Archive for the 'Braves' Category

Like 1991 all over again

It’s been five years since the Braves have been to the postseason. Provided that they take care of their own business this weekend against a Phillies team expected to rest some of their starters, Atlanta will be back in the postseason as the wild card with a NLDS matchup against the Giants being a good possibility.

Many of us at TGT have fond memories of when the Braves’ run began in 1991. Back then, with the Braves playing in the NL West, it wasn’t unusual to be on pins and needles seeing if the Braves could pull out a win and then anxiously awaiting the results of the Dodgers’ game out on the west coast. There were many a dreary eye the next day as many stayed up late hoping for a Dodger loss.

We’ve seen the exact same thing this week. The Braves are now 1 1/2 games in the wild card lead following a sweep of the Marlins and the Padres losing 2 of 3 games to the Cubs. Each night after the Braves win, many fans either stayed up to cheer for a Padres loss or have done like me and check the Padres game result on their phone when I wake up each morning.

Isn’t pennant fever great?

Lugnut Dawg


Jeff Francouer Has A Weak Arm

I was out of pocket yesterday so I couldn’t relay this story. 

Some college buddies and I met up at the Ted on Monday evening and watched the Braves take Game 1 against the hated Mets.  We saw some great action.  Jurrjens fanned 8.  Wagner came in and shut it down.  Some solid two out hitting was on display, and Jason Heyward and Brain McCann each hit homers.  A great time.

Being 2-for-1, we were able to get some really good seats in the lower level along the third base line.  Towards the end of the game, we moved down to right on the field. 

It was refreshing to hear Jeff Francouer get booed.  I have made my dislike for him very obvious.   During the 4th inning or so, someone threw a Coke bottle on the field to hit Francouer.  Now there is no need for that.  But, once Jeff got time to be called, he tried to be a bad dude and throw the bottle back in the stands.  He missed and it fell short of the wall.  HOW EMBARRASSING. 

We told that whiney brat Francouer what we thought of him.  I don’t know if he could hear us, but I would like to think that he could have heard me yell “he should have stuck to football to help lead Clemson to another 7-5 season” (Buypropertyucheedawg  told me that, if I heckle, I need to be more concise). 

FYI Braves fans…strike up a conversation with the security guards.  We had some guys near us who looked like Secret Service Agents with their shades on.  They were big, mean looking dudes.  I wouldn’t mess with them.  However, they thought our insults hurled at Frenchy were funny and got to talking to us, so I asked this hypothetical question: If I were to run out on the field to tackle Francouer , how long of a head start would he give me? I asked for five seconds.  He advised me not to do that.  I obliged.  He went on to say that they get paid more if they have to tackle someone, so these guys have an incentive to whoop somebody. 

Speaking of Frenchy, it seems like that prima donna is getting traded to the Rangers.  He underwhelmed with the Braves; he was no good for the Mets.  Maybe he can get along in Texas and their coke head manager.  Seriously-how bad was their outfield to begin with? 


Braves Shake Things up at Deadline

Goodbye Jesse Chavez and Gregor Blanco; welcome Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.

This seems like it will be a nice deal for the Braves. We’re strengthening our already deep bullpen with the hard-throwing Farnsworth (a former Brave, btw) and adding much-needed OF support. Ankiel has not played much this year, but appears to be geared up and ready to go, having played fairly well the past 8 games after a long layoff recovering from injury.

I liked Jesse Chavez alot, but I think Farnsworth will be an even greater asset. You’ve got to think Ankiel will get a shot at CF immediately. Our OF should see a pretty quick boost in offensive production with his arrival.

For what it’s worth, Farnsworth will wear #43 and Ankiel will don the #28 jersey.

Glad Wren didn’t sit on the sidelines. Looks like we’re at least giving it an effort to gear up for October!


Braves On The Move

I knew Frank Wren wanted to be active this year. However, I did not see THIS coming.

2 thoughts:

1) Yunel Escobar has had the most potential of any SS in the league not named Han-Ram or Reyes the past 5 years. However, that potential has yet to play out on the field. I do think Yunel is one of the smoothest defensive shortstops in the game, but he has been a disappointment at the plate. Going a step further, his attitude is terrible, and he is not always a great teammate.

2) My first instinct was “What”!?! However, Frank Wren has earned a pass with me, at least temporarily, due to the success of his decisions so far this year. And to be honest, I don’t know anything about the 2 minor leaguers we’re getting. Plus, losing Jo-Jo isn’t really that big of a deal.

I realize that we want to win and win now for Bobby, and I don’t blame anyone for that. I’d trade a Championship this year than a few pennant runs in the next few if it meant Bobby went out on top. I think Gonzalez helps make that a better possibility. There’s no question that he is better right now than Yunel is. And who knows, maybe Yunel never matures into that player he could have been.

It’s not the trade I expected, but I am glad that the Braves are being active and not sitting on the sidelines. Welcome aboard, Alex!


Braves Midseason Update: All Stars, Clutch Play, and Mea Culpa

As of today, the Braves sit 3 games ahead of the Mets and 5.5 games ahead of the Phillies.  This weekend, the Braves trot out Hanson, Hudson and Lowe, so the prospect of coming out of the Big Apple with another series win is very good!  This could also give the Braves the opportunity to have the largest division lead in baseball. 

The Braves are well represented in the 2010 Midsummer Classic.  5 All Star selections is the most for the Braves since 2003, when 7 good guys were chosen.  Jason Heyward (who will more than likely not play), Brain McCann, Tim Hudson, Martin Prado and Omar Infante have all had tremendous seasons and will represent Atlanta well.

All the selections have good stories.  For McCann, the home town boy who will undoubtedly take over as the Clubhouse leader when Chipper retires, it is his 5th selection in 5 major league seasons.  Hudson makes his 3rd career appearance, but first since 2004 with Oakland.  He has been a great story for Atlanta.  A local guy also, Tim and his wife Kim have undertaken many charities in Atlanta and have done a great job of giving back to the community.  He is having a tremendous come back season from his Tommy John surgery, ranking 6th in the NL in ERA, posting a 2.44 ERA. 

We all know about the man child Jason Heyward and his stellar rookie year.  When he gets healthy, he will provide a jolt to the Braves offense that has slowed down the last couple weeks of June.  He leads all Rookies in HR and RBI.

Martin Prado has had an outstanding year.  He leads the NL in batting average. He has also shown his power stroke, hitting 10 HRs.  This has been a pleasant boost.  I heard Don Sutton interview him Wednesday during 680 The Fan Braves’ Clubhouse report, and to hear a humble young guy who is close to his momma makes you want to root for him even more.  He is the epitome of a team player, waiting his turn last year behind Kelly Johnson.  Once he got his opportunity when Kelly went down with injury, he has definitely made the most of his chance to shine.  

Omar Infante was chosen with some controversy, but if Charlie Manuel was tasked with picking a “Utility” player, Infante is as good as any.  He can play practically anywhere on the field, and bats .300.  Players like Infante are an invaluable resource.

The most remarkable thing about this ballclub is their DESIRE to win.  This team, around this same time two years ago, was staggeringly bad in one run games and had its worst season since 1990 and when they started the unprecedented run of Division Championships.  The Braves were 5-21 in one run games!  

This year, there is a desire to win.  The Braves are second in the NL with 156 runs after the 7th inning, and are tied with the Reds for 15 last at bat wins.  This ballclub is finding ways to win the close games, something that has plagued the franchise since its last postseason appearance in 2005. 

I thought the Braves would get into the postseason and make some noise, but do so via a Wild Card Berth.  They seemed poised to not only win the NL East, but could also have the best record in all baseball.

Mea Culpa, Frank Wren*

I have had some not nice things to say about Braves General Manager Frank Wren early this season and during spring training.  Last December, dishing away one of the best pitchers in baseball and signing a slugger who may or may not have been on the juice and was coming off a second injury ridden season in three years did not sit well with me.

Well, I was incorrect about my above criticisms.  Wren has made shrewd moves to assemble a talented team.  Though there are still some moves that could be made, notably getting another bat, the team assembled now seems good enough to win all the marbles. 

Though I am still not real sure about Frank Wren, and I stand by my earlier criticisms, he has proven why he is the General Manager of a professional baseball team and why I write a blog as a hobby.


*That was for you, Reptillicide


Braves Review: Summertime Feels Right

It is said that history repeats itself.  If that’s the case, we have just relived 1991, at least in the baseball world.

In May the Braves went from worst to first, and did so in commanding fashion.   This, in baseball’s toughest division.   To the dozen or so readers who’ve missed a review last week, please don’t think we’ve been ignoring you or the Braves.  Memorial Day being a holiday messed things up for us.  Then the Braves swept the Phillies and took Game 1 against the Dodgers; Ucheedawg suggested I wait until the Braves lose a game as not to jinx the team’s streak.  I thought of this exchange from Bull Durham being appropriate:

Crash Davis: I never told him to stay out of your bed.
Annie Savoy: You most certainly did.
Crash Davis: I never told him to stay out of your bed.
Annie Savoy: Yes you did.
Crash Davis: I told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak.
Annie Savoy: Oh fine.
Crash Davis: You know why? Because they don’t – -they don’t happen very often.
Annie Savoy: Right.
Crash Davis: If you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear, then you ARE! And you should know that!

So, I would like to think my silence on the Braves helped them win 9 games in a row.  You’re welcome.

Pundits say to wait until Memorial Day to size up the team’s situation.   The Braves are sitting pretty good right now on top of the NL East.  As good as things are, we know that baseball is a long season.  The proverbial well could run dry, but right now things are looking good.  The great streak that the Braves went on in May, going 20-8 (.714) completely washed away April. Nothing that happened in April matters anymore. 

Reading some of the AJC hacks, they will try and belittle this streak.  The Braves had series with the Pirates (twice), Cubs, Marlins, Diamondbacks and Brewers.  Yes, those are some of the worst teams in baseball.  But that shouldn’t be taken as a negative; if the Braves stunk it up against the bad teams then that would be bad.  If the Braves are going to make a postseason run, they must beat up on the bad teams.  Which they did.

You could nit-pick and say the Braves were able to sweep the Phillies without facing Doc Halladay.  I say the Braves made the most of the opportunities presented.

Martin Prado leads the NL in batting average.  Troy Glaus is leading the way in RBI with 44, and the J-Hey Kid is not far behind with 39.  Just look how the team has  improved from one month to the next:

  April NL Rank  May NL Rank
R 85 14 163 1
HR 15 15 27 7
RBI 78 15 157 2
Avg. .227 16 .279 2

I was pretty hard on the team in April, but in all fairness, I had a really good reason.  Look at those numbers.  Those aren’t just bad, they’re really bad.  Bad in epic proportions.   

All along the month of April, I said  that if the Braves can start to hit, with the pitching they have, they will be a hard ballclub to beat.  Bobby has the lineup fixed, Glaus is absolutely killing it, Prado continues to hit well, McCann can see now and Chipper is, well…Chipper is drawing a lot of walks!

A quick note about Chipper:   a swollen ring finger?  Come on.  

The Braves knocked off division leader Philadelphia and took two against the Dodgers.  Thae Dodger series reminded me when the Joker said “… an unstoppable force meets an immovable object” from The Dark Knight.  The hottest teams squared off and the Braves split the series, losing two close games.   Don Sutton said yesterday on the radio that teams aim to play .500 on the road and win pennants at home.

The schedule now gets to be a booger bear.   After playing the streaky Diamondbacks again out West, the Braves gear up for interleague play for the next two weeks.  The only easy series in that mix is the one with the Royals.  The Twins, Rays , Tigers and White Sox look to be very tough. 

Sweet Georgia Peaches are now abundant.   Now that the rain has passed through, the heat and humidity will come in on cue.  Summertime in the south feels right again with the Braves at the top of the National League standings. 


Tom Glavine to have number retired

Braves great Tom Glavine is having his number 47 retired this year on August 6.  Last year, Greg Maddux had his 31 retired in a ceremony before a Mets game.  I went to that game to see the ceremony, and it was very cool.

I was always a bigger Maddux fan growing up, although a strong case could be made that Glavine is the #2 all time Brave behind Hank Aaron.  He was the MVP of the only World Series title and was chiefly responisble for the organization’s turn around in the early 1990s. 

He lost several points with me when he turned his back on Atlanta and went to the Mets.  I am still angry at him for leaving for the money: of all teams to go to, he had to go to the Mets.   It would be like Mark Richt going to coach at Florida.  

Despite my anger and resentment towards Glavine for leaving, I appreciate his contributions to the Braves and if I didn’t have to go to a stupid wedding rehersal dinner that Friday night, I would be in Atlanta to see the ceremony.

The ceremony honoring Maddux last year was very cool.  Don Sutton was the MC and fellow Braves Hall of Fame Members were on stage.  The whole team came out of the dugout and stood around the portable stage.  Even better, Jurrjens pitche a gem against the hated Mets.  I hope the same special moment can happen for Glavine.

We’ve played this before, but in honor of this announcement (with Smoltz to come next year I am sure), here is the best Nike commerical of all time:

Come on, Alice!