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Don Mattingly gets testy with Bryce Harper for no good reason

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Yesterday Bryce Harper was asked about the Miami Marlins offseason moves. Fair question. The Marlins are division rivals and that club’s tear-down was probably the biggest news inside the division of the offseason. Here’s what Harper said:

“I was very shocked that they were going to let go of Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton, because that’s one of the best outfields in the game. So, very shocked about that. I mean, you can’t say enough about what Stanton did last year, what Ozuna did last year, and what Yelich has done the past couple years, so I thought they were a great team. I think they just had to add a couple more pitchers and they would have been pretty dang good.”

In this, Harper echoed the opinion of about ten gabillion people. Indeed, “it was unexpected that the Marlins would trade away their entire outfield, which was among the best in the game” is as close to unanimous conventional wisdom as it comes. The second part, about them contending with a couple more pitchers, is a bit more debatable, but it’s not a sentiment that a lot of people hadn’t already offered. The vast majority of that comment was “the Marlins were good and they had good players.” If anything, it was a generous comment about the 2017 Marlins and a fair question about the front office, put more politely than the way most of us have put it.

Apparently, though, he said something SUPER offensive! I have no idea what, but it caused Marlins manager Don Mattingly to say that it’s important for Harper to “take care of your own dugout.” He added this testy response:

“Take care of your business and we’ll take care of ours . . . He doesn’t really know what goes on over here. He may think he does. But he doesn’t know what the discussions are. He doesn’t know our players.”

Literally, no, he doesn’t know your players Don, because you got rid of all of the ones he knew. Assuming, though, that that is not what you meant, please. Give me a friggin’ break. If there’s a criticism implied in his comments, it’s clearly about your front office, not your “dugout” or your players.

I get that you want to protect your team and that, early into a spring training for a team that is likely to be terrible, you want to reach for anything that can serve as a point of motivation, but Mattingly has been around the block a few times. He knows what Harper was saying and he knows what everyone else is saying. His outrage about all of this is phony as hell.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]