ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Marlins at Braves – 09/22/2003
Mike Hampton gave up three runs in each of the first two innings. I’m willing to write this off as an aberration caused by the weather and the nitwits in the Atlanta front office (the team decides whether to start the game, then the umpires take over once the first pitch is thrown) who allowed the game to proceed when it was raining. The game was stopped for nearly an hour in the first inning with one in and the bases loaded. As noted below, I couldn’t watch the game but the Marlins got two singles on bunts to pitcher, and I’m certain that they couldn’t have easily done that without water on the infield. Hampton came back but didn’t get his bearings until the third.
Gary Sheffield hit his 38th homer, accounting for all three Braves runs. He has driven in 127 runs this year, tying Aaron’s Atlanta record. The Braves didn’t try to push it, bringing in Langerhans and Estrada in the middle innings. It’s easy to say this means nothing, but it does mean something — it means that the Giants are going to move in front for home field.
Good news on the pitching front after Hampton. Jason Marquis threw two good innings, allowing no baserunners and striking out two. Gryboski (and I hate to say it, but with Boom-Boom lurking the Braves need him, he’s at least serviceable) threw a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. And Smoltz pitched a complete ninth, getting three ground balls. His control is good (9 pitches, 8 strikes) but I don’t know about his velocity.
The Braves now host the Expos, for what certainly won’t be the last time. Major League Baseball is shameless about the way it treats that team. The Marlins and Phillies will play three.
Both Gryboski and Smoltz touched 95 on the Turner South gun. Smoltz had been steadily at 92-93 with the fastball, but seemed to air out his last pitch to hit that mark. Smoltz had movement on the slider, but the loss of velocity on both his primary pitches is fairly apparent, at least for now. Gryboski had a lot of downward movement and looked very sharp overall, with several swinging strikes.
It’s conceivable that he’s just holding back…His [Smoltz] approach has been tremendously cautious during this rehab (not playing golf, etc.). I’d much rather have him hold back now and save the good stuff for the post season…absolutely NO NEED to have him push aggressively now.
The rain was pretty awful, Mac. I got caught in it on my way home.
Smoltz was amazing and I have heard that he is holding a little bit back. Still, if 95 mph is holding back, he’s looking pretty good for the postseason. I just want to go at least 3-2 to close the season. Get that 100 win for this team.
I know this is kind of random but I miss having John Rocker on our team. That guy was so fun to watch. Very few pitchers have an adrenalin spirit that can match his. It’s that real urge to win (the way he’d make those gestures when he got a strikeout) that totally rocked. Even his entrance was awesome. I think the Braves should reconsider him and sign him to a minor league contract. Smoltz is more reliable but we could do with some awesome setup men. I know Rocker has had control issues, but come on. He can work them out. He needs to get his velcity back. I don’t think it’s anything Leo Mazzone can’t fix. I think it’s worth a shot if they can get him cheap to a minor league contract and take it from there. Opinions? I love people who bring such fire to the game. Yeah, I know he made some pretty absurd remarks. But I am an ethnic minority whose family is from NYC. I don’t think it affects how much I like his circus acts on the mound. I just take it with a pinch of salt. He is what he is. He is an awesome closer if they get him back with the program. Look at Tom Gordon and Rod Beck. They are not gassed out. Neither can Rocker be. I mean he was pitching in Texas. His numbers got bad in Cleveland too and right before he left Atlanta. I still think if it’s a cheap risk we should try and sign him to minor league contract and take it from there
I think the success/failure ratio of a retread is too great to warrant his exclusion in the pen. I think retreads are necessary for a club if they’re (a) desperate or (b) strapped for cash. My other problem with Rocker- I think his mental problems compound his physical ones. It’s hard to feel bad for Rocker since most of his mental anguish was self-inflicted. Lastly, I always found his animation on the mound to be distracting…I don’t want to sacrifice stability in the set-up role (aka Remlinger) for the sake of being entertained…
One other point, players in all professional sports who cultivate a sense of “circus” never seem to have longevity…I think the energy they expend on their act burns them out. Players like Rodman and Shockey (spelling) look great on the cover of Rolling Stone, but I’m not sure I want the circus-like atmosphere they create to interfere with my team.
Well, Rodman played well into his thirties and was on five NBA champion teams. Pretty good for a player who couldn’t score at all.
My belief is that the optimum strategy for a bullpen is to have 2-3 reliable relievers on staff and to fill the rest by choosing among as many retreads and rookies as you can find. And that you should never give big money to someone else’s reliever. The Braves simply did a poor job of finding retreads this offseason.