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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.

National League All-Star Uggla  makes an error in 10th inning of Major League Baseball's All-Star game at Yankee Stadium in New York

Open thread, 4/22, Braves vs. Dan Ugglas

I don’t know what Dan Uggla has to do to get benched. He did his best to lose last night’s game before Evan Gattis rescued the Bravos in extras.

Yet Gattis and his .950 OPS are hitting behind Uggla in the line-up. Only B.J. and Jay Hey have a lower OPS than Fan. Makes you wonder about Fredi’s line-up construction.

As for Jay Hey’s bunt in the 9th, Fredi says it was Heyward’s call but he was fine with it.

And so it goes. The Braves keep winning despite the best efforts of some to sabotage their progress.

1 Heyward RF 2. BUpton CF 3. Freeman 1B 4. JUpton LF 5. Johnson 3B 6. Uggla 2B 7. Gattis C 8. Simmons SS 9. Wood P

Here’s the line-up I’d prefer:

Jay Hey

LaStella/Pena

Freddie

J. Upton

Gattis

Simmons

Johnson

B.J./Schafer

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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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Bryce Harper’s Natitude worse than we thought

Thomas Boswell with some interesting clubhouse buzz:

The team was specifically told several days ago that the next guy who doesn’t run out a ball is coming out of the game. As to the quad, Harper missed a game on Weds that happened to be against Jose Fernandez. Other players always look for “coincidences.” The next game, he laid down a bunt against Wainwright, flew to first and looked fine. After he went 0-for-4, he threw his helmet. Turns out that 0-fer snapped a nine-game hitting streak. Not much of a streak. But teammates noticed. I assume his quad really did hurt him. But the Nats, over the last year, have certainly narrowed their eyes in looking at Harper’s motivations. The enormous benefits of the doubt — on whether he’s really more about the team or about himself or about both — that he got when he was 19 are not going to obtain  when you are in your third full year in the big leagues.

Remember, no manager would do this — it’s dramatic, unequivocal and got national attention — unless 1) the player involved had a history of similar behavior, 2) the organization supported the move and the manager knew that he would get full backing and 3) the team had been “refreshed” on the need to run balls out.

Consolation for Bryce: His beloved Heat and Yankees won yesterday.

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Open thread, 4/20, #Braves vs. Al Sharptons

When you win the first two games of any series, especially on the road, the third is just gravy. At worst, the Braves will come home 12-6, and who would’ve predicted that?

David Hale may be making his last start for awhile, but he could end up playing a pivotal role on the club if the bullpen problems persist. I’m hopeful Carpenter will straighten things out, but he’s been pretty awful so far.

And did you hear about Bryce Borasbot? Seems the conservative hero has become a liberal after Matt Williams pulled him from yesterday’s  game for not hustling. Good for Williams, though his decision came under fire from the usual suspects.

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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, 4/16, #Braves vs. the Lawrence Bros.

The Braves’ 4th best starter, thus far, takes on a pitcher who has seemingly dominated the Braves like few before him. But despite a ridiculous ratio of 113 strikeouts and seven walks in 99-2/3 IP. Cliff Lee is just 7-6 lifetime against the good guys. He’s struggled in 2014, giving up a league-high 29 hits in 18 IP, so don’t be surprised if Braves batters reach double figures in strikeouts and hits. I suspect we’ll see Andrelton’s first K, but Gattis’ first walk will probably have to wait.  

All eyes will be on Kimbrel, if he’s needed. The season hangs on the health of his shoulder.

The line-up:

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

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

GAME CANCELED, NO MAKE-UP DATE SET. HALE WILL BE SKIPPED IN ROTATION, TEHERAN vs. LEE ON WED. 

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

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.