Open thread, 4/15 (even the weather is on the #Braves side)


Little chance we’ll see baseball tonight in Philly, where there’s a 90 percent chance of rain at game time. That’s good news for the Braves, who will now have the luxury of skipping David Hale in the rotation while resting Kimbrel another day.

Game still scheduled, however. Here’s the line-up:

Heyward 9, BUpton 8, Freeman 3, JUpton 7, Gattis 2, Uggla 4, Johnson 5, Simmons 6, Hale 1



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.





The case against the Used Car Salesman

More proof Bud Selig is the Worst Commissioner in the History of Sports:

Almost eight years ago, Bud Selig vowed to do something about the local-television-blackout rules keeping tens of millions of fans from watching his sport. He said he did not understand the reason pockets of America who wanted to see ballgames on TV couldn’t. Then he made a vow: “We have to do something about it.”

Here’s what he and Major League Baseball have done: Fight like crazy to keep the blackouts in place, arguing the affected fans constitute a “very, very limited area” and that a world in which everyone in America can watch whatever baseball game they please is “completely implausible.”

In truth, the issue revolves around the exorbitant local-television dollars that regional sports networks have lavished on teams in the past five years and the concern that in a true free market with a-la-carte pricing for games, the local TV networks would not pay anywhere close to the tens of billions of dollars they have promised teams around the sport. The threat to the cash cow that has pushed league-wide revenue toward the $9 billion-a-year mark has left the league willing to punish fans in Iowa, Las Vegas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Buffalo and other locations with multiple-team blackouts.

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.


Open thread, 4/13, Braves vs. Louie Gohmerts

Gohmert is almost always wrong, as in my post yesterday excoriating Fredi for playing Uggla and batting B.J. second,

Uggla’s on the pine today, along with the struggling Chris Johnson as Fredi deploys a Bobby-esque Sunday line-up:

1. Heyward rf 2. BUpton cf 3 Freeman 1b 4 JUpton lf 5 Simmons ss 6. Laird C 7 Pena 3b 8.Pastornicky 2b 9 Harang P

Gohmert, who once claimed that caribou enjoy the warmth of an oil pipeline, is a U.S. congressman from Texas.


Open thread, 4/12, Braves vs. Fredi

Andrelton’s back in the line-up, batting 8th, because you gotta have the K machine hitting second. Apparently loafing to 1B last night carried no censure for B.J.. And guess who’s batting 6th, playing 2B?

Just when I’m ready to give Fredi the benefit of the doubt he reminds me why I’m not a fan. How many chances does Uggla get, especially when there’s a better alternative sitting on the bench?

I fear before the season’s done The Lummox will barrel over Andrelton, causing our star SS to miss considerable time. When that happens you can bet the yes men in the Braves broadcast booth will tell us how we should appreciate Uggla’s hustle.

How bad is Uggla? It would be an injustice to Keith Lockhart to compare the two. Watch out, Damaso Garcia, Uggla’s coming for you.

No room for error tonight for Alex Wood, especially when his 2B is likely to make a big one costing the Braves a win.


An early test for Fredi

There is absolutely no excuse for Fredi not to start Ramiro Pena at 2B tomorrow. Andrelton’s expected back at SS, a RH pitcher is starting for the Nats and Ramiro Pena is one of the few Braves hitting the ball. And he’s not going to make a boneheaded play like Uggla did on Friday, letting in three unearned runs.

I’m sick of hearing positives about Uggla. He’s the worst everyday player in baseball, with his loafing teammate a close second.

I hope Uggla’s off the team by season’s end. Tomorrow would be fine.


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.  


Coach Chipper

I hope the Braves have asked Chipper to be their hitting instructor. If not, what are they waiting for?

No offense to Greg Walker, but Braves batters are obviously not buying what he’s selling. Meanwhile, after just one tutoring session with Number 10, B.J. looks noticeably more relaxed at the plate.

Make it happen, FW.



Open thread, 4/10, #Braves vs. Tawana Brawleys

Tonight’s line-up: 1 Heyward RF 2. BUpton CF 3. Freeman 1B 4. Johnson 3B 5. JUpton LF 6. Uggla 2B 7. Doumit C 8.Simmons SS 9. Hale P

So it didn’t take long for Fredi to make his first confounding move of 2014. Andrelton had 2 hits last night in the 2-hole, upping his BA to .321. He’s yet to strike out this year and is the only Brave non-pitcher, besides Freddie, with an OBP above .300. B.J., meanwhile, has 13 K’s and is one of three Braves regulars yet to draw a walk, along with Gattis and Uggla.

Besides the offense, I’m a bit concerned about the lack of depth in the bullpen. Jordan Walden can be dominant but is too fragile and inconsistent to depend on, while Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas have yet to inspire much confidence. Hale and Harang might end up playing bigger roles than expected as relievers after Minor and Floyd return.


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.


Hank tribute falls as flat as Braves bats

Remember the 20th anniversary of the ’91 season? Probably not, because the Braves barely made mention of it. Tonight’s ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Number 715 was equally lacking.

Of course it was great to hear from Bad Henry, but it would’ve been cool if teammates like Dusty Baker and Ralph Garr had been invited to speak. Instead we got prepared blandishments from Terry McGuirk and the Used Car Salesman.

That was the extent of the ceremony, for those who missed it. No highlights of No. 44′s career in between innings — wouldn’t want to cut into Mark Owens’ time, or the 7th inning hoedown. There wasn’t even a video presentation accompanying the pre-game tribute. If you weren’t in your seats before it began you missed the only, fleeting replay of the biggest home run in baseball history.

But you did see a tool race, and a trivia challenge in which participants were quizzed on their knowledge of U.S. airports. Seriously.

Henry Louis Aaron deserved better. So do Braves fans who actually appreciate the team and its history. The team’s marketing/promotions/bullshit departments obviously doesn’t.


Open thread, 4/8, #Braves vs. David Berkowitzes

Your Office landlords will be there tonight, in Section 417. I’d tell you to stop by and say hello but you have no idea what we look like.

No line-ups posted yet. For what it’s worth, Bartolo Colon has won all three of his lifetime starts against the Braves, with a 1.57 ERA and 1.000 WHIP. But that was 40 pounds ago.


Hank Aaron Hugging His Mother

Night of the Hammer

Tonight’s all about Bad Henry. Not much left to say, but here are some essential facts about Number 44, excerpted from a terrific 2007 SI profile by Tom Verducci.

While he was born in a section of town referred to as “Down the Bay,” he spent most of his youth in Toulminville. Aaron grew up poor and his family couldn’t afford baseball equipment so he had to hit bottle caps with sticks.

Hank made do.

In 1953, at age 19, only one year removed from hitting cross-handed for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro leagues, he was one of five players thrust into the integration of the Class A South Atlantic League, in the heart of Dixie. Aaron could not eat in the same restaurants, sleep in the same hotels or drink from the same fountains as his white teammates. Fans heaped racially charged insults at the teenager. A white teammate, Joe Andrews, bat in hand, would escort him out of the ballpark after games. And lo, Aaron hit .362 and was named the league’s MVP.

Those kind of seasons would become routine.

Aaron was such a masterly hitter that he would have passed 3,000 hits even if he had never hit a home run. Pick any star who ever played the game and give him 180 additional homers, and Aaron still would have more total bases

So get there early tonight and show the great man the respect he deserves.


The Braves’ worst trade ever is no longer up for debate

Twice we’ve counted down the 10 worst trades in Atlanta Braves history, and each time we settled on a different Number 1. We were wrong both times.

Sure, Justice and Grissom for Lofton was bad and it appeared for a time Andrus, Feliz, Salty and Harrison for Borasbot might even be worse.But the first deal made it possible to retain Mad Dog and Glavine while the players sent to Texas haven’t fulfilled their potential due mainly to injuries.

The passing of time only makes the trade that sent Adam Wainwright to the Cards look worse. Wainwright just won his 100th game with the Cards against 58 losses. His lifetime 3.10 ERA and 1.182 WHIP are well above the league average and he’s been even better in the postseason, with a 2.53 ERA, 0.990 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 IP in 67-2/3 innings. Wainwright has twice been the runner-up in Cy Young Award voting and finished third another season while throwing 230 or more innings three times.

In return for a true ace the Braves got one season of J.D. Drew, and they knew at the time of the deal they wouldn’t be able to re-sign Just Disabled. So why trade your best pitching prospect for a rental?

Imagine if FW shipped Lucas Sims to Toronto for Colby Rasmus, who’ll be a free agent after this season. Sims may not be the prospect Wainwright was, and Rasmus isn’t as talented as Drew, but you get the point.


Open thread, 4/6, Braves vs. Linda Tripps

Today’s game is a gravy. A sweep would be wonderful, of course, but coming home 4-2 is plenty good.

No line-ups yet, but Nats beat writer Adam Kilgore says Harper and Zimmerman are on the bench today, with Kevin Frandsen and Nate McLouth starting in the OF.

For the Bravos: J-Hey, BJ, Freeman, CJ, JU, Uggla, Laird, Andrelton, Wood.

Meanwhile, Matt Williams runs out a Bobbyish Sunday lineup: Rendon 3B, Frandsen LF, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, McLouth CF, Leon C, Jordan P.


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.