Around the NL East - Clown Questions, Ozzie Guillen gets no respect, R.A. Dickey denied, Chase Utley rehabbing

The Braves and the Yankees make for some lopsided history.

Tuesday night was the first time in years that I felt legitimately upset after a Braves loss. There was such a jumble of emotions upon seeing Jonny Venters give up a grand slam to Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees ultimately climbing into the lead, the incessant, endless hum of the booing in the stands, and the sinking dread of having given up the lead so late in the game. Nine outs later, the Yankees took the game, and the series, and I sat there asking myself "did it really just happen, like that?"

I looked through some numbers, and granted it was only nine games, but the Braves haven't taken a series from the Yankees since 2001. Eleven years ago. Guys like Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones and Brian Jordan were playing for the Braves back then, and Greg Maddux was still a Brave and John Rocker was the team's closer. Brian Jordan is doing color commentary, Furcal is on his last legs in St. Louis, and Andruw is platooning with Raul Ibanez for the Yankees. But the thing was, in spite of this futility, the Braves had never gotten swept in that time frame either.

After really really really hoping for the sky to fall after the fifth inning ended and Brian McCann's home run had given the Braves the lead, I stood at the sky porch at Turner Field, actually hoping for a rain-shortened, hollow, asterisk-pocked win, but a win nonetheless. I wanted to see Yankee fans leaving under the absolute worst circumstances, but unfortunately, that didn't happen. Curtis Granderson's home run gave life back to the Yankee faithful in no time, and that feeling of hope dissipated every single inning the Braves got base runners, but failed to bring any of them home.

302 players in all of MLB have had at least 100 plate appearances. Ranking 297th on this list in walk-to-strikeout ratio is Juan Francisco with an abysmal 0.09. After he struck out for the 24th time this season, every single subsequent strikeout has been a career high for him (currently 32Ks). I hate to dog on our own players, but to say the guy inspires no confidence doesn't quite describe the feeling I feel whenever I see him windmilling a bat in the on-deck circle. Somewhere in the topic of strikeouts, lacking in plate discipline and futility is the inevitable jab at Jeff Francoeur; but at a 0.29 BB/K ratio, Francoeur ranks 234th overall, which is 63 places better than Juan Francisco. Surprisingly, Juan Francisco was the first bat off the bench, to pinch hit for Tim Hudson. Not surprisingly, Juan Francisco struck out on just four pitches.

As I was walking back to my car, soaking wet, eye twitching from all the Yankee bros celebrating their sweep, I couldn't help but think of the Braves' futility against the Yankees, and the Red Sox. It's like the team has a complex, or is intimidated by teams against them. Even against the Red Sox, you have to go back to 2004 to see the last time the Braves took a series; and that was courtesy of a Nick Green walk-off home run in extra innings. Regardless of Boston's status as either a powerhouse or a pretender since 2004, they've always gotten the best of the Braves. The last time the Braves played the Red Sox, the Braves lost in Fenway Park to a walk-off home run in extras - by Nick Green.

As a fan, it's frustrating. The Braves used to be the team, the name, that struck fear into opponents before they even played. I can think back to a few series in the past where the Braves probably had no business winning, but still did. It's like you could sense the intimidation and that the idea of the Atlanta Braves being in the opponents' minds, and they would commit crucial errors, hang sliders, or just get themselves out to the benefit of the Braves. Somewhere along the line, that reputation and mystique disappeared. Somewhere along the line, the Braves became the team that seems to be vulnerable to their reputable counterparts in the American League.

Welcome back to the basement. Interleague is stupid sucks.

2012was_medium

The clown question, bro - Nats NQ
If you actually haven't heard about it yet, Canadian reporters tried to bait Bryce Harper into a contoversial question, while the Nats were playing the Blue Jays, since the legal drinking age in Canada is 19. He responded with probably the biggest baseball meme of the year.

Naturally, the reactions come pouring in - The Bog
A brewery in Denver is creating a beer called "Clown Question." Dustin Pedroia knows the offending reporter, and since he's all big on Harper, declares that the Red Sox will destroy him and the Jays next time the teams square off.

Speaking of the Red Sox - MASN
The Nats marched into Boston's Fenway Park and essentially stomped the proud Red Sox. Tyler Clippard now thinks they're pretty much the best team on the planet.

Alex Rodriguez loves Bryce Harper - Nats Enquirer

I love everything [about Harper]. I’m a huge baseball fan above all, even being a baseball player. He’s the kind of guy I would pay my money to watch play. I’m sure well after I’m done I’ll be paying my money to watch him play and break all the records.

A cut on the finger is good reason enough to suppress innings - Nationals Journal
Honestly, at this point, if Davey and Rizzo just said "we're just trying to limit innings," it would take all the steam out of all the obvious allegations that the Nationals are trying to preserve innings for Stephen Strasburg's obvious innings limit.

Quietly getting the job done - Nats Insider
Much is made about Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez striking the world out twice over, but one member of the Nationals staff, the highest paid one, no less, is still having a good year as well. Edwin Jackson is making $11M, the highest amongst starters, but at the pace he is pitching, he'll easily play his worth out and then some.

Chris Marrero steadily progessing through rehab tour - MASN
This is relevant, because if Marrero can come back healthy, it pretty much guarantees that Adam LaRoche is going to be traded, and with the level of production he's having, might be worth something major to someone.

2012mia_medium

And the survey says Ozzie Guillen is the least respected manager - Sun Sentinel

"I don’t get paid for people to like me, I get paid to win games," Guillen said. "In my career, I’ve got a World Series championship and two playoffs. There’s a lot of great managers in baseball that are very good guys, and they don’t got [bleep]."

Heath Bell and Ozzie Guillen have a verbal spat - Fish Bytes
Heath Bell thought he should stay in for one more batter. Ozzie disagreed. Given Bell's difficulties this year, Ozzie might have had a short leash, but it doesn't mean Bell has to like it.

Marlins not enjoying June despite great May - Fish Stripes
You know who else should really hate interleague? The Marlins.

Mark Buehrle is apparently the ambassador to the Perfect Game club - Palm Beach Post
Much to the disappointment of dudes all around, it really isn't Kate Upton. Sorry Matt Cain, a phone call from Buehrle is all you get.

2012nym_medium

R.A. Dickey sets new Mets record for consecutive scoreless innings - Amazin' Avenue
During his complete game shutout of the Rays, Dickey surpassed Jerry Kossman's previous mark of 32.2 scoreless innings.

Be that as it may, it's still not a no-hitter - MetsBlog
During the shutout, David Wright bobbled a bare-handed play. It was ruled a hit. The Mets appealed, trying to get Dickey a no-hitter, but MLB said no. Kind of sucks for Dickey, who once in AAA, plunked the first batter of the game, and then sat down 27 straight.

Ruben Tejada has been on the DL for a long time - NY Post
Now over the 35-day mark, the Mets have to be asking themselves if it's possible for them to retroactively put him on the 60-day DL, and free up the roster spot in the process.

Jason Bay comes off DL, possibly headed right back - NY Times
While trying to make a diving catch, Jason Bay went head-first into the outfield wall, and had to be removed. After coming off the DL for rib injuries, he could be headed back if he has a concussion.

Jon Rauch does not approve of New York fans booing Jason Bay in light of possible injury - Amazin' Avenue
Thanks to Twitter, guys like reliever Jon Rauch have a forum to call out fans without having to face any of them. Regardless, he has a point, it's never cool to boo your own, especially if there's a possible injury.

2012phi_medium

What does Chase Utley's rehab tour mean? - Phillies Nation
In short, he's on a 20-day clock, and can return at the very latest, July 2nd. But he's gotta get back into everyday shape again, first.

They could use it, because now Dom Brown is injured - Beerleaguer
Knee injury, to be specific, a reaggravation of what sidelined him earlier this year.

Not to mention Antonio Bastardo has some anger/emo issues - Phillies Zone
Bastardo was made, so he took out his frustration on some weights. The weights fought back.

Jim Thome hit a ball so hard, it pretty much vanished - Phillies Zone
Because there is no conclusive answer from the guy who claimed to have found Jim Thome's 607th career home run, I have to assume he's lying, and that Jim Thome actually did hit a ball so hard, it vanished.

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