Braves Announcer Joe Simpson In Hot Water Again, This Time For Alleging Juan Soto Lied About His Age

Juan Soto
Alex Brandon / shutterstock

Braves announcer Joe Simpson has had some problems in the booth this year regarding some of the topics he has chosen to broach on air. While he made a quip or two early in the season that induced a small cringe, they were negligible enough to be forgotten before the game was over. His rant about the Brave’s organist continuing to play music, doing his job, despite the Braves losing 7-0 made him look petty in many people’s eyes. His tirade about what clothing Chase Utley and his Dodger teammates were wearing during batting practice touched many more nerves and even drew rebuke from the Dodgers and his peers in the world of broadcasting, as was reported by Inquisitr. Now he’s done it again, and the criticism he’s receiving is even more widespread and harsher than before, including more than a few allegations of racism.

“Simpson is apparently determined to feud with everyone,” is how Awful Announcing characterized his latest “on-air” tantrum. To frame the situation, the Braves were playing the Washington Nationals, and the Nat’s 19-year-old phenom Juan Soto is raising serious discussions over whether or not he is the best teenage hitter in the history of Major League Baseball, as reported by Fangraphs. When the topic of that came up in the booth, Simpson didn’t parse his words or hesitate even a second before defiantly stating he didn’t believe Soto was a teenager because he was too polished of a player, concluding that he had to have lied about his age.

“If he’s 19, he has certainly got his man growth. He is big and strong.”

There was a time when age fraud was a thing in baseball. Satchell Paige could have been a decade older than he was claiming to be, but he was a legend and no one cared. Cuban defectors regularly shaved a few years off their age as Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez did when he joined the Yankees. Luis Tiant was always thought to be several years older than he was, and recently former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was exposed to have fudged his age, too. Players did it for money. The younger they could present them self as, the more value they could convince a team they had. Those days are gone, however, and the MLB has put more stringent safeguards into verifying actual prospect ages than they ever have before.

In the case of Soto, there has never been a whiff of an allegation that he had doctored his age records. No one in baseball is even talking about it being a possibility. It got some fans thinking if Simpson was saying the same thing about Robin Yount, a teenager in 1975 when he began playing for the Brewers, who was an all-time great teenage batsman and future Hall of Famer. A lot of parallels have been drawn between the pair as hitters and overall players, and the only difference between them is era and skin color. Yount is white while Soto is Latino, as posited on Rebrn and Reddit.

“I don’t think Simpson is necessarily racist but criticizing the age of a guy is one of those things that you only hear about when it comes to hispanic ball players. Or African NBA players.”

His statements earned him a visit from the National’s GM Mike Rizzo, according to USA Today, who made no secret that he was not pleased with Simpson’s comment. One of his own peers, Jeff Passan, took to Twitter to call Simpson’s comments “garbage.” Simpson did come back in the second half of the double-header to say that Soto was a “bonafide 19,” but he made no apology for bringing it up in the first place, which again set in motion another round of criticism of his on-air work.