Craig Calcaterra

Atlanta Braves' Daniel Castro sits in the budget after a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, April 24, 2016, in Atlanta. New York won 3-2. (AP Photo/John Amis)
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The Braves’ offensive futility is utterly gobsmacking

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The Braves got beat 1-0 last night. Not surprising. They really can’t hit a thing. This morning, Mark Bowman of MLB.com passes along a couple of reminders of just how bad they are.

He tweets that three of the Braves’ five clubs — the big club and its four minor league affiliates whose seasons are underway  — were in action last night. The entire organization went scoreless, with Atlanta losing 1-0 to Boston, Triple-A Gwinnett losing 4-0 to Columbus and Double-A Mississippi losing to Biloxi 5-0. That’s quite a thing.

As far as the big club goes, Bowman notes that Atlanta has gone 14 consecutive games without hitting a homer. The last time they did that was September 11-26 1970. Meanwhile:

 

I get rebuilding. I get that there are a lot of prospects in the system. But the Braves built a virtually unwatchable club of sub-major league talent for 2016. I expect at some point the brass will make a plea to the fans for patience or they’ll get defensive about this sort of criticism, but this is their doing. They have to own it.

Should the Rockies play with four outfielders in Coors Field?

The horizon has an orange glow as the sun sets behind Coors Field as the Colorado Rockies bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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I once had a teacher who said that “the only dumb question is a question not asked.” I don’t totally believe that as I’ve heard a LOT of dumb questions in my life which would’ve been better off not being asked. The sentiment, however, has a core truth, at least as far as questions asked in good faith.

One question Patrick Saunders and Buster Olney have asked in recent columns was whether the Rockies should, when certain hitters come to the plate, shift to a four-outfielder set as a means of cutting off the huge gaps and Coors Field. For the record, Saunders asked Rockies manager Walt Weiss about it and Weiss thinks the idea is nuts.

It’s an interesting question which, on the surface, based only on what we think we know about Coors Field, seems appealing. But it’s the sort of thing that would need more than “it could be a good idea” thinking before being considered. I couldn’t imagine even entertaining the notion until someone could show me a plot of all of the extra base hits against my guys over the course of, like, three seasons, with little red dots showing me which ones likely would’ve been outs if there had been a fourth outfielder. Then I’d need to see the numbers on how often gimme grounder outs which were made wouldn’t have been if a shift to a fourth outfielder had been made. And then I’d need to see distinct tendencies with respect to specific hitters to make sure it’s not just a good percentage play in the aggregate but that it would be a good percentage play against any given guy.

My guess is that Weiss is right that there wouldn’t be enough of a benefit to it, especially once you adjust for the fact that the players would be super weirded out by it for a bit. If you’re saving a run or two over the course of a lot of games, is it really worth discombobulating Trevor Story three times a game? Probably not.

But I like crazy questions like that. And figure that, as a result of them someone, somewhere, is putting together that plot of extra base hits in Coors Field and that we’ll have a good article about it at some point soon.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

Minnesota Twins' Oswaldo Arica celebrates his walk off solo home run off Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach McAllister as the Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 4-3 in a baseball game Monday, April 25, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

White Sox 7, Blue Jays 5: The Chisox were down 5-1 after six innings. Luckily, they play more than six innings. They scored five in the seventh, capped off with Todd Frazier‘s RBI double which plated the go-ahead run. Not only did the Jays blow a big lead, but the game ended when Troy Tulowitzki was hit by a grounder while running from first to second. A play I sort of love because (a) watching baserunners avoid such things is usually a hilarious dance of flailing arms and skittering feet, not unlike when a woman in an old cartoon from the 1940s sees a mouse; and (b) it reminds be that there was a time when a fielder could make a putout by literally throwing a ball at and hitting a runner. They were just way tougher back in the 19th century, man.

Tigers 7, Athletics 3: I decided to take the night off from baseball and watch one of my top-5 all-time favorite movies for, like, the 100th time last night: “Zero Effect.” I paused it just before the Nick Cave “Into My Arms” scene, partially to just check in and see what I was was missing baseball wise, but also because that scene gives me ALL THE FEELS and I needed another drink first. Anyway, during this time I saw the thing in which Tyler Collins flipped everyone the bird. I didn’t know what the score was as I had just seen someone tweet about it. I assumed the Tigers were down by five runs and things were getting ugly. Nope: up by six and, well, sometimes you just gotta flip everyone the bird. Look, I know how it goes: there will be more apologies today and maybe some official statement and a handful of sanctimonious “think of the children”-style offerings from media folks. I realize that dance is unavoidable, but at some point I wish we could all just accept that everyone, at one time or another, wants to just tell people at work to eff off. I’m literally flipping the bird to my screen RIGHT NOW because a thunderstorm woke me up today and I’m cranky. See? It’s really OK. Cut Collins some slack.

Yankees 3, Rangers 1: Nate Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the seventh. He was pitching in his home state. Lame story: my parents were RVing in Texas last year and the handyman at their RV park in Schulenburg, Texas was, like, Eovaldi’s cousin or brother or high school friend or something and made a big point to tell everyone that. My dad called me and asked if I knew who Eovaldi was. I said yes. He said “I’ve never heard of the guy. What do I know about baseball?” But also, because he’s my dad, he still asks me sometimes “how’s that, that . . . that baseball player? The Texas guy? With the brother or cousin? How’s he doing?” Finally I have something to tell him later today.

Twins 4, Indians 3: It was tied 3-3 in the ninth when Oswaldo Arcia hit a walkoff homer. It’s been a very Prince-ful week in both Minneapolis and the nation, and at times like these it’s easy to go overboard with tributes and things, but if the PA people at Target Field aren’t playing “Baby I’m a Star” when dudes hit walkoff homers they need to examine what they’re doing in this business.

Red Sox 1, Braves 0: When you score one run against the 2016 Braves it’s, by definition, an “insurance run.” These dudes couldn’t get a hit off their mothers on the hittingest day of their lives if they had an electrified hitting machine.

Mets 5, Reds 3: Four in a row for the Mets. It’s almost like the first week of the season didn’t totally destroy their chances at success in 2016. Huh.

Rays 2, Orioles 0: Chris Archer shows his early season struggles were just that and nothing more. Six and two-thirds innings, ten strikeouts and no walks against one of the better lineups around.

Pirates 6, Rockies 1: Six scoreless innings for Jeff Locke. The Rockies complained and even Locke acknowledged that he was getting some super generous low strikes. Guys: we squeezed the zone right and left when Pitch/FX and Ques-Tec and all of that came online and that made sense to some degree, but compensating with that super low, often below-the-knees strike has given pitchers a ridiculous advantage and is a LOT of the reason offense is so dumb right now and strikeout rates are so high. We’re not gonna get rid of guys throwing 99 m.p.h. and we’re not going to get rid of hyper-specialized relievers going max effort for an inning. But we could totally chop a few inches off the zone at the bottom. As the 1960s showed us, messing with the zone in various ways, even subtly, can make significant changes in offense. Maybe we need to explore that, eh?

Diamondbacks 12, Cardinals 7: Jean Segura had four hits including a go-ahead three-run home run. Arizona had a nine-run sixth inning. Zack Greinke got the win despite giving up seven runs. They should call outings like that “a stinky Greinke.” Feel free to use that. It’s my gift to you.

Angels 6, Royals 1: Albert Pujols hit two homers. Three in two games. He’s hitting below .200 and not getting on base, but he’s on a pace for 40 homers. He reminds me of Stallone in “Rocky Balboa.” He can’t really do what he used to do, but he has “Old Man Strength” and “Hurtin’ Bombs.” That may be hard to watch over the course of six months, but pitchers still need to be careful not to walk into a punch.

Mariners 3, Astros 2: Taijuan Walker struck out 11 in seven innings. For your first place Seattle Mariners who have won eight of 11.

Marlins 3, Dodgers 2: Giancarlo Stanton homered, doubled and drove in two to make Don Mattingly’s return to Los Angeles nice for him.

Giants 5, Padres 4: Madison Bumgarners struck out nine in six and two-thirds and got his first win since Opening Day with some help from Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence. Three plays were subject to replay challenges over the final two innings. All of the original calls were upheld. The game pushed four hours, which is ridiculous. There’s no reason reviews can’t be done in near-real time by impartial officials.

Must-Click Link: The story behind Rick Monday rescuing the American Flag

FILE - In this April 17, 2013, file photo, former Dodger outfielder and current broadcaster Rick Monday chats with friends at batting practice before a baseball game between the Dodgers and San Diego Padres in Los Angeles. Monday is one of this year's inductees into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, announced Thursday, March 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
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A lot of baseball fans know the basics of the story. Rick Monday, then the center fielder for the Chicago Cubs, was playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles on April 25, 1976. Forty years ago today. Two fans rushed out from the stands, knelt down in the outfield and attempted to set fire to an American flag they had with them. Monday, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve and a patriot, rushed over and snatched the flag away, saving it from destruction.

That alone makes for a pretty cool story. Monday may be just as famous for that as he is for his fine playing career and years as a Dodgers broadcaster. But as is so often the case, there is more to the story than just its most famous angle.

Over at Vice Sports, David Davis digs deeper into the Rick Monday flag rescue. He talks to Monday, who explains what was motivating him and why, to this day, the incident still irks him. He researched and explored the story of the man who took the iconic photograph of the incident and talks about his strange and tragic life. He attempted to interview the man who, along with this 11-year-old son, tried to burn the flag, but they weren’t talking. He did, however, find out more about their life, also sad in some ways, than we’ve previously known.

America in the mid-1970s was a country entering a midlife crisis. And when someone is having a midlife crisis, strange things can happen. Many years later, however, you can look back and see it all a bit more clearly. This is a very good look in that regard.

Rays owner loves that Tampa is putting money in the Yankees spring training complex

FILE - This is a Sept. 21, 2014, file photo showing Tropicana Field,  before a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays have reached a deal with St. Petersburg that would allow the team to search for new stadium sites on both sides of Tampa Bay. The team has played since its inception in Pinellas County at what now is called Tropicana Field. The agreement, slated for a vote Thursday, Dec. 11, by the St. Petersburg City Council, would allow the Rays to evaluate sites on the east side of the bay in Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located.  (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay, File)
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Ever hear about some good news happening to someone else and experience mixed feelings? That “wow, I am truly happy for them,” sentiment mingling with “Gah, why don’t good things happen to me?!” No? Just me and other shallow people? Well, be happy then. It happens to a lot of us, even if we’re trying to be bigger, better people.

It even happens to baseball teams. Like the Rays, who are hellbent on getting someone in the Tampa Bay area to build them a new ballpark in a few years. Here is their owner’s reaction to Hillsborough County, Florida plunking $40 million into the Yankees spring training facility:

“Any money going toward baseball in Florida is fine by me,” he said. “It’s about the sport. It’s good for the spot. It shows that Hillsborough is committed to and sees the value of baseball in their midst.”

He was then asked if that money could have been used toward a new stadium for the Rays and he was diplomatic about it. But he sure sounded like people sound when that person they sort of know and respect professionally gets that job they were up for themselves. They are so very, very happy and it is a good thing in general . . . but . . . nothing. No, it’s OK. I’m really, really happy for you.