Posts by charlesad

“Simmons only comparable to himself”

More well-deserve raves for Andrelton, this time from Howard Megdal of Sports on Earth:

Put it this way: if Simmons merely equals his 2013 defensive prowess in 2014, he’ll have accumulated more defensive value that Jimmy Rollins has in his entire career, and will have done so in roughly 20 percent of the innings. And this is not a knock on Rollins. It’s representative of how Simmons is only comparable to himself in the recent era. His UZR/150 is 25.2. No one else, since 2012, is as high as 10.

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Open thread, 4.23, #Braves vs. Daryl Crowe Jr.s

I was among the few at the yard last night. The Braves sold 18K or so tickets, but at first pitch there were probably 10,000 people there. The Marlins are never much of a draw, but weekday attendance is down this year. Granted, it’s only a handful of games, and it only makes sense that fewer people would show up on work/school nights. And there’s something to be said for strolling around the concourse with no lines for beer or food.

But it’s more fun when there are 25,000 or more in the stands. I suspect there won’t be that many for today’s nooner. Pretty Boy Aaron Harang seeks to keep the magic alive vs. Nate Eovaldi, who suddenly is famous for throwing the ball 100 mph. Eovaldi’s young and so far pretty average.Yet he can fling it very hard.

Back to last night, Wood was superb. Fernandez was a smidge better. Chris Dimino said on 680 the Fan this morning that Wood is the first pitcher since Tom Seaver in 1973 to lose consecutive starts 1-0 while pitching 8 or more innings in both games. I doubt any team in history would have scored off Fernandez last night. You can only see so much from the upper deck, but he was simply overwhelming.

Justin, B.J. and Gattis get the day off, but The Albatross is in the line-up, batting 6th. Did Ramiro Pena knock over Fredi’s Harley or something?

Heyward 9 Simmons 6 Freeman 3 Johnson 5 Doumit 7 Uggla 4 Schafer 8 Laird 2 Harang 1

* Daryl Crowe Jr. is a character on one of my favorite TV shows, Justified. I’m not a big fan of the actor, Michael Rapaport, but his psycho criminal swampbilly Daryl is pretty awesome, like just about everything else on that show. The Daryl wing of the Crow clan migrated from the Everglades to Kentucky to continue their reprehensible doings, with mixed results.

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Open thread, 4.21, #Braves vs. Dave Barrys

If Julio has anything close to the stuff he had last time out, the Bravos should be in fine shape this evening.

It’ll be our first look at the Marlins. Everyone knows G. Stanton is bashing the ball. Other than him, their lineup is not too imposing. Their leadoff man, Yelich, is a good-looking young player. And, of course, they have some promising young pitchers. Tonight’s hurler, Koehler, has pitched well in his first three starts. He’s not nearly as highly regarded as Fernandez, of course, nor Eovaldi.

Let’s hope the home team has a decent turnout for this Monday nighter. Typically these kind of games do not pack them in at the Ted. I’ll be mildly and pleasantly surprised with anything above 20K.

Your lineup: J-Hey, BJ, Freddi, J. Upton, CJ, Uggla, Gattis, Andrelton, Julio. Interesting juxtaposition of CJ and Gattis. If everyone is swinging OK, which as we know is rare, that is a deep lineup.

* Barry can be funny. But he’s the Billy Crystal of columnists, a tad bland for my taste. Speaking of bland, Barry’s first novel was made into a movie starring Tim Allen. That alone is a strike–or two–against ol’ Dave.

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Open thread, 4.19, #Braves vs. Charlie Sheens

Bartolo Colon gave up 9 earned runs in 5 innings in his last start. Of course, against the Bravos a couple weeks back he looked like Tom Seaver, a really tubby, multi-chinned Tom Seaver.

Perhaps tonight we’ll get bad Bartolo. Santana looks to continue a remarkable run, as Braves hurlers have allowed but a single run in the past three games. The team’s WHIP is 1.106 in 142 innings. That’s better than Maddux’s career WHIP.

Tonight’s lineup: J-Hey, Bossman Jr., Freddie, JUp, Gattis, Uggla, CJ, Andrelton, Santana.

Two items that bring me joy: Bryce Harper got yanked by Matty W. today for loafing to first in a Nats loss, and BJ is hitting .320 in his past six games.

* Charlie Sheen was born in New York City. 

Donald Trump golf resort

Open Thread, 4.18, #Braves vs. Donald Trumps

J-Hey gets a night off. He needs it. I won’t go into the numbers, but they’re ugly, especially lately and especially against lefties.  OK, one number: J-Hey’s 1-for-18 with nine Ks this season vs. southpaws.The Braves are also facing Jon Niese, the lefty who hit him in the face. I honestly don’t think that has much to do with Fredi’s sitting J-Hey.

I like the move.

Harang goes for Los Bravos. I fear that one of these starts Harang will turn back into an aging journeyman. Then again, maybe it won’t happen tonight.

Our lineup: Andrelton, BJ, Freddie, J. Upton, Gattis, Uggla, CJ, Doumit RF, Harang.

* Trump is Trump, a towering — ha, ha — douche, one of the most self absorbed people striding the Earth.  

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Open thread, 4/17, #Braves vs. Chuck Barrisses

It will be hard to top Julio’s performance, but Alex Wood and the Bravos will take the diamond and seek the sweep this afternoon. CB tells me Julio was the first visitor to throw a shutout at Citizens Bank Park. His work was beyond impressive. So was Gattis’. I love the tweet, retweeted on the Office, from Demetreus that Gattis will name his kid Citizensbank.

And a tip of the Braves cap to CB for accurately predicting the Braves would have double-digit hits and strikeouts last night. Re whiffs, the good news is the Braves are middle of the NL pack so far in Ks, with 126. Only three NL teams have fewer than 123.

I like the chances for a sweep, though you never know what to expect from A.J. Burnett. He’s capable of dominating any lineup. And he’s capable of giving up four or five runs in five innings.

Today’s lineup: J-Hey, BJ, Freddie, J. Upton, Johnson, Uggla, Andrelton, Laird, Wood.

* Born in Philly, Barriss, who’s still alive at 84, is an entertaining but deeply strange man. No one seems to know whether his claims of being a CIA assassin were true, though it seems highly unlikely. The entertaining side of Chuckie, Baby: 

 

 

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Julio first #Braves pitcher in 11 years to throw a 1-0 shutout

Just how rare was Julio’s gem? The last Brave to throw a complete-game 1-0 shutout was Russ Ortiz in September 2003 against the Marlins and Josh Beckett.

And Ortiz drove in the run with a two-out single to score Javy. That game was Ortiz’s 20th win.

Something tells me Julio is destined to be a better Brave than Russ Ortiz. Well done, Julio. Well done.

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Open thread, 4.14, #Braves vs. Michelle Malkins

First off, happy birthday to two great Braves, David Justice and Greg Maddux. They were born on the same day in 1966. Damn, we’re getting old.

The rolling ball of butcher knives that is the Braves’ attack heads to the assisted living center in Philly. Yeah, Chase Utley is ripping the ball as he teases Philly phans before his inevitable long DL stint. And Jimmy Rollins is off to a nice start. But the Phils’ pitching is mediocre. Their starters have pitched the second fewest innings of any rotation in the NL, and their combined WHIP is 1.60. The bullpen is 9th in the league in ERA. Papelbon’s numbers are ugly — a 5-plus earnie — but he’s really only had one awful outing amongst five. Still, he’s clearly sliding, clearly a d-bag, and clearly he and his teammates share a mutual dislike. Which is nice.

Our heroes will face 34-year-old mediocrity (the other) Roberto Hernandez tonight, then Cliff Lee tomorrow, who’s still Cliff Lee but has yet to dominate in any of his three starts this season, TBA, and a guy who started the year at AAA. So that’s not too daunting.

We’ll see tonight if Ervin can keep his pitches swervin like last time out. Then it’s Hale, Julio and Wood.

Your Bravos lineup, again missing Chris Johnson, which is kinda interesting: J-Hey, BJ, Freddie, J. Upton, Gattis, Uggla, Andrelton, R. Pena at third based, Santana. I’m guessing Fredi likes the way Pena is swinging and wants to give CJ another day because he’s swinging so poorly. Or he could be injured.

* Philadelphia native Malkin is a ridiculous right-wing columnist who, among other stupid shit, has defended the U.S. imprisonment of innocent Japanese-American civilians during World War II.

 

 

 

Ditch the replay system

It’s always fun to be at the yard when the Braves win, especially against the Natspos.

But last night’s three-and-a-half-hour-plus marathon was a tad trying, though some of that was because my highly mobile 4-year-old was there. I made two trips to the base-running place near the cow, and my father-in-law took him up there another time.

However, the replay system also added probably 15 minutes to the game time. I liked replay at first, figuring it’s worth adding 5 minutes to a game to be sure it’s not determined by a bad call. But the system is adding too much time. Not only is it the actual replays — like the 5-minute delay on the McOut bunt last night — but also the times the managers stroll out to stall while their video guys tell them whether to challenge. And last night it seemed the Natspos stood around and jawed with the umps after every close play. And then Zimmerman oozed off the field after being picked off. OK, he was hurt. He gets a pass. And Rendon trudged from first back to the batter’s box after a ball he hit went foul. That’s the kind of stuff the umps should speed up. That and, again, the damn stalling by managers to let their guys watch replays.

It isn’t the managers’ fault. They’re trying to win. It’s the system’s fault. Well intentioned though it is, replay needs to go. So far just a third of challenges have resulted in overturned calls. I’d be curious to know how many minutes and hours cumulatively have been larded onto already protracted games.

Enough. It not only slows down a game that even hardcore fans think needs to speed up. It also skews the game’s natural  rhythms. Take last night. After that interminable discussion of whether McOut was in fact out at first — he’s safe or he’s out, how hard can it be to watch HD replays and make a call? — Wood was clearly less sharp. Not that he was Madduxian before that delay. But his strike percentage dropped significantly after that, according to a website that somehow compiles every pitch from every MLB game into all sorts of weird stats on lateral movement of pitches and the like.

Maybe there’s a way to use replay in critical situations without dumping quicksand into games. I get the argument that you never know if a play in the first inning or the 9th will affect the outcome. But bottom line, the umps generally get it right. And it’s not life or death, anyway. If the choice is get every call right but slow down the game and mess up the pitchers, or have an occasional missed call, then I’m inclined to vote for the latter.

bombo

Open Thread, 4.11, Bravos vs. Bombo Riveras

Andrelton’s out again, though he tells the local organ he can pinch hit.

Julio T. is off to a nice start but has not really had his A-grade stuff in either of his two outings. So he figures to have it tonight. Let’s hope so because the Natspos have been knocking it around pretty well lately. Meanwhile, the enemy hurler, Tanner Roark, hasn’t pitched in eight days. Maybe he’s rusty. Roark has pitched well in his 59-2/3 big league innings after putting up OK numbers in the minors.

Honestly, I know little about the guy.

I know it’d be nice to see the Braves offense have a decent night, with production from someone other than just Freeman and one other guy du jour. It was Justin last night. He’s streaky, we know, so maybe he’s about to go aripping.

Tonight’s lineup: J-Hey, BJ, Freeman, CJ, Justin, Uggla (yeah, he looks better but it’s time he got some hits), Gattis, R. Pena, Julio T.

* Rivera played briefly for the Expos in the 1970s. For some reason, Garrison Keillor wrote a song about him in the late ’70s, according to WIkipedia, and he’s mentioned in the book Shoeless Joe. That’s the book on which the movie, Field of Dreams, is based. CB always cries when he watches that movie. As for Keillor, he’s OK. But who the hell books a gig at Chastain Park and then bitches about the audience talking through the show? That’s a little like going to a game and whining about BJ striking out.  

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Open Thread, 4.9, Braves vs. Phoebe Cateses

The Braves’ offense has been downright offensive! Runs have been as scarce as sober nights with Charlie Sheen! Clutch hits are as hard to come by as understatement on the Real Housewives of Atlanta!

Enough of the Rick Reilly impersonation.

A few not so fun facts:

No Braves regular has a hit with a runner in scoring position and two outs. Teheran has the only one in 23 at-bats (.043 BA).

With RISP, the club is hitting .159.

Julio has as many RBIs — 1 — as Justin, BJ and Gattis combined.

Take away Freeman (.517 OBP) and the team OBP is .224.

Gattis, BJ and — surprisingly — Uggla have no walks among them.

The good news is the pitching has been superb, and 155 games remain. Those start tonight, of course, as the local batsmen take their cuts against Smyrna native Zack Wheeler. He can hurl a baseball at a high rate of speed. He faced the Braves thrice last season and allowed six earned runs, including his big league debut when he blanked the home nine over six innings.

More interestingly for us, our new man Ervin Santana toes the slab for the first time as a Bravo. No Met has more than four at-bats against him, despite his 1,600-plus innings of MLB work. It sure would be nice to welcome him with a few runs. But we probably should not count on such a thing.

Lineup a little different: J-Hey, Simmons, Freeman, CJ, Justin, Uggla, Gattis, Schafer, Santana.

* Phoebe Cates is a terrible actress who has done nothing of note since Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which came out when I was in high school, and I remember Rowland Office.

 

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Open Thread, 4.5, Bravos vs. the Patch Adamses

Three Braves regulars have more than 15 at-bats against Strasburg, who often pitches more like Stressburg against Los Bravos. That trio–Freeman, Heyward and Uggla–are all hitting over .400 against the gnats’ hurler. Stressburg’s career ERA against the Braves is 3.68. That’s hardly Albie Lopezian, but it is .68 above his career earnie.

That he has a career ERA of 3.00 is a tad surprising.  Anyway, as for today’s tilt, I suspect Julio to be sharp after battling his way through the opener with far less than his best stuff. Stressburg did much the same but gave up 4 runs to the crappy Mets. So, bad news, he’s probably due to pitch well, too. That likely adds up to another 2-1 affair.

Since I typed that, it’ll probably be 10-9.

Julio has made 35 big league starts. He’s 15-10 with a 3.43 ERA. That’s better than Avery, Maddux and Glavine at the same point. That is not to say Julio will be better than those guys. Chances are, he won’t be better than Maddux and Glavine, though with good health he could well surpass Avery’s career body of work.

As for a small body of work, how about Carpenter yesterday? That’s the sort of outing that could cement him as a first-rate setup guy. If he needed a confidence boost after his October struggles, that should do it. Yeah, it’s just April, but these games matter, especially any one you can take while DC has the clear advantage against the Braves battered rotation. I will nominate Carpenter’s 8th yesterday for performance of the season so far.

Turning to the offense, Uggla’s numbers are not eye-popping so far. But he looks night-and-day better than last season. It’s not just Braves homer broadcaster babble — he is hitting the ball hard. He got called out twice yesterday on pitches that were probably balls. Happens. Justin will come around. BJ. Hmm. Not hitting. Not bunting. Rarely putting the ball in play. Give it a few more games, and if BJ keeps whiffing two-three times per outing, then switch him and Simmons in the order.

* Yes, the real Patch Adams is from Washington. I suppose it’s not totally his fault that movie goers were assaulted with the abomination that bore his name. But it happened. So he shares blame for the most annoying screen character of the past quarter century.

 

 

 

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Opening Day Open Thread, 3.31.2014

To our friend, Black Larry King, I’m not sure where the past few months have gone. But time begins today for Braves fans.

Julio T. will be solid in the first of what I think will be many Opening Day starts. I’m not sure Yovani Gallardo, the opposing moundsman, is the pitcher he was three or four years ago. Many of his numbers went in the wrong direction the past two seasons and he’s reportedly lost a few ticks on his velocity. I don’t follow him nor the Car Salesman’s old team enough to have a clear read on the guy.

Anyway, I’m convinced Julio is a star in the making and that the Bravo offense will be improved. It starts today. If our club can stick around .500 through the first three weeks, things should be OK. That said, six early dates with the Nats are significant. The same was true last year, but that team has the talent to streak ahead of the pack, so staying close early is important.

Not startlingly original thoughts, I know. But that’s what I came up with. Go Julio. Go Bravos! Today will be the first of 85 to 91 wins.

Milwaukee is or was home to such delightful people as Tony Kubek, Laverne and Shirely, Richie, Fonzie, and guitar pioneer Les Paul, but also to Jeffrey Dahmer.

Your line-up:

Jay Hey

BJ

Freddie

CJ

Justin

Uggla

Gattis

Andrelton

DFFP

Duane says, “Welcome back, Danny Uggs!”

And welcome back to me, I guess. I won’t bore y’all with the whole story, but let’s just say I got fired from the Starship Satellite location up in White County. Yeah, I was north side for a while. My pansy ass boss thought me taking a few nitrous cartridges for myself was somehow a big honking deal. So he let me go. I said fine, you little bitch, it ain’t like I ain’t been fired before.

Which is true. Anyhow, it’s not completely true that it’s fine, though. I’m back living in my buddy Hal Phellis’ spare room. Hal’s got a HD flat screen with a awesome cable package. So that part’s good. But Brenda’s there, too, because she and Hal got married. She’s, um, not pleased that I’m bunking over and says I got to be out by the end of the month. We’ll see.

Anyhoo….on to better things. My boy Uggla’s back! Danny was 2-for-2 today. He’s establishing attitude and will to win early. Shows what a man can do when he’s playing for his job. On the other side of things, I’m afraid Mr. Freddie Freeloader’s big new contract might be going to his head. Did anybody besides me notice he’s batting zero point zero since his big extension? Hah, hah. big extension.

I hope Fredi’s on Freddie’s ass hard after that pitiful showing today. At least our other Freddy, Garcia, was strong today. Two perfect innings. I don’t know why you take out a guy with a perfect game, but, hell, I’m old school.

Later, fellas. I’ll try to check in more often now that I got some time on my hands.

RClKVums

How much Hart in these extensions?

It’s been little noted in the coverage of the Braves’ flurry of contract extensions, but it would be fascinating to know just how much of a role John Hart played.

I had forgotten until the past couple days that the Braves in November hired the former Rangers and Indians GM as a special advisor. If you’ll recall, Hart was among the pioneers in signing young stars to extensions before they hit free agency. At Cleveland in the 1990s, he locked up a core that included Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez. It worked out pretty well. In Hart’s 10 years with the Tribe, they won six division titles and two pennants.

Who knows what sort of input Hart has here? We surely don’t  know, and probably never will. But I doubt a special advisor would be instrumental in pushing such a franchise-shaping series of moves as the Braves’ brass has made. The more likely scenario is that the Braves hired Hart because they knew they’d be embarking on the lock-up-the-kids strategy and wanted someone on speed dial who’d done it successfully. Not only that, but Hart extended the Cleveland core as that team was about to move into a new ballpark, as the Braves of course will do in three years. Tomahawk Take did a thorough look at all this, so cap tip to them.

Apparently, JS and Hart are big buds. Of course, Hart has already had a hand in shaping recent Braves history, as he was on the other end of two of JS’s most infamous trades: He was the Indians GM in the Justice/Grissom for Lofton/Embree deal, and he was a special advisor to Texas when JS shipped them half the farm system for Teixeira.

Greatest Brave of Them All Turning 80

Henry Louis Aaron turns 80 on Wednesday. Steve Hummer wrote a nice piece on ajc.com to mark the occasion.

It’s not the definitive Aaron story, but it includes some good nuggets, including these:

Note to the generations of fans who never witnessed Aaron in a uniform: He did more than hit a baseball into the seats. He ranks third all-time in number of hits. First in RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. Fourth in runs. Had three Gold Gloves.

…..Aaron hit more home runs off Drysdale (17) than any other pitcher. He hit .362 vs. Koufax, with a .647 slugging percentage. Had eight home runs and hit .288 lifetime against Marichal. He nicked Gibson for eight homers despite hitting just .215 off him. Hall of Famers all.

Happy Birthday, Hammer. You are and always will be The Greatest Brave of Them All.

Here’s why Liberty is holding onto the Braves

Why is the media conglomerate from Colorado — the one that as of today is worth $15.29 billion on the open market — holding onto our baseball team, or that tax write-off/asset that somehow greased the conglomerate’s big deal with Time Warner a few years ago?

I’m thinking it has something to do with the figure 47 percent. That is how much the value of the Braves franchise has increased just since Liberty bought it in 2007. You and I probably don’t own anything that’s appreciated that much since the recession started. As of October 2013, our Bravos were worth $760 million, according to Bloomberg, which crunches numbers for a damned good living. So even after accounting for inflation, the value of the Braves has soared by nearly half since Liberty took them off Time Warner’s hands.

Not a bad return for the work Liberty’s put in. Why, the conglomerate has ….um, reduced payroll since 2007 by nearly 10 percent in inflation-adjusted terms while slightly raising the cost of attending a game and convincing a county government whose busiest highway is named after a dead president of the John Birch Society to hand over $300 million to help fund a suburban ballpark/office park/shopping center.

Whatever money Liberty has pumped into the Braves has been spent on real estate, video screens and arcade games, not on starting pitching and outfielders. But it’s their asset. They can do as they please. We’re just ticket buyers/bloggers/TV viewers. But this is our blog, and we can type what we please.

Speaking of real estate, I assume the Braves will partner with experts to build their mixed use development. Of course, that’ll mean splitting whatever money they might make from the development. Lord knows, another shopping center and office park in Cobb County is a sure-fire success, isn’t it? That’s what worries me. The Braves have not come out and said it — JS and Co. are about as publicly candid as the North Korean government — but it seems obvious this real estate gambit is at least partly a result of the horrific local TV deal the Braves ended up with after all those genius media execs finished their transacting.

So because supposedly shrewd businesspeople saddled our team with a financially crippling TV arrangement that lasts a quarter century, our team, along with Cobb County taxpayers, are embarking on a massive real estate venture that may or may not ever pay off. I’m no real estate pro, but you don’t have to look far to find similar boondoggles. Check out the ajc’s story about the Cincinnati project, for example. Toby Keith owns a restaurant in the complex next to the Reds’ ballpark. Cool!

This might be an oversimplification. But there is at very least a big kernel of truth here: While third-tier organizations like the Astros and Padres rake in newfound TV riches, the team with the biggest regional radio network in pro sports and so a large following to watch games on TV — yes, our Atlanta Braves — is left to gamble its future on a real estate project. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe it’s sadly appropriate that in a place long ruled by real estate developers, the Braves have to pin their hopes on a shopping center. Hey, maybe the Braves can give Heyward, Freeman and Andrelton a cut of the take from the bars and restaurants out there at 285 and I-75. I joke, but it would be intriguing to see if MLB and the players union would OK an arrangement like that. Maybe Braves Acres could work after all!

Or maybe if Braves Acres becomes a pipe farm — PVC poking out of the ground everywhere with no buildings to hook to — Liberty will rush to sell and we’ll get a decent owner. Then that owner would have to spend a few years getting out from under the real estate disaster.

On the bright side, pitchers and catchers report in less than a month. And Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh appear to be progressing nicely.

‘We gonna fight tonight’

From the Office vault: 

I have to pass along this hilarious story I heard from a friend yesterday. I believe it to be on good authority.

A lot of you probably remember the June 16, 1984 brawl ignited when Mario Soto repeatedly brushed back Claudell. Claudell tossed his bat toward the mound, went to pick it up, and then turned toward Soto with malice in mind, and rightfully so. I didn’t remember this part, but according to Wikipedia , Claudell tossed umpire Lanny Harris to the ground to reach the Reds’ combustible hurler.

We still trust

I recall that Soto threw the ball at Claudell while he was being restrained, but hit Braves coach Joe Pignato instead.

All that’s pretty funny, but here’s the funnier part I just heard. That night was Ken Oberkfell’s first game as  a Brave. He’d been traded from St. Louis the day before. Rick Camp greeted Oberkfell when he arrived in the clubhouse. After pleasantries, Camp told him, in his Trion, Ga. accent, “We gonna fight tonight.”

Thinking he meant the two of them, Oberkfell asked why, as they had just met. Camp said no, there’ll be a brawl on the field because Mario Soto was pitching and “Claudell Washington hates Mario Soto.” Apparently, Camp, and presumably everyone on the Braves team, knew Soto would throw at Claudell at some point. He did, and they did fight.