Harry How/Getty Images

Check out the Braves’ abysmal third inning last night set to “Yakety Sax”

11 Comments

The Braves had a forgettable bottom of the third inning on Tuesday night against the Angels. Starter Bartolo Colon and his defense helped the Angels score nine runs — the only runs they would score — to take a 9-2 lead.

The nightmare started when Juan Graterol singled up the middle after shortstop Dansby Swanson whiffed on a dive attempt. After Eric Young, Jr. hit into a fielder’s choice, Colon made a pickoff throw to first base with Kole Calhoun batting. First baseman Matt Adams somehow missed the throw and the ball trickled into foul territory. Thankfully for the Braves, Young did not advance.

Calhoun hit a weak grounder into the shift on the right side. Second baseman Jace Peterson had to go to his right a bit and wound up juggling the ball trying to flip the ball to Swanson, allowing both runners to reach safely. Albert Pujols then memorably crushed his 599th career home run, a three-run shot to left field to put the Angels up 3-2.

After Luis Valbuena singled, former Brave Andrelton Simmons hit what should’ve been an easy 6-3 putout to Swanson, but Swanson once again whiffed making the grab. Valbuena went to third and Simmons went to second on the error. Following that, Ben Revere tapped a weak grounder to Adams, who attempted to throw home to get Valbuena, but he had trouble with the transfer and no outs were recorded. Cliff Pennington then hit a weak tapper back to Colon on the mound. Colon looked at second, turned around and slipped on the mound dirt. He whipped the ball home across his body for the tag play on Simmons but he was too late and all Angels were safe, pushing the lead to 5-2.

Danny Espinosa finally made solid contact, hitting a line drive to center field, scoring Revere and moving Pennington to third. Graterol came back up and hit another tapper back to Colon, who threw to Peterson on second base in an attempt to turn an inning-ending 1-4-3 double play. Colon’s throw was low and Peterson couldn’t make the scoop, so the ball trickled into center field. Pennington scored and Espinosa advanced to third. Young returned to the dish and laid down a bunt down the first base line. Adams fielded the ball, but Peterson was late covering and Adams’ flip was late anyway. Espinosa scored and the Angels had runners on first and second with one out. Calhoun then singled to left, plating the Angels’ ninth run of the inning and knocking Colon out of the game. Luke Jackson came in and Pujols was intentionally walked. Valbuena ended the inning when he lined into an inning-ending 4-6 double play.

Whew. Now imagine all of that set to Yakety Sax. Justin Russo on Twitter did just that:

For those keeping score at home, only five of the 14 Angel batters who came to the plate that inning put the ball into the outfield without an assist from the Braves’ defense. 10 of those batters hit ground balls, one hit a fly ball, two hit line drives, and one walked. The Atlanta defense committed three errors and two other Angel batters reached on a fielder’s choice in which no outs were recorded.

There have likely been worse embarrassing defensive innings, but the Braves’ third inning on Tuesday ranks up there.

John Henry tries to justify the Red Sox’ trade of Mookie Betts

Getty Images
2 Comments

Red Sox owner John Henry issued a lengthy statement to fans today trying to explain and justify the team’s trade of Mookie Betts. It’s a master class in distortion that will, in all likelihood, make no one happy.

Henry starts by talking about “challenges.” The “particularly challenging” offseason the Red Sox had, the “extraordinary challenges” the Red Sox faced, and the front office’s handling of these “challenges.” He goes on to talk about how he knows the “challenges” affect the fans and how he sees it as his job to protect the organization from these “challenges.”

There’s a lot of passive voice here, and at no point does Henry note that the primary challenge at play here was the team’s decision to cut payroll and get it below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. It’s just a thing that happened to the Red Sox, apparently. They had no agency in this at all.

For what it’s worth, the team keeps denying that the CBT was the motivating factor:

This is laughable, of course, given that Henry himself began the Red Sox’ offseason by specifically saying the team needed top do just that. His exact words from late September:

“This year we need to be under the CBT . . .  that was something we’ve known for more than a year now. If you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

Three days later, Kennedy himself said it’d “be difficult” to keep both Betts and J.D. Martinez and accomplish that goal. When that all went over like a lead balloon with the fans Henry and everyone else tried to walk it back, but you have to be an idiot not to see what happened here:

  1. Owner demands team get under CBT;
  2. Team president says it’ll be hard to do that without one of the superstars leaving;
  3. Martinez declines to op-out of his deal;
  4. Betts is traded.

They can cite all the “challenges” they want, but they traded Betts in order to slash payroll and they slashed payroll simply because they wanted to, not, as we and many others have demonstrated, because of any compelling reason.

Instead of talking about that, Henry spends the bulk of the statement talking about how baseball’s financial system — free agency, basically — requires teams to make tough choices. Henry:

In today’s game there is a cost to losing a great player to free agency — one that cannot merely be made up by the draft pick given. . . . we felt we could not sit on our hands and let him go without getting value in return to help us on our path forward.”

Losing a player to free agency stinks, but nowhere in the entire statement does Henry mention that the Sox could’ve, you know, not lost Betts to free agency next November.

Nowhere does he note that the Sox had a full year to talk to Betts about a possible extension nor did he mention that the Sox — who print money at a faster rate than anyone except the Yankees — could’ve bid on him in free agency too. He simply does not allow for the possibility that a 2021 Boston Red Sox team could’ve done what the 2020 Washington Nationals did, for example, and sign one of their big, would-be departing free agents in Stephen Strasburg. Nor, for that matter, does he allow for the possibility that they could do what the 2019 Washington Nationals did with their all-but-certain-to-depart superstar in Anthony Rendon: hold on to him in his walk year and win a damn World Series. Guess it was a “challenge” to go into all of that.

Of course, as we’ve seen across baseball this past week, it’s really, really hard to explain something when you don’t want to admit the facts and accept the consequences of it all. That’s maybe the toughest challenge of them all.

The full statement: