything dirty last night. The slide in question lasted a few brief seconds and had zero effect on a long, blowout of a game. No one was hit, there was no contact or any of that stuff. I have not looked thoroughly, but I am nonetheless close to positive that no player or coach who participated in the Dodgers-Padres game yesterday was asked about it or said anything about it.

I know that’s a weird disclaimer, but I say this simply because I’d prefer this not to immediately turn into a “Chase Utley is dirty!” vs. “you pansies don’t know what baseball is all about!” argument. I am 100% sure it will still turn into such an argument, but if it does, it’s not because I’m fanning the flames of it. Could I just ignore this altogether? Sure, but enough people are talking about it to where I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least mention it.

The play: early in the game Chase Utley headed for home and slid, more or less, into home plate. He took a somewhat less than straight route to the plate and, for a second, seemed indecisive between sliding and, well, sort of cross-body blocking Padres catcher Derek Norris, all while taking a rather notable inside track to the plate as opposed to staying directly on the baseline.

It was captured in GIF form by one of my Twitter followers, who sent it to me after I made a comment about the play and after a lot of other people on Twitter, including a respected baseball writer-type, agreed that it was an interesting play. For what it’s worth, my comment about Utley’s form was not super critical. I thought it was somewhat funny and I suspected that, somewhere in 37-years-worth of Utley’s baseball DNA, he was thinking “gonna take the catcher out if I have to,” but obviously nothing controversial came of  the play.

Here’s the video. I do not endorse the “garbage person” comment by the guy who made the GIF — I really don’t like any of that kind of name calling of players — but putting his tweet in here is the simplest way to see the play, so whatever:

https://twitter.com/richhsu/status/717139445573685248/video/1

 

My thoughts: Norris left a lane for Utley as he was supposed to. Utley didn’t take it. I also wonder if maybe he would’ve had a better chance to score on the play if, instead of taking the path he took, he slid to the outside, rather than the inside of the bag, making Norris have to reach way over to tag him. However, that’s not the whole story.

One major leaguer who was on Twitter last night — though not an unbiased one, as it’s Utley’s teammate, Brandon McCarthy — observed to me that part of proper sliding form in such a situation includes trying to screen the throw to the catcher or obstruct his vision. I’ll totally grant that. I mean jeez, I’m not gonna question a major league baseball player when it comes to baseball playing technique. I think it’s just as good a read of that play to say that Utley was doing just that, even if it didn’t work out.

All of that said, Utley being out of the path — or, in the same path as the catcher — and going kind of perpendicular like that is the sort of thing that can lead to contact, intended or otherwise. If that play changes even slightly in a space of a milisecond, Norris isn’t that far from having his legs taken out from under him.

Which, hey: no harm no foul here. I’m not gonna lay down some Hot Take about the nature of this slide. But Major League Baseball has obviously made it its business to crack down on slides that create contact. Both with the “Utley Rule” at second base and the rules regarding collisions with the catcher. Maybe it’ll be easier for guys without so much experience and well-worn habit as Utley to adjust to new rules. But based on this play I feel like the chances of Utley running afoul of one of them are greater than that of the average player.

Widow of Don Drysdale is selling his memorabilia over family objections

This undated photo provided by SCP Auctions shows former major league pitcher Don Drysdale's 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers home uniform. Ann Meyers Drysdale, the Hall of Fame basketball player who was married to the Hall of Fame pitcher, is putting the items up for auction starting Wednesday April 6. (Leslie Larsen Bird/SPC Auctions via AP)
Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) Kelly Drysdale remembers seeing her dad’s Cy Young Award in her house growing up. Now she’s heartbroken that Don Drysdale’s widow is selling memorabilia from his years as a star pitcher for the Dodgers.

Ann Meyers Drysdale, the Hall of Fame basketball player who was married to the Hall of Fame pitcher, is putting the items up for auction starting Wednesday. The collection is unusual in that it covers Drysdale’s entire career – from his days at Van Nuys High in suburban Los Angeles to his minor league stints with the Bakersfield Indians and Montreal Royals to his major league stardom with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

Kelly Drysdale told The Associated Press that Meyers didn’t inform the rest of the Drysdale family about the auction or first offer them any keepsakes. The items came into Meyers’ control through the will of Drysdale, who died of a heart attack in July 1993 while on the road broadcasting for the Dodgers.

“She has the legal right, but moral and decent right? Absolutely not,” Drysdale said through tears by phone from her home in Hawaii. “It’s not a very nice thing for someone to do. This is something that has caught me by surprise and is heartbreaking.”

Meyers said timing played no part in the sale and that many of the items were in storage. She said a portion of the proceeds would go to as yet-undecided charities and the rest “to help my kids down the road.”

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” she said by phone from her home in Phoenix. “I do believe this is something Don would have thought of doing for his family.”

Informed of her stepdaughter’s comments, Meyers said, “It’s a family matter and I’ll leave it at that.”

Kelly Drysdale is the only child from her father’s first marriage. She said her mother, Ginger, and Drysdale’s only sibling, Nancy, feel the same as she does. She said her relationship with Meyers had been cordial up until now, and that she has spent time with her stepsiblings over the years.

“I might understand if it was a matter of money, but if it’s just to get them out of storage, why not offer them to the family first?” Kelly Drysdale said. “If my dad wanted to get rid of these things, he probably would have.”

The 166 lots include Drysdale’s World Series championship rings from 1963 and 1965; both carry minimum bids of $15,000. Other items include his 1956 National League championship ring; the used ball from the final inning of his record 58 2/3 scoreless innings streak that ended on June 8, 1968; a 1988 World Series ring when he was a Dodgers broadcaster; spikes caked with dirt; gloves, bats, trophies; and even his bowling ball and shoes.

Now 56, the same age as her father when he died, Kelly Drysdale particularly wanted his 1962 Cy Young Award, which has a minimum bid of $15,000.

“That was the one thing that was proudly and prominently displayed in every house in which I ever lived,” she said. “That was the first thing I asked if I could have and there was never a reply. These are things that have been in my family long before she ever met my father.”

She said the only baseball item she has is his 1959 World Series championship ring, which she received from her late grandparents, along with a necklace her father had made using a diamond from the ring.

SCP Auctions estimates the entire collection to bring in around $1 million, according to Vice President Dan Imler.

“There are a whole generation of fans alive today who followed him and saw him play,” he said. “He’s still relevant.”

Imler said Drysdale’s game-used gloves would be likely the most prized by collectors.

“They’re very personalized and customized,” he said. “Don’s glove clearly shows use over many, many seasons.”

Meyers said sorting through boxes of memorabilia brought “a lot of laughs, memories and tears.” She allowed the couple’s three grown children to select some keepsakes.

“It’s been tough on them,” she said. “Some have struggled with it, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Don Jr., known as D.J., is 28 and works at an Internet company in Arizona; Darren is a 26-year-old college student; and daughter Drew is a 23-year-old UCLA history major interested in a music career. They were 6 and under when their father died.

“Even now a lot of people will ask about Don,” Meyers said. “It’s great to not only hear stories from fans but his old teammates. Certainly things I did not know.”

Meyers was influenced by conversations she had with fellow Hall of Famer Julius Erving and former Boston Celtics star Bob Cousey. Both men sold their memorabilia, telling her it was a way to help their families while they are still alive.

“He had a tremendous life,” she said, “and it’s a chance to share with people.”

The online auction runs through April 23. The web site is SCPAuctions.com.