"Mmmmm...that's good Brave!"

Monday, October 10, 2005


See you in April. Go Dogs!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The View from Bitter Non-Contenders

Ever wonder what the fans of teams that quit playing after the first week of October think of our Braves? Here's a peek at one of my favorite non-Braves sites:

Leave 'em some comments. Metstradamus loves to hear from the 'Matic. (Notice his link to our blog under his enemies list.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Back In Business

That's more like it. The playoffs are always sphincter time for Braves fans, conditioned by years of postseason failure. So it was cathartic to see us grab a game by the throat (against Clemens, no less), and not let go. There were ominous beginnings -- Smoltz threw 25 pitches in the first inning, and his intentional walk to Palmeiro after having him down 1-2 seemed almost a concession. But Smoltzie escaped and went on to gut out seven innnings in which his discomfort became increasingly obvious. The Astros propensity for swinging at the first pitch worked in his favor.

Brian McCann! It's his world tonight. 21 years old, and he goes deep against the greatest pitcher since Walter Johnson, erasing an Astros lead that seemed destined to hold up. Johnny who? Nothing against Estrada, but he just can't hit a ball that hard. Add in Langerhans' two hits, and the decision to start Jordan and Estrada in Game 1 -- platoon advantage and all -- seems like a waste of two lineup spots.

It was still a game in the seventh inning, Braves up 5-1, when Chris Burke hit a ringing double with two outs that looked for all the world like a home run. Biggio came up against an obviously tiring Smoltz and hit a rocket to third. Defying his poor defensive rep, Chipper snared it and barely threw out Biggio to end the inning. Reminded me of Walt Weiss against these same Astros in '99. Not as big a situation, but still. Note to Blood N' Guts Biggio -- NEVER SLIDE INTO FIRST BASE!

The Braves scored two in the seventh to make it 7-1, allowing Cox to bring in Reitsma, whose leash was assuredly short. Reitsma rewarded his faith with a scoreless eighth, and Farnsworth closed it out. On to Houston!

UPDATE: Historical note -- the matchup of Clemens (43) and Smoltz (38) was the oldest in postseason history, besting Jamie Moyer and Chuck Finley (combined 77) in 2001.

Mind-Numbingly Predictable - Braves lose 10-5

This recap will be tinted with just a hint of anger because M Norman is tired of seeing the same crap over and over again from the Braves in a postseason game. Same old formula - crappy starting pitching. I know the bullpen also blew up, but it was Hudson's poor performance that lost us this game. And it could have been worse: Jordan made a sensational catch on an Adam Everett blast (M Norman thinks that sounds funny - "...Adam Everett blast...") that probably would have been a 2-R homer, and Hudson was the beneficiary of three double plays to get him out of sticky innings. So blame Reitsma or Foster all you want, but this was a bad pitching performance from our "co-ace," who has hardly resembled anything but a #3 or #4 starter since the All-Star break.

The hitting was also predictable. If we weren't jacking HRs, we really weren't threatening to score, the late "rally" withstanding. Still, though, the Braves did get three runs off of a red-hot Pettite, but the pitching couldn't keep us in it. It s just the same old story.

In assessing the task before us - facing Clemens and Oswalt - they have pitched in back-to-back games 14 times this season and only once did both of them lose, on July 16-17 against the Cardinals. As for tonight's starter, Clemens has been incredible this year. Hudson gave up five runs last night. Clemens has given up five runs exactly twice this season in 31 starts. He has given up three or more runs exactly five times this season. Smoltz will have to pitch until his arm falls off tonight.

M Norman has two postives to report from last night. M Norman correctly predicted a victorious Saw, and second, in the top of the 8th when they brought Reitsma in and the score was 5-3, M Norman correctly predicted the score would be 10-3 by inning's end. Mind-numbingly predictable.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Playoff Time!

You know, I just can't bring myself to do position-by-position comparisons. Three reasons -- first, everybody else does it, and you've probably trolled those hoity-toity websites already for their thumbnail popcorn. Second, it's usually obvious who's better at each position, and Brave-O-Matic respects your intellect enough not to waste your time. Third, it's a useless exercise -- with the exception of starting pitchers, head-to-head positional matchups don't have anything to do with how the game is played. Giles and Biggio aren't defending each other in the low post.

Instead, I'll rely on another hoary journalistic technique -- welcoming Houstonians to our fair city. I think you'll find the traffic jams to your liking, but if not, please make use of our mass transit system. Unlike yours, people aren't killed on a daily basis!

You'll need it, too, because the scene around Turner Field is a miracle of urban planning -- right smack in the middle of 4 million people, yet there's nowhere to eat, no place to stay, and nothing to do. Sure, you could walk the mile and a half to famous Underground Atlanta. If you do, please post here and tell us what it's like -- we have no idea!

Pick up a newspaper while you're here. You'll be relieved to discover that Republicans aren't the only political party capable of corrupt ineptitude. The AJC does now feature daily Sudoku puzzles, with which you can amuse yourself during Kiss Cam and the periodic PA exhortations to MAKE SOME NOISE!! We feature a notoriously laid back crowd, you see. Fourteen years of unparalleled excellence will do that sometimes.

Pre-Game Prep

It's important to warm up before a big game. Here's some required reading to get you started hating Game 2 starter, 78 year-old Roger Clemens.

Feckless Play-Off Predictions

Today's the day. The second season begins at 1:00 in St. Louis. Now seems like the time to offer up our predictions. First the nonsense of the AL, then the league that plays real baseball.

BoSox vs. ChiSox. I pick the Sox. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week Oh, but seriously folks... Chicago. The much better pitching wins out for me here. The ChiSox surrendered 1.1 fewer runs per game than Boston this season. That's huge. Boston wins with big hitting (best batting average in baseball), but won't get it here.

Yankees vs. Angels. Yankees. Just cause they are so evil that I know they'll win it.

St. Louis vs. San Diego. Are they really going to play this one? Seriously? I hear the Cards are going to rest their starters, so they'll be fresh for the NLCS, when they play...........

Braves vs. Astros. The Braves. There, I said it. I'm not sure I really believe it, but I do think that the Braves have the better roster top-to-bottom. Better batting average, better gloves, better baserunning. The starters for Houston are better, but its not like our starting rotation is bad. (That's our bullpen.) I expect low scoring games. We're looking to Andruw, Chipper, Franoeur or Julio for clutch hits. They hope for Bagwell to do something big. I say Braves get it done.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fearless Roster Predictions

Okay, all the results are in, and this is one man's best guess at a playoff roster:

C -- Estrada, McCann
1B -- LaRoche, Julio
2B -- Giles, Orr
SS -- Furcal
3B -- Chipper, Betemit
OF -- Langerhans, Andruw, Francoeur, Hollandsworth, Jordan

SP -- Hudson (1) Smoltz (2) Sosa (3) Thomson (4) Hudson (5)
RP -- Ramirez, Farnsworth, Reitsma, Brower, Foster, McBride, Devine

That's right, Joey Devine will snag the last bullpen slot, it says here. It seems I had discounted his chances prematurely, as Cox pitched him in three of the last four games, and Joe Simpson said a few days ago that he still had a shot to make it. Given his sharp performance in these recent outings, along with Davies' bad outing yesterday, it looks like he's the pick.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Postseason Tryouts, Episode Two

I'm just going from the boxscore and recap on this one:

Thumbs Up

Brian Jordan. If the boxscore is to be believed, Jordan had not one but TWO outfield assists last night. And 0 for 1 with a walk counts as a positive contribution in this group.

Jim Brower and Macay McBride, who each pitched a scoreless inning (or would have, if Betemit had caught a popup he let drop with two outs in the eighth).

Thumbs Down

Todd Hollandsworth and Kelly Johnson, each given one at bat, each making an out.

Thumb In The Eye

To Bobby Cox, for putting Kolb into the game with runners on base and a two-run lead. This did not work out. Hopefully THAT will do it, but please, Bobby, feel free to throw him out there again today if you need further convincing. I have little doubt that Kolb will perform his accustomed role...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Postseason Tryout, Episode One

This weekend's games mean nothing to the team, but there are some individuals to whom they mean quite a bit. Assuming Cox's mind isn't already made up, there are bench and bullpen slots yet to be decided for the NLDS, so these last few contests should serve as last-chance tryouts for those on the bubble. Looking into the crystal ball, and assuming (perhaps wrongly) an 11-man pitching staff, they are:

Position Players (2 open slots)

Todd Hollandsworth
Kelly Johnson
Brian Jordan
Brayan Pena

Pitchers (5 open slots)

Horacio Ramirez
Blaine Boyer
John Foster
Jim Brower
Macay McBride
Kyle Davies
Dan Kolb (just kidding...making sure you're paying attention)

Since I've already posted about who might/should make the playoff roster, for the next few days I'll just concentrate on who has helped or hurt their case in each game:

Thumbs Up -- Foster. He's been our designated lefty reliever all season, so the only question is whether he's healthy enough. Two batters, two outs. The second batter, Juan Pierre, had a runner on third with two outs. Despite his struggles, Pierre is one of the last guys you want to see in that situation, as any slap hit would have scored the run. And he's a lefty, to boot. This is the exact situation that Foster will be needed for in the playoffs. He's in. Really, the pitching staff is an easy call (even the execrable Brower gets in) if Boyer can't go. If he can, looks like it'll be Brower vs. McBride for the final slot.

Thumbs Down -- Pena. Pinch hit, struck out. Hey Bobby, Orr can catch in an emergency!

Thumbs Sideways -- Jordan, KJ, Hollandsworth. Jordan managed a sac fly, but looked bad on Treanor's single, making a poor (and futile) throw to the plate, allowing Treanor to take second. KJ struck out twice, but nailed Conine at the plate. Hollandsworth managed a walk and a run. No clear winners yet, and I imagine all three will appear in both remaining games.