Braves Broadcasters-Turned-Fashion Police Are What Is Wrong With Baseball [Opinion]

Chase Utley
Jae C. Hong / AP

Atlanta Braves announcers Joe Simpson and Chip Caray decided to turn into the fashion police, berating the Los Angeles Dodgers for their batting practice uniforms in what could possibly be the most ignorant, stupid, and downright petty rant of the baseball season so far. Instead of sticking to the nuts and bolts of the game, talking about lineups, trade deadline moves around the league, or anything remotely relevant to the actual game to fill air time, they decided to focus on something as ridiculous as what gear players were wearing prior to the game even starting. If that wasn’t enough, they doubled down on their statements.

Joe Simpson was once a ballplayer, he even spent parts of four years with the Dodgers back in the mid ’70s, almost appearing in enough games to constitute a half season of play before moving on to the Mariners, and then the Royals, where his inability to get his batting average over the Mendoza line, at .168, finally ended his playing career.

Chip Caray is mostly known for being the son of Skip Caray, grandson of Harry Caray, and for a penchant for peppering his broadcasts with “factual mistakes,” and calling a game that is akin to “someone speaking with a French accent that doesn’t know French,” as USA Today the New York Post have pointed out, just as examples.

So is it really any surprise that this pair would decide to attack the Dodgers for being unprofessional based on their wearing of a T-shirt for the cause “Strikeout Cancer,” and for wearing baseball pants that didn’t hang low enough to touch the ground? In all reality, no, it really doesn’t, because they had to kill airtime and their ability to drop in anything of significance related to the game might have meant they needed to engage in meaningful dialogue instead of sounding like a couple of extras on the set of Mean Girls.

As reported by Awful Announcing, during the broadcast, Simpson started the exchange on the wrong foot, and then kept stumbling.

“You know I grew up in the Dodger organization, and certainly was taught how to play professional baseball and how to do things the right way. I want you to look at some things going on today at batting practice here with the Dodgers. What do you see? You see T-shirts, you see Chase Utley with no socks, pants up over his knees, a T-shirt. This was prevalent with their whole team.”

Caray interrupted Simpson to refresh the count and have the studio team pull up footage of the Dodgers taking BP, as if it had some form of relevance to what was happening on the field, as per SB Nation. Simpson, seemingly oblivious to the game or his actual job to call the action on the field and contribute something worthwhile, jumped right back into the fray, getting just a tad louder in the voice and more agitated, as if anyone gave a rip what his take on fashion is.

“And I think about fans that come to SunTrust Park who are Dodgers’ fans, they have no idea who any of them are, nobody had any kind of uniform on or batting practice shirt with their name on their jersey. They looked very unprofessional. And I think I can say this because I know what the Dodger organization is all about.”

Caray broke the stream of consciousness rant, not to remind Simpson he hadn’t been a Dodger since Jimmy Carter was president, but to actually bother to announce that a bunt was on, before turning it back over to Simpson, who continued to get agitated, sounding like an angry old man yelling at a cloud.

“And if I were a Dodger fan, I’d be embarrassed. And I don’t know how Major League Baseball allows such attire when the gates are open and fans are watching. Chase Utley, I’ve had nothing but respect for him his whole career, I think he’s a great player, I thought he always played the game the right way. That was an embarrassment, what he had on during batting practice.”

And what makes Simpson look like a tremendous fool about all of this, is that he has been in or around the game at the major league level for 45 years, give or take. That means he was around to see when the Yankees started it all, wearing just a blue T-shirt with the NY logo on the left breast, no name or number, back in 1979. That means he has seen teams in both leagues wearing T-shirts similar to the ones the Dodgers wore, since 2007 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, for anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks at a time for BP, according to MLB.com.

The Atlanta Braves, Simpson and Caray’s employers, wear similarly styled T-shirts with no name or number on them for BP, as related to various events at times almost every season. We’re supposed to believe Simpson can’t remember that in 1976, the Chicago White Sox wore tight fitting mid-thigh shorts, with socks pulled up below the knee, and what can best be described as a blouse with a faux-collar? He should remember them, he actually played then. When Caray’s grandfather was calling ChiSox games, he never ripped them on-air for looking unprofessional in actual game uniforms, nor BP attire.

When the attacks of Simpson began hitting social media, particularly Twitter, where Simpson and Caray were being flayed in real-time, Caray decided to double down for himself and Simpson and defend their assertions that wearing shirts that are not an official part of the uniform are bad. Apparently, even if it is to raise money for a pediatric cancer foundation, because what is more important, trying to help save the lives of kids, or killing dead airtime complaining about fashion?

SB Nation points out that Simpson and Caray are a symptom of what is wrong with baseball today, and why the sport has a problem attracting younger fans. Baseball isn’t as fast moving as basketball, or even hockey for that fact. It doesn’t provide the big physical hits that football does. Baseball is seen as an old man’s game to a lot of kids, and no amount of MLB video gaming is going to change that. Allowing players to loosen up and show a little individual flair and personality in what is nothing more than practice, practice that fans are generously allowed to view prior to a game, is what baseball needs, not ticking off the opposing team’s manager by calling him and his team unprofessional for BP attire.

Baseball needs more community oriented outreach, and philanthropic projects. It needs more players whose personality shines through and engages fans. It has to become a sport that is more identifiable and attractive to young people, or it will wither and die. What baseball doesn’t need is a couple old men nattering on like the world is ending because things aren’t like they were in the old-days, days that they obviously can’t clearly remember.

Chip Caray should consider going into something that doesn’t involve getting the facts right or carrying Simpson’s water, where he can just toss his opinions out there, like a late night talk-radio host. Joe Simpson should just retire. Go play golf with some other old guys that want to angrily yell at clouds on the back nine just because they’re there. Either way, they are what is wrong with baseball. They are fossils. They are out of touch with today’s youth, and they maybe need to take a nap to get over their cases of cranky old man syndrome.