Random observations about the year that was and thoughts on 2010:
Play of the year: Former Brave DeWayne Wise preserves Mark Buehrle’s perfect game.
Best experience at The Ted: The ceremony retiring Mad Dog’s No. 31 in front of a packed house (minus The Hammer, which was a disappointment). Loved it when Maddux exhorted the Braves to beat the Mets. And they did — soundly.
From Mark Bradley’s column the following day:
Andy Benes was pitching for Arizona and plunked a Braves’ hitter. Cox told his men after the game, “Next time we play them, Benes better go down!” Well, the Braves didn’t play Arizona again that season or in the first weeks of the next. And one day Maddux walks into Cox’s office and said, “Still stand?”
Said Cox: “What are you talking about?”
Said Maddux: “That thing with Benes. Still stand?”
Said Cox, who’d forgotten such a edict was ever levied: “Damn right!”
First at-bat that night, Andy Benes ate dirt.
Runner-up: 7/22, JJ outduels Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young winner hadn’t lost in five weeks, but a three-run homer by Yesco was all Jurrjens would need. Wren’s trade for JJ will go down as the second-best in Braves history.
Worst experience at The Ted: 9/29/09. One of those nights when you’re embarrassed to be a Braves fan. An announced crowd of 28,000 turned out for the biggest game in years, though the actual attendance was closer to 20,000. At first pitch there may have been 12,000 people in the stands. Pathetic. As CD observed, “being a hard core Bravos fan, who attends games as something more than an excuse to do the wave, is like being a foreign film or conceptual art buff. We love it. If not many others do, so be it. That won’t stop us.”
Worst baseball moment: Watching S.O.D. (Same Old Douche) record the final putout of the ’09 season. The overrated phony had only four extra base hits in 61 postseason AB’s for the Yanks.
Worst pitch: The POTUS throws like a girl.
Biggest surprise: A slither of originality emerged amid the annoying cacophony of sound effects, canned musical selections and the chirping of between-innings host Mark Owens. Organist Matthew Kaminski added rare authenticity to the Turner Field experience; serenading Manny Ramirez with “A Little Help from My Friends” was a highlight.
Best reasons to be optimistic about 2010: Jair Jurrens, Tommy Hanson and pedestrian National League competition. Right now, the Phils and Cards look like safe bets to repeat. In the West, Colorado should overtake the payroll-shedding Dodgers (the blame for which falls squarely on the Used Car Salesman’s shoulders. The McCourts were heavily leveraged before their divorce, but franchise stability has never been a priority for Bud). The Bravos’ biggest competition for the wild card could come from the Diamondbacks, especially if Brandon Webb returns to pre-injury form. The Giants and Brewers should be in the mix, and, even though I say this every year and get burned, the Reds could surprise. The Lil’ Bears will barely rate (three years for Marlon Byrd?). As always, don’t count out the Marlins, though you can go ahead and count out the Mets. Their rotation remains a wreck after Santana.
Over/under for the Jay Hey Kid: .280-12-50.