So those great 1990s Braves teams were doctoring baseballs? Awesome!

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Maybe this is fun, b.s. banter. Maybe there’s truth to it. Maybe everyone did it. Maybe only the Braves did.  But former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone was on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio with Evan Cohen and former Mets GM Steve Phillips today, and he seemed t admit that the Braves — or at least John Smoltz — put pine tar on the baseballs.

The subject came up on as they were all talking about the topic of cheating and gamesmanship, inspired by how the New York Giants apparently faked some injuries to slow down the St. Louis Rams offense the other day. Mazzone said that kind of stuff is not foreign to baseball and has been going on for many years.  But he got pretty specific with an example, and in a way that doesn’t exactly put John Smoltz in the best light:

Leo Mazzone: “Well, I don’t see anything wrong with it myself.  I watch football a lot, too, and I know that’s been going on for a while to slow a team down, it stops their momentum.  In baseball, as you well know, it’s been going on a long time.  I know that in my little ball bag I had firm grip and all kinds of goodies to take care of a baseball to get a little more movement on it. (laughs)”

Evan Cohen: “So that’s why the Braves kicked the Mets ass for all these years?”

Steve Phillips: “Wait a minute!  How come our pitchers were pitching with nice bright white shiny baseballs and your guys had pine tar and scuffs all over them?”

Mazzone: “Well, you had pine tar, that’s for sure, because when you were in the postseason and it got called, one time Smoltzy had it on his shoes and I said, ‘John, you can’t keep bending over and touching your shoes all the time.  Let’s put it someplace else!’ (laughs)”

That extended into a conversation about bat corking and the kinds of edges hitters try to get, which led Mazzone to play the “oh, everyone was doing it” card. Which makes me think that, no, this was not a bunch of b.s.

So, the Braves got all the calls off the plate and they got away with putting pine tar on the baseballs.  What should I, as a man who considers himself both a Braves fan and an ethical person think about this. Hmmmm…

source:

And if you’re not, well, I’m not sure exactly what we’re supposed to do about it now.

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.

The Blue Jays are allergic to .500

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The Blue Jays dropped Thursday afternoon’s game to the Rangers 11-4, splitting the four-game home series. And, impressively, the Blue Jays failed for the ninth time to get back to .500. The club is now 35-37.

Here’s a look at all the times the Blue Jays could’ve evened out their won-lost record and what happened:

  • April 5 (0-1): Lost 3-1 to the Orioles
  • April 7 (1-2): Lost 10-8 to the Rays
  • June 1 (26-27): Lost 12-2 to the Yankees
  • June 3 (27-28): Lost 7-0 to the Yankees
  • June 5 (28-29): Lost 5-3 to the Athletics
  • June 13 (31-32): Lost 8-1 to the Rays
  • June 16 (32-33): Lost 11-4 to the White Sox
  • June 20 (34-35): Lost 6-1 to the Rangers
  • June 22 (35-36): Lost 11-4 to the Rangers

The Blue Jays are now a half-game behind the Orioles for fifth place in the AL East, but they’re only 5.5 games behind the first-place Yankees. Interestingly, if the Blue Jays played in the NL East and had the same record, they would be in second place. But even the Phillies — baseball’s worst team — have been at .500 or better for a few days: after winning Opening Day and after game Nos. 6, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22.