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…

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

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.