You can blame/thank the Reds for all the green you see in teams’ uniforms today. It was them — or more specifically, their GM Dick Wagner — who started the tradition in 1978. While it went over pretty well, the initial reactions were fun:
After workouts, the Reds dragged their perspiring bodies off the field
and retreated to the clubhouse — closed, uncharacteristically, to the
media — took a look and then did a double-take at their lockers …
green uniforms hanging in front of each.
“Did we get traded to Oakland?” catcher Johnny Bench asked.
Shortstop Davey Concepcion squinted at his green No. 13 uniform and said, “I’m not wearing that. I’m Venezuelan, not Irish.”
I’m usually opposed to messing with uniforms too much, but I’ve always liked the green-on-St. Patrick’s Day thing. It’s spring training, and spring training is casual. It looks good. And besides, it’s so much nicer than the the more historically-accurate St. Patrick’s Day tradition they used to do at the ballpark: having ushers go through the stands converting all the pagans.
I just saw Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs refer to this as “BryceGhazi” and we’re not gonna top that, so we shouldn’t even try.
The controversy: Bryce Harper, in defeating Kyle Schwarber in the Home Run Derby last night, didn’t follow the rules. Or else his dad, who was pitching to him didn’t. The rule in question is that the pitcher has to wait for the last hit ball to land before delivering the next one. Given that the Derby is a timed event, such a thing matters, of course, because the faster you get pitches the faster you can hit them out of the park. At least if you don’t get too tired first.
Harper’s dad was a bit quick with the final three pitches in the final round, allowing Harper to get to 18, tying Kyle Schwarber before winning it outright with his 30 seconds bonus time. Watch as Harper waves for his dad to deliver the pitch while the last ball is still flying:
I’m not gonna argue that he didn’t do it. I will say, however, that no one should really care. Mostly because it’s the Home Run Derby and it doesn’t matter a bit. Getting mad about this is a half-step removed from getting mad that Blackjack Mulligan used a foreign object to gouge Pedro Morales’ eyes during a house show in 1976. Yes, it’s true, but c’mon, we’re entertaining people here.
I have not seen any suggestion that Kyle Schwarber is upset, but if he later says he is I’ll simultaneously understand yet still roll my eyes. I doubt MLB will do anything here or issue a statement of any kind. If it does, I’ll roll my eyes harder. Because, I repeat: It’s the Home Run Derby.