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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.

Nationals’ Soto youngest ever to win NL batting crown

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WASHINGTON — Juan Soto became the National League’s youngest batting champion, Trea Turner hit a grand slam and drove in seven runs, and the Washington Nationals closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

The 21-year-old Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser for the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the major league-lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Yan Gomes homered for Washington, which won seven of its last nine and closed the season on a three-game winning streak and caught the Mets in the NL East standings.

“These guys don’t quit,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “They play hard every day and you saw what they did the last nine games. I’m proud of them hanging in there.”

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series. The Nationals’ .433 winning percentage in the truncated season was the lowest for a defending champion since the 1998 Florida Marlins went 54-108 (.333).

New York slipped from 86-76 last season and third place in the NL East to 26-34 and tied for fourth in manager Luis Rojas’ first season. The Mets still held slim playoff hopes entering Saturday before dropping three in a row, and they would have secured a wild card had they won those games because of three-game slides by Philadelphia and San Francisco to end the season.

“We didn’t get it done,” Rojas said. “We needed to do it, and we didn’t do it. It was definitely all on us. It makes it a little bit more frustrating just seeing that part happened the way we wanted, but we didn’t execute what we needed to do.”

Pete Alonso homered twice for New York and finished with 16 after clubbing a rookie-record 53 last season. Guillermo Heredia added a solo shot for the Mets.

Washington right-hander Austin Voth (2-5) needed 36 pitches to escape the first but made it through five innings to close his season with back-to-back victories. Voth allowed four runs while striking out four.

The Nationals chased Mets starter Seth Lugo after 1 1/3 innings. Lugo (3-4) allowed six runs on five hits and two walks.

With Washington already leading 7-3, Turner busted the game open with a third-inning grand slam off reliever Steven Matz. It was Washington’s first grand slam of the season.

KENDRICK’S FUTURE

Washington and INF Howie Kendrick have a mutual option for 2021, and he has at least one prominent figure hopeful for his return.

“I’m holding onto his leg,” Martinez said. “He’s got a lot of discussions to have with his family and I told him we’ll stay in touch as we always do and we’ll see where he’s at.”

The 37-year-old Kendrick hit .275 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 25 games, and ended the season on the injured list with a left hamstring strain.

NATS AWARDS

Soto was named Washington’s player of the year and RHP Max Scherzer (5-4, 3.74 ERA) earned the team’s pitcher of the year award in voting by local media. LHP Sean Doolittle won his third consecutive Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: New York placed RHP Erasmo Ramirez (right groin tightness) on the injured list. Ramirez was 0-0 with an 0.63 ERA in six games. The Mets recalled RHP Corey Oswalt.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles was hit by a pitch in the second inning and was lifted for a defensive replacement in the third.

UP NEXT

Mets: New York opens its 2021 spring training schedule on Feb. 27 against Miami in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Nationals: Washington takes on Houston on Feb. 27 in West Palm Beach, Florida, in its scheduled 2021 spring training debut.