It’s Jackie Robinson’s 100th birthday

Associated Press

Today is the 100th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s birth.

At this point it’s hard to say anything about Robinson that any baseball fan has not already heard, over and over again. But then again, it’s impossible to overstate the significance of the fact that it was only 72 years-ago that he became the first black man to play major league baseball in the modern era. It’s not ancient history. My dad was alive at a time when only white men were allowed to play baseball. Our current president was too. So too were players as recent as Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson.

Though you almost certainly know the general parameters of Robinson’s accomplishments, you should nonetheless take some extra time to reacquaint yourself with Robinson’s story once again. Today the New York Times has a fantastic set of images and personal essays about Robinson and his legacy. You should go check out Jackie’s page too, as we sometimes spend so much time talking about his historical significance that we forget he was a hell of a baseball player regardless. It’s also worth remembering that Robinson’s post-playing career, which includes a lot of important work in the civil rights movement, was also significant.

Finally, let us take a moment to acknowledge that history has a funny way of sanding the edges off of important civil rights figures after they die in order to make them more palatable — or useful — to people in the here and now. People like Robinson, who drew all kinds of ire in life, are cast as being universally beloved later on. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it’s not fine that they are often, at the same time, held up as standing for an awful lot of things they didn’t or wouldn’t, in reality, stand for in life.

Which is to say that, even if you genuinely and fully appreciate his legacy and accomplishments, open yourself up to the possibility that Jackie Robinson would not necessarily be your friend or comrade in any random cause today. That’s true especially if you’re the sort of person who likes to say things like “Jackie Robinson would never . . .” when you take aim at current civil rights or political figures. If you’re going to invoke Robinson — or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks or Cesar Chavez or anyone else — do so for who they were and what they stood for, not for what you’d like to assume they’d stand for because it jibes with your own stances.

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

Getty Images

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.