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The time Tom Glavine threw at Dale Murphy

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Yesterday Buster Olney had Hall of Famer Tom Glavine on his podcast. One of the things they talked about was when Glavine threw at former teammate Dale Murphy, who was by then playing for the Phillies. You can listen to it here. The game took place on Sunday June 19, 1991. If you can’t listen to a podcast, go read the contemporaneous story about it in the Philly Inquirer. Or, if you want to, watch the video of the incident, which I’ve embedded below.

As the article notes, Roger McDowell had been ejected from the game for hitting Otis Nixon in the shoulder with a pitch earlier (Glavine says on the podcast it was his first pitch, but he had been in for more than an inning by then). The hit on Nixon was retaliation for something that Nixon did a week prior (Glavine doesn’t elaborate and I can’t remember, but it probably involved sliding spikes up or trash talk). So plunk goes the ball off of Nixon.

From the podcast we learn, definitively, that manager Bobby Cox ordered Glavine to hit Murphy, despite the fact that hitting Nixon was itself retaliation. If things were even, why hit Murphy? Because this was the Sunday game of a three-game series, and the Braves had expected the Phillies to hit Nixon before then. “Because you should’ve handled that earlier,” Glavine says now, “now it’s a problem again.” So put that in your big book of unwritten rules: you get the right to retaliate, but you have to do it quickly. You might recall that the Blue Jays were a bit mad at that when Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista a couple of weeks ago too. Dumb unwritten rules never die, I guess.

From the story you learn that it wasn’t easy for Glavine to hit Murphy, given that Murphy was the Braves’ undisputed leader when Glavine came up and was a friend. Glavine asked Cox if he could hit the second guy as opposed to Murphy. “No, you gotta hit Murph,” Glavine says Cox told him. Watch the video below and you can see how softly and half-heartedly those purpose pitches, none of which ever hit their target, were thrown. Glavine was nonetheless ejected. Here he is talking about it in 1991:

“When I had some tough times in my first few seasons, Dale was always there with advice and some consolation,” Glavine said. “He’s a great guy, a consummate pro. He’s a positive force in any clubhouse, an upbeat guy.

“But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to protect your teammates.”

Tough talk, but Glavine’s actions spoke louder.

Glavine says now that he got hate mail about it from Murphy fans in Atlanta for a couple of months after that.

A pitcher obeyed his manager’s dumb order, made an at bat in a baseball game kind of a joke and put everyone in an uncomfortable position. But hey, stupid unwritten rules — hastily edited to suit the purposes of the moment and not really having anything to do with anyone protecting anyone — were served.

Scott Boras: Astros players don’t need to apologize

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Ken Rosenthal spoke to Scott Boras about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Boras’ take: the Astros need not apologize for what they did. They were mere babes in the woods who were ignorant of everything. I wish I was making this up. Scotty Baby:

“I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do,” Boras said on Wednesday, describing the hypothetical mindset of a player. “You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use the information. It is not coming from the player individually. It is coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With authority.”

The analogy Boras used was the speed limit.

A man driving 55 mph in a 35-mph zone only believes he is speeding if the limit is clearly posted. Likewise, Boras said Astros’ players who committed infractions only should apologize if they were properly informed of their boundaries.

It’s worth noting two things at this juncture: (1) Scott Boras represents José Altuve and Lance McCullers; and (2) He’s 100% full of crap here. Indeed, the contortions Astros players and their surrogates are putting themselves through to avoid accountability is embarrassing.

The players knew what they were doing.  Please do not insult me by saying they didn’t. Boras is doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect his guys. I get it, that’s his job. His client Altuve in particular stepped on it last weekend when he and other Astros players tried to play the “we’re going to overcome this adversity/no one believed in us” card which played terribly, and the super agent is trying to clean up the mess as best he can. Hat tip to him for his hustle, which he has never not shown. Guy’s a pro.

But he can only do so much because this all remains on the Astros’ players. Yes, the formal punishment is on the manager, the general manager and the club, and I agree that it had to be given all of the complications of the situation, but now that that’s over, it’s time for some honest accountability. And we’re getting zero of it.

Which is insane because the players were given immunity. They’re 100% in the clear. That they cheated has angered a lot of people, but it does not make them irredeemable. As I have noted here many times, lots of others did too. But their lack of accountability over the past couple of weeks speaks very, very poorly of them.

“We crossed a line. No question. We’re sorry. We don’t think it caused us to win anything we didn’t earn, but we see how we created that perception ourselves through our own actions. We shouldn’t have done that. Going forward we’re going to be better. Again, we’re sorry.”

That’s about all it’d take and it’d be done. It’d be pretty easy to say, if for no other reason than because that’s probably what’s gone through their minds anyway. They’re not bad people.

But they’re also observers of America in 2020 and, I suspect, everything they’ve seen, consciously or unconsciously, has counseled against them saying those very simple words or something like them.

Everything that’s going on in America right now — politics especially — tells people that the path to success is to cheat, steal and lie in order to benefit themselves and themselves only. It’s also telling them that, if they get caught, they should lie and deny too. It works. The media, for the most part, will not call anyone of status out on a lie, even if the lie is ridiculous. At most it will repeat the denial like a stenographer reading back from a transcript fearing that to do any more would be to — gasp! — reveal an opinion. “Shlabotnik says that he was cloned by Tralfamadorians and it was his clone, not him, who stole the signs.” Heaven forbid someone add the word “falsely” in there. They won’t because if they do they’re going to be accused of being “biased” or “political” or whatever.

If you see that — and we all see it — why wouldn’t you be predisposed to avoid apologizing for anything? Why wouldn’t you try to offer some canned, facially neutral talking points and hope that everyone is satisfied that you’ve spoken? Why wouldn’t you, having done that for a few weeks, begin to believe that, actually, you’re right not do say anything more. And  that, maybe, you were never in the wrong at all? That’s were we are as a country now, that’s for sure. And given that sports reflects society, it should not be at all surprising that that attitude has infected sports as well.

Astros owner Jim Crane tells Rosenthal that there could be an apology in spring training. “Quite frankly, we’ll apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward,” Crane said.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that when someone says “quite frankly,” what follows is going to be insincere most of the time. Another thing I’ve learned is that, in comments such as Crane’s, the emphasis is strongly on the “move forward” part of things. He wants an apology to put an end to a bad news cycle. When it comes, it will be P.R.-vetted and couched in the most sterile and corporate language imaginable. It will be anything but sincere.

In the meantime, the rest of the Astros don’t seem to want to offer an apology at all. Why should they? What’s making them?