Driving through the hills of north Alabama yesterday, presumably thousands of other listeners and I were treated to a rant from Braves radio play-by-play man Jim Powell. Of course, Powell is relentlessly positive, except when the Braves blow a lead to go to 0-5. In this case he was indignant about two egregious affronts to decency:
- a bad third-strike call on Markakis that indeed altered the course of the game. As he is wont to do when the Braves get a bad call or any rotten piece of luck, our broadcaster gnawed on this like a Jack Russell puppy. He wouldn’t let it go. Never mind the pop-up that Stubbs let fall in center field, the latest Braves’ defensive blunder to trigger a game-losing rally.
- Matheny’s decision to leave his closer, Rosenthal, in to pitch the bottom of the ninth despite the Redbirds’ outburst, or walkfest, in the top of the inning that turned a close game into a rout. Powell was convinced that the Cardinals had left Rosenthal in solely to pick up a save. “All for a stat,” the guardian of baseball morals droned. (Guess he’s the Brian McCann of the booth.) Then his sidekick, the formerly insightful Hall of Famer Don Sutton, opined that this foolishness was mostly the fault of baseball writers who harp on statistics. It should be only about winning today’s game and tomorrow’s game, Jim insisted, and not about getting “a stat” for one of your players. Save it, Jim. Even if Matheny did leave his closer in because he wanted him to get a save, who gives a damn? That’s not insulting to the Braves. The team Powell is paid to cover was authoring yet another in a lengthening dirge of bed-shittings. And all Powell can do is bitch about the other team soiling the game by letting a guy pitch another inning.
OK. My rant about Powell’s rant is over.
Tonight we’ll see if Bud Norris can put up another good game. His first start was a beaut, and he deserved much better than being undone by more shoddy Braves’ defense. The good news is we’ll see a sliver of the future as Mallex Smith is leading off and playing center field. The bad news is he and his mates will face Max Scherzer. He’s really good.
We never know what can happen in a single baseball game. But odds are against Bud pitching well again, the Braves (hitting .198 as a team) scoring, let’s say, 4 or 5 runs against Scherzer, and catching the ball all night. Let’s roll the ball out anyway and see what happens. We gotta win one sooner or later, right?
The lineup: Smith, Markakis, Freddie, Garcia, Pierzynski, Olivera, Aybar, Peterson, Bud.