Fox tone deaf in selecting McCarver’s replacement

I like Harold Reynolds. He’s affable — a little too affable, according to some female ESPN employees — and obviously loves the game.

But insightful he’s not, and if you’ve ever watched his MLB Network show with Brian Kenny you know he makes an awful case for “old school” baseball thought (though mostly he seems annoyed by his co-host, which is perfectly understandable).

Despite all that, HR has reportedly emerged as the front-runner to replace Tim McCarver and may already have the job. We’ve come to expect little from Fox’s baseball broadcasts, so it’s no surprise they went the predictable route. Still, I sort of expected Smoltzie would get the nod. He’s a significantly better analyst and, probably because he was a star, lacks the starfucking instinct that often clouds HR’s judgment. Curt Schilling would’ve also been a smart choice.

I would select a different ex-Brave and another former Red Sox hurler: Chipper and Pedro. The latter acquitted himself nicely on TBS’ studio show this postseason and, paired with Chipper, would provide the “Odd Couple” component necessary to make a three-man booth work.

(We’re stuck with Joe Buck, though I don’t think he’s that bad and, of the baseball legacies, is far more accomplished than Chip or Thom.)

Chipper would bring the candor, as we all know. If he’s not afraid to go on a local radio station and pick the home team to lose, he’s unlikely to hold back on a national telecast.

Like Pedro, Chipper is a student of the game. The two of them would teach viewers a thing or two about pitching and hitting; HR, meanwhile, will be just another receptacle of baseball cliches.

I guess we should be thankful Fox didn’t promote Erin Andrews to the booth.

Chipper on the state of the Braves

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of today’s AJC, which features a long Q & A with Chipper  (you can read it online if you have a digital subscription).

I don’t mind strikeouts either. I mind situational strikeouts. If you strike out 100 times, but your strikeouts are with two outs and nobody on base, those don’t bother me. Striking out bothers me when you’ve got guys on base and you’re making unproductive outs. When you’re leading off innings, that’s when it bothers me. There are times when you’re playing this game that you cannot strikeout, can’t. And those unproductive outs have hurt this team.

They’ve got a six-game lead (through Tuesday). They’re doing plenty of things right. They have a very subpar first-half start by the Washington Nationals to thank for that. But I still I worry about this team come crunch time late September, October when we’re talking playoff baseball. While I like the makeup of the club and I think it’s an exciting club, are they going to be able to make contact when they absolutely have to have it, against a premier pitcher. Matt Cain. (Stephen) Strasburg. Clayton Kershaw. …

We also learn that Greg Walker turned to Chipper for advice in getting B.J. on track.

I think sometimes we get caught up in the physical and we forget the mental. You can change someone’s mechanics by getting them to think more mental about each and every at-bat. If a guy is doing something mechanically wrong that he can’t feel, maybe you say, “Well, think about driving the ball through the wall as opposed to hitting the ball over the wall.” … Now B.J.’s a little more down and through and you’re starting to see his contact point pick up. You’re starting to see him center more balls and starting to see the average come up.


The Hammer meets Mad Dog x 2

The two best games by an Atlanta Brave belong to one player — not Hank or Mad Dog, but a good ole’ boy with a  career 4.07 ERA.

They occurred during the Braves’ inaugural season in Atlanta, one in which Tony Cloninger would lead all NL pitchers with 116 BB. Overall, a forgettable year, save for those two games that are the envy of every Brave. Hell, Babe Ruth would be jealous.

The Braves tallied 17 runs in each. Of the 34 runs scored, 14 were driven in by Cloninger.

You’ve probably read about the second of those contests. Cloninger set three records that afternoon in San Fran, becoming the first National League player to hit two grand slams in a game and the only pitcher ever to do so. And no pitcher has ever driven in 9 RBI in a game, as Cloninger did that day.

The first game, roughly three weeks earlier, previewed what was to come. Cloninger, who started the night with a .121 BA, collected three hits, including two homers, driving in 5. He didn’t pitch badly, either, going the distance, just as he would on July 3.

To sum up:

10 AB, 4 homers, 6 hits, 14 RBI

18 IP, 12 HA, 4 ER, 2 wins