Meanwhile, in Brandon Phillips vs. Joey Votto land …

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From today’s Reds-Dbacks game, a sequence that will never get recounted by the folks like Paul Daugherty who like to say Joey Votto is a bum and Brandon Phillips is the team MVP.

Third inning: Shin-Soo Choo leads off with a single. The second batter — today Todd Frazier — strikes out looking.  Choo reaches second on a wild pitch. Joey Votto comes up and isn’t given a thing to hit, walking on four straight pitches. Another wild pitch sends Choo to third, Votto to second.  Then Brandon Phillips grounds out to score a run.

The two-hole hitter does nothing.  Votto, clearly a hitter the pitcher wants no part of, is given nothing to hit because he’d rather face Phillips.  Chance, circumstance and wildness put the runners in scoring position and what would be considered a failed at bat in most other situations gives Phillips is oh-so-valuable RBI.

But sure, if we want to go with the notion that Votto is somehow less of a player because of it, feel free.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?