Joe Simpson just doesn’t know when to shut up, huh?
A couple weeks ago, the Atlanta Braves broadcaster would rip into the Los Angeles Dodgers for their batting practice attire. Simpson didn’t like the fact that Chase Utley and his teammates were wearing t-shirts during BP. But here’s the thing: that shirt, well, it kind of meant something. Utley was sporting a K Cancer t-shirt, a shirt from reliever Jason Motte’s foundation that raises money for cancer research.
Things would eventually settle down, and the baseball world would move on. We would go more than a couple of days with an ‘old man yells at clouds’ moment. Or, something even worse than that. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. Because via ESPN, Simpson made a comeback Tuesday afternoon while the Braves took on the Nationals by questioning Juan Soto’s age.
So here we are. In the first of a split-game doubleheader, Soto went 2-for-2 with three walks. During his final at-bat, Simpson muttered these words:
“He is … if he’s 19, he has certainly got his man growth. He is big and strong.”
This just in: 19-year-old people can be big and strong. Bill Baer of NBC Sports does a good job of pointing out how ludicrous Simpson’s statement is.
“Puberty in boys typically ends around 17-18 years old, though they can continue growing into their mid-20’s. The implication is that Soto — listed at 6’1″, 185 pounds — is too big for his age. That’s not supported by any evidence whatsoever. Even if Simpson wanted to justify that comment on air, he couldn’t have. According to CDC data, a 185-pound 19-year-old would be in about the 85th percentile for weight. A 73-inch-tall 19-year-old would be around the 90th percentile. Soto is above-average in size but is he abnormally big? That’s a no.”
Let’s make one thing very clear: Soto has been very special for the Nationals. As Washington tries to get back into playoff contention, he’s slashing .315/.432/.567 with 16 doubles and 14 home runs. He’s walking 17.1 percent of the time while striking out at a clip of 18.1 percent. It’s absurd. He’s been up for all of 68 games as of Wednesday morning, racking up 287 plate appearances. So sure it’s not a huge sample by any stretch. There’s still no dismissing the damage Soto is doing at the dish.
Soto is a 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic who is having a historic rookie campaign. And because he’s from the DR, he must be lying about the age. That’s the “logic” at play for Simpson, despite the fact that he has no evidence to back it up. In the past, Dominican players have lied about their age. Nobody is denying that. However, the last time this was an issue was when Miguel Tejeda came forward about it… nearly a decade ago.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo didn’t let the comments slide either, saying “I had a definite reaction. I handled it face to face, privately with him. … he understood my stance on his comments.”
And while Simpson didn’t really apologize during Game 2 of the broadcast, he acknowledged his comments.
“If you were with us in Game 1, you might have heard me make a comment off the top of my head about if he’s 19. Well, he is. He’s bona fide 19. And he is a full-grown man. He is strong. And he is one heck of a player. You might well just write his name in on the Rookie of the Year award right now.”
We can’t wait for what’s next.