Discluding Jonathan: Braves 4, Fillions 1

 

Well, there’s nothing like a ten-game winning streak and another strong start from your newest rookie pitcher to put a little spring in your step.

While ESPN viewers were still chortling over the amusing spectacle of the losing-est franchise in baseball celebrating a season in which they lost the World Series, the Braves jumped out to a lead in the top of the 1st against Cliff Lee, whose neck may not yet be quite as loose as he’d like. Leadoff stud Jason Heyward, batting exactly where he should until the Apocalypse arrives, coaxed a walk on five pitches. Justin Upton struck out looking and didn’t think much of the call (nor did I), but the ESPN crew was too busy talking about how John Kruk managed to get back up from the field to the broadcast booth in time for the second batter to notice. Fab 5 Freddie Freeman singled up the middle, Brian McCann struck out swinging, and you thought for a moment this would be one of those times when the Bravos returned to form and wasted a golden scoring opportunity.

You would be wrong. (That return to form wouldn’t come until the top of the 2nd.) You would have forgotten that batting right after BMac was your current National League batting leader, Chris “Throw-in” Johnson. Mr. Johnson took this opportunity to remind you of that fact, and to announce his freaking presence with authority by turning on a tough-to-handle low pitch and sending it screaming through the right-side hole to score both runners. The Braves led the Nathan Phillions 2-0, and it was all the offense they would need on a night when young Jedi master Alex Wood looked strong and confident, pitching six strong innings and giving up only two hits and a single earned run, with three strikeouts to ice the cake.

To the aforementioned top of the 2nd, in which B.J. Upton magically singled to center and Andrelton Simmons shocked the world by taking a walk to put two men on with no outs. Even with a nine-game winning streak going, this was precisely the sort of situation that makes Braves fans nervous, as for much of the season our boys have excelled in getting absolutely nothing out of such circumstances. Guess what? Wood advanced the two on a terrific bunt; J-Hey hit into a fielder’s choice that hung Melvin out to dry between 3rd and home (although Junior adeptly kept the rundown alive until the runners could safely move up); and li’l bro Justin grounded out to Jimmy Rollins at short. Not exactly stellar work by the Js in our lineup that time around.

(Aside: Orel “I Probably Shouldn’t Be Messing Up Other People’s Weird Names” Hershiser inexplicably insists on pronouncing Simba’s given moniker so that it frames the stage name of Rocket Man, Atlanta transplant, and Braves devotee Reginald Dwight. However, Buster Olney informed us today that Terry Pendleton has a better nickname for the best defensive player in baseball: he calls Simmons “The Reason.” As in, Simmons is The Reason the Braves are leading their division. I think we can all agree that sounds much cooler than confusing the kid with the pop star known for wearing outrageous eyeglasses and duck costumes on stage. I hereby nominate “The Reason” for inclusion in the Braves Journal glossary.)

But why get hung up on that when we can get a good laugh out of the follies produced by the architect of Citizens Bank Park? Bottom 3, Carlos Ruiz hit what was initially ruled a home run to left; with benefit of a telephoto lens, even the casual viewer could see that was wrong, as the ball had bounced off the low mesh screen in front of the row of shrubbery before the Knights Who Say “Ni” section. A brief video review on the umpires’ part confirmed as much (and good on ‘em for checking it out). Not content with one hit, when the top of the 4th came around Sir Melvin the Younger then hit what was also initially ruled a home run, this time to right, and correctly so.

But wait! The bandbox’s architect, who shall apparently remain nameless, had designed an even worse feature on that side: same low screen, but no line of shrubbery to keep the silly Philly Konnnnniguts from reaching over and trying to grab an incoming mortar like any fan would do in the moment. And, indeed, in this case one such fan did reach for B.J.’s ball – just a little, certainly not enough to convince anyone, even with the benefit of video hindsight, to reverse the call on the field. And yet that’s what the umpiring crew did, either because they felt it was only fair or because they were scared the Philly fans (whose verbal abuse could be easily heard all evening) might cut them. Which, hey, who could blame them? Cliffy Lee, for one, whose irritation at this much longer review was clear; his neck hurt, he was already behind, just spot the Bravos the damn run already and let’s get on with it!

Twelve hours later, the umpires returned and, probably incorrectly but certainly without sufficient evidence, reversed the call. Back to second for Melvin. Now the boys in gray were irked, and resolved to take matters into their own, um, bats. After The Reason popped out to center and Woody struck out, Heyward THWACKED a ringing single (see? Just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi, does it, Anon21?) off the right field wall to score B.J. anyway, and son frère Justin launched a moon shot to center that somehow stayed in the park – but bounced off the wall and scored Jason.

The only moment when you felt the Phillies might have any shot at all to crawl back into this one came in the bottom of the 5th inning, when John Mayberry, Jr. reached on a CJ error and Carlos Ruiz walked to put two men on with no outs. Charlie Manuel pinch-hit for Lee, to no avail, and Mayberry ended the inning prematurely by getting caught off second by a smashing pick-off throw from Woody. You could feel the air go out of the balloon for the hometown fans in the park; the score stayed 4-1 Braves, and that’s how it would ultimately end.

Other developments of note: Li’L CJ started another multi-hit game streak with a 2-for-4 night. Likewise, B.J. went 2-for-4 and continues to look like he might not be completely useless at the plate forever. (You really kind of felt for him after they pulled him back from the dugout and took away his homer; he could have used that little pick-me-up.) Cliff “I Messed With Texas” Lee lasted only five innings, giving up eight hits (and getting eight strikeouts, but against the Braves you don’t get a ton of credit for that stat); he does not yet look right. Alex Wood continues to improve and be an asset. Jason got hit on the knuckles by reliever Raul Valdes and was booed by the ever-lovable Philthy Phans for having the gall; when he got caught in a rundown a couple of minutes later, he got booed again for trying to slide through Kevin Frandsen on his way back to first and taking the Phildelphia first baseman out. Big whoop. Thin-skinned bunch, those Philly fans. They probably all think Pat’s or Gino’s has the best cheesesteaks, too. (Both are outclassed by Jim’s on South Street, and D’Allesandro’s in Chestnut Hill beats them all.)

Things devolved from there. Presciently foreshadowing a sour reception for Phillies closer Jonathan “Helter Skelter” Papelbon, the ESP-gifted ESPN crew of Kruk, Hershiser, and Dan Schulman tried to make excuses for Papelbon’s media comments a day or two ago in which he said, “I didn’t come here for this.” (Presumably meaning the losing part.) The Phans took exception to such apparent disdain from a guy who had blown six of his last thirteen save opportunities, and Krukky inadvertently neologized whilst defending the Manson-eyed closer: “He wasn’t – he wasn’t discluding himself!” No, no he wasn’t, Jon. Not even close.

(Seriously, though, have you seen the footage from Papelbon’s interview? That dude comes off like some kind of crazy-eyed cult psycho, not to mention dumb as a pile of bricks. Wow.)

Anyhow, that was pretty much the game, and the series. The fans looked almost as depressed as the team, and I don’t blame them; their boys are in bad shape and their GM doesn’t seem to be helping much. But, though I do sympathize, that’s not our problem. The win streak stands at ten; the sweep streak is up to three and counting. What really gives you bracing optimism is this: a Braves bunch with the look of a team that has learned from their failures and is determined to slam their boots down on the necks of every would-be rival they face and crush all remaining hope. Doing that to the Phillies was delicious; doing it to the Nationals would be exquisite.

No mercy. Bring on the Bryce.

268 thoughts on “Discluding Jonathan: Braves 4, Fillions 1”

  1. Minor correction: Jason’s run-scoring hit in the fourth was hit too hard to be a double, and he scored from first on Justin’s following hit.

    Good win, although not a ton of excitement. After the first, it never really felt like the Phils got back in it. And I’m always struck by the contrast between ESPN’s production values (really high; much better than the operation over at SportsSouth) and the utter disinterest of their commentators in the game happening right in front of them. It really seems like their producers have given them explicit instructions to spend no more than 20 seconds out of every inning actually discussing and/or calling the action on the field.

  2. For a second there, I thought I’d been discluded. I’ve been occluded before, and am usually deluded, but don’t disclude me bro.

    It’s a little-known Braves fact that Elton John shares a birthday with Tom Glavine. (The only reason I know it is that it’s my birthday too.)

  3. Oh and one more thing. It is eminently possible that Fredi will regret having used Kimbrel last night. I hope that his reasoning had noting to do with stats, though I greatly fear it did.

  4. @6 I hate Fredi using Kimbrel tonight. There is no point to run him out there three consecutive nights. I hope the regret will never come.

  5. Well I finally found bravesjournal.us. I sure wish someone had emailed me or something. bravesjournal.com is still broken for me and I had no idea there was even a bravesjournal.us. I kept going to Mac’s old blogspot page: http://bravesjournal.blogspot.com/ but no joy there (although it does bring back memories). How is it everyone else was able to get to bravesjournal within a day or two but I couldn’t find it? Man, do I feel like an uninformed noob…

  6. Twitter. The only way Alex could think of to reach everyone was posting it on his Twitter feed.

    EDIT: Is there a way to manually access the email addresses we use to post our comments?

  7. Thought this place was done. Been a rough few days until I saw this on twitter. Glad to see we’ve got a new page for a few days.

  8. I love that he apologized for attacking him off the field, but didn’t apologize for being a misogynist garbage-human.

  9. The new pessimism:

    Braves win the division by a quadrillion games. But only post the 2nd best record in the NL, so they lose a five-game NLDS in which the Dodgers throw Clayton Kershaw twice.

    (My wish list is, in no particular order: being able to attend NLCS games for the first time as an Atlanta resident, a full series with the damn Cardinals, and no more epic collapses of any sort. Credit the Braves for making me think of more innovative reasons why I probably won’t get these things.)

  10. Missed the game last night. So… watching the highlights, was that no-HR call on BJ just considered some kind of twisted makeup call on the correct one made on Ruiz the inning before?

    Everything worked out & I’m glad it all happened exactly the way it did, but… that was a downright awful call on BJ (to say nothing of the idea that the Phils were actually aided by their fan interfering with the game). Just glad that didn’t happen in a playoff game or something.

    #14
    Where I’m living, Johnny Football barely exists, even during football season, and, no matter what he’s doing on or off the field, A-Rod never goes away. Whether he’s caught doing something he shouldn’t or another club is playing in the World Series, it’s always about him.

    IMO, this sums it up decently: http://tinyurl.com/kpsmtsg

  11. @3, I was watching the game last night with my girlfriend. She isn’t that big of a baseball fan and doesn’t really know much about the sport, but even she noticed how odd it was that they kept breaking away from the game.

    As we were going into the bottom of the ninth, and after explaining to her what a “closer” was and how Kimbrel is arguably the best in the game and how he has all this incredibly nasty stuff, she was psyched to see what I was talking about.

    What do we get? A closeup of Buster Olney sitting in the dugout. Kimbrel’s entrance into the game was unheralded, his first four pitches reduced to a split screen, with Buster’s droning on about Biogenesis taking prominence. It was frustrating. Especially when the first pitch saw Rollins helplessly swing through the zone. That would have been a neat moment to actually share with viewers. That’s not their business anymore, I suppose. My girlfriend adroitly pointed out, “They just using the games to advertise other shows, aren’t they?”

  12. My favorite thing is when John Kruk, who played for the 1993 Phillies, half of which have developed some sort of brain cancer or testicular cancer, gets on his steroids high horse…

  13. @17, there if part one is true, there is a very good chance they’ll get the WC winner. The Central plays itself for a large part of the remainder of the season, so those records are going to suffer a bit. That’s why it’s so important to keep your foot on the gas now. Schedule favors Atlanta in home games, off days, and strength of opponent for the rest of the season. No reason to think they couldn’t end up with the best record.

  14. I really wish they could have talked about how the 1993 Phillies were a colorful bunch, but all the Biogenesis stuff was interrupting all of those fun stories.

    When did the Braves play?

  15. I will give ESPN some small credit. They gave a half-inning over to talking about Chris Johnson’s emergence at the plate, and they gave him rock star treatment: they promoed him going into the commercial break, then played a highlight reel, and spent the whole half inning talking about how awesome he is. It was treatment worthy of Bryce Harper.

  16. Not sure who I’d most want to play in a 5 game NLDS among the other contenders. I guess the Pirates, unless Arizona still counts as a contender.

  17. I had heard on the radio broadcast that the Braves have cut down their K rate. Any data on that?

  18. Month/K%/wRC+

    April/25.1/110
    May/23.3/101
    June/21.7/102
    July/19.8/111
    August/19.5/118 (just 174 PA)

    I’d say “meh” to any suggestion of correlation. They had no trouble in April despite the Ks.

  19. The near-permanent waft of boos and groans from the Philly Phans throughout the game should be bottled and sold. Delicious.

  20. Man, that tablerizer still wonks me up…

    Apr/Mar – 246K/982PA = .250 K/PA
    May – 247K/1061PA = .232 K/PA
    Jun – 230K/1062PA = .216 K/PA
    Jul – 200K/1010PA = .198 K/PA
    Aug – 34K/174PA = .195 K/PA

  21. Two things happened in June that might account for a large percentage of the drop in K rates. First, BJ Upton stopped sucking as badly as he did to start the year. (He had a pretty decent June, in fact.) Second, Juan Francisco was traded to Milwaukee and Chris Johnson took 3B every day.

  22. Very funny, guys. Very funny. Nobody tells me anything.
    ———————-

    I kinda think that Justin’s TWELVE homers in April might have skewed the correlation analysis.
    ———————-

    SPeaking of Justin – when he’s disciplined at the plate, he’s got the perfect right-handed swing.

    Just gorgeous.

  23. @32, “Very funny, guys. Very funny. Nobody tells me anything.”

    If anything weird is happening with the internet, go to Twitter.
    If anything weird is happening with Twitter, go to Facebook.

  24. Yeah, sweeping Philly in that freaking Little League ballpark is a pretty nice feeling. That place and it’s pop-fly home runs has seemingly always been a house of horrors for us. Plus, beating the Phillies is beating the Phillies.

    In addition, the degree to which the wheels have exploded off the cart for that team is highly amusing.

    Game 1: Half their bench gets kicked out of the game late. I can see Manual gettng kicked out, and it was a bad call, but then Rollins gets kicked out, and Utley’s up there yelling at the umpire, and all of this after Manual got run. Get a grip, fellas. Yeesh!
    Game 2: They hit like 25 fly balls to the base of the wall, any one of which would’ve won the game, and any one of which would certainly have exited the ballpark for a 350-foot walk-off home run to left-center in previous years. None of them make it, and we win after scoring on three walks and a fielder’s choice.
    Game 3: Perhaps the biggest three-run ass-kicking in baseball history. Despite only being down 4-1, they’re somehow never in the game and what’s more, it’s clear their entire team and stadium knows it.

  25. Getting best NL record should be priority now. Anybody we face in the post-season will be formidable. Might as well get a potential home-field advantage for 2 rounds, and make our first-round opponent burn a starter & tax their bullpen in the WC game.

    I’ll just watch the NL WC game & root for a 15-inning affair.

  26. Yankees seem to be playing it smart – letting MLB do the punishing so that they are less of a target when the inevitable lawsuits begin.

  27. Between the voluminous amount of leaking from MLB, the clear agitating on the Yankees part to try and get off the hook for their own stupid contract, and the diversion from the penalties in the CBA/JDA,A-Rod (who has nothing left to lose here) should go to the mattresses here – he’ll whip Bud’s ass.

  28. Eh, good luck with that. I’ll enjoy watching A-rod get stomped. He’s not simply being punished for using drugs (for which he is also a repeat offender). He also tried to buy up evidence to cover up the crime. Even the union isn’t interested in protecting cheaters anymore. The rest took their punishments, but he’ll fight on in order to preserve his millions in ill-gotten gains (his whining about a conspiracy just make him look like tool). No sympathy here.

  29. If I’m ARod, I appeal. Every day he drags this out, is one more day he gets paid. If he takes the suspension, he never plays ball again. Even if they do suspend him and he misses all of next year, he will have made more money by appealing.

    Starting today, until he is suspended, is the last stretch of baseball he will play professionally. Why not go for it? He has nothing to lose and only money to gain.

  30. He also tried to buy up evidence to cover up the crime.

    So says MLB “sources” anyway – and the evidence comes from a drug dealer who’s been coerced. A-Rod has earned the enmity he has from baseball fans, no mistake. That doesn’t include a forfeiture of due process, or a free pass to ignore the strict protection of privacy that is supposed to be a part of these proceedings. He may be whining, but there is most certainly a conspiracy, which should offend anyone who believes in fair play and the American system of justice.

  31. @39 – the “buy up evidence” thing is a thing you believe because MLB has leaked it and it’s made its way into reports without documentation to substantiate it.

    The truth is we really don’t know who has the upper hand in the litigation that is going to follow whatever suspension comes down. The evidence – the nuts and bolts of it, not just self-serving leakage – isn’t out yet. Perhaps the only lucid thing I’ve read about this is here:

    http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2013/8/5/4589662/alex-rodriguez-biogenesis-suspensions-ban-mlb

  32. @38: Amen

    I just did a quick look at teams who had more than one 10+ game streak in a season. As you might guess, those are some pretty good teams. In fact, only once since the beginning of the 162 game season has a team had two 10+ game streaks and won less than 90 games: the 1978 Pirates went 88-73 despite an 11 and 10 game streak.

  33. #41
    Doesn’t mean that the evidence gotten from a dirty guy like Bosch is untrue.

    Still, I remain most curious about MLB’s evidence related to A-Rod’s “buying up evidence” & “recruiting other players” to the “clinic.”

    Key graph in #42:
    Ask yourself this: Would [MLB commish/attorneys] make trouble for themselves by indulging in some longshot persecution of A-Rod? The logical answer is no. If they didn’t have cause, they wouldn’t pursue him in this way. They don’t need him to serve as the star-level example — Ryan Braun has already done so. If they could have dispensed with Rodriguez in the same manner as all the other players, they would have. They must have evidence, strong evidence, and confidence that they can make the case and have it stick.

  34. Well if they “must” have evidence, let’s see it. In any event, all the whole Biogenesis scandal proves is that the MLB testing program isn’t worth a god damn since it doesn’t catch anyone, and if this hadn’t been handed to them by someone else, AND they were able to flip somebody, this wouldn’t have come to light either. Presumably, there are lots of other things still going on that the Keystone Kops haven’t caught on to yet, and will continue – throwing the book at everyone in sight and catching a whale like A-Rod is a cynical charade to obscure this fact and make it look like ownership A: gives a damn, and B: can do something about it.

  35. @44: I wouldn’t count out the fairly astute psychological comment to the linked story — Selig is haunted by Bonds’ HR records which happened on his watch, and is willing to risk all kinds of embarassment just to make sure that it doesn’t happen again with A-Rod — and all he needs is time to ensure that that doesn’t happen. Braun doesn’t threaten any cherished career records. It’s cheap armchair psychoanalysis, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

  36. #45
    Of course. It’s just like the Olympics. The chemists are always ahead of the sports cops. (And for anyone not completely overstuffed with this subject, I’d recommend “Game of Shadows,” which essentially explains how much of this works, mostly beyond MLB.)

    But it’s not just MLB—it’s also the union that appears to be ready to punish violators.

    But, again, just like the Olympics, if you get caught, however that may be… prepare to be embarrassed.

  37. prepare to be embarrassed.

    Even if we have to leak classified personal health information to a willing cadre of journalists who will unquestioningly print it and devalue your name even if we never pursue it to do so.

    Every time MLB has had info on anything or anybody – Bonds, Mitchell report, etc. – court sealed in some cases, private in all of them – it has sent them off to the press. Fuck those guys and their whore sportswriter pals.

  38. Tell it to Steve Wilstein.

    Where’s the stories on managers like LaRussa and Torre who oversaw drug infested clubhouses? Where’s the leaks about ownership turning a blind eye to the whole thing until it blew up? Anybody here remember what happened to Wilstein when he broke the McGwire story?

  39. I guess I’m missing your point.

    IMO, the fact that MLB & the union have closed ranks make this a very different situation.

  40. My point is the entire steroids Inquisition has been ginned up by the owners and their willing remora to accomplish specific goals – place all public blame on the players for any problems, reduce the power of the players union by making it appear any defense of the players is rooted in defense of immoral drug taking rather than defense of bargained for processes, make a public show of cleaning up the sport, and gain leverage by demonizing a strong employee union to assist in accomplishing unrelated goals – salary caps, service time rewards,arb processes etc. The union hasn’t “closed ranks” with MLB – they have been browbeaten by the Helen Lovejoys of the world. What else can they say?

  41. The point is that the Biogenesis witch hunt is part of a major MLB PR/propaganda campaign in which they turn “steroids” and “PEDs” into “something those evil players did” rather than “something all of MLB did.”

  42. Anyway, I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing my views on the subject, and I do tend to get passionate about it, so I’ll stop now.

  43. The rank and file of players have no sympathy whatsoever for A-Rod, Braun, or any of the other Biogenesis accused. That’s why the MLBPA isn’t fighting this too hard. Bud Selig would not have nearly as much leverage otherwise.

    The players are annoyed that a few cheaters have kept cheating while most of the cheaters were forced to clean up. So if Selig wants to throw A-Rod into a kangaroo court, they’ll be happy to watch.

    There’s no procedural justice anywhere, of course, but A-Rod had ample opportunity to make a Ryan Braun-style deal — and we know this because people on his side were leaking to the media just as voraciously as MLB’s side was.

  44. I refuse to have any sympathy whatsoever for Alex Rodriguez. The guy is clearly a lying scumbag sociopath. He admitted to doing steroids once, and he clearly did them again here, leaving out the whole obstruction of justice thing for a moment. He deserves to be suspended, and he will be.

    Now, bringing the obstruction thing back into play, if MLB has evidence for it, we’ll hear about it in the arbitration hearing, so I wouldn’t worry about that. And A-Rod has apparently already seen it, so it’s not like they’re witholding it from him. And the evidence is the evidence, regardless of where it came from. Also, this isn’t a criminal proceeding, so some hurdles for admissible evidence here might not be the same as similar hurdles in criminal court.

    I don’t personally think MLB would be stupid enough to overreach on this. The fact that they pulled back from a potential lifetime ban and a potential suspension via the CBA instead of the JDA highlights this, I think. Bud Selig may or may not be an idiot, but there is certainly someone on his floor who is not. There is way too much at stake for him to go on a quixotic journey to avenge the loss of Hank Aaron’s home run record at this point, over five years later. It doesn’t make any sense. If he was going to do that, wouldn’t he have done it with the mounting evidence against Barry Bonds before he broke Aaron’s record? What’s the point in it now? Who cares whether it’s Bonds or A-Rod who has the record at this point? And, there’s plenty enough back evidence to take the record away from Bonds and give it back to Aaron, if he really wanted to. He hasn’t done that, either.

    It’s far more likely that A-Rod is the one desperately overreaching here. And it’s true that he probably doesn’t have that much to lose, but the absolute minimum that could possibly happen is that he gets suspended for 50 games. There’s no way he’s getting any less than that, even in arbitration. And his career is basically over, anyway, at least the part that’s worth having. And the Yankees aren’t making the playoffs this year, if he gives a crap about whether that happens, which I don’t think he really does. I can’t see how it’s better for him to undergo this constant scrutiny where everybody is deriding him day-in, day-out instead of just going away.

    I think the fact that the MLBPA has no interest in defending A-Rod says something about this, too. They’ll help his appeal if he insists, because they have to, but they’re certainly not excited about it. And I’m sure they’ve seen the evidence, too. So A-Rod clearly wouldn’t be doing this on the union’s behalf, pushing back against those greedy owners who are trying to force players out of the game without evidence, either. He’s just doing this for himself, and no one else.

  45. The players are annoyed that a few cheaters have kept cheating while most of the cheaters were forced to clean up

    Publicly anyway. Isn’t it intriguing that some who have had the loudest voices on the subject turned out to be involved? (wags finger)

    And A-Rod is perfectly entitled to divulge his work related medical records – MLB is not

    And just like the dog in the nightime most noticeable because he didn’t bark, if the evidence is so overwhelming, why hasn’t the suspension been announced and dare him to fight it?

    I hope Arod not only fights it but goes a step further – tell the world where the bodies are buried. If he’s as guilty as folks claim, there’s a lot of info that would be just lovely entering the public record.

  46. What MLB has done — leaning hard on the threat of prosecution to obtain evidence, and then basically threaten players with unlimited punishment under a shady interpretation of the rules — is pretty awful. It’s essentially the Kennesaw Mountain Landis approach. But the fact is, Selig can do this because the owners want to get out of these contracts and the players get really offended by the idea that they have to follow the rules but Ryan Braun can cheat his way to a $100 million contract. That’s why Selig has the power to do what he wants. The players’ silence is deafening.

  47. #52
    They’ve closed ranks with MLB in regard to PEDs.

    Look, MLB & the players union are equal in their complicity in the mess we’re seeing today. While I recognize that MLB has done things that certainly seemed less than kosher, I have a hard time getting any more bent out of shape over those things than the actions of the violators.

    None of it smells good. But at this point—and assuming for an instant that A-Rod’s guilty of the things that MLB (eventually) publicly purports—players getting caught using PEDs aren’t going to be able to wriggle out of it. If you get caught, you gotta face up to it.

    How any fan feels about that is up to them, but it doesn’t really break my heart.

  48. 50 games for first offense, 100 for the second, lifetime for the third. Anything beyond that is taking your traveling think-of-the-children road show straight across the Rubicon.

    Of course, A-Roid being an asshat doesn’t help his cause. But it shouldn’t have to matter.

  49. @60

    If they have good evidence that he recruited other players to Biogenesis and attempted to obstruct the investigation, I don’t see how MLB can pretend that didn’t happen and just give him a 50-game suspension. That’s actually worse than doing the steroids in the first place, really, especially the obstruction part.

  50. 50 games? Come on, man! It’s PEDs! They should be publicly castrated and have any children taken away and placed under Bud Selig’s care.

    For the good of the game.

  51. So I’m curious: Does anyone sign onto the notion that clean players would prefer to play against other clean players?

  52. @58

    I have never really seen the MLBPA do this. This seems like something they would normally be all over.

    I almost wonder if the union is getting weaker.

  53. Does anyone sign onto the notion that clean players would prefer to play against other clean players?

    I’m sure most people would prefer to compete directly with people who aren’t more committed to excellence than they are.

  54. @64

    Are you kidding? Players don’t care if it’s a level playing field. The only thing they care about is making sure those greedy, evil, good-for-nothing owners don’t try to kidnap them, strap them into that Bond villain machine with the laser going up toward their groin and then feed them to the sharks afterwards.

  55. Fraud? What does that even mean? Did Alex Rodriguez not actually play the game of baseball? Was he broadcasting a simulacra of himself? What does “fraud” even mean in that comment? As if he didn’t actually go to the field and actually hit those baseballs.

  56. We’re asking two different questions:

    1) What do you want to happen to a douche like A-Rod?

    2) How should the due process of rule violations occur?

    1) You want the hammer to be thrown at him, regardless of physical evidence, because he’s admitted to it, you know he’s dirty, and it offends my conscience to know that he’s making millions off the backs of other players because he stepped outside the rules.

    2) Physical evidence and due process has to be brought to any offender, and the politics of player support, the union, and the intentions of MLB’s overall vision are irrelevant. As a result, A-Rod has a chance of winning his appeal because the process must be followed.

    I say they shoot him.

  57. Sam, don’t be ridiculous. It isn’t that hard to understand. He used an illegal substance to enhance his performance. Therefore, he is a fraud. That’s how it works.

    And the idea that someone who chooses to not use steroids is in any way inferior to someone who chooses to do so is laughably absurd. It’s the guy who cheated that is less committed to excellence, by definition.

  58. Please keep the Bond homages coming.

    “Yes, this is my second life.”

    “You only live twice, Mr. Rodriguez.”

  59. Well I’ll tell you one thing – if the Yankees are by some miracle able to avoid paying a large portion of A-Rods contract, you can all spend the rest of the summer getting a head start about how you feel about seeing the Pimpbot in pinstripes, regardless of whether the Braves want him back.

  60. FWIW, I think the Yanks will save some of that contract money—the length of his suspension, whatever it ends up being—but certainly not the majority of it.

    That may end up being a fight between the Yankees & the insurance company, not so much A-Rod.

  61. I will say that it would be better if the drug-testing program was run by a third party, rather than MLB. I say just hand the whole thing over to the World Anti-Doping Agency and enact their disciplinary measures. First offense (not necessarily a positive test if there’s enough evidence): Two-year suspension. Second offense (again, not necessarily a positive test): Lifetime ban. Best of both worlds IMO.

  62. @74 – exactly. It’s all good righteous indignation fun until the newly flush and below-the-tax-line Yankees get back in the big contract business and poach your catcher.

  63. ROD-RIGUEZ!
    He’s the man, the man with the Midas bat
    A spider’s bat
    Such a Clod-riguez!
    Beckons you, to enter his web of spin
    But don’t go in!

    Golden words he will speak to the mic
    But his lies can’t disguise what he took
    For a wary fan knows when he’s been hooked
    It’s the look of Death, from Mr.

    BUD SELIG!
    Silly fans, beware of his mounds of gold
    This heart is cold

    Golden words he will mumble, unclear
    But his lies can’t disguise what you hear.
    For a wary fan knows when he’s hissed, oh,
    It’s the kiss of Death, from all these

    Rich people
    Baseball fan, beware of the game they’ve sold
    Their hearts are cold
    They love only gold
    Only gold
    They love gold
    They love only gold
    Only gold
    They love gold

  64. A-Rod: “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done. Such as, injecting the clear less than 72 hours before a game. That’s just as bad as listening to Madonna without earmuffs.”

  65. When you were young and your heart was an open book
    You used to say live and let live
    (You know you did, you know you did you know you did)
    But if this ever changing world in which we live in
    Makes you give PEDS a try

    Say live and let die
    (Live and let die)
    Live and let die
    (Live and let die)

    What does it matter to ya?
    You know you’ve gotta job to do – you’d better do it well.
    You’ve got to give the other fellow helllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.

  66. Well, it’s the second time I’ve caught you talking to him
    Do I have to tell you one more time, I think it’s a sin
    I think I’ll let you down (Let you down)
    Leave you flat (Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
    Because I’ve told you before, oh
    You can’t do that

  67. I wonder what alternate universe we would be in if Scherholtz had sucessfully signed A-Roid.

  68. Christ.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/i-team/a-rod-refuses-pay-bosch-cuts-deal-mlb-article-1.1364586

    The owner of the South Florida anti-aging clinic at the center of baseball’s latest doping scandal asked embattled Yankee star Alex Rodriguez for financial help after Major League Baseball filed a lawsuit that alleged he had sold performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players.

    When Rodriguez rebuffed Anthony Bosch’s request for money, believed to be in the hundreds of thousands, the self-styled “biochemist” turned to a strange bedfellow — MLB.

    “A-Rod refused to pay him what he wanted,” said a source. “Baseball was worried about that.”

    MLB reached an agreement this week for Bosch’s cooperation in its long-running investigation into one of the biggest drug scandals in baseball history and plans to meet with him on Friday.

    The value of any information that Bosch might provide, however, is sure to be challenged by the implicated players, since baseball officials have agreed to a series of demands from Bosch that include dropping the lawsuit MLB filed against him earlier this year and paying his legal bills, indemnifying him for any civil liability that arises from his cooperation and providing him with personal security.

  69. So Bosch comes to shake A-Rod down for money, is rebuffed, goes to MLB instead, and MLB uses the fact that A-Rod was approached as evidence that he engaged in a cover-up.

    Got it.

  70. @84 That is not even a thought I would like to entertain. I am so glad we will never have to find out.

  71. The proposed suspension is 211 games. Just you know, a number we made up.

    MLB is going to get annihiliated in court, AND Arod plays the rest of the year while this is being heard in appeal. Jeter to the DL. Gooooo Yankees!

  72. @84, 88 – Well, presumably it would have been the year he signed with Texas, so he would have walked away in 2008.

    And he would have hit .304/.399/.589 with 46 homers a year for 8 years.

    In other words, we would have had Chipper Jones at 3B and Chipper Jones +100 points of slugging at SS.

    EDIT: And if what we’re supposed to not like about it was that he would have been cheating, well.. I haven’t lost a moment’s sleep over the division titles that were tainted by Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez. Have you?

  73. For all of the anti-ARod stuff coming from Braves fans, you’d almost never guess that the suspension greatly benefits the Yankees’ pocketbook and brings McCann’s price tag higher than it would have been. They’re without a catcher, after all.

    @74 Just realized I repeated what you said. Sorry about that!

  74. I haven’t lost a moment’s sleep over the division titles that were tainted by Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez. Have you?

    The non-clamor you aren’t hearing are the fans (and members) of the 2004 Red Sox INSISTING that their Manny/Papi trophy is tainted and must be returned post-haste.

  75. This offseason, the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, METS, Nationals, and likely more teams ALL could be in the market for McCann. It’s absolutely disgusting, is what it is.

  76. Yes, that’s fair, though I imagine the market isn’t going to be that robust. But as long as the Red Sox and Yankees are spending, the Braves won’t be able to afford him.

  77. As a fan of Murph, I can tell you that the “roided up” stats by others that’s keeping him out of the HoF pisses me off.

  78. On McCann, I sincerely doubt the A-Rod contract has as much direct effect as you guys are saying, and even if it does, I really don’t care. It’s not something that we should worry about now, I don’t think. I also don’t think signing McCann to a long-term deal is a particularly good idea anyway, so YMMV.

  79. But clearly those wins for the Sox and Braves must be forfeited because, FRAUD!

  80. “Roided up stats” are not keeping Dale Murphy out of the HOF. Falling off a cliff and not being able to hit 10 HR’s in frigging Colorado are.

  81. Would love to hear Skip calling tonight’s Yankees game.

    “And after a long layoff from baseball, Alex Rodriguez once more steps to the plate. Listen to this crowd!”

  82. Fraud? What does that even mean? Did Alex Rodriguez not actually play the game of baseball? Was he broadcasting a simulacra of himself? What does “fraud” even mean in that comment? As if he didn’t actually go to the field and actually hit those baseballs.

    It’s because it kind of rhymes with “A-Rod” silly! Get it?!? Humans are so clever.

    As someone who honestly doesn’t care about past use of PEDs, I’m for whatever hurts the Yankees and against whatever helps them. This, considering the payroll implications, mostly helps them. Ergo, I’m against it. #cynicism

  83. @102 – Eh, I’m sympathetic to this argument, but I don’t see the problem/solution the same way.

    Whatever the reason offense exploded in the 90s, I think the sportswriters tended to view all the 80’s players through the new paradigm. Hence the dearth of representatives from the 70s/80s.

    But the problem is the sportswriters having a poor understanding of the history of the game, not that Manny Ramirez is keeping Dale out of the Hall.

    400 HR from a mostly-CF, back-to-back MVPs, and the best citizen in the game should have gotten Dale a lot more credit, considering the era he played in.

  84. Sportswriters don’t care about “integrity of the game.” Sportswriters care about being able to bang out 500 cheap, cliched words in a high dudgeon of self-righteous fury (while pretending they didn’t walk past the vials and syringes that filled the clubhouses for decades.)

  85. @107 – I’m not sure if you’re responding to me, or someone else. I searched this thread for “integrity” and your comment is the only occurence. So I don’t know who said anything about the sportswriters caring about “integrity of the game.”

    What I’m saying is, in Dale’s era, 400 homeruns was a lot, especially out of CF. By the time he was eligible for the Hall of Fame, it wasn’t. I believe the sportswriters viewed his career through the lens of the new-normal, and they may have gotten it wrong.

    I don’t think the new-normal is to blame. I think the sportswriters are.

  86. I’m not a “go hard all the time, or else you’re lazy,” kind of guy. I mean, I appreciate Dan Uggla busting it down to first all the time. But, BJ, seriously, if Ryan Zimmerman intends to throw you out at a base, you HAVE TO MAKE HIM HURRY.

    They don’t make errors unless you force them to.

  87. What was the ump telling Strasburg to knock off? I had been having technical difficulties and just now got the game on.

  88. @114 – Three times already Strasburg has headed to the dugout, thinking he had a guy struck out to end an inning, only to have the ump call the pitch a ball. He even did it on consecutive pitches.

    EDIT: It’s only right, with the given the grief we give umpires, to commend Rob Drake on a very professional approach, talking to him between innings about it.

  89. @115—Thanks for the explanation. The ump did do a good job with it.

    Yeah, Freddie! Being successful is more important than making it look pretty!

  90. That sign advertising the Sammy Hagar concert after a game August 9th is making me want to start an interstate love affair. (I can’t drive 55.)

  91. Oh, and Alex, regarding your new boss: what’s interesting to me about that deal is that Bezos (so far) hasn’t chosen to resuscitate the Seattle P-I, which went online-only four years ago and which is survived, sadly, by the Seattle Times, which bears the same relationship to the P-I that the WaPost bears to the Washington Times.

  92. That’s about how things have been going for Dan. Take two fastballs, swing at a breaking ball.

  93. I was just about to say, “you can’t argue with the process, we’re swinging at strikes, but we just aren’t hitting them.” And then Andrelton swung at a ball at his head.

  94. Simmons is so graceful turning DPs. That wasn’t especially hard, but it sure was pretty.

  95. I am really loving the home team. If they can keep up the “get us early or get beat” pace up, I think they could go far in the playoffs.

  96. Nice! Upton’s read of Strasburg got us a run! (And Freeman’s single, of course.)

    EDIT: I’ll give Strasburg some credit. That was a pretty good pitching sequence to McCann there.

  97. Only two runs but we’re really making Strasburg work. He probably only has about another inning at most.

  98. Love to see Mike with something like, a 9 pitch inning here. Help get him through 7.

    EDIT: And he walks the god damn leadoff man and gives the pitcher something useful to do.

  99. Gah! He really doesn’t have it tonight. Has really done very well so far, considering.

  100. Oh, it’s so funny to be seeing you after so long, now
    And with the way you look, you understand that I am not impressed
    But I heard you let that little Tony Bosch
    Screw up your urine test
    I’m not gonna get too sentimental
    Like ESPN’s Bobby Valentine
    ‘Cause I don’t know if you’re injecting your body
    I only know you’re off the pine

    Alex-Rod, I know Selig is killing you
    Oh, Alex-Rod, what will you do

    Well, I see you’ve got a protest now
    Is the fancy arbitrator on the MLB take?
    You used to hold him right in your hand
    But he can tell when you’re all fake
    Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
    When I hear the silly things that you say
    I think somebody better put out the big light
    ‘Cause I can’t stand to see you this way

    Alex-Rod, I know this world is killing you
    Oh, Alex-Rod, what will you do
    What will you do
    What will you do
    (REPEAT AND FADE)

  101. Warning track power from Jesus reincarnated.

    EDIT: This may be the best crappy outing I’ve seen all year.

  102. Well shit.

    Mike’s been just smoke and mirrors all night, and I think he’s running out of smoke.

  103. So does Fredi have the balls to use Gattis in the right spot with Laird down?

    EDIT:

    Uhhhh… wut?

  104. Well, he’s obviously going back in the game. It’s not a good idea, but that’s what’s happening.

  105. Trying to press Minor for one more inning to move the bullpen down a spot with Kimbrel likely unavailable

  106. @163, To be fair, it is the 8-9-1 part of the lineup. Maybe he’ll get two quick outs and Fredi’ll go from there. But I’m not watching the game so I don’t have any idea how Minor’s looking.

  107. @165—He hasn’t been sharp all night. He’s been incredibly lucky.

    Edit: Oh, well, brilliant. Gave up an out in the top of the inning to allow him to give up a double in the bottom of the inning, and then pulled after one hitter. I’m following this logic, for sure.

  108. I’m normally relatively pro-Fredi, but that was a complete cluster…and it isn’t over yet.

  109. This is what you get for pitching Kimbrel 3 games in a row again. So you leave Minor in the game long enough to take the loss.
    F-ing Frediot….I thought we were past all of this by now

  110. The guy throws 96 pitches, scratches and claws through 6. He struggles all night, gives up the lead in what was his shakiest inning on a pretty shaky night, he gets through it with a tie, HAS A CHANCE TO BE PINCH HIT FOR, and gets sent back out to give up the game.

  111. At this point, why take Minor out if you are so determined to rest the bullpen to let him hit then pitch to the first batter?

    This is an error that Fredi is making over and over. He has to be aware he keeps doing it.

    Of course, the best thing to have done was PH for Minor and then just use the non-Kimbrel relievers.

  112. Jayson Werth is upset at a strike call in the middle of the plate and above the knees. Don’t really know what to say about that.

  113. Jayson Werth is one of those guys that I SWEAR must be peaking at the target.

    You see that every so often, a guy react with disgust to a pitch right down the middle, because it missed the target. Well how the hell do YOU know it missed the target?

    EDIT: Also, just walk Harper. He and Ramos are the only legit threats in their lineup.

  114. Another one. That had a TON of the plate and Harper acts like it was way off because it missed the target. How does he know where the target is?

  115. So Joe and Chip are questioning how Davey Johnson managed the last half inning, but never questioned Fredi or even mentioned that not pinch hitting for Minor was odd.

  116. They never question Fredi. They don’t even address Fredi and then rationalize for him.

  117. @189

    There was a weird pregnant pause where you could tell they were both looking at each other like, “What the hell?” They never said anything, though.

    Also, J-UP!!!!!

  118. You’d think Davey Johnson would stop pitching Tyler Clippard against us. When was the last time we didn’t treat him like a pinata? He must destroy everybody else, otherwise I don’t know how he’s still in the league.

  119. Clippard’s numbers are pretty good, so he must be successful against everyone else. Of course, the Nat’s bullpen is pretty bad.

  120. I really wish we hadn’t used Kimbrel last night with a three-run lead.

    I guess we’ll be going Avilan-Walden, then?

  121. He could got righty-lefty the rest of the game, if he wanted. Carpenter-Avilan-Walden-Downs all down there.

    EDIT: And now as Chip and Joe have mentioned this, I’m less sure of it immediately.

  122. Carpenter has really climbed the depth chart in the bullpen. And justifiably so. He’s been a revelation.

  123. I’m all for using certain relievers more than one inning. If Carpenter’s dealing, leave him in there.

  124. If we deal with them in order, this is the last guy I’m really scared of.

    EDIT: And he’s retired.

  125. @208 – He’s had it all year. Just mostly in garbage time until the last 10 games or so.

    EDIT: His average fastball velocity coming in to tonight has been 94.8.

  126. Jeeze, I knew the top of the order was carrying us tonight, but I didn’t realize 4-9 were 0 for 19 (now with 2 walks.)

  127. I don’t think it was that stupid, but Uggla needed to make sure that Desmond threw.

  128. I prefer Joe Simpson when he’s simply being a crusty old man and not defending indefensible idiocy.

  129. It was a slow roller to short. Desmond fielded it and had no play, but pump-faked to first to see if he could get Dan to keep going because Zimmerman had gone after the ball, as well, and nobody was at third. Dan took the bait and was beaten to third by Desmond.

  130. Dan was moving with the pitch, and the pitch was grounded very softly to short.

    Desmond had to no play at first, so he held the ball, but Dan kept running and was easily out run by Desmond.

    He was THINKING, with the 3B and SS crashing on the slow roller, no one is at 3rd. But he didn’t wait to see if the ball was thrown.

    And if the ball is thrown, that’s not a precision play, it’s his all day. It wasn’t a “do-or-die.” It was just “die.”

  131. It’ll be a damn shame if this gorgeous streak ends because bad baserunning cost us a run.

  132. Need Walden to have an easy inning. I want to sweep these fools and pretty much lock up this division before mid August

  133. I mean, sure, be aggressive. Whatever.

    But my point is simply, that wasn’t a precision play. If he throws the ball, its yours all day long. He’d have to race you back AND a first baseman (not usually good throwers) would have to hit a moving target who would have to catch it at full sprint in order to beat you.

    But he’s a professional baseball player, too, and he knows that. That’s why he didn’t throw the ball.

    You gotta make him throw the ball there. Especially with NOBODY OUT.

  134. E for Effort, Dan. I can see where he was going with that, but that wasn’t thought all the way through.

  135. I hate that Simmons does that stuff. Nothing good could have come from that, and a whole hell of a lot of bad.

    EDIT: For those following on Gameday… Dan dove up the middle, the ball deflected off him to Simmons, who chased it, and threw a no-look one hopper at Freeman about 2 full seconds after the runner had crossed the bag.

  136. I like eighth-inning Walden a heck of a lot more than this ninth-inning version.

  137. YEAH!!!

    So we’ve already done all we really need to do in this series. We’re leaving town at least 11.5 up. Now having said that, winning at least one of the next two would certainly be nice.

  138. I think the Nats just had their balloon pop, and it was full of their own butt toots (H/T Galifianakis).

  139. @253 – another way to look at this is the Nats just threw everything they had at us – their ace starting and their biggest swing at our nominal #1 – and came up short.

    Again.

    13.5

  140. @257, Sure. That evades the many gaffes that we inflicted upon our chances of winning, but sure. Strasburg pitched a great game, Minor didn’t, and they lost anyway. I’ll take that.

  141. 11 game winning streak. Ho hum, nothing to it.

    Tonight really wasn’t our night. We should have lost this game a number of times. Sometimes it really is better to be lucky than good. And right now it is so much fun to be a Braves fan.

  142. And around the league, we’ve got St. Louis losing to the Dodgers in the 9th, which I guess is good, seeing as the Cardinals are closer to us record wise.

    Aaand… That’s it. There is no game we care about. What a lame schedule. It’s like a Thursday, but with no day games.

  143. @259, the Nats had runners all night and couldn’t get a key hit – I don’t recall thinking when that was a common descriptor of the home team’s effort that their opponents were just lucky. The Braves have a damn good bench and bullpen, and it takes more than an Atlanta baserunning mistake to beat them late

  144. @263, Did I say we were lucky? I said it seems like we committed some serious gaffes (both managerial and on the field) late in the game that jeopardized our ability to win a close game. I mean, didn’t we? Is that kind of a comment really worth parsing?

    Anyway, I was about to start a sentence with “If the Astros 1-0 lead holds up…” but I think I’ll just let that lie.

  145. It must seem like spike and I are a Greek chorus sometimes, but what he said @263. Somewhere there are Nats fans cursing Davey Johnson for “tipping his hat” to the Braves…

  146. @264 – That’s Brett Oberholzer hanging tough for the Astros. He’s one of the guys we sent them for Bourn.

    EDIT: And he just got 2 K’s with a runner at 3rd to finish the 7th scoreless.

    I like to see our ex-prospects do well. Especially if they’re in the other league.

  147. Btw, we have guaranteed ourselves a winning road trip. Definitely something we need to celebrate on.

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