Ramblings about the Braves by True Braves Fans
I finally have something to write about. I was at tonight’s game, and I must say that Bobby Cox made a horrible move in the bottom of the ninth.
The Braves were down 5-2, bases loaded, 2 outs, Brian McCann is due up. Since Billy Wagner, a left hander, was pitching, Cox sent in Todd Pratt to hit instead. I don’t remember if it only took 3 pitches or not, but Todd Pratt struck out looking.
Now I will grant you the fact that Brian McCann is not hitting very well against lefties at the moment, but he has shown he can handle left handed pitching. There is no reason McCann should have been taken out of the game at that point.
I have always thought Cox goes with the lefty vs righty rule way too much. How many times has he lifted a hot hitter just because of who is pitching? How many times has he made a left hander that is more effective against righties his left handed specialist out of the bullpen?
Cox’s bonehead move ruined an otherwise awesome game. The pregame consisted of the Navy Leap Frogs parachuting into the stadium. That was followed by a fly over by the Blue Angels after the national anthem. The Budweiser Clydesdales did a lap around the field between one of the middle innings too. On top of all that we were able to stay at out table in the 755 club the entire game, which is way longer than the 90 minute limit.
While we are talking about things that upset me, Fox (who bought Turner South) has announced that Bob Rathbun and Jeff Torborg will be announcing the games on Turner South as well as FSN South. While Jeff Torborg is many times better than his predecessor, Tom Paciorek, he is still leaves a lot to be desired. I will admit though that he isn’t near as bad with his name dropping on FSN South as he was with Fox last year.
And, my last topic of disgust is with the possible future owners of the Braves. Liberty Media, another large corporation, is in talks to acquire the Braves from Time Warner in exchange for cash and Time Warner stock. If Liberty Media sells its Time Warner stock back in exchange for Time Warner assets, they don’t have to pay near as much in taxes. That is the only reason they want to buy the Braves. Allow me to be political for a moment7: this is one reason I support the Fair Tax. (which is our spotlight item at the moment, even though its not baseball related)
Sorry I haven’t made a post recently. Life is pretty hectic because I am in the process of buying a house. Once things settle down I will be back and blogging more.
I also haven’t found that much to blog about lately. I think its a waste of time to just rehash the news you can read anywhere else, so I only like to write if I have a thought on something, or want to give my take on something that happened in a game or that was on the news.
On that note, until things settle down here, anyone interested in possibly being a guest blogger? If so shoot me an email and we will discuss it.
I know its been a few days since my last entry, but I like to make sure I am ready and will write a quality blog. This blog is all about quality over quantity.
I went to the home opener on Monday. It was a great game and its always fun to be there for opening day. I am a bit upset though at one thing. The Braves no longer have the Bravo Club. This was their fan rewards program where you got points for every game you attended, and at certain point levels got prizes like a poster or a pennant or something. Nothing special, but neat things all the same. You could also win random awards, which were really cool things like 755 club passes or getting to play the giant drum.
Anyway, the Bravo Club is no longer. The explanation I was given is that Publix, who sponsored the Bravo Club, decided they wanted to sponsor fireworks every Friday night instead. I personally think fireworks every week aren’t near as cool as the Bravo Club.
I also don’t fully buy that explanation. The Braves could have found another sponsor for the Bravo Club if they wanted to keep it going. I personally would be interested in starting a campaign to get the Bravo Club back. Would anyone else be interested?
Now for a few news items:
I am sure you know about all these unless you have been living under a rock. As always, you can get more details at The Braves Board.
Chipper Jones was placed on the 15 day DL with a sprained knee and ankle. He is not expected to miss more than 15 days. Wilson Betemit will play 3rd base in his place. Tony Pena, who can play any position in the infield, but is mainly a SS/3B was called up to take his place on the roster.
Well folks, I have to admit I’m a little worried. No, not about the shaky pitching from our starters, that will work itself out fine. John Thomson is back in the rotation, John Smoltz and Tim Hudson will be just fine, and Jorge Sosa and Horacio Ramirez will either shape or end up doing something else (be it out of the bullpen, in AAA, or on another team).
I’ll admit the past few games have not been pretty, but when is the last time the Braves have looked good in the first few weeks? The season is bright: Edgar Renteria is playing like he did with the Cardinals, not like he did last year with the Red Sox. Brian McCann seems to be taking well to his position as catcher number one, and our bench has been looking good as well. The one young guy that hasn’t looked great yet is Jeff Francoeur, and I don’t think anyone is really worried about him not making a big impact this season.
No, the reason I am worried is the post-season predictions being made by the press. The Braves have never been given respect for the string of division titles they have won. Every year when the baseball season begins the Braves are lucky to get picked for the wild card. Normally they are chosen to finish 2nd and miss the wild card, sometimes even 3rd or 4th.
Not this year. Even after the Mets have made dramatic improvements, ESPN The Magazine picked the Braves to win the NL East. The ESPN Expert Predictions are even more dramatic. 12 of the 19 writers picked the Braves to win the NL East. Peter Gammons, who two years ago predicted the Braves would finish 4th ahead of the Expos, even picked the Braves to win the NL East. The writers that didn’t pick the Braves to win the NL East did pick them to win the wild card. This means that all 19 of them picked the Braves to make it to the post-season. Granted only 3 of them picked the Braves to make the World Series (and none of them picked the Braves to win it) but this is still big.
Now to be honest, I am not superstitious, so I don’t think that the predictions made by others are going to affect the outcome of the season. I do wonder though what caused this to happen? I mean, the Braves have started seasons before with better teams and a worst fate was expected of them. I think the reason the Braves are getting more respect this season is because of what they did last year. On the surface it was like any other season. Win a division title only to make an early exit in the playoffs. The season was anything but normal though. Bobby Cox finally was able to prove that he is the reason for the Braves success. In the past its always been easy to give credit to the great pitching. Last year the Braves played so many rookies that the driving force behind the team was finally able to shine through.
I will admit that I never truly gave Bobby Cox the credit he deserved until last season. I always knew he was a great manager, but until last year I did not know how great he really was. I think the same can be said for many sports fans and writers out there as well. I think this is the reason so many are finally predicting the Braves will make the post-season. Its because they know the Braves don’t win just because they have good players; they don’t win just because they won the year before. They win because those good players are being coached to carry on a winning tradition by one of the greatest managers ever: Bobby Cox.
Now for a recap of other goings on this week. If you want more details on any of these, check out the news section of The Braves Board.
Horacio Ramirez left Wednesday’s game with a pulled hamstring. Thursday he was placed on the DL and Ken Ray was called up from AAA to take his place on the roster. Ray will pitch out of the bullpen and John Thomson will take Ramirez’ place in the rotation. Blaine Boyer was optioned to AAA and Joey Devine was called up to take his place.
Sorry for the delay writing about opening day. I wasn’t able to watch the game live because I was at work, but I did catch the replay (at least most of it) that evening. Before I talk about the game, I want to point out what a horrible job FSN did on the rebroadcast.
First of all, I understand the need to skip ahead because of time constraints, but don’t show 3 minutes of commercials, announce you are skipping ahead, and then show 3 more minutes. Also, the boring 1-2-3 inning is a good one to skip, not the inning in which Andruw Jones hits a homerun.
Okay, the game itself. First of all, I never put much weight into what happenings opening day. With the extra levels of emotion and excitement most players will find their games a little off. I think tonight’s game will mean much more.
The good news of yesterdays game was that we scored 11 runs. The bad news is that the Dodgers scored 10 runs most of them against the revolving door of the bullpen. First let me say that I am not worried about Tim Hudson’s lackluster performance. I think its a safe bet he will be a more effective pitcher this season than that. Remember the disaster of a game John Smoltz pitched last year on opening day.
Now, the bullpen is another story. I don’t think you can really judge them off yesterday’s performance because of the factors I mentioned above. However, the bullpen is going to be an area I am weary of until proven otherwise. Given the good work they did the majority of the spring, I have a feeling it wont be long until my confidence is restored in the Braves’ bullpen.
I think there were more positives than negatives in yesterday’s game, and I think the positives are a sign of an exciting season yet to come.
Well the rosters are set, and my prediction was correct, James Jurries is headed back to AAA and Brian Jordan is the backup first baseman. I wonder how many times Jordan is going to have to strike out or hit into an inning ending double play during a key late inning pinch hit appearance before Jurries gets called back up?
Sadly, I don’t think Jurries has any chance of a call-up unless Jordan goes on the DL. Jordan will not be cut or traded no matter how poorly he performs. I really hope I end up eating my words and Jordan proves very valuable off the bench, but I have a feeling that is not going to be the case.
The article says that Jurries was visibly upset that he did not make the team, and I don’t blame him. Not only did he have an awesome spring, but his numbers were all around better than the person that made the team in his place.
On another note, John Thomson is beginning the year in the bullpen. I think he is going to be very effective in that role and predict it wont be long before he ends up in the closers role (provided he doesn’t end up back in the starting rotation)
I was sad to see that Joey Devine will start the year in AAA because I know he had a great spring, but I haven’t followed the bullpen closely enough to know if he deserved it above anyone else. Unlike the situation with Jordan though, the Braves will be much more willing to send a poorly performing pitcher down to AAA, trade him away, or release him. I expect to see Devine back up pretty soon.
Finally, an update on why someone from the Braves front office called me. I knew it wasn’t going to be anything important, but I was a bit let down to find out it was just to someone calling to make sure I knew about all the different ticket packages they had available this year. Oh well, I am sure once they discover this blog they will be calling back to offer me a coaching position. Just kidding!