Tag Archives: Atlanta Braves

“The Moment I Knew”.

I feel like I’m all up in my feelings needing to play Taylor Swift songs about having to break up with someone you love because you just can’t justify or rationalize being with them any longer. And no, this isn’t about a woman. Well, kinda, I did equate the Braves to a woman once, and God that was accurate.

(Yes, this is a Taylor Swift playlist to get through today)

(Yes, this is a Taylor Swift playlist to get through today)

But I can’t with them anymore. These latest revelations are too damning, and too egregious. I have made excuse after excuse, and tried desperately to keep this fleeting love alive. I get the feeling that continuing on with the Braves is a lot like dating me. At some point, it simply becomes impossible to justify and rationalize continuing to do so. And this article, these revelations, these practices, reading those things, that was “The Moment I Knew”.

Finally, I  have reached that point and I have to love them from a distance. I wouldn’t even take free tickets to attend a game at this point, as every person in that stadium represents someone supporting what this wretched organization is doing to our beloved Braves.

I’ve dealt with a lot of losing teams in my life. 1-10 Tech in 1994, the 13 win Hawks team, my high school football team won one game my freshman and sophomore years, Bill Elliott’s 1999 & 2000 seasons, etc…. I can, although not always gracefully, handle the losing. Just care. Try. Show me you have a desire to win. Care about the fans. You know, simple stuff that really shouldn’t be that difficult. While I don’t like it, and I expect better, I’m not going to jump ship because my team stinks. I’ve never been that way, and never will be. I’ve been supporting losers my entire life in Atlanta, and really, it’s so ingrained as a part of me, I don’t know that I’d be the same without this long standing practice.

But this is beyond just losing on the field. This is being a horrible organization that makes horrible decisions on and off the field and represents itself in a way that is in no way concerned with its primary consumers, supporters, or fans. Not only are we possibly one of the worst sports teams in history, (which is fine by me, if you’re going to be bad, then be REALLY bad) there is the Hector Olivera situation, the fact that apparently we can’t keep an infield at a Major League quality, the continued employment of Fredi Gonzalez, the shady move to use public money to build an unnecessary new stadium, and now it’s being shown that we are out here fleecing tax payers all over the southeast. In other words, we epitomize everything wrong in sports today. And in many ways, we epitomize everything wrong in American business today. The Atlanta Braves are “big business” on Wall Street.

And I used “we” on purpose there. Because I don’t know when I’ll use it again as it pertains to the Atlanta Braves. I can no longer consider myself as a part of the Braves, because the Braves sure don’t consider me, or you, or any of us, a part of them. “We” is used by sports fans because we’re made to feel a part of the team, part of the organization, and even if it’s minuscule, we feel in some way our presence and our support contributes to the team’s success. These Atlanta Braves no longer do that. When they get their affairs in order, as in, a new owner, call me then. But they are now a they.

In a perfect world the shiny new money maker would be as empty as Turner Field next year, but it won’t be. The sheep will be out in masses lining the pockets of Liberty Media, while under the false pretense that Liberty gives a damn about a quality on field product, and even worse, under the false pretense they give one single shit about the fans or the communities they pillage to make their money. They’ll continue drinking the kool-aid that Liberty is just waiting for the new stadium to start spending, and then they’ll try to improve this team and quickly.

Hey, enjoy all this young talent, because like the bunch that came up at the beginning of this decade, once they’re established, they won’t be long for Atlanta. They’ll be flipped to acquire more “assets” as opposed to being paid to produce and help create a quality on field product that might actually cost Liberty Media some money to upkeep.

See, Liberty Media has figured out that in order to make profits, and to earn revenue, they don’t need to invest in the on field product at all. In fact, they hardly need to invest. They get tax paying citizens to make the investment, and then they get to reap the profits. I thought the Cobb County deal was bad, an ownership group recognizing new stadiums make money, no matter the on field product. Turns out, this is how they do business throughout the organization.

Because that’s all the Atlanta Braves are now, an asset, a part of a larger business, based halfway across the country that cares nothing about the locals that they’ve stolen from by making false promises to. This isn’t a baseball team trying to win. This isn’t a baseball team trying to make a difference in communities. Not even close. I mean, we thought the Yankees were the “Evil Empire”.

“Keep in mind, the Braves now are a fairly major real estate business as opposed to just a baseball club.”- John Malone, Chairman of Liberty Media

I will always love the Atlanta Braves fans, players, and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. But the Atlanta Braves “baseball” team as we knew it, no longer exists. It’s more machine now than baseball team, twisted and evil.

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Thanks For the Memories? Good Riddance Turner Field

I love how the Atlanta, errr, the Metro Atlanta Braves, are making 2016 about saying goodbye to Turner Field and all the “great memories” to have taken place. I mean, I get it, anything to distract ticket buyers and fans from the atrocity that is on the field, but this is just laughable.

The only people who should be saying, “Thanks for the memories”, to Turner Field are Atlanta Braves playoff opponents.

There have been 11, yes, 11 playoff series clinched at Turner Field over the 20 years it has been around. In nine of them, the Atlanta Braves watched from the home dugout as someone else celebrated on their field. Nine times they watched someone come into their house and slap them around and leave with all their valuables, and their wife. Half of the national league has celebrated winning a postseason series at Turner Field.

Seriously.

Just think about that for a minute. Half the league has won a playoff series and sprayed champagne inside a clubhouse at Turner Field. In only two decades. That’s special, folks, real special.

By comparison, there were eight playoff series clinched in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in the 90s, and the Braves were victorious in six of those.

So spare me the, “thanks for the memories” bullshit when it comes to Turner Field.

Whether it was Eric Gregg calling strikes in Cuba in game five to set up a stunning defeat to the rent-a-title Marlins to begin the Turner Field legacy, Sterling Hitchock two hitting a team that won 106 games during the regular season while your Cy Young Award winner gets shelled in an elimination game, or giving up 24 runs to the Cardinals in a trio of games after allowing the fewest in the regular season, Turner Field has been not just the culmination of disappointment, but ugly disappointment. And disappointment it all too often hosted.

There’s losing three straight at home, with a four error game in the middle of it against Arizona to look back fondly on, following that up with a game five loss at home against San Francisco.

Or maybe you prefer remembering 2003 when the Braves led the National League in runs scored by over a full run per game, only to strike out 18 times in 15 1/3 innings against Kerry Wood at Turner while totaling five hits, including just three in an elimination game as a team the Braves won 13 more games than during the season advanced to the NLCS.

If that’s not a sunny enough memory, try 2004, watching Carlos Beltran go ape shit as the Braves allow 17 hits at home in an elimination game. Though, that’s what you get when Jaret Wright is your game five starter, I suppose.

If you still haven’t had enough fun going down memory lane, I’ve saved the best for last. And I only need for words.

Brooks Conrad.

Infield Fly.

Turner Field can’t be a distant memory soon enough. Unless you’re an Atlanta Braves playoff opponent, then you’re going to kinda miss the place.

 

 

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Post-Season Performance In American Pro Sports in the 21st Century

Where does your team rank? If they’re from Atlanta, particularly if they play baseball, it’s not good.

Games/Series Won Conf Final Title Game Championships
1 LA Lakers 29 7 7 5
2 New England Patriots 21** 9 6 4
3 San Antonio Spurs 29 8 5 4
4 Miami Heat 20 6 5 3
5 San Francisco Giants 12* 4 4 3
6 Chicago Blackhawks 16 5 3 3
7 Boston Red Sox 11 5 3 3
8 St. Louis Cardinals 16* 9 4 2
9 NY Yankees 13 7 4 2
10 New Jersey Devils 16 4 4 2
11 Pittsburgh Steelers 12** 5 3 2
12 Detroit Red Wings 18 4 3 2
13 Baltimore Ravens 15******* 4 2 2
14 NY Giants 10** 3 2 2
15 LA Kings 11 3 2 2
16 Seattle Seahawks 11**** 3 3 1
17 Detroit Pistons 16 6 2 1
18 Indianapolis Colts 12***** 4 2 1
19 Boston Celtics 14 4 2 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 14 4 2 1
21 Anaheim Ducks 13 4 2 1
22 Dallas Mavericks 13 3 2 1
23 Tampa Bay Lightning 10 3 2 1
24 Philadelphia Phillies 6 3 2 1
25 Carolina Hurricanes 3 3 2 1
26 St. Louis Rams 6* 2 2 1
27 Boston Bruins 10 2 2 1
28 Green Bay Packers 9**** 3 1 1
29 Colorado Avalance 11 3 1 1
30 LA Angels 5 3 1 1
31 New Orleans Saints 7*** 2 1 1
32 Arizona Diamondbacks 4 2 1 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 2 1 1
34 Golden State Warriors 6 1 1 1
35 Miami Marlins 3 1 1 1
36 Chicago White Sox 3 1 1 1
Detroit Tigers 6 4 2 0
38 Cleveland Cavaliers 11 3 2 0
39 Brooklyn Nets 10 2 2 0
40 Texas Rangers 4 2 2 0
41 Philadelphia Eagles 10*** 5 1 0
42 Philadelphia Flyers 12 4 1 0
43 Indiana Pacers 11 4 1 0
44 San Francisco 49ers 6** 3 1 0
45 NY Rangers 10 3 1 0
46 Oklahoma City Thunder 9 3 1 0
47 Carolina Panthers 6*** 2 1 0
48 Tennessee Titans 5** 2 1 0
49 Oakland Raiders 4* 2 1 0
50 Orlando Magic 6 2 1 0
Dallas Stars 6 2 1 0
52 NY Mets 3 2 1 0
Houston Astros 3 2 1 0
Chicago Bears 3 2 1 0
55 Arizona Diamondbacks 4** 1 1 0
56 Tampa Bay Rays 3* 1 1 0
Kansas City Royals 3* 1 1 0
Denver Broncos 3* 1 1 0
59 Ottawa Senators 7 1 1 0
Vancouver Canucks 7 1 1 0
61 Philadelphia 76ers 6 1 1 0
62 Edmonton Oilers 3 1 1 0
63 Colorado Rockies 2 1 1 0
Calgary Flames 2 1 1 0
65 San Jose Sharks 12 3 0 0
66 Phoenix Suns 8 3 0 0
67 LA Dodgers 3 3 0 0
68 NY Jets 6**** 2 0 0
69 Minnesota Vikings 4** 2 0 0
70 Atlanta Falcons 3* 2 0 0
71 Montreal Canadiens 8 2 0 0
72 Buffalo Sabres 5 2 0 0
73 Seattle Mariners 2 2 0 0
74 San Diego Chargers 4*** 1 0 0
75 Baltimore Orioles 2* 1 0 0
Jacksonville Jaguars 2* 1 0 0
77 Atlanta Hawks 5 1 0 0
Chicago Bulls 5 1 0 0
Sacramento Kings 5 1 0 0
Utah Jazz 5 1 0 0
Toronto Maple Leafs 5 1 0 0
82 Memphis Grizzlies 4 1 0 0
St. Louis Blues 4 1 0 0
Minnesota Wild 4 1 0 0
85 New York Knicks 3 1 0 0
Houston Rockets 3 1 0 0
Portland Trailblazers 3 1 0 0
88 Milwaukee Bucks 2 1 0 0
Denver Nuggets 2 1 0 0
Minnesota Timberwolves 2 1 0 0
Arizona Coyotes 2 1 0 0
92 Atlanta Braves 1 1 0 0
Chicago Cubs 1 1 0 0
Milwaukee Brewers 1 1 0 0
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0 0
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0 0
Oakland A’s 1 1 0 0
98 Dallas Cowboys 2** 0 0 0
Washington Redskins 2** 0 0 0
Miami Dolphins 2** 0 0 0
101 Houston Texans 2* 0 0 0
102 Pittsburgh Pirates 1* 0 0 0
103 LA Clippers 4 0 0 0
Washington Capitals 4 0 0 0
105 Washington Wizards 3 0 0 0
106 Charlotte Hornets 2 0 0 0
Nashville Predators 2 0 0 0
108 Toronto Raptors 1 0 0 0
New Orleans Pelicans 1 0 0 0
122 Washington Nationals 0 0 0 0
122 Cincinnati Reds 0 0 0 0
122 San Diego Padres 0 0 0 0
122 Toronto Blue Jays 0 0 0 0
122 Detroit Lions 0 0 0 0
122 Cincinnati Bengals 0 0 0 0
122 Cleveland Browns 0 0 0 0
122 Buffalo Bills 0 0 0 0
122 Kansas City Chiefs 0 0 0 0
122 Florida Panthers 0 0 0 0
122 NY Islanders 0 0 0 0
122 Columbus Blue Jackets 0 0 0 0
122 Winnipeg Jets 0 0 0 0

* denotes wins in “wild card rounds”

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Just Who is my Favorite Sports Team?

Someone asked me recently, of my favorite teams, which is actually my true favorite. My immediate answer was, “Chase Elliott”. But as I sit and think about this question, and how I’d answer if asked again, I think I might reconsider. As I thought, it got me thinking, just which teams ARE my favorite. Which teams would winning a championship mean more for me? And which ones is a championship so unfathomable that perhaps, it falls down the list simply because imagining it occurring is too far fetched for me to even attempt to wrap my arms around how I’d feel. So I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’ve come up with a list, in order, of the 25 things I’d most like to see occur in sports during my lifetime.

1. Atlanta Falcons win Super Bowl- I know I said Chase Elliott was my favorite team/driver, whatever you want to call it, and he is. However, I get to watch him 30 to 36 weekends a year. He’s also young, it’s his first year in major NASCAR racing. There’s going to be plenty of time for that.

The Atlanta Falcons however, are not young. The Falcons are nearing 50 years old, and still no championship. They were instilled as my favorite team growing up because they were my dad’s favorite team. It didn’t hurt that of the stick and ball sports, football is my favorite, and it’s not close. But not only that, the Atlanta Falcons are, besides the Elliotts, the only TRUE professional team based out of Georgia, and the only one based out of Atlanta, the Dream notwithstanding. Yes, the Braves and Hawks call Atlanta home now, but they didn’t originate here.

The Atlanta Falcons are Atlanta’s and Atlanta’s alone. We share no history (though at times, pawning some of this history off on another city wouldn’t exactly stink) with another city, no records, no uniforms, no logos, no anything. They’ve always been, the ATLANTA Falcons.

The day that this team brings a championship to Atlanta is one, that truthfully, I can’t even begin to describe the way I even think I’d feel. And I know what I’d ultimately actually feel would reach far, far beyond what I can conjure up in my mind.

2. Chase Elliott win a Sprint Cup Championship- As mentioned, Elliott is my “favorite”. If this question was posed 11 years ago, I would have put Bill Elliott winning a championship at 1, the Falcons winning a Super Bowl at 2. As much as I loved the Falcons as a kid, they didn’t compare to how much I loved “Awesome Bill”. And now that his son his here? I love the Falcons, but not like I root for this kid. The investment is deep. The history is deeper. The personal meaning, deeper than both together.

Through all the ups and downs of my relationship with my father, there is one constant. An Elliott in a racecar. There’s always an Elliott that we can come together over. Whether it was reminiscing about the good ole days of Bill’s hey day, or even his not so stellar moments, or it’s talking about the incredibly bright future of his son Chase, we will always have an Elliott. And for that, nothing can replace that. And that’s not saying the Falcons aren’t a “me and dad thing”, but it’s not close to our connection to the Elliotts, as I mentioned in a post nearly four full years ago.

So the day Chase Elliott hoists that championship trophy above his head, I’ll remember being there in 1988 at Atlanta International Raceway to watch his dad hoist one, and I hope, when it happens, I’m with my dad.

3. Georgia Tech College Football National Championship- This one is one I almost dropped lower, simply because of the improbability. Not to mention, I was alive for one of these, and despite being only five years old, I actually have vivid memories of Shawn Jones and William Bell running all through Nebraska’s defense in Orlando. However, it’s that improbability that ranks it so high on the list. Everyone knows I pull for Georgia when they don’t play Tech, and because I wasn’t alive for Georgia’s national title, and because there are so many other rabid SEC fans around here, I almost put them higher than Tech on this list. Then I thought, not only does a Tech title put it in the face of THOSE SEC fans, it does it to the Georgia fans I’ve heard nothing but ridicule from for almost the last quarter century. But alas, it’s not going to happen. But I can dream, right?

4. Georgia College Football National Championship- Like I mentioned above, I almost put this above Tech winning one, but it comes in a step below. I know some Tech fans may disown me for that thought, and some may even disown me for having them here, but that’s fine. I like all my home teams. When a team from Georgia plays a team from another state, I want the local boys to whip their ass. Every. Single. Time.

Beyond that though, I love Mark Richt. He’s everything right about college football and receives far, far, FAR more flak than he deserves. Whether it’s people incredulously going on about how he’s, “lost control of the program”, or the players, or to the even more asinine arguments about his lack of a national title, he receives unjust criticism.

The national title argument in particular irks me because it’s so stupid. Because the argument is so ignorant. I’m not here to get into details about that. But, if Richt could win one in Athens, it would shut those people up. And for that reason alone, them winning a national title makes the top four.

5. Chase Elliott Winning the Daytona 500- See above for the reasoning. The Daytona 500, in many ways, is almost the equivalent to a championship, so if Chase can pull that one off, it’s going to be one very, very special day.

6. Atlanta Braves World Series- Yes, we have one. And I was plenty old enough to enjoy and appreciate it. But not as much as I’d enjoy and appreciate it now. All the World Series losses as well that have added up over the years only add to the need for a championship. Hearing it from all these teams who over the past 25 years have made the playoffs, maybe 2 times, maybe three, or even five or six, but have two World Series rings, about how much greater an organization than the Braves they are (though currently employing Fredi Gonzalez gives these claims merit) gets old. A second trophy would shut them up.

7. Chase Elliott Nationwide Championship- It might seem high, seeing as how the Nationwide Series, or Xfinity Series, or whatever it will be next year, is basically the AAA minor leagues of NASCAR. However, unlike other minor leagues, they’re on major TV every week, they’re a multi million dollar sport, and, they’re the second most popular form of motorsports in America. So it’s not your typical minor league circuit. Throw in the fact that for Chase to win one, he’d have to do so at age 18 or 19…. It’d be pretty cool. Plus, with the way sports are around here in Georgia, it might be the closest we get to a championship in the next few years, well, until Chase goes and wins one at the Cup level.

8. Georgia Tech Basketball National Title- They’ve been closer than any other team in this state over the past 15 years when it comes to winning a title, though, you could argue that the 2012 Georgia football team was pretty dadgum close as well. They actually have played for a championship in this century. Nobody else say can say that. So there’s that. But, while I love my Jackets, and am an ardent follower and supporter, basketball just isn’t there with football, NASCAR, and even baseball. Notice, I still haven’t gotten to the Hawks yet. Being a Georgia Tech fan however is hard. We’re outnumbered, and the good times are becoming fewer and farther between. Something to cheer about, period, would be nice. But if Tech is going to win something, while I’d pick baseball first, the odds are much, much better in happens on the hardwood than on the Flats.

9. Kasey Kahne Sprint Cup Championship- Kasey Kahne is here because of Bill Elliott. When Elliott retired following the 2003 season, Kasey Kahne was tabbed to be his replacement in the no. 9 car, and immediately, I became a fan. At this point, there was no sign of a future Elliott coming into the sport, so I had to find a new guy to pull for. That Kasey was a contender off the bat, with so many agonizingly close runner-up finishes (much like Elliott) in his rookie year, pulling for him became easy, and difficult at the same time. Kahne is a guy with a lot of talent, that’s yet to put it all together. Watching him will his way into the chase (NASCAR’s version of the playoffs) this year with a gutty drive at Atlanta was pretty cool. Watching him finally put everything together and win a championship would be downright awesome. For ten years I’ve been a Kahne fan, but he better hurry. Once Chase Elliott arrives on the Sprint Cup circuit, he’s no longer going to be my top dog. Maybe he can pull it off this year, who knows?

10. Atlanta Hawks NBA Championship- I probably dropped them below Georgia State simply because of how infuriated and frustrated I am with the mess this organization is right now. And it’s probably because it’s been such a frustrating and infuriating disaster for so long, that they have fallen so far. Nevertheless, they’re still my team.

11. Georgia Tech Baseball College World Series

12. Kasey Kahne Winning the Daytona 500

13. North Carolina Basketball National Championship

14. Georgia Southern Football Being Ranked

15. Georgia State Basketball Final Four

16. Georgia Basketball National Championship

17. Atlanta Dream WNBA Championship

18. Georgia Tech Basketball ACC Tournament Championship

19. Georgia State Football Conference Championship

20. Kennesaw State Basketball NCAA Tournament Bid

21. Kansas City Royals World Series

22. Detroit Lions Super Bowl

23. North Carolina Football National Championship

24. Buffalo Bills Super Bowl

25. Cleveland Browns Super Bowl

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Filed under Baseball, Basketball, Braves, College Basketball, College Football, Daytona 500, Falcons, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawks, Motorsports, NASCAR, NFL, Personal, Playoffs, Sports

Dividing Line Among Braves Fans; Attendance, It’s Not as Bad as You Think

Chipper Jones tweet last night after the game against the Rockies created a local, well, to some extent, even national, firestorm in regards to the poor attendance at Braves games. And I say poor because that is the perception. While the Braves attendance certainly isn’t among Major League Baseball’s best, to say it is poor would be wrong. It’s right about average.

The Braves attendance ranking over the past five years has been 14th, 15th, 13th, 15th, and so far in 2012 16th. So as I said, it’s not near the top, but it’s also not near the bottom.

I’ll try to avoid the oft used, but entirely accurate, typical explanation about how Atlanta is full of people who aren’t actually from Atlanta. This one everyone should be aware of by now, and to deny it’s role in their attendance is absurd. So I’ll look at some other factors as we compare these horrible, lousy, worthless Braves fans to the rest of the country.

Take into consideration just this year, shall we?

The two last place teams in baseball in attendance are the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics. As the season stands now, the A’s would be in the playoffs, while the Rays (who played in a world series a short time ago and made the post season last year) sit merely 1 1/2 out of a playoff spot in the American League.

But I won’t stop there. Both the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox (who have been playing baseball in Chicago for 111 years) rank behind the Braves in attendance this season. This of course despite the fact that these two teams both lead their divisions, in September.

But we can keep going from there. The Arizona Diamondbacks, division winners a year ago, and amid the playoff race through late August this year, also rank behind the Braves. One of the feel good stories of the year, the Pittsburgh Pirates, they who are without a winning season in 20 years, but still a proud franchise that dates back to 1882 (which for you math experts isn’t even 20 years after the Civil War ended) are just two games out of a playoff spot, yet rank behind the Braves in attendance.

So can we stop with the bashing of how Atlanta is full of such horrible baseball fans that won’t come out to see a winner?

I’m curious however when it comes to other stadiums, if you polled all the fans in attendance, how many of those in the ballpark actually live in the city in which the stadium resides. And no, I don’t mean they live on a suburb just outside of town, but rather, in the city.

I’d bet the numbers are pretty high in a lot of the major market teams in baseball. Which brings me to my next point.

Of the 15 teams ahead of the Braves in attendance this year, only four, the Rangers, Cardinals, Reds, and Twins play baseball in a city that doesn’t have a larger population than Atlanta based on the 2010 census.

It must be noted however that while Arlington ranks behind Atlanta in population, and not by much I might add, there’s this other city that pretty much backs right up to Arlington, you might have heard of it. You know, Dallas!

After that, it also must be taken into consideration that two of those teams, the Reds and Cardinals have been around since 1882. They might have had just a wee bit of time to build up a more solid fan base. Throw in the fact that the Cardinals are the defending world champions and the Reds are tied for the most wins in baseball, this is perhaps a little bit better understood.

It should also be noted, that if you’ve ever been to Cincinnati, when it comes to a sports team, the city offers very little else. It’s not like the Bengals are out stirring up hope, nor is Cincinnati exactly a college football hot bed. Your best argument is Xavier and Cincinnati college hoops.

As far as St. Louis goes? That town IS the Cardinals. There’s a reason they’re widely known as the best fans in baseball.

You have to consider that Atlanta only has barely over two-thirds the population of Denver… So, it’s not like the Braves are on equal footing competing with these other cities.

Making matters worse, is MARTA. Hopefully you haven’t had to use it much, but if you have, you understand what I’m talking about. It’s reach outside of the city is limited, at best. And even within the city, it doesn’t make a lot of points readily accessible. The fact you have to walk all the way through underground, to then catch a bus, to take MARTA to a Braves game is just unacceptable and a horrible inconvenience.

So I’m curious, what would attendance in places like Philadelphia, or San Francisco, or Chicago, or Boston, or Baltimore be if the majority of their fans also lived outside the city. And I’m curious as to what those numbers would be if they were to still be allowed to maintain their current public transit systems. But imagine if they had ours? Do you really think they’d be selling out a Tuesday night game against a horrible Rockies team when the pitcher on the hill is one who inspires no confidence of winning?

Speaking of which, Chipper picked a bad game to choose to call out the fans for not showing up. Maybe he forgot it was the day after a holiday weekend. Maybe he forgot that all kids are pretty much back in school now. Maybe he forgot that anyone who dared go anywhere in Atlanta all weekend was probably sick of driving due to amount of traffic. Traffic that was far worse than ordinary because all you had going on within 90 minutes of Turner Field this weekend was two college football games among ACC and SEC schools, Georgia’s home opener, three Braves games, Dragon-Con, and the NASCAR race weekend down at Atlanta Motor Speedway. So maybe, JUST maybe, there had been a few other things going around to help detract from people coming for a Tuesday night game against a bad baseball team.

But you know, the worst part about this isn’t that the national media, or other fans are mocking Atlanta for it. No, it’s that there has been a dividing line drawn among Braves fans themselves. You have Braves fans calling out other Braves fans for not being at baseball games, and this to me, is entirely unacceptable.

It’s pretty well documented right now and well known that the economy is pretty much in shambles right now. If it hasn’t affected you, that is great, and I’m happy for you. But don’t you dare sit there and assume it hasn’t impacted the lives of other people.

Yes, tickets can be very inexpensive, and yes, MARTA itself doesn’t cost a lot of money. But if you think that’s the only cost that goes into a Braves game, then you probably lead a very, very fortunate life.

As mentioned earlier, a great deal of Braves fans do not live in the city, and the public transportation system is borderline useless. So being able to just on a whim decide you’ll go to a Braves game, right after work, or just up and decide to go to one, and be able to do so smoothly and be home at a decent hour, not nearly as feasible here as in other cities with professional baseball teams.

If you live north up 85, or are in the Cumming, Lawrenceville, Duluth or Buford area, why would you spend the gas money, take the time, buy the more expensive tickets for Atlanta Braves games constantly when you can just go to Gwinnett?

This of course is an awesome response to the ignorant comments that people who don’t go to Atlanta Braves games aren’t true fans because they aren’t helping pay the payroll. Well, last I checked, the Gwinnett Braves were a part of the Atlanta Braves organization. Maybe some people in their condescending ride on the high horse above the rest of the world didn’t notice that. I don’t know.

In addition, the number of reasons people can’t attend ball games may generally start with financial reasons, but there are countless others. Proximity to the stadium, work schedules, whether they have children or not, transportation, or even health related issues. To hear other fans publicly calling them out saying that they, “have no excuse” for not going, actually sickens me.

Who are these people to tell other people how to spend their money? Who are these people to tell other people what they have “no excuse” for either doing or not doing. Have they walked in their shoes? Do they even know the first thing about them? It’s quite appalling actually.

Claiming someone is less of a fan because they don’t attend games is actually probably hurtful to some people. To some, they brush it off, some get ticked off, others may laugh about it. But to imply that someone you don’t know, and you don’t know why they haven’t gone to a game, or as many games as you deem they should, can be hurtful, and mostly because it is coming from a fellow Braves fan.

Sure, the argument is people are speaking out in general about Braves fans and that nobody is being singled out. Tell that to the countless, COUNTLESS people who just felt real singled out. It’s not like Braves don’t hear it enough from the rest of the country, but when your own Braves family is doing it to you, that’s just not kosher.

I can’t expect ESPN, or Phillies fans, or other sports fans across the country to ever accept any of the reasons Braves attendance isn’t great (because I will not call it poor). But Braves should be more willing to accept and acknowledge the hurdles faced by the Braves in an effort to boost attendance.

When some 25 or 30 year old tells some 45 or 50 year old Braves lifer they aren’t a real Braves fan because they don’t go to games, that 45 or 50 year should simply slap them across the face repeatedly with a lineup card from just about every team from the 70s and 80s that they endured.

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Unsung Heroes Can Be the Spark to Second Half Glory

 

This moment here wasn’t the first time Francisco Cabrera came up huge for the Braves

Last night was special, no two ways about it. How many times have we seen ourselves on the losing end of those make or break type games it seems? Remember the infamous Kelly Johnson drop against Philadelphia? Or the Greg Dobbs game against those same Phillies? We expect to lose, and lose in heartbreaking fashion.

Well, it’s a damn good thing the 25 guys wearing Braves uniforms don’t.

What happened in Washington last night is the sort of thing that can light a fire under a season. For proof of that, look no further than these very Braves and examine a few of their pennant chasing seasons.

In 1991 the Braves played the third of a four game series at Riverfront Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds. The Braves had split the first two games of the series the day prior in a double header, their win the previous night being enough to get them back to 10 games above .500, and just sit 2 1/2 behind the Dodgers for first place in the National League West with just 44 games left to play.

Game three of the series started well enough. The Braves jumped all over Reds starter Kip Gross in the first inning to race out to a 3-0 lead. Only to see in the bottom of the very first inning recent Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin helped spark a four run inning for the Reds.

Atlanta didn’t wilt, they scored two more in the third, the second courtesy of, all things, a Francisco Cabrera walk (we know how rare those were). The Braves were back in business, up 5-4, and momentum back in their dugout.

But the Reds kept coming. Two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth. That first inning 3-0 lead had turned into a 9-5 deficit. The Braves managed to add a run in the 7th, but nevertheless, headed to the 9th inning down 9-6. And they did so knowing they were going to be facing Rob Dibble, who personified the defending world champion Reds “Nasty Boys” in their bullpen. Making matters worse? The Dodgers were beating the Padres at home, it looked like the lead was about to be 3.5, and the Braves were set to drop their fifth game in seven days. The miracle season needed another miracle to stay alive.

However the 9th started inauspiciously enough, Terry Pendleton struck out, and Ron Gant flew out on just five pitches total. The writing was on the wall. But then David Justice doubled, and Brian Hunter drew a two out walk, putting the tying run at the plate for…..Yes, that Francisco Cabrera guy again. You’ve probably heard his name a few times. Cabrera took an 0-1 offering from Dibble and promptly launched over the fence in left center field. Suddenly this thing was tied. The ever intimidating Rob Dibble had been roughed up, and by a seldom used bench player. This team wasn’t dead, no not yet.

The Braves made absolutely no threat in the 10th, and it was in the bottom of the 10th where it looked like the Reds were going to find a way to come away with a win anyway. Luis Quinones doubled with one out, and Joe Oliver was promptly intentionally walked after that to allow pinch hitter Carmelo Martinez to come to the plate. Martinez flew out to left field, but shoddy base running and alert Braves defense enabled them to double the runner up at second base, ending the inning, and ensuring more baseball.

Finally, in the 13th inning, with runners at first and third, a David Justice double plated Greg Olson, giving the Braves a 10-9 lead to the bottom of the 13. Even there, it wasn’t without drama. Tony Castillo let the first two runners reach base, with the heart of the Reds order due up; only to retire the next three in order to preserve the win.

Castillo had only arrived a year earlier as part of a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, a trade that just so happen to include Francisco Cabrera. He pitched two innings for the Braves on this night, and held the Reds scoreless, earning the win. He would never again win another game for the Braves. Just over a week later he was traded to the Mets in a deal that brought over Alejandro Pena, in a move that was vital to the teams playoff run.

What happened after this night was simple. No team in Major League Baseball finished stronger than Atlanta. The Braves took off with their momentum and reeled off a 29-14 mark the rest of the way, eventually clinching the division with a day to spare. We all know what that 1991 season eventually started off in Atlanta. But we all might have forgotten how monumental a victory this particular win over the Reds turned out to be.

So while we bask in the glow of last night’s victory over the Nationals that was far more inconceivable, and we wonder aloud how guys like Paul Janish and Chad Durbin played such an integral part in such a crucial game, remember, Tony Castillo and Francisco Cabrera may have been the two guys that saved the 1991 season. Often, it can be the 24th and 25th guy on that roster that ultimately, are the guys who are the difference in playing extra baseball, and sitting at home wondering what if.

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Atlanta Braves First Half Report Card

So the season is just about halfway complete (Stats thru July 3 games) and it is time to examine just where the Braves stand individually, and collectively, with half a season left to make a push for the playoffs.

Starters

LF Martin Prado-  A

I know, right now it seems hard to give anybody on this team an A with the way they’ve been playing, but Prado is worthy of it. Offensively, he’s the perfect two hitter for this team, thanks to  suddenly recognizing the value of a walk. If you want any explanation as to why Prado is headed for a career year, that is it. He’s already drawn 32 walks, his previous career high was 40. The result is a stellar .383 on base percentage. He’s also quietly put himself in position to push for 20 stolen bases this year, while having been caught just once. Defensively, he’s been very solid and helps round out perhaps the best defensive outfielder in all of baseball. After what he gave us last year, Prado’s year has been nothing short of outstanding. He deserved more all star consideration than he got.

CF Michael Bourne- A+

Wait, really? The first two players receive As on a team we’re all this frustrated with right now? Well, things may change once we get out of the outfield. What has Bourn not done well? I tell you, those contract years can be awfully motivational. On the merits of his defense alone, at a position where stellar defensive player can be a huge difference maker, Bourn is having an above average season. He’s the best defensive outfielder in the national league, and should be well on his way to his second gold glove. Should the club stay in contention however, he should also find his name in the MVP conversation if he keeps up his offensive pace. All he’s done there is gone and managed to put himself third in hits and second in runs scored, while being third in the league in stolen bases. He’s already set a career high in home runs, and could push to do the same in doubles, triples, and walks. It’s a crying shame we’re hoping Braves fans can click a mouse enough times to get him in the all-star game.

RF Jason Heyward- A-

Some might argue Heyward deserves higher marks, but one can’t forget the slumps he’s prone to, and been through. Remember, before an absolutely torrid June, Heyward was the subject of a lot of venom from Braves fans, so we can’t act like this season has been a total bed of roses. Heyward’s defense has been exceptional, which is reason to keep him on the field as much as possible. Given more regular playing time, especially against lefties, Heyward started getting in a groove and producing. His RBI numbers may be down, but that’s what happens when you place arguably your most complete hitter at the bottom of the order. They should improve as long as he keeps hitting behind Bourn and Prado. We know he won’t have a repeat of June, but we should see something similar in production from him, and with his stellar defense, clearly, right field is not a problem spot.

3B Chipper Jones- B

He only gets a B because of the games he’s missed due to injury or needed time off. When in the lineup, he’s been fantastic, but when he’s out of the lineup, we suffer, and suffer big time. The drop off from him to Juan Francisco or Matt Diaz is steep and precipitous, and one we simply can’t afford. When on the field, it’s easily arguable Chipper has been the best offensive player on the team. His power numbers trail Heyward’s only slightly, and that can be attributed somewhat to the adjustment period coming back from injury. Chipper has only had 185 plate appearances, whereas Michael Bourn has had 338. That’s a big difference. For Chipper to get into the A range, he’s going to need 200 to 225 I believe in the second half, and I honestly can’t say at this point we can expect that from him. And that’s unfortunate, we need his bat.

SS Tyler Pastornicky- D

I won’t give him an F, simply because he was overmatched to begin with. You might also wonder why I’m not listing Andrelton Simmons here. Simple, Pastornicky played in almost twice as many games at shortstop as Simmons did in the first half, so when grading the Braves shortstop to this point, Pastornicky’s production gets weighted a little heavier. Offensively, he did have some big hits, but he struck out at a 4:1 ratio, and had an OBP of .281. Those can be tolerated at shortstop if good defense is played. Well, about that…..

2B Dan Uggla- C+

He’s been in a massive slump the past month, and that has probably dropped him a full letter grade. Defensively, he’s not been a liability. His errors seem to stand out to us because we expect so many from him, but he’s having the best defensive season of his career. Remember, there’s more to playing good defense than not making errors. Offensively, there’s still plenty of hope for him. His OPS stands right now at the exact number he finished 2011 with. So if we can get his usual second half surge, his end of the year numbers should again be more than okay. Cutting down on the strikeouts would be a big help, as Uggla’s BABIP is over .300, he just needs to put more in play. Furthermore, his home run to fly ball ratio is the lowest of his career, and by a pretty good margin. If that can come closer to the norm in the second half, we could see a 20 home run close to the season. One other reason to stay optimistic is his new found patience at the plate. He’s on pace to draw over 100 walks for the first time in his career. So while right now he’s not been anything too special, we can hope at the end of the year that’s turned around.

1B Freddie Freeman- C-

He was off to a good start, then suffered those eye problems that seem to be an issue only with the Braves. Why that is, I’ll never understand. At any rate, he’s had some spurts here in there, but collectively, the year has been a disappointment. He may be on pace for 100 RBI, but he benefited greatly from batting in the three spot, a spot hopefully he won’t be back in for the remainder of the year, at least not until his offensive game finds consistency. He’s walking a good deal less this year and that has contributed a bit to the decline in production at the plate. A turnaround from Freeman would be extremely helpful to this sputtering offense, because as of right now, he’s not much more than just an average first basemen.

C Brian McCann- F

Yes, here’s where the first F of the year gets doled out. This is due in large part to what’s expected of McCann, and ultimately, what this team needs, to be really good. If you think about it, if you put a typical Brian McCann year at the 3 or 4 spot in our lineup, we probably have 4 or 5 more wins right now, at least, and aren’t chasing the Nationals, we’re staring eye to eye with them. One has to think though that McCann will snap out of this. His OBP is .060 lower than his career mark, and his slugging is almost .100 lower. This sort of drop off is NOT expected from someone 28 years old, even at the grueling catcher position. Some of his drop off can absolutely be attributed to just bad luck, his BAbip is at a paltry .228. His career mark is .295. So this should eventually start to balance out. When it does, the Braves offense will look demonstratively better. But until it does, we’re going to continue to struggle at times to score runs.

Starting Lineup- B-

So just by looking through the typical starting lineup for the season, one should be able to see why we may be near the top of the league in runs score, yet we all feel so frustrated with the offense. When guys like Freeman, McCann and Uggla are hitting, and doing what we expect, this offense is as good and explosive as any baseball. However, when guys you count on the middle of your order to produce your power are slumping as bad as these guys are prone to, you’re offense is going to have a hard time putting together any sort of consistency. There are enough bright spots to still keep this team in contention, and give us hope, but we need more of the expected big boppers to start bopping.

Bench

Juan Francisco- D-

He’s had some nice moments filling in for Chipper Jones, but for the most part, he’s one of the reasons Braves pinch hitters have been among the least effective in the majors. Anybody who has 38 strikeouts compared to just 3 walks, there’s a problem there, a big one. The positive side is he’s shown a little power, and has produced some runs, but a .248 OBP is just unacceptable. Unfortunately, Chipper’s need for time off will ensure he sees more playing time in the second half.

Eric Hinske- F

If there was an F-, Hinske would get it. I don’t even know where to start with how terrible he has been this season. He’s of no value defensively, and offensively, his slugging percentage is lower than the on base percentage of every current starter on the team. A mere five extra base hits from your supposed power source off the bench? Randall Delgado has a comparable slugging percentage.

Andrelton Simmons- A

How can this be anything but an A? He’s simply come in and in one month in the league established himself as one of the finer defensive players, not just at shortstop, but in all of baseball. And at a key defensive position like shortstop, that can be more important any offense contributed. But it’s not like the 22 year old hasn’t held his own there either. He’s hitting .323, but more impressively for such a young player with such little seasoning, he’s walked seven times to just eleven strike outs. He’s shown decent power at the plate as well. The key will be how well he adjusts once everyone starts adjusting to him. For now though, he’s been spectacular for the Braves.

Matt Diaz- C-

Diaz personifies platoon player, or I should say, he personifies an average platoon player. He’s good against lefties, but not great. However, against right handers, he’s among the worst hitters I’ve ever seen. This includes pitchers. Using a roster spot for someone that one dimensional, and then letting that one dimensional player take away playing time from your best all around player, it’s baffling. But I can’t penalize Diaz for Fredi Gonzalez being a moron, can I? The Braves need to find a reserve outfield bat, and Hinske’s ability to play 1B probably makes his spot safe, even if his overall production is significantly down from just about everyone’s. The more I write, the more I want to lower the grade, but his serviceability against left handed pitching keeps it out of the D range.

David Ross- B+

Ross is another guy prone to slumping, although it’s usually when he’s called upon to start regularly, which is clearly not his forte. However, when it comes to the backup catcher position, not many teams can do much better than David Ross. Unfortunately, his struggles when playing everyday make subbing him more often for the slumping McCann an exercise in futility. He’s a solid defensive catcher, calls a good game, and and is a threat with the bat. From his position, there’s not a lot more that you can ask for.

Jack Wilson- C-

Wilson isn’t here for offense, he’s here for defense, so his offense shouldn’t weigh too heavily into the discussion. However, as a late inning defensive replacement and not much more, you really don’t get the chance to impact that many games that way, though he did perhaps save one by himself with his glove. So, what he does at the plate as a pinch hitter, it does make a difference. Being called on to pinch hit and then failing to execute a sacrifice bunt, yeah, you don’t get high marks for that. Wilson’s been worse than Hinske at the plate this year, and it’s actually not even close, that’s how bad he’s been. But he’s been solid at what his primary job is, so the rating comes in at just below average.

Jose Costanza- F

I seriously do not, for the life of me, understand the love affair with this guy. He doesn’t walk, he strikes out, had just one extra base hit, and he didn’t steal a base. Yet people clamor for more playing time from him. I’m going to start dismissing anyone who wants more playing time from Costanza (because that would mean less for, you know, three VERY good outfielders) as people who aren’t actual Braves fans because apparently they don’t pay a lick of attention.

Bench D-

Because at this point, technically Simmons is the starting shortstop, and was never used as an actual bench player, there is very little to like here. David Ross is a big bright spot, and Jack Wilson’s defense is solid enough. After that though? It’s atrocious. Even D- might be a bit generous. The bench needs upgrading in a big way. For all the woes of the offense, the inability to rest a slumping starter and hope one of your reserves comes in and breathes a little life into the offense makes snapping a team out of a funk all the more difficult. Most of our bench players, on other teams, even the worst in baseball, would still be lucky to be on the major league squad.

Starting Rotation

Tommy Hanson B-

Yes, he’s 9-5, I understand all of that. But a pitcher is about so much more, okay, pretty everything more, than wins. Hanson’s allowed 16 home runs, which is only two more than the much maligned Mike Minor. He’s also walked just one fewer hitter, even if in 14 more innings. Hanson’s record could, and should be better. Many times over the course of the season the Braves offense has given him a lead, only to see him come back in in the very next inning and surrender it. Great pitchers don’t do that. Originally Hanson was supposed to be an ace pitcher. We’re about to that point in his career, that if he’s going to be, it better happen soon. As it is stands, he’s a solid two or three. Unfortunately, this rotation calls on him to be the ace.

Mike Minor- D

Would you believe he’s thrown the second most innings on our staff. I guess if you want an explanation as to how this seemingly talented team can struggle like it does, the fact this is the pitcher you’ve relied the second heaviest on speaks volumes. Minor’s troubles don’t really need to be documented, do they? He walks too many, and can’t keep the ball in the ballpark. The result? Way too many innings where three or four runs get scored. I haven’t done the research, but I’d bet Minor is among the team leaders in percentages of innings thrown without giving up a run. Unfortunately, when he gives them up, he does so in a big way. His inconstancy and unreliability makes him a big weak link in this rotation.

Brandon Beachy- A+

Unfortunately, there’s no reason to go any further here, since it will be next year at this time, at least, before he pitches again. He was the ace this staff needed. Now, he’s the dominant starter turned cheerleader it did not need.

Randall Delgado C+

You might be surprised to see his grade nearly the same as Tommy Hanson’s. Consider though Delgado wasn’t supposed to even be part of this rotation, Hanson was supposed to be an ace caliber pitcher. Delgado has been beleaguered, but he’s simply gone through the struggles of a young pitcher. You have to remember he’s only 22, and after some rough starts early on, for the most part, he’s settled down. He still walks too many hitters, and that gets his pitch count high, among other things, but that can be worked on with experience in the majors. He does a good job of not allowing home runs, and he’s a solid strikeout pitcher. Fans wanting to give up on Delgado already, they just need to be quiet. Give the kid a chance.

Tim Hudson B+

His two terrible first innings against the Nationals stand out, as does the fact he’s been roughed up a few times this season in  Minoresque mode. However, he’s also been the dominant Tim Hudson of old at times as well. Unfortunately the bone spurs in his ankle leave him somewhat of a question mark every time it is his turn to pitch. However, aside from Beachy, he’s clearly been the best starter on the team. Unfortunately, with Beachy down, for this rotation to be befitting of an elite team, it needs someone like Beachy heading it, and right now, Hudson just isn’t that.

Jair Jurrjens- C-

Which Jurrjens are we grading? Pre AAA stint Jurrjens (F), or the one we’ve seen since (A-)? Amazingly, this team managed to win two of his first four starts, thanks to 24 total runs scored in two of his starts. So, Jurrjens didn’t hurt the team as badly as initially feared. Though, it would have been nice to have had him humming along so Delgado could have replaced Minor, and not Jurrjens. In any event, he’s been solid his last three outings, in fact, just three earned runs in three starts with 18.1 innings pitched. He’s only walked four hitters in that stretch and not allowed a home run after allowing 10 walks and five long balls in his first four starts while pitching just 16.1 innings. The turnaround is immense. If Jurrjens can continue that upward climb, he slots in nicely in the two or three role. More consistent performances by Hudson and Hanson would leave Jurrjens in a wonderful niche as three, possibly four starter pending trade, down the stretch.

Rotation- C

With Brandon Beachy, it’s a solid rotation. Without, there’s still too many questions. Minor isn’t as much a question anymore, as an explosive inning waiting too happen. Delgado is still prone to get rocked every now and then, and Hudson and Hanson have also lacked the consistency you want from top end starters. Throw in the fact that Jurrjens, despite his recent success, is still a wildcard, and you have a rotation that can ultimately be anything from upper third in the league, to bottom third. That’s too large of a variance. Frank Wren needs to find help, and by help, I don’t exactly mean Ben Sheets.

Bullpen

Craig Kimbrel- A+

Could he be anything else? No, he’s not perfect, but he’s arguably the most dominant closer in baseball today. In fact, he’s turning into one of the most dominant closers of recent memory. You want to strike out 50, walk just 10, and allow a lone home run in your 30 innings of work, with a WHIP of .767, you get an A+

Kris Medlen- B+

Medlen doesn’t really have the stuff to be dominant, and I’m not sure he’s got the stuff to be an elite set-up guy either. But he is still a very good pitcher, who with our problems in the rotation, may ultimately be an answer there. We shall see. In the meantime, he’s ideal for coming into games when one of the other starters has been roughed up early and giving us several innings of work. Of course, by then the game is already in hand. This asset would be more valuable in trying to protect dominant middle inning relief guys from pitching in long inning situations and getting burned out. Unfortunately, we don’t have those anymore.

Chad Durbin- C

Durbin was terrible early, and even I was ready to be rid of him. He’s since settled down, and right now has easily supplanted Jonny Venters as the 7th inning guy, and might even push O’Flaherty for the 8th inning role. The Durbin we’ve seen as of late could be a vital piece to a bullpen, that hopefully when all is said and done is still a team strength, just not with the pieces being who we envisioned at the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, his rocky start still has to factor in to his first half grade.

Jonny Venters- F

Much like McCann, this stems a lot as well from expectation. If you look at his numbers on the whole, he’s a guy many teams would probably still take on their roster. If you look at what we expected from him, and were counting on him, most Braves fans would gladly drive him either to Gwinnett, or to Dr. James Andrews office. Ever since Venters was given some time off for some soreness, he’s been extremely ineffective, and it’s almost become a foregone conclusion that if Venters pitches, the game is over, and not in favor of the Braves. An injury would certainly explain the sudden fall-off. And while nobody wants an injury, one would think, an injury might be easier to fix than totally screwed up mechanics, or a complete lack of confidence. You have to wonder if these relievers are like running backs. In the NFL, it’s a pretty proven fact, you hit a certain number of carries one year, expect a decline the next in production. I’ve got think there are similarities at play here.

Eric O’Flaherty- B-

Another case of the expectations not being matched, and thus, the grade reflecting it. It’s not that O’Flaherty has had a bad year, he hasn’t. But there have been memorable spots where he didn’t get the job done. Last year, there was hardly a time all season he failed to get the job done. Venters struggles have exasperated O’Flaherty’s decline. If Medlen could perhaps move into the 8th inning rule, O’Flaherty might get back to a more comfortable 7th inning role. Who knows. It’s suffice to say though, Eric O’Flaherty has not been the problem in our bullpen.

Cristhian Martinez- C+

Martinez is the case of where the expectations and role actually help his grade. He’s a mop-up, long relief guy, and that’s a role he’s more than capable of filling in a solid fashion. His only real fallacy is his trouble keeping the ball in the park, but other than that, he’s been a very serviceable mop-up pitcher. Is he anything special? No. But he’s not a weak link, and for his role, he’s been quite effective.

Livan Hernandez- C-

Like Pastornicky, because he appeared so often, his performance for the first half counts towards the entire teams. Hernandez had the same role as Martinez, only he didn’t perform as well in it. He wasn’t horrible, and he ate a lot of innings in games where we were hopelessly behind at times it seemed. But that said, Cristhian Martinez outperformed him….

Bullpen- B-

The presence of Craig Kimbrel alone keeps this bullpen above average. He’s that good. The massively disappointing season of Jonny Venters drags it back down, and the coming back to earth of Eric O’Flaherty (without falling OFF the earth) steadies it out as a slightly above average bullpen. Less Venters, a continued improved Durbin, and more Medlen though could turn this unit back into a real strength.

Managing

Fredi Gonzalez- F

I don’t really even want to spend the time dissecting the ways Fredi Gonzalez deserves an F. I think they’re all pretty well known and documented. I’d rather hear some reasons he doesn’t.

Overall Grade B-

We’re slumping now, obviously, but we’ve seen what this team can do when things are clicking. There are some pieces that have started to come back around in the bullpen, and in the rotation that could benefit the pitching in the second half of the year. Are we an elite, title contender right now? No, of course not. Can we be? Yes. Though, I’d feel more confident if the man in charge of making the adjustments, and of adapting to players themselves coming around, or falling off, wasn’t a complete and total idiot.

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