Integrating early gave Dodgers, Giants, Braves competitive advantage

Associated Press
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Over the last couple of days we’ve gotten our annual reminder of just how historically significant it was for Jackie Robinson to break baseball’s color barrier in 1947. What is often overlooked at these times is just how significant the breaking of the color barrier — or, in the case of some teams, the decision to cling to segregationist policies — was for competitive purposes.

Today Jay Jaffe has a good article about that over at Fangraphs. The big takeaway: the Dodgers, Giants and Braves, all of whom integrated swiftly, came to dominate the National League over the next two decades. In turn, the National League came to dominate all of baseball.

Jaffe goes into pretty good detail on all of this. We all know about Hall of Famers like Robinson and, eventually, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, who were later signed from the Negro Leagues, but Jaffe talks about more minor black stars who helped sustain these clubs in the 1950s and into the 1960s lesser black players who, while perhaps not making a mark in the bigs, made their organizations deeper and more competitive. The story illustrates that it was the commitment to integration, not just the act of integrating, that mattered when it game to the nuts and bolts of baseball.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.