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Jim Kaat, for one, will not ‘shut up’ about bat flipping

Jim Kaat spoke to Red Sox pitchers in spring camp in 2012. Now he is speaking to David Ortiz. Jim Davis/globe staff/file

Picked-up pieces while thumbing through “The Wells Report In Context — Updated, Expanded, and Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture” . . .

■   I’m told that Pete Carroll wrote a letter to Roger Goodell asking if he can have a redo of the last 20 seconds of Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz.

■   Opening Day is still two weeks away, and I’m sick of the David Ortiz Farewell Tour already. Sorry. Now Papi is telling us that the only folks who can comment on pimping homers are folks who have actually homered in the big leagues. Everyone else needs to “shut up.’’


Ortiz is a great hitter who has delivered for this city and earned the love of fans. But he didn’t invent baseball any more than Rich Gossage invented baseball. Contrasting opinions are good for the game.

Here’s part of a passionate missive from 283-game winner Jim Kaat, who also hit 16 homers during his four decades in the bigs: “I take exception to be told to shut up about being critical seeing batters flip their bat in celebration after a home run. David said they are either pitchers or fans who don’t know what it feels like to square up a 95 m.p.h. fastball.

“He mentioned being ‘old school’ coming to the big leagues in 1997. Actually, I am ‘old school’ and ‘new school.’ I faced Ted Williams in 1959. Ted actually played in the majors in the late 1930s. I also faced Julio Franco in 1983, and Julio played in the majors until 2007. That’s spanning almost 70 years of major league baseball. I have seen old and new for a long time.

“I am not critical of the self-centered act of bat flipping after a home run, but as a former player and current fan of the game, I’m disappointed. If the players in uniform today feel it is acceptable behavior, that’s all that matters.


“I guess the ‘shut up’ comment struck a nerve because, believe it or not, I have done both. Served up hundreds of home runs and was actually fortunate to hit 16 of them as a pitcher.

“Of the hundreds I gave up, I never once had a batter flip his bat or do something that appeared to draw attention to himself. Even the Hall of Famers I played with like Harmon Killebrew and Mike Schmidt. Reggie [Jackson] had a little flair about him but nothing that caused us to be annoyed.

“The most important statistic to me is the final score. Always was and always will be. So whenever I gave up a home run or hit one, that was foremost in my mind. What did that do to the score of the game?

“What made the reactions of Carlton Fisk, Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter, and Kirby Puckett part of the story after their dramatic home runs was their joy and satisfaction in an unbridled, spontaneous display of emotion. All of us as sports fans love that.

“My disappointment in all the attention bat flips get after home runs is that it causes TV producers and maybe fans and even players to focus more on the self-centered ‘look at me’ act of ‘bat flipping’ instead of admiring what the batter has just done by hitting it that far. The bat flip is a disservice to himself and takes away from the accomplishment.


“So, as I enter my 60th season of major league baseball, I hope that we can move away from paying attention to how batters flip their bat after a home run and focus on what an exceptional skill it is to do that.

“I did both — gave ’em up and hit ’em. Neither one is worthy of any self-centered action.

“My behavior on the field was always, ‘What would Jackie, Spahnie, Harmon, or Hank think of my actions?’ As a minor league manager told me early in my career, ‘Kid, the game got along fine before you got here and will get along fine after you’re gone. Treat it with respect and act like a professional.’

“Or, as sportscaster Al Shaver would say in signing off his show, ‘When you lose, say little; when you win, say less. Or . . . flip less?”

■   Chilling account by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale regarding Al Avila’s ascent and Dave Dombrowski’s firing in Detroit last summer. Dombrowski got sandbagged almost as badly as Ben Cherington in Boston. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch told Avila (Dombrowski’s assistant) that Dombrowski was a goner, but the assistant was ordered not to say anything for three days.

When it all came down, Dombrowski got the call and left the stadium, passing Avila in the hallway without exchanging a word.

“At that point, my mind was spinning,’’ Dombrowski said. “It’s one of those things I really haven’t said much about, and I don’t know that I want to, but I will say Al was in an awkward spot. It really put him in an awkward situation when he knew a few days before I did.’’


With Dombrowski gone, Avila immediately added an analytics department in Detroit.

■   We can all agree that White Sox 1B-DH Adam LaRoche is entitled to walk away from a $13 million contract if his feelings have been hurt by the team’s request to “dial it down” when it comes having his 14-year old son in the clubhouse every hour of every day, but as Mike Lupica noted, “This action . . . does not make him Rosa Parks.’’ Amen.

This is not a particularly new topic, but never has there been so much overreaction. Ken Griffey Jr. wasn’t welcome in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse when his dad played for the Bronx Bombers. Junior is still mad about it.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona knows a thing or two about the topic. As the son of big leaguer Tito Francona, 11-year-old Terry went to spring training with his dad in 1970 and got to play catch with A’s superstar Reggie Jackson.

In his final year in the majors, Tito Francona was traded to the Brewers and brought his son on a 10-day road trip. As manager of the Indians, Francona allows his players to have their sons around, but keeps it in moderation. Tito told Yahoo! Sports that sons of ballplayers are required to check in and say hello to the manager and refrain from adolescent hijinks in the clubhouse.


Noting that a losing pitcher might not be in the mood for horseplay, Francona allowed, “You don’t want some kid firing a Wiffle Ball at his head.’’

■  QUIZ: Brooks Robinson hit the final home run of his career on April 19, 1977, a three-run pinch-hit walkoff shot that defeated the Frank Robinson-managed Indians. Name the Cleveland relief pitcher who surrendered the homer (answer below).

■   Mark Teixeira appeared with Paul Giamatti in an episode of Showtime’s “Billions.’’ Tex was also in the next-to-last episode of “Entourage.’’

■   Richard Kaner is working on a Holy Cross hardwood history documentary titled, “College Basketball’s Purple Reign,’’ and has unearthed rare video of Tommy Heinsohn, Ronnie Perry, Togo Palazzi, and the rest of the 1954 NIT champion Crusaders who appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

■   He’s only human: Stephen Curry made only 4 of 18 shots in Golden State’s loss to the Spurs on Saturday night. I thought we’d never see a team do better than the Celtics’ 40-1 record at home in 1985-86, but both the Warriors and Spurs are unbeaten at home as we near April.

■   The Stanley Cup playoffs would be a good time for Bruins folks to pay homage to Keith Emerson, keyboardist of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who died in Santa Monica March 11. ELP’s “Nutrocker” and the Ventures’ “Nutty’’ (both borrowed from Tchaikovsky) were Bruins theme songs in the team’s TV 38 golden days of the 1970s.

■   Why we love the New York Daily News: Sunday’s back-page sub-headline: “Yanks relieved Jacoby is OK after fragile OF takes pitch off wrist.”

■   Goose Gossage would have made a fine sports columnist. Opinions galore.

■   Congrats to coach Mark Leszszcyk and Roxbury Community College for winning the women’s NJCAA Division 3 national championship with a six-player roster.

■   Next time you are on Amazon or in a bookstore, check out “Hope,’’ by Providence Journal columnist Bill Reynolds, and “Blood Brothers” by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith. “Hope” chronicles a year of Hope High School basketball in Providence. “Blood Brothers” examines Muhammad Ali’s complicated relationship with Malcolm X and paints the former champ in a rare negative light. According to the Wall Street Journal’s David Margolick, “The authors depict Mr. Ali as an opportunist and a chameleon, changing personalities as nimbly as he danced around the ring . . . As his betrayal of Malcolm X illustrates, even the greatest fighter in the world can be cowardly.’’

■   March Madness lateness: CBS and TBS are killing us. Those halftimes and TV timeouts are way too long.

■   Bob Kraft is ridiculous. Wants it both ways. Wants his draft picks, but also wants to keep his seat at the table with the other big-boy owners. You need to choose, Bob. Or keep quiet. You elected to roll over for the Commish and other owners last May. Don’t try to impress your fans now. Own it.

■   Quiz answer: Dave LaRoche, father of Adam LaRoche, grandfather of Drake LaRoche.

■   Bud Collins stories will be told forever. Here’s one from former Globe school sports editor Larry Ames: “When I created the Globe Scholar-Athlete program for the 1986-87 school year, I wanted a national figure who was associated with academics as our All-Scholastic banquet speaker, and I thought of Arthur Ashe. I called ProServ and asked how much Ashe’s speaking fee was. I was told $10,000. Our fee at that time was a lot less. I called Bud and asked him if he could help me. Two weeks later, my phone rang and the caller said, ‘Hi, this is Arthur Ashe, and I am your speaker.’ ’’ RIP Bud.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy.