A book about fathers and sons learning to love baseball after the steroids scandals? Hoo-boy.

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Via Baseball Think Factory, we learn of the existence of a new book about fathers, sons, baseball and … steroids:

Freelance writer Jim Gullo loves baseball and he wanted his son Joe to love it too. So, in the spring of 2007, he bought seven year old Joe a glove, a bat and a ball, and got him started collecting cards where they lived on Bainbridge Island near Seattle … Then in December, the Mitchell report named 89 players likely to have used steroids and other performance enhancing drug sand Joe’s questions changed:”It says that baseball players took drugs to make them better?” And, “Isn’t it cheating?”

Joe also wanted to know if the players who took drugs would be punished. But his dad didn’t have any answers — so the two went looking for them. The result is a physical and emotional journey that Jim chronicles in his new book, “Trading Manny: How a Father and Son Learned to Love Baseball Again.”

There’s an excerpt there if you’re curious.

As for the book:  Oof. Look, I’m a father of a six-year-old boy and I get the whole father-son thing pretty well. You want to bond over things and you want to answer your son’s difficult questions and you want them to always have hope that the world is a great place and that it doesn’t suck.

But I also know that if I was worried that professional athletes taking drugs would lead to either (a) my son’s loss of innocence; or (b) “an emotional journey,” I’d reassess the primacy of sports in our relationship.

People do dumb things. People cheat. Kids should know that. They should also know that athletes aren’t heroes or role models. And in my view, any parent who sets up a paradigm in which athletes either have to be role models or, when they don’t act like it, a serious soul searching is required, is making a mistake in their kids’ upbringing.

Yeah, I said it. Sorry if that pisses anyone off, but I’m pretty freaking adamant about the lunacy of having professional athletes-as-role-models. Parents and guardians and siblings and real people who face real everyday challenges are role models.

Even if my kids and I enjoy professional sports as a pastime, the participants — people who live a unique and privileged existence in which the decision to take drugs or not could mean millions — are not living any kind of life that holds lessons for my children.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.