There was baseball over the weekend. A lot of it. You might have had other plans. Unfortunately, my plans included "watching the Giants," which was basically like watching Requiem for a Dream after being sprayed with Scarecrow toxin. Other than that, though, there was all sorts of baseball that I missed. Maybe you missed it, too. Let's catch up together.
The Nationals finally won a few, but so did the Braves
There's a cliché going around Giants land about "rock bottom." People keep asking after every bad game, "Is this rock bottom? Is this rock bottom?" It's a horrible question. There's always rock bottomier. Don't look for the end. You get free refills of rock bottom at the universe soda fountain. Stop asking. But, that written, if Nationals fans wanted to at least consider the phrase after an 11-0 loss to the Mets, it wouldn't have been out of line. That's a monumental stinker of a game.
Since then: 3-0 while outscoring the Mets 20-3. Even Dan Haren pitched a good game. Remember Dan Haren? If he maintains his ratio of almost five strikeouts for every walk, he'll have the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio in Nationals/Expos history. So … I don't know what else to do with that. But good for the Nationals!
The problem is that the Braves also won three in a row, and they did it against the Cardinals, which is mighty impressive. Braves pitching held the Cardinals to three runs and maintained their 8½-game lead, which is their largest lead since the end of 2004.
Just a couple of days before the deadline, it sure seems like the preseason consensus for the best team in baseball has a real good chance of trading a couple of good players away at the deadline. I'm not sure what could happen on Monday and Tuesday to make the Nationals feel optimistic about their chances. I'm not sure if the pride and preseason hype will let them give up, though.
Big Papi am become death, destroyer of dugout phones
The video is here, which helps explain the context of it all. The GIF is here, and it's mesmerizing:
The first time I saw a GIF of the demolition, I wondered, "Gee, wouldn't Dustin Pedroia be mad that he was endangered by jugular-piercing phone shrapnel?"
Yes. Yes, he would. And that's about right. I don't care if the umpire denigrated the memory of Ortiz's great-grandmother and said Pet Sounds was overrated; that was still an unnecessarily dangerous tantrum.
And yet so cool to watch.
The Royals have officially won enough to make bad decisions
Do you know who David Lough is? Oh, of course. Nice to have you, Mrs. Lough. But the rest of us might not be aware. The 27-year-old is sort of the heir apparent to Jeff Francoeur in all sorts of ways (including a shiny .298 batting average with four walks to 29 strikeouts), and he's helping the Royals win in the field ...
... and at the plate. Kind of.
With Lough's help, the Royals swept a series against the White Sox, bringing them back to .500, and putting them … just as far back in the division as they were two weeks ago. Which should make a difference when it comes to the trade deadline. But I'd wager their mini-run against the White Sox will help convince the Royals they're still in this, and that Ervin Santana should stick around. They're going to miss out on a bounty of prospects. I can feel it.
Good job, David Lough. Way to screw up the franchise with your timeliness.
The Giants are in last place, and the Dodgers will never lose again
The Giants needed to get well against the Cubs if they were going to have any shot at climbing back into the NL West race. Instead they got swept, scoring three runs in the entire series. The Giants lost the first game on an error with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning. They lost the second game after loading the bases in the eighth (with no outs) and ninth inning (with one out), with a homer from former Giant Nate Schierholtz sandwiched between for the only run. And they lost the third game on a pitcher home run and another bases-loaded, no-out opportunity. The Cubs turned a rare home-to-third double play.
A home-to-third double play. Who does that? Honestly.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the Dodgers struck out 20 times against the Reds on Sunday, but still walked off on a Yasiel Puig homer in extra innings to take three out of four. Again, they struck out 20 times. The Dodgers had struck out 18 times once in their 130-year history. They struck out 15 times in just 23 games in those 130 years, and their record in those games was 6-16-1.*
If you're looking for omens that this might be the Dodgers' year in the West, that should do just fine.
* You know who appeared in that tie game? A man who doesn't want you to know he even existed.
The Marlins are a hot mess, hot draw
They're a hot mess because they just got around to firing hitting coach Tino Martinez, who is apparently a bit of a freak.
Sources, though, said Martinez — who was owner Jeffrey Loria’s personal pick to take over as hitting coach — displayed a pattern of abusive behavior from the start of spring training and made numerous threats. "It’s all shocked everybody," said one player, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. "He uses intimidation. It’s been a problem since Day One."
As a player during the course of a 16-year major-league career in which he totaled 1,925 hits — mostly with the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners — the Tampa native was considered stoic and reserved.
But when the spinning fish in center field tell you to go for the neck, you go for the neck. At least Loria was proactive and got Martinez out of …
Loria refused to accept the resignation when Martinez offered it Friday, and the coach remained in uniform the rest of the weekend.
But the Marlins are a hot draw because they have one of the brightest young pitching talents in the game. Jose Fernandez might not have the name recognition of a Matt Harvey or Stephen Strasburg just yet, but hot dang is he fun to watch.
That would be a 13-strikeout game, as Fernandez out-dueled Gerrit Cole in Miami. The Marlins are acting weird, playing fast and loose with their prospects, starting up their arbitration clocks early in the middle of a lost season. But there's something to be said about getting value from a pitcher who is ready to perform in the majors, and Fernandez is most certainly one of those.
So the Marlins had an embarrassing story come to light with a coach, and they also had a transcendent performance from their franchise right-hander. Marlins fever …
… catch it.
There was a Hall of Fame ceremony for dead people
Good job, writers. Way to keep Craig Biggio out. What is he, only one of the 10 or so best second basemen in history?
Although Biggio is behind Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker and Willie Randolph in career WAR, so maybe the writers will be forever hopeless when it comes to evaluating second basemen for the Hall of Fame. The larger point is that no one living was inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, so no one cared.
Do you want highlights from the weekend? Of course you do. Here you go. A bunch of Hall of Famers read other players' plaques verbatim. No, seriously. Here is Barry Larkin reading Jim O'Rourke's plaque. Who was clamoring for that? Who got excited for this? It was like an Iron Maiden-themed fish 'n' chips restaurant. Everything's awesome in that description, but a combination would feel completely forced.
Also, this might be the single least-GIFfable video on MLB.com.
Well, it should be.