Updated: Monday, 9:23 p.m.
I'm not sure anyone has ever accused Chase Utley of being "unprofessional."
Until the Braves broadcasters bashed Utley and the Dodgers on Saturday because they say he didn't take batting practice in the appropriate attire ...
Joe Simpson, who played in the big leagues from 1975 to 1983, had a major issue with the Dodgers' BP session.
"You know that I grew up in the Dodger organization and certainly was taught how to play professional baseball and do things the right way," Simpson began. "I want you to look at some things that were going on today in batting practice here with the Dodgers. What do you see? T-shirts. You see Chase Utley with no socks and pants up over his knees, and a T-shirt. This was prevalent with their whole team. And I think about fans that come to SunTrust Park who are Dodgers fans and want to see their players. They had no idea who any of them were."
Let's stop for a second. It's hard to imagine that there are people out there who would have no idea who Chase Utley, or Manny Machado, or Matt Kemp were unless they had their name on the back of their shirts.
Simpson continued, making it a point to specifically target Utley.
"Chase Utley, I've had nothing but respect for him his whole career," Simpson said. "I think he's a great player, thought he always played the game the right way. That was an embarrasment what he had on today during batting practice."
By the way, Utley was wearing a KCancer shirt in a show of support for Strike Out Cancer Day and the Jason Motte Foundation. Motte, a former big-league reliever, started the foundation in 2010 to provide support for cancer patients, and the first Strike Out Cancer Day was in 2014. Those shirts will be worn around major league baseball on Sep. 2, which is Strike Out Cancer Day.
Like so many, Utley's teammate, Kike Hernandez, has a personal connection with cancer — his dad is a cancer survivor. Utley was wearing a version of the KCancer shirt that Hernandez modeled. Unsurprisingly, it seems like it's been selling pretty well since Saturday night.
Also, the connection between playing the game the right way and what you wear in batting practice is ...?
Simpson didn't seem to have much of an answer, though his broadcast partner, Chip Caray, chimed in with an interesting point.
"You think of all the merchandising major league baseball does with their practice uniform and their batting practice jerseys," Caray said. "It's called a uniform for a reason."
As you know if you were at Citizens Bank Park last week, major league baseball has sold a decent number of Chase Utley uniforms over his 16-year career. I'm not sure Utley or the Dodgers are losing many fans or possible BP jersey sales because of what they wear before the game.
Simpson wrapped it up with a classic appeal to tradition:
I think of Walter Alston, even Tommy Lasorda. Walter Alston would roll over in his grave if he saw that. Walter O'Malley would never allow such things. And I know it's a different age, a different era. But that's a complete lack of respect for the fans and for the game, and as I said, an embarrasment. Bobby Cox never allowed anyone in a Braves uniform to take the field for batting practice or anything else until they had their uniform on. And for batting practice, you had to have your batting practice uniform on that has your name on it, so the fans know who you are as you're taking batting practice.
That sort of argument — the kind that insists the old way is the right way, and everything else is disrespectful and unacceptable — draws more people away from baseball than whatever the players wear during batting practice.
By the way, the Braves lost their third straight game to the Dodgers on Saturday, 5-1.
Check out the full video of Simpson and Caray's exchange here.
Hernandez, who calls Utley "dad," responded on Twitter to Simpson and Caray's comments.
Tomorrow’s BP attire pic.twitter.com/cL5Yw8Hh3e— Enrique Hernández (@kikehndez) July 29, 2018
On Monday, Simpson apologized for his remarks.
Joe Simpson Statement— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) July 30, 2018
I apologize to Chase Utley, the entire Dodgers organization and their fans for comments I made during Saturday’s broadcast. I’ve always held the organization in the highest light and my comments certainly didn’t reflect that. I am sorry to everyone affected.