The Nationals started slow, but the Braves should be looking over their shoulders.
The Weekend Takeaway
At the midway point of the regular season, the Nationals were 41-40, and their -19 run differential suggested that they were fortunate to have notched even that mediocre tally. A week earlier, they were a game under .500, at 37-38. And two weeks before that, they were a season-high eight games out of first place in the National League East, a division that, before Opening Day, they were widely expected to win.
Playing a month without Bryce Harper did not help. Neither did the apparent flop of Dan Haren, in whom general manager Mike Rizzo invested $13 million to complete a dominant rotation. And the prolonged slump that befell fellow newcomer Denard Span, who was supposed to be the sparkplug for a potent lineup, rippled through an offense that instead underwhelmed for weeks.
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The tater trots for April 16: David Wright's shots in majestic Coors Field, two speedy trots from Heyward and Gomez.
Jackie Robinson Day continued throughout the league on Tuesday, with many ballparks playing "Sweet Caroline" or other Boston staples in support of the city (the Brewers played the theme song from "Cheers", for example). It was a nice gesture from the league and the individual clubs.
The tater trots for July 23 (and the weekend): Mike Napoli hits a bomb, Carlos Gonzalez takes a stroll, and Chase Utley edges out Josh Rutledge.
It's been a few days since the last Tater Trot Tracker post. And though I was able to time each trot over the weekend, I missed highlighting a few special home runs. The biggest homers of note came on Saturday, when Cole Hamels served up a home run to Matt Cain in the top of the third inning and then, in the bottom of the inning, Cain returned the favor to Hamels. It was the first time two starters had hit home runs in the same inning since 1990. Hamels, who had never hit a home run before, won the race between the two pitchers, besting Cain's 21.51 second trot with a 21.13 second trot of his own.
The tater trots for May 30 & 31: Barney's walkoff, Big Papi, and Curtis Granderson.
For some unknown reason, there were only three games in all of baseball on Thursday. Because of that, there were understandably very few home runs hit. Seven to be exact. Thankfully, the Tater Trot Tracker is a day behind, so we have Wednesday's 35 home runs to talk about as well. I planned it that way, I swear!
Carlos Gonzalez's hot streak against the Astros isn't even the best of his career.
The Thursday Takeaway
In the 23-hour period spanning 8:00 p.m. MT on Wednesday and 7:00 p.m. MT on Thursday, it seemed irrelevant who Astros manager Brad Mills put on the mound—Carlos Gonzalez was going to hit a home run regardless.
Mariano Rivera's injury isn't just a blow for the Yankees.
The Thursday Takeaway Joe Blanton pitched a shutout for the Phillies. Bryce Harper drove home the game-winning run for the Nationals. The Royals won at home for the first time this season.
And none of it matters, because Mariano Riverawrecked his knee. He did not slip off the mound. He was not scrambling to field a bunt. He did not trip while covering first base. Rivera was doing something else that virtually every pitcher does and that he has thoroughly enjoyed doing throughout his career: shagging balls during batting practice.
Does history give any clues as to how the Mets will perform with a lower payroll?
Late last month, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reported that the Mets are facing the largest one-year payroll cut in major-league history, at least in terms of total dollars. With owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz deprived of the profits they derived from decades of investing with Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, and struggling to find minority partners willing to provide a quick infusion of capital, the team is hemorrhaging money and facing a growing mountain of debt. According to general manager Sandy Alderson, the Mets lost $70 million last year, and made no real attempt to retain pending free agents Carlos Beltran (who was traded in midseason) or Jose Reyes (who departed for the Marlins in December). Barring even one additional midlevel signing, they could become the first team to drop $50 million in salary from one Opening Day to the next.
With All-Star selection around the corner, the BP staff fills out their ballots for who deserves to start in the Midsummer Classic.
It’s July, and that means another All-Star Game, one which—we might as well get this out of the way now—won’t be as exciting as those wonderful old All-Star Games when important things happened, like Ted Williams breaking his elbow and Dizzy Dean breaking a toe (Williams said he was never the same hitter; Dean destroyed his arm with altered mechanics) and Ray Fosse getting run over because damn it, Pete Rose just had to win an exhibition game.
(It is at times like these that I like to recall Mickey Mantle’s immortal words on the subject of Rose: “If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete, I’d wear a dress.”)
Jim Tracy hopes that having Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez signed long-term means good things lie ahead for Colorado.
Jim Tracy beams when he is asked about the importance of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to his team. Tracy knows he could wind up keeping his job for many years to come thanks to the luxury of writing the names of Tulowitzki, the big-hitting and slick-fielding shortstop, and Gonzalez, ultra-talented left fielder, in the lineup for at least the next seven seasons.
Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
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