Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves announcer caught in controversy after criticizing Los Angeles Dodgers

General view of Suntrust Park during the game between the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres on June 15, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
General view of Suntrust Park during the game between the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres on June 15, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images

Joe Simpson has been a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves since 1992, but he began his baseball career as a player for the Dodgers. On Saturday, Simpson criticized his old team and started a controversy few on either squad will likely soon forget.

Simpson called out the Dodgers for their batting practice outfits Saturday before what proved to be a 5-1 win for Los Angeles. Simpson took issue with the perceived lack of professionalism shown by the Dodgers’ attire, particularly doing so at Atlanta’s SunTrust Park.

“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,” Simpson said to booth partner Chip Caray during Saturday’s broadcast. “I want you to look at some things that were 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 and pants up over his knees, 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 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.”

After a sacrifice bunt by Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood, Simpson doubled down on his take.

“If I were a Dodger fan, I’d be embarrassed,” Simpson said. “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, and I thought he always played the game the right way. That was an embarrassment, what he had on during batting practice.”

Caray then jumped into the conversation with his own thoughts on the situation.

“When you think of all the merchandising that Major League Baseball does with their practice uniforms and the batting practice jerseys, I’m with you,” Caray said. “Why not — It’s called a uniform for a reason.”

Simpson’s take was not well received by the Dodgers. Per the Los Angeles Times’ Andy McCullough, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts took issue with Simpson’s critique and said, “I take it personally when someone questions our professionalism.”

Although their manager was upset, a couple of Dodgers had some fun with the controversy.

First, there was this tweet by outfielder Enrique Hernandez:

Third baseman Justin Turner then followed up:

Braves pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who came to Atlanta from the Dodgers this offseason, also joined the social media conversation: