Carlos Zambrano calls the Cubs “embarrassing”

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Yesterday I flipped from the Reds-Dodgers game to the Cubs-Cardinals game. The kids were watching with me, and as they do every time a game is on, they constantly asked me questions about who so-and-so is, and is this guy good and all of that. Carlos Zambrano was on the mound and they asked me about him.

“Is he good?” my daughter asked.

“Um, yeah, sure, he’s good” I said.

“Is he cool?” my son asked.

“Well, I don’t know if ‘cool’ is the right word,” I told him.

All of this led to me explaining to them — as my wife listened in from the other room wondering why I engage in these conversations with the kids — about how Zambrano more or less flips out once a year and beats up coolers and fights with his teammates and stuff.  I think I started it with the idea of teaching the kids a lesson about composure and good sportsmanship, but it really just made them think that Zambrano was awesome.  I pretty much fail as a father.

Anyway, the conversation ended with the kids asking me to keep the game on because they wanted to see “the Carlos guy” go crazy on some Gatorade coolers or yell at someone.  I told them that it wasn’t going to happen because Zambrano has been better behaved this year and maybe he was trying harder to be a better teammate and all of that.  Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. I feel like I need to share with the kids, however, the fact that Zambrano threw his teammates under the bus after the game:

Albert Pujols won Sunday’s game in the 10th inning with another walk-off homer. This time it was a Rodrigo Lopezfastball traveling 426 feet into the left-center field seats. But Zambrano felt burned by Carlos Marmol. The closer blew the save in the ninth when Ryan Theriot lined a two-out double down the left-field line, scoring the game-tying run from first.

“The problem wasn’t Pujols,” Zambrano said. “We played like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team, for the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing. That’s the word here for this team.

He specifically called out Marmol’s decision to throw Theriot a hanging breaking ball instead of a fastball, allowing him to tie things up.

Yes, this would have been a useful lesson for the kids. Maybe a dual lesson: (1) Sometimes it’s better to be seen rather than heard; but (2) Even if you can’t follow rule number 1, at least always tell the truth.

So, hey, at least Zambrano was half in the good yesterday. Because even if his motives were bratty and selfish (question: would he have called Marmol out if it was a Ryan Demptser start that got blown?) he’s not wrong.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.

There was apparently some miscommunication between Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek

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The Phillies won their first game since last Thursday, beating the Cardinals 5-1 on Thursday afternoon. Starter Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning, but left with one out. Pat Neshek took the mound with a runner on first base and induced an inning-ending double play on a 3-1 count to Tommy Pham.

Given that Neshek only threw five pitches and the Phillies were staked to a four-run lead, it wouldn’t have seemed unreasonable if the sidewinding right-hander came back out to finish the ninth inning as well. But Luis Garcia had that honor, tossing a scoreless final frame to nail down the win in a non-save situation.

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin said he asked Neshek to go back out for the ninth, but Neshek didn’t want to, per Stephen Gross of the Morning Call. Neshek told the media that Mackanin never asked him. There was also a miscommunication on Wednesday. The combination of Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, and Edubray Ramos combined to allow four runs in 2 1/3 innings, helping the Phillies lose 7-6. Neshek never appeared. According to Mackanin, Neshek told him that he wasn’t available to pitch. Neshek said he was told he’d have the day off.

The disconnect between Mackanin and Neshek could speak to a larger divide between the manager and his failing team. The Phillies have underwhelmed across the board due to players like Odubel Herrera (whose head was down and did not see Juan Samuel’s stop sign last night in what became a base running blunder), Maikel Franco, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola (today’s start notwithstanding), and Hector Neris not living up to expectations. The Phillies signed Mackanin to a contract extension last month, but the team has completely fallen apart since then and the latest communications issues certainly don’t reflect well on him. Neither does last night’s travesty of a game.

As for Neshek, he said that going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years” but also realized, given the state of the team, that it remains very likely he winds up in a new uniform by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After Thursday’s performance, Neshek is carrying a 0.63 ERA with a 25/4 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings. He very well could be the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game in Miami next month. That is, if he’s still wearing their uniform. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have shown interest in Neshek.