Braves 4, Astros 1

Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros – Box Score – June 12, 2011 – ESPN.

God bless the Astros. They’re going to need it. Tommy Hanson struck out fourteen in seven innings, with three more added from the bullpen, and in a relatively close game the home team never seemed to be in it. (Actually, they barely seem to be at home; there have been just about as many Braves as Astros fans in Minute Maid Park this series.)

The Braves didn’t have much going for them offensively today, but made what they had count. In the first, Jordan Schafer singled, and then the suddenly useful Dan Uggla followed with a homer to make it 2-0. In the sixth, Uggla singled, and Brian McCann, the best catcher in baseball, hit another home run to make it 4-0.

It was enough for Hanson; if it wasn’t for Carlos Lee (who had two of the Astros’ three hits off of him) Hanson wouldn’t have had any trouble at all. Lee’s double in the sixth cut the lead to 4-1, but that’s all they got.

Hanson had thrown 112 pitches, though, so Eric O’Flaherty came in to pitch the eighth, allowing one hit. Jonny Venters closed today, which makes me wonder about Craig Kimbrel‘s health (yes, Kimbrel pitched yesterday, but Venters did too) but he didn’t have any trouble getting four outs (the umpire blew an obvious call at first base leading to a single on a terrible swinging bunt) to get the save.

154 thoughts on “Braves 4, Astros 1”

  1. Other than Bourn and Lee, I swear every Astro is some random, straw-armed white guy with a goofy open stance who has no chance against breaking balls. Awesome franchise.

  2. I don’t know who gets the dubious honor of current worst franchise in baseball, and the Pirates and Mets would certainly give them a run for their money, but the Astros are pretty damned awful.

  3. I think the Mets are the only franchise definitely worse than the Astros. (Drayton McLane never lost zillions of dollars to a scam artist, for one.) The Pirates have improved enough in the last year, in the minors and the majors, that they no longer deserve that “honor.”

  4. In a losing effort, Constanza went 4-5 today with a SB. He’s now hitting .356 with an OBP of .398.

  5. Over at Talking Chop, people are speculating that Chipper’s dad, while around, took a moment to righten Uggla’s swing. First I thougt they were joking, but someone claimed it was mentioned on the broadcast. Anyone here heard about that too? It true, our “hitting coach” should immediately be fired.

  6. Looks like Dan is silencing his critics…

    Even a certain former Braves’ right fielder had two good games in a row. Didn’t mean he figured it out.

    But Uggla does have a better track record.

  7. I would love for Uggla to silence this critic. Like not sucking ass for a couple of games against a real team.

  8. If Chipper’s father can get Uggla out of his slump, he needs a first class jet to fly around for the rest of the games.

  9. FWIW, I’d still trade JJ for a package centered around Manny Machado. I’m biased, but I think Machado’s the real deal. Also, JJ’s about to get expensive, is injury prone, and we’re selling him when his value is at it’s highest.

    Something like: Machado, Jonathan Shoop, and Dan Klein would do it.

  10. Is JJ really that injury prone? I think he could be the ace of this staff for years to come.

  11. FWIW, I’d still trade JJ for a package centered around Manny Machado.

    Building for 2015 when you’re currently ten games over .500 and down 2.0 games in the division, this year? No thanks.

  12. I’m assuming this hypothetical trade wouldn’t happen during the season.

    But then the problem becomes…why would the Orioles want to do that trade heading in 2012? They’re not contending anytime soon, and yet they have Guthrie, Britton, Arrieta, Matusz. They’d need hitting to get competitive in a hurry.

  13. Not that it’s even a remote possibility, but would anyone do Teheran for Moustakas straight up?

  14. Artfully putting Chipper out to pasture would be the difficult part about it, though I suppose you could play Moustakas in the outfield until Chipper passed away from old age.

  15. @26- No, I brought it up a month ago when I was thinking the Orioles could maybe talk themselves into being in contention. It was just rehashed in game thread.

    I understand the arguments against, but the depth of the organization is pitching, and once Machado passes the AA test, he’d be untouchable, if he isn’t already. We have JJ for two years after this one, and he’s on pace to get at least 7 MM next year. Also in 2011, we’re on pace to have 3 legit MLB starters making league minimum who won’t be in the rotation.

    If you can find equitable value (and IMO, the #3 overall pick in the 2010 draft is equitable value as a centerpiece) at a position of long term need, I think you pull the trigger.

    But like I said, I’m biased on Machado. There are a lot of mutual friends between our families.

  16. I think a big priority for the Braves should be to re-sign Infante. He’ll probably have to take a lower offer after a poor year and wouldn’t mind coming back to the Braves.

  17. I’d be all over getting Infante back. Just think of the Brandon Hicks-less possibilities!

  18. Then we trade Lowe for Nick Swisher (after the Yanks pick up his 10.25 million dollar option) and sign Jose Reyes for 5/70 million. Prado moves to CF and we go with this lineup (and yes, in my perfect world rosterbation Chipper’s at 3rd, Heyward is healthy and Uggla is younger)…
    1. Reyes 2. Prado 3. Chipper 4. McCann 5. Heyward 6. Swisher 7. Uggla 8. Freeman

  19. I can’t imagine Prado being able to play a passable CF. Anyway, he’s Chipper’s replacement at 3B.

  20. I can’t imagine Prado being able to play a passable CF. Anyway, he’s Chipper’s replacement at 3B.

    A perfect fit. Like Jones: Prado can go on the DL multiple times a year.

  21. Mac, Venters threw six pitches on Satursday while Kimbrel threw 30. So I guess that answers your question.

  22. Reyes is going to get a huge deal, $100 mill.

    Why not hire Chipper’s dad to be the hitting coach?

  23. Can we just take the $100 million we were going to give Reyes and give it to Chipper’s dad instead?

  24. I think Reyes will be very similar to Furcal when he signed with the Dodgers. I would stay away from giving Reyes a long-term contract. What Dodgers did to Furcal was smart. I would give the same short-term deal with higher per-year salary with Reyes.

  25. I don’t think the Braves are going to tie $100 into anyone. I could see Washington, Mets, Seattle, Red Sox and possibly the Cardinals in on Reyes. One of those teams will show him the money.

  26. Smitty,

    Cardinals? I doubt that they’re going to have any remaining funds to sign free agents if they sign Pujols. Do you think Albert is going to leave?

    I very much doubt that they Mets are going to sign him, and the same with Washington or the Red Sox. I could see the Reds do it, though.

  27. If Albert leaves (which I don’t think he will) then they might. You can bet the Red Sox will be in on him. The Nationals are a wild card and could make a run, if the don’t go for Fielder.

    I don’t think the Reds have the payroll to go after him, plus they need pitching.

  28. 50,

    I personally don’t think that they’re going to take that approach. They’re already paying Wright for next year, and I doubt that they’re going to re-up Reyes for the price that he’s going to cost them. Throw in the financial state of the team, and the comments by their owner… it just doesn’t make any sense.


    I thought that the Red Sox already had a few decent shortstops in their system. None at the level of Reyes, of course. We’ll have to see on the Reds. They don’t have pitching, but they definitely don’t have a SS, either. My nightmare scenario maybe Amaro deciding to cut off ties with Rollins this year and going with Reyes.

    I’m with you on Albert. As sad as it sounds, if I was a Cardinals fan, I wouldn’t want my team to pay him the price that he’s asking for.

  29. Mac,

    What is he? The fourth-highest paid in baseball? (Alex, Howard, Cliff Lee..)

    He’s not worth it.

  30. @54 That’s exactly what I think. There is no reason why the Yankees wouldn’t at least consider Reyes.

  31. #21

    Mac, I had the same thought. Just asinine. And Ethan, when you say, “we have family friends in common” you give away your motivation.

    But it doesn’t matter, Frank Wren will never do that trade – Jurrjens might be competing for a CY this year. And let’s face it, as Lowe and Hudson fall away the next few years, JJ, Beachy, Hanson and Teheran is our 4-man rotation very soon. (and hopefully a healthy Medlen makes enticing trade bait).

  32. @57 I think Medlen will be staying in the bullpen and create a three-heads monstors with Kimbrel and Venters.

    I agree Wren will probably not trade JJ. With Lowe and Huddy in their final year of their contracts next year, we need both JJ and Hanson to head the rotation in 2014.

  33. 58- Not just three-headed. O’Flaherty and Gearrin (if the Braves stop jerking him around) give you at least five studs in the pen. And that’s without trying potentially fine pitchers like Marek. That’s going to be a problem in the starting rotation, too- too many potentially great pitchers for the innings we need them to pitch.

    And OT, but congrats to the Mavericks for puncturing the inflated egos of South Florida.

  34. I hate the thought of keeping Medlen in the bullpen. If we have the choice between having him as a middle reliever on our team, or trading him to be a middle reliever on someone else’s team, I’d vastly prefer the latter. Keeping him as our 7th-inning guy is a massive waste of resources. I would say the same of Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor.

  35. @60

    Next year he can start, this August I want him locking down the 6th inning. He will be a nice fresh arm. Hell, if we can get an early lead then, it will be over.

    Moylan, Medlen, EOF, Ventinator, Kembrel. Even Uggla will provide the needed run support for that.

  36. That was poetic justice, Miami. LeBron turn everyone in basketball on him to attain a championship, and he falls short. Again.

    Miami fans deserve no better. They completely hold out on the Marlins (even on their better seasons), and they decide to show up for this team. I’m glad they lost. I’m looking forward to reading the papers tomorrow in Cleveland.

  37. There was nothing better than watching Miami lose in this fashion. They very easily could have, and probably should have, swept the series. Lebron checked out and I find it quite amusing. Maybe they can have that big celebration before next season again also.

  38. Great to see the dynasty-ordained Heat not even get their first title.

    Add me to the mix of folks willing to trade JJ for the right mix. I love the guy, but he is oft-hurt, has one hell of an agent that will probably not lead him to re-sign with the Braves…and we need to trade with high value. Not when we must move just to meet payroll.

  39. Two questions:

    1) LeBron, who slept with your mom this time?

    2) Who hires “Coach Spo” to be their film coach next season?

  40. Have there been any more rumors about trading for Hunter Pence? I know it’s a little early to talk about trades, but acquiring him makes sense on so many levels.

  41. I think we’ve reached the stretch of season where we win 17 out of 20 games whilst losing ground to the Phillies.

  42. I almost have myself convinced that Uggla really has figured it out, and that our long regional nightmare is over.

  43. AAR, I really don’t think Medlen can handle a 200-inning workload. Even when he was healthy, he was never effective after 80 pitches. I actually think it’s for his best interest to handle the late inning responsibility.

    However, Beachy and Minor are starters. Adding them to JJ, Hanson, and Teheran with Delgado standing by, that’s our future rotation. Arodys is heading to the bullpen eventually. And don’t forget we have Gilmartin, the next Tom Glavine (yeah right)!!!!

  44. KC–I am beginning to think that you enjoyed the Braves’ draft as much as I did….

    Vizcaino may well wind up in the bullpen, but I really hope that the Braves give him ever opportunity to succeed as a starter. He was absolutely lights out at Lynchburg….

  45. So we are trading our best pitcher in the middle of a pennant race? I’m sorry you guys that espouse that idea, I don’t get it. Opportunities to win are rare in this sport. We are lucky to follow a team that positions themselves to win more than most. We have a great chance to get into the post season crap shoot and win a world championshop. The emphasis should be on the here and now.

  46. Apple is going to put out a ne LeBron i-phone. It only vibrates as it has no rings.

  47. So we are trading our best pitcher in the middle of a pennant race?

    Well, no. “We” aren’t. Not of by “we” you mean “the Atlanta Braves.” Management isn’t stupid.

    Now, some fanboys who 1) underrate Jair Jurrjens for no reason rational men can think of and 2) have some crazy love affair type dealy going on with an 18 year old shortstop prospect might “trade” Jurrjens in their heads. There is a reason those sorts of folks don’t actually get hired to run major league baseball teams, though.

    Jurrjens and Hanson are the anchors at the top of Atlanta’s rotation for the next few years. They’re not going anywhere.

  48. Johnny @73,

    1. You first have to determine that Jair Jurrjens is really “our best pitcher.” He could be anything from a “near Maddux” to a middle of the rotation starter. HIs results exceed what his peripherals say is predictable for him in the future. I actually believe he has reinvented certain portions of himself in this incarnation and has the ability to continue to do that from time to time and thus will be a “near Maddux”. Today, I believe Hanson is our best pitcher and Hudson may be out next best.
    2. Teams should look to trade FROM surplus and receive BACK deficit. Nobody informed about the Braves believes that pitching isn’t surplus and that position players are deficit.
    3. With Boras as his agent, NO WAY Jair signs ANY extension. He will seek FULL VALUE for any extension and will only commit AFTER PRE FA is over.
    4. Hudson is 10 years in league, 5 years with Braves and cannot be traded without his consent.
    5. To the extent he is tradeable, Lowe will bring nothing other than salary relief.
    6. Because the “young guns” (Beachy, Minor, Teheran) will trade as prospects in terms of their value, their full 6 year pre FA value is still probably not more than JJ’s value. Only Hanson would bring back more and his cost and his predictable peripherals make him a preferred pitcher to keep as compared to JJ.

    So, IF a major position player need can be met by trading JJ at the upper range of his value, then yes, I agree to that. Rough guess “good JJ” compared to a mix of Minor, Teheran, and Medlen is worth about 1 extra WAR 1/2 of a season by the time Beachy is back and a trade can be put together) at 6 WAR compared to 4 WAR divided by 2 = 1. So, if we got back a position player that would produce 2 extra WAR (if compared to current internal options) this year, then why wouldn’t you make the deal?

  49. If Jurrjens can maintain his current walk and home run rates, he’ll be great. If not, he won’t.

    LeBron actually played the “I’m rich and famous and you’re not” card last night. I’ve always thought that the LeBron-hate was overblown, but he’s made me come around with his recent behavior. He’s come across as a completely immature bully.

  50. Yeah, LeBron really has brough this all on himself.

    While he may have put himself in a great possition to win, he lost a lot of credability with people. Then the comments last night, wow.

    I understand he is a young guy who has been the center of attention since he was 15. Everyone did nothing but priase him. Now there are people who are attacking him and he is handling it poorly.

    The all time greats took stuff like this and used it as motivation, took it to another level, and “silenced their critics.”

    LeBron had a chance to do that, but in the end he failed and acted like a kid.

  51. KC, you may be right that Medlen can’t hold up for a full season’s workload. But he’s older now, and he’s got a brand new arm, and I think that we should at least try to figure out whether he can stick at starter, and either trade him for maximum value or keep him at that position ourselves.

    I don’t hate LeBron. I thought “The Decision” was exceedingly bad form, obviously, and I wanted Dirk to win the ring since the Heat already won one in ’06. But, as a sports fan, it was somewhere between distressing and disgusting to see LeBron crumble in the fourth quarter in games 4, 5, and 6 — he’s got the palms of a point guard with the body of a small forward, but instead of driving to the basket and getting fouled, he hung back behind the key, passing the ball whenever it came his way. He didn’t want to be the hero; he didn’t want to be anything.

    I feel bad for what happened in game 4 — his shot wasn’t falling, and that can happen to anyone, including Dirk in game 6. But then he just stopped shooting, and he stopped driving. In games 4, 5, and 6 combined, LeBron only had 10 free throw attempts — he averaged more than 8 free throws a game this year. Of all the stats that you could examine, the lack of free throws is the one that crystallizes his lack of agression to me. He played like he was scared, and he has no one to blame but himself.

    As a sports fan, I want to watch the best players in the world give their full effort on the biggest stage. Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Bosh all played to the best of their abilities, and it was a thrilling, amazing finals to watch. LeBron played far below the height of his abilities. I don’t really care why he did, I just know that he did. As a sports fan, I hate to see that.

  52. LeBron is 26 years old and still has plenty of time to “do that.” The LeBron hate is pathetic, although predictable from the typical reactionary fan.

  53. LeBron actually played the “I’m rich and famous and you’re not” card last night. I’ve always thought that the LeBron-hate was overblown, but he’s made me come around with his recent behavior. He’s come across as a completely immature bully.

    I don’t disagree with much of that, but I also think the hate has gotten out of control. So he’s not Micheal Jordan. And Andruw Jones wasn’t actually Willie Mays. I don’t *love* LeBron (and I actually have more competitive dislike for Wade.) I like that Dirk got his ring. But the anti-James sentiment is just over the top at this point. Guy hasn’t won multiple championships at the age of 26. He must be horrible and all that.

  54. Woke up today and I just now realized how shitty my life is and how awesome LeBron’s is.

  55. So, if we got back a position player that would produce 2 extra WAR (if compared to current internal options) this year, then why wouldn’t you make the deal?

    That’s video game logic. By which I mean, it’s statistically valid and yet a shitty thing to do. Going by WAR, Jurrjens is the player most responsible for our being in contention. He deserves, as a valued employee, the chance to help see this season through, and to share in any rewards and/or glory that might result. It’s a matter of people management. The offseason is a different story.

  56. I never liked Cuban that much, and it’s usually anathema to me to root for Texas teams for a variety of reasons, but I thoroughly enjoyed Carlyle, Dirk, Jason Terry, and all the other Mavs take down the Heat. To be sure, I don’t “hate” Lebron; hating some athletes while idolizing others has always seemed odd to me, if not downright stupid. Some of my favorite players are probably people I would dislike intensely in real life, while certain players on other teams would be great guys to know. But it sure has been fun to root against The Heat this season.

    There will always be some idiots out there who take things too far. I can’t do anything about that; there are more important things for me to worry about than that, in my life and in the world around me. What cannot be denied is that Lebron surely handled things poorly, didn’t subsequently live up to the challenges he created for himself, and is facing a pretty predictable backlash (in terms of sport culture). Most of the people who “hate” him don’t really hate him. They just root against him, and it makes the sport more fun as a result. Certainly, the NBA has benefited. And when Lebron does finally make good–and he will–he’ll become a “King” again. After all, Americans love redemption stories.

  57. @76 – sigh, The Atlanta Braves aren’t going to trade Jurrjens. Make ya happy?

    @79 – Fine analysis, I guess.
    Point 1. Peripherals say he won’t sustain his current performance. Well baseball is a results oriented business and Jair is getting results.
    Point 2. Yes we should trade from surplus at some point but not in the middle of a pennant race and certainly not our best pitcher. The Braves have historically traded potential for performance.
    Point 3. You are correct. History says that Boras clients go for maximum salary. My take is cross that bridge when you get to it and extract as much from Jurrjens as you can, while you can. This is about the 2011 season. Keeping Jurrjens gives us the best shot for the 2011 season.
    Last point. The original proposal was for some guy named Machado, apparently an 18 year old prospect in the Orioles system not a current position player. Short of Matt Kemp v2011 I can’t think of a guy I (me, theoretical) would trade JJ straight up for. I mention Kemp because, really CF is the only open slot the team has. I seriously doubt that any of the teams with a top 10 CF are looking to trade the guy away.

    All of this is a moot point. The Atlanta Braves won’t trade Jair Jurrjens this season because they are doing the right thing by their fans and putting the most competitive team they can out on the field.

  58. Yeah, that’s the thing. If LeBron comes back in a year or two as a dominant force, distributing the basketball and taking over games, people will love him again. He was hated for the arrogance with which he decided to go to Miami and proclaimed a dynasty. Since he lost this year, people will forgive him when he finally leads his team to a championship.

  59. 88—I thought it was obvious that “hate,” in this context, refers to the backlash/rooting against you describe and not actual, personal hate. Anyway, it may be predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less lame.

  60. Stu, I don’t “hate” him so much as I “hated” to watch him hang back behind the 3-point line, and play far more passively and less aggressively than he did during the regular season or during the Bulls series. Does that make me lame?

  61. I don’t see how anything I’ve said about LeBron could lead you to conclude that I was talking about that sort of criticism, but … no, I don’t think so.

    He’s 26. He’s done some stupid things; he’s apologized for many of them, including The Decision. He’s also, BY ALL ACCOUNTS, a great teammate and a pretty darn decent dude, off the court, especially considering that people of all ages have been kissing his ass since he was in junior high. I find it remarkable that he’s not a preening douche at all times.

    He’s also the most dominant basketball force I’ve ever seen, and one bad Finals (after one bad game in last year’s playoffs) isn’t enough for me to label him anything negative. I love watching him play, and I look forward to next season, when I’d wager a hefty amount that his run of multiple titles will begin.

    (And, for the record, I was pulling for the Mavs in this series, because this was Dirk’s last chance and I’ve always loved Dirk.)

  62. 91 – Maybe I’m missing something. Why is it lame to root against Lebron?

    That is, if the “hate” in question is generally what I described it as–as not personal but sporting dislike–and you agree with that definition, as you say you do, then how is it lame? It’s exactly what we do here on a regular basis. I mean, shit, Mac describes Shane Victorino as “Burn in Hell.” I’ve rooted against players who have spurned my team, or who have defeated my team, or who have handled themselves poorly, or who simply have been great and didn’t play for my favorite team. By your standards, all of that is lame? I don’t get it.

  63. @90. Did LeBron proclaim a dynasty? I really don’t follow the sport, but it seemed like the proclaiming was done other than the principals. I am also not sure I get the “arrogance” thing either. The Decision was a pretty dumb PR thing I guess, but it put 3m into the Boys Club. The world could use a little more arrogance like that. And the chest beating of the Cleveland (and elsewhere) fans rang quite hollow to me. A quick check of the BB Ref page showed some pretty crappy attendance figures prior to James’ arrival, and little effort on the part of ownership to bring in the other parts needed for a Finals winner. Most importantly nobody would know or care about James but for what he can do for them, i.e. provide wins for their team. The Jameses of the world who don’t make it get left to fend for themselves rather quickly. I have no problem with an athlete doing what’s best for them. Screw the fans – they are just band-wagoning front runners living vicariously through others. All sins will be forgiven if you perform, and no virtues will be remembered if you don’t. The reaction to the Finals demonstrates this fact quite clearly.

  64. Agreed that the LeBron hate has become very sensationalized. But I can tell you what I see with my own two eyes: the LeBron James of the 2011 NBA Finals was not the same player that I saw completely take games over in Cleveland, basically scoring points whenever he felt like it.

    “The Decision”, the pre-season party and counting out how many championships they were going to win turned me off as it did many people, and rightly so. If you’re going to pull that crap, you’ve got to show up when you need 4 more wins to actually win the title. Pretty simple, really. That said, they will have every opportunity in the future to win titles and if they do, then good on them. A player with the talent of LeBron should retire with a few.

  65. Plus, it really bugged me that Miami rolled over in the last 1-2 minutes of the game yesterday. Taking bad shots, not going for loose balls, not bothering to foul…. It was disappointing to watch.

  66. @87

    Point on. I would think that the offseason would be when we would discuss moving him, unless we were blown away.

    I was pulling for the Mavs becasue I hate Chris Bosh.

  67. As a Detroit Pistons fan, what I associate with Lebron is when he scored 25 straight points in the 2007 conference finals.

  68. I don’t know why the team would trade the second best starting pitcher on the team (and some would even argue the best) in the middle of a competitive season.

    We have a ton of prospects. Trading Teheran for, say, Pence makes a lot more sense than trading Jurrjens for him.

    My only guess is that since Jurrjens is pitching above his head, people think we can exploit that somehow. This isn’t ten years ago. Every team knows what Jurrjens is. He’s a really, really good pitcher, but he’s not a super-ace, and we can’t really expect a team to look at his ERA and think he’s something he’s not.

    Jurrjens is the kind of player you acquire in this situation, not the kind of player you give up.

  69. @95 – Nice, now we’re not only recognizing but encouraging/extolling the callousness in professional sports? I certainly agree that athletes have to think of their careers and personal self-interest when making decisions about where to play and under what conditions. It’s something more — and I’d say something undesirable — to say that athletes shouldn’t consider loyalty to fans in making those decisions.

  70. Teheran is worth a whole lot more than Pence.

    It is laudable that LeBron donated money to the Boys & Girls Club. However, there are many ways of donating money than the way that he chose to do it. I’m not a purist who demands that a philanthropist’s left hand knoweth not what the right hand is doing — I tend to believe that, when money is donated for a good cause, the end justifies the means — but he really hurt a lot of Cleveland fans, very very deeply, and he had no idea whatsoever that his actions would be in any way hurtful.

    Even still, I don’t hate him for that. I feel sorry for his lack of self-awareness, which unquestionably comes from what Stu recognizes: people have been kissing his ass since he was four feet tall, and it’s extraordinarily hard to maintain any sense of perspective whatsoever. Very few superstars are capable of leading balanced, healthy lives, and I would wager that LeBron is probably a healthier person than Michael Jordan, whose unmatched competitive drive has turned him into a bitter old gambler who has never been able to get over the fact that other people are young enough to play professional basketball and he no longer is.

    Still, while I agree with Stu that LeBron is probably about as healthy a man as a 26-year old superduperstar could ever be, he played some of the least inspired basketball I’ve ever seen this week. I wouldn’t criticize him if the shots weren’t falling. It’s basketball; sometimes the shots just don’t fall. But it was awful to watch him refuse to try.

  71. LeBron hate is righteous and proper.

    Does Spoelstra return or will LeBron make him this year’s scapegoat?

  72. We have a ton of prospects. Trading Teheran for, say, Pence makes a lot more sense than trading Jurrjens for him.

    Of course you trade the prospect for the impact player. Atlanta is contending now. Pence is the sort of player that pushes them to the next level, now. Houston is not contending. Teheran is the sort of player who builds out their next great team (if they’re good.)

    I’m not sure they give up Pence for Teheran, but that’s the correct sort of thinking. Atlanta doesn’t deal an established, top-tier starter (which Jurrjens most certainly is) for a prospect. They trade a prospect for an established force to help them push past Philly and past the first round of the playoffs.

    The point is not to acquire the best rated farm system.

  73. It’s something more — and I’d say something undesirable — to say that athletes shouldn’t consider loyalty to fans in making those decisions.

    What, exactly, did LeBron “owe” Cleveland? Is it more than Greg Maddux “owed” Chicago in 1992? More than Barry Bonds “owed” Pittsburgh? How do athletes “owe” more to the organization that drafted them and benefited from the monopoly the draft gives them over that player for years? LeBron is a man plying a craft. He no more “owes” Cleveland his services than a software designer “owes” Microsoft if Apple comes calling with a better contract and/or career path.

  74. Nice, now we’re not only recognizing but encouraging/extolling the callousness in professional sports?

    Seems like the fans and owners get to be that way all the time – fans bitch about and heckle players at their whim, and ownership has zero problem with trading or releasing folks regardless of past service. How come players are the sole group that gets presented with self righteous fury for engaging in behavior that others view as their sacrosanct right?

    /edit – and when fans/owners are more loyal to athletes when things aren’t going so well, they might get some back.

  75. For me, LeBron and Wade seem like the well dressed pretty boy jocks I went to school with; the types of guys who hold reverence for things like Gatorade and the NIKE swoosh. Making fun of the gawky Dirk and then saying “We were targeting the media, we saw that you were filming us, so we did what we did, you played right into it.” only strengthens my feelings that these guys are just a pair of mean spirited high school jocks. It was great to see them bested by Dirk and his band of fundamentally sound unselfish veterans.

  76. Sports is different than business. Anyone making the argument that an athlete is no different than someone anonymously writing code somewhere is being willfully obtuse.

  77. @109, I think that post says quite a bit more about your experiences than James/Wade. It may well be accurate, but you are basing it on some pretty thin evidence.

  78. The coughing thing…while I would dispute Wade’s ex post facto justification, it does strike me as an example of media oversaturation. So they made a lame joke about their opponent? Does it enhance my understanding of subsequent events (or my life in general) to be told about this?

  79. It’s different than some businesses in that it’s an entertainment industry, and the consumers have a lot more interest in the people directly responsible for the product than in other industries. It’s more like film, where consumers might not see a movie because they don’t like Brad Pitt, than software, where people aren’t going to avoid a product because they don’t like the people involved in the project.

    So things like showing loyalty, at least superficially, might help the bottom line. It helps fan loyalty to a team, and it helps the player further his brand.

  80. Sports is not merely just like business, it is a business. And athletes, like any professional, should consider loyalty and service as important to career decisions. I’m a partner in a law firm. When I think about my future career path, on the list of important factors are loyalty to the partners who helped establish my career and to my clients. That’s not to say I (or any other professional) should consider only those factors, but they are (or should be) very important.

    Spike – The behavior of some inconsiderate fans and of some self-interested owners, shouldn’t give license for everyone just to throw up their hands and declare all bets off. The point is to recognize and challenge such bad behavior, instead of taking part in it.

    Sam – By all accounts Cleveland Cavs ownership treated LeBron with all due respect and they offered him nearly the same contract that Miami did. Cleveland fans clearly honored their hometown hero. It’s not that ultimately he decided to go somewhere else — that was his choice and he made it. My issue is that some people — including many here — believe that LeBron didn’t own any sense of loyalty or special consideration to the city or the organization. That’s wrong headed and a really sad statement.

  81. #106 ….. but he (Teheran) may be the next Adam Wainwright!

    #110 I couldn’t give a damn about LeBron James or the NBA, but I just can’t help wondering where you get that idea? It’s rather quaint.

    Jeff K. – one question. If LeBron James had totally under performed for the Cleveland Cavaliers what would the team’s management have done? How would the loyal fans have reacted? Just asking.

  82. I don’t really think of it in terms of what LeBron “owed” so much as in terms of standard human consideration. After the backlash against The Decision, LeBron made some comments about how it separated the haters from his “true” fans. Actually, his “true” fans were Cavaliers fans, and they were the ones that he hurt the most. His comments about fans show that he understands The Decision wasn’t just about money, it was also about a fanbase — but they also show that he fundamentally misunderstood what fans are, and how it works. He thought that his fans only loved him, more than their team, and they would happily follow him wherever he went. That’s not how sports fandom works, and it was that profound ignorance that allowed him to hurt as many people as he did while being completely unaware of what he was doing.

  83. Johnny, that seems to be anyone’s guess, but the organization and fans clearly gave LeBron the opportunity to succeed. If he hadn’t then I don’t think anyone is to blame if he wasn’t offered some huge contract.

    AAR – I think that’s pretty close to right. I don’t claim to know whether LeBron left Cleveland with the right intentions, but he clearly misjudged how his actions would be viewed. To me, though, the bigger issue is that so many people try to justify his leaving Cleveland on a callous view of whether each owed a sense of loyalty to the other.

  84. LeBron James is a terrific basketball player who made a sound personal business decision that was tailor-made to make people despise him. He wasn’t the first to do this and won’t be the last. And he’s right that he woke up this morning still a terrific basketball player and the people who Tweeted their socks off dissing him woke up people whose lives revolve around Twitter and Haterade and all.

    I hope he gets a ring because he’s a great player, and great players deserve to do great things. I was rooting for the Mavs because Dirk’s window was just about to close, so I’m glad he finally got a title. And a Finals MVP to boot. (Though Terry saved their bacon just as much in Games 5 and 6.)

    That said: Bron Bron collapsed in these Finals. And it’s not piling on to note it. Dude went from a ferocious performance against the Celtics to shutting down- and I mean SHUTTING DOWN- the league MVP in the Eastern Finals to…passing the ball around the key in the Finals in clutch time. I don’t get it.

    There’s a school of thought that LeBron is more Magic than Michael. Not seeing it. Magic could dominate a game while still held to single figures in scoring. LeBron can dish, sure, but the Heat aren’t the Showtime Lakers and for LeBron to be at his most effective, he has. to. score. And if not that, then he has to play the great D he’s capable of. Ask JET if LeBron played great D on him, as soon as he’s done knocking down this next shot.

    The Heat needed LeBron to drive, dish, dominate. Not stand between the circles and handing the ball off to Eddie House or Mike Miller or whatever flotsam. Scared of the moment? Too much on his mind? Proving a point? Who knows. Dirk was a softie who was afraid to drive and take contact until he wasn’t anymore. LeBron’s only 26. The Heat aren’t going anywhere. But neither are the Thunder going forward. Bron Bron, don’t care about the haters. Get back to the gym. To a shrink. Whatever. Be great.

  85. Maybe you could make a case that players owe their fans more loyalty than a software writer does. But Spike’s point at 108 overrides that. The owners will cut your ass as soon as you’re not performing.

  86. Jeff K @ 116 says it better than I could.

    But to maintain that we (the customer) have no legitimate right to respond to the actions of the objects of our allocated resources (time, money and, yes, emotion) is taking economic determinism to an illogical extreme.

    Certainly, LeBron (and Glavine and countless others) have the right to make the choices they made. And had LeBron acted gracefully in his departure, the rancor would have been muted, short-lived and regional.

    Instead, he chose to act like the shallow, self-absorbed child that he apparently is.

    These actions have consequences and I might be the perfect test-subject. (Note: I’m not a Cavs fan, I’m a Hawks fan. I know, I know …)

    Before “The Decision” LeBron was one of my favorite players. After that truly putrid display, he’s become the player I root against. (Similar to Favre and Vick – going from the top of my list to the bottom nearly overnight.)

    And apparently I’m not alone in this.

    Guess what? LeBron will survive my disdain and the Heat will likely win their multiple championships. But like the Pistons of Isiah, Mahorn and Laimbeer, this fan of the sport wishes them nothing but frustration.

    Sports is indeed different than business. It’s more. If it weren’t, the derived value of Johnny Venters’ sinker would approach zero and whether Josh Hamilton thrived or crashed would matter only to his family and his Maker.

  87. Oh, and Bethany’s right – I, too, don’t want Reyes anywhere near the team I root for.

  88. Not trying to pile on or to enter the debate, but I wanted to latch onto AAR’s thought in 118…

    Didn’t he grow up a Cowboys and Yankees fan? Pretty sure he didn’t/doesn’t understand fandom in the same way that some Cavs fans might.

  89. some inconsiderate fans and of some self-interested owners,

    “Some”? Please.

    By all accounts Cleveland Cavs ownership treated LeBron with all due respect and they offered him nearly the same contract that Miami did.

    But not the same commitment to building a champion. That fans somehow see it as James’ failing and not ownerships is…curious.

    Cleveland fans clearly honored their hometown hero.

    Cleveland fans clearly enjoyed winning basketball games for a change. Their attendance record reflects this. Ownership should be thanking James to this day for making that happen, and for cheap too.

  90. Concerning Cleveland: The Cavs should’ve always been operating under the assumption that LeBron could and would leave. His contract didn’t run forever. The idea should’ve been to win a title in 2010, hell or high water. That would’ve required making a big play for Amare…not Antawn.

    It was never about the money for LeBron. The NBA has a salary cap. He wasn’t going to get an ARod contract from anyone.

    I’m not sure what LeBron owes the Cavs. He was friggin Jesus coming out of high school. He was going to succeed for any lotto team. He was going to be paid by any lotto team. Fans were going to come watch him play wherever.

  91. Spike – You demand loyalty by owners/fans yet don’t expect it of athletes. That’s fine, for you and some of the inconsiderate types I was making note of.

    By any measure there are many top notch organizations, including the Braves, who show a lot of loyalty (geez, sometimes many here have argued too much loyalty) to their players. It’s just those who only see things through their colored view who ascribe negative motives.

    Oh, and Cleveland would still be winning games, at a very high price, had LeBron simply accepted their offer.

  92. Cleveland had hit their peak. That was as good as that franchise was going to be.

  93. He thought that his fans only loved him, more than their team, and they would happily follow him wherever he went. That’s not how sports fandom works, and it was that profound ignorance that allowed him to hurt as many people as he did while being completely unaware of what he was doing.

    Well now, isn’t that an indictment of fans more so than James, and actually, an affirmation of his decision? They don’t really “love him” or even “support him” for that matter at all – just the value he can provide to the laundry. In which case, yeah, go for the rings because your new “fans” will love you as much as the old ones did – which is to say, damn little outside of how well you can dance.

  94. My one note:

    D. N. Nation
    “I hope he gets a ring because he’s a great player, and great players deserve to do great things.”

    Nobody deserves to do great things. You either do ’em, or you don’t.

    But I think I’m mostly quibbling there.

  95. “He thought that his fans only loved him, more than their team, and they would happily follow him wherever he went. That’s not how sports fandom works…”

    Actually, there are a lot of people who *do* follow LeBron and just LeBron, somewhat out of stick-it-to-the-man reasoning. You just have to know where to look.

  96. Spike – You demand loyalty by owners/fans yet don’t expect it of athletes. That’s fine, for you and some of the inconsiderate types I was making note of.

    Of course, this is not what I said at all. It’s a two way street, but for some reason you are willing to require it of only one group here.

    there are many top notch organizations, including the Braves, who show a lot of loyalty (geez, sometimes many here have argued too much loyalty) to their players

    And they have benefited from this many times – Maddux signed here for less. Ross stayed as a backup when he easily could have been a starter. Hinske took a lesser deal – that’s just off the top of my head. I really don’t think you have thought this through at all.

  97. Whew, spike, what a sad statement. Right, the telos — the true object — of being a fan is to love an individual player, not the collection of players that makes a team.

    Of course, players who choose to stay out of loyalty to a city or their teammates or an organization may get paid less. I can tell the only thing you value as a sign of loyalty is money. What you have not thought through is that many people value other things. Things like loyalty, things like being part of a longer-term team, things like being a leader in the club house. Things other than money.

  98. Spike, is it an indictment of fans? Should LeBron be able to demand the exact manner in which people love him, and condemn them when they do not behave accordingly?

    Or is it an indication that he doesn’t understand them?

  99. It’s an indicator that they could not care less about LeBron James outside of what he can do for them. That’s not really “fandom” from where I sit – “entitlement” seems more apropos.

  100. @132 – I know where to look – spike – and it is a stick-it-to-the-man reasoning. Even for teams that aren’t the man.

  101. @134, I admire musicians no matter what group they are in. I enjoy artistry for it’s own sake, not some second-hand vanity about it’s association with my geographic location. You are conflating fandom with ego validation. but it seems to be a popular misconception these days.

  102. @138 – And I like all sorts of service companies (like my favorite taxi company) for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with sports. If bands existed to compete for the World Series of Music championship, you’d have a different view of the musicians who comprise the band.

    Edit: And it’s not geographics that necessarily defines “fandom.” I have never lived anywhere near Atlanta nor even in Georgia. And the same is true for many fans of many sports.

  103. If bands existed to compete for the World Series of Music championship, you’d have a different view of the musicians who comprise the band.

    No, I wouldn’t. That’s the difference between us.

    And it’s not geographics that necessarily defines “fandom.”

    Whatever the reason, your fandom seems to revolve around the laundry and not the activity.

  104. I hope you get better Mac.

    I think justhank said it best at 122. The national backlash against Lebron is due to the manner in which he left, not the fact that he left. The “decision” was truly unprecedented. A massive championship type celebration before their first practice. “It’s gonna be easy” etc. I think it’s fine to root for his frustration in a sports context.

  105. Spike, who are your favorite players? Not musicians, but players. Are none of your favorite players Atlanta Braves? Are all of them Braves? Does the laundry not matter at all? Is the laundry determinate?

    I love watching LeBron at the height of his powers, but I’m a fan of the Atlanta Braves. I divide my favorite players into two categories: my favorite Braves, and my favorite players who aren’t on the Braves. (A third category is players who used to be Braves whom I continue to wish well — anyone from Greg Maddux to Andruw Jones to Willie Harris.)

    But I don’t root for a player irrespective of the jersey. I root for a player fully cognizant of the jersey. Somehow, LeBron doesn’t acknowledge that type of behavior. Or doesn’t approve of that.

    Also, that’s terrible, Mac. Feel better.

  106. @141, You gotta stop hanging around those Marlin clubhouses! Sorry to hear, Mac. To a speedy recovery.

  107. Spike – Just to make sure we clearly understand the different categories of fandom. I see it this way:

    1st – Fans of a Team
    Or as you put it, fandom that “revolve(s) around the laundry”. These fans pull for a the collection of players. They may or may not keep an interest in any certain player after he leaves the team. I for one still enjoyed watching Maddux pitch as a Padre. Since Teixeira left I could care less about the douche. Fans of the Cavs were the ones upset by Lebron’s ignorance and lack of tact.

    2nd – Fans of a Player
    Works best in golf or tennis. I guess some fans will follow a player instead of a team and change allegiance when he changes teams. Probably more common in NBA than baseball (one player can dominate). Could get pretty expensive to buy a new cap every time Matt Stairs gets dealed. Fans of Lebron and Lebron only probably had no problem with the event of last summer. They have probably also been effectively brainwashed by the cult of the swoosh and drink plenty of Sprite.

    3 – Fans of the Sport
    Watch for love of the game and follow no specific teams or players. This is how I follow the World’s Strongest Man Competition (at least since the retirement of Magnus Ver Magnusson). These fans also probably didn’t care much about what happened with the decision. Maybe were pleased with the amount of assembled talent. Maybe were unhappy with the imbalance it helped make worse.

    Which group you fall into really changes how you view the whole situation.

  108. @144, perhaps it appears to be a dichotomy, but to me, there is no logical disconnection. Jeff asked the rhetorical question about whether the telos of fandom is the player or the team. Of course, the answer is neither – the true telos is the game itself. My “sporting interest” is of course in the home team. I prefer them to win. But my fandom is of baseball. I like watching good baseball players. That they often play for the other team may run counter to my sporting interest, but watching say, Victorino come through time after time against his biggest rival at crucial moments appeals to my fandom of baseball.

    /148, posted this before I read yours, but I think it covers the question.

    Fans of the Cavs were the ones upset by Lebron’s ignorance and lack of tact.

    There didn’t appear to be too many fans of the Cavs pre-James, and it doesn’t look like there are many post either. Until the next “savior” comes along at any rate.

  109. @148, I would also offer up a #4 – fans of teams that happen to be winning at the moment. They seem to be the largest group by far.

  110. There didn’t appear to be too many fans of the Cavs pre-James, and it doesn’t look like there are many post either.

    I think that’s unfair. It’s Cleveland’s team. There’s no great way of quantifying how many fans a particular team has; attendance totals are a terrible proxy, because tickets are expensive. But if you grow up as a basketball fan in Cleveland, the odds are that you’re a Cavs fan, for the same reason that I’m a Braves fan because I grew up in Atlanta. There are millions of potential fans and probably tens of thousands of actual fans. That’s who LeBron’s “Decision” was aimed at, and that’s who got hurt by it.

  111. Sports is better with heroes & villains, however one defines those notions.

    Examples: Despite his record reign, Joe Louis’ legacy will always be more tied to the Schmeling fights; The Olympics were dramatically more compelling during the Cold War; though certainly a product of his unique times, Muhammed Ali was a polarizing figure like nobody we’ve seen since, but we couldn’t take our eyes off him; and the New York Yankees drive ratings every time.

    LeBron is just a modern extension of all that. Ever since The Decision, many made their own decisions to abandon him. Fine. Some guys you just can’t root for, right? He’ll probably win a title somewhere down the line, but it’s just more good theater, IMO.

    An anecdote: I met a friend for pints at an Irish pub in Santa Monica yesterday. Being on Left Coast Time, I kinda forgot that the NBA game was commencing in an hour. But that place filled up at tip-off & it was as lively an atmosphere I’d seen in a while. None of those people were Heat or Mavs fans, but they felt like they were invested in this thing somehow, and that’s good for the sport.

    BTW, good luck, Mac. Here’s to better health.

    And on that note, posi-thoughts for The Big Man.

  112. My wife is from the Akron/Canton area, we hang an 80’s era Cavs Christmas ornament on our tree every year.

  113. Jeff K,

    I’m a lawyer as well, albeit not in private practice, but I work with corporate law firms. If you consider loyalty in making your career decisions, I admire you but, from what I see in Washington, DC, at least, you seem to be the exception more than the rule. I don’t see much loyalty by law firms to either associates or partners–they get kicked out on their asses when things get tough and vice versa as well.

    I think “The Decision” was classless and overdone, but why should people in Cleveland have any say in where the guy decides to play. And what you call loyalty isn’t really loyalty–it’s more like, I like this player because he is good and helps my team win. I know nothing about him personally and really don’t care–if he is a good guy but sucks, get rid of him. It’s no different than someone using a plumber or a lawyer. At the same time, players should understand that fans are buying their jerseys and investing emotionally in them in a way that you don’t with your doctor or plumber. But I find it hard to say that players should be loyal to fans when I read comments on this and other sports blogs attacking someone personally (e.g., Melky Cabrera had a “fat face”) and pretending to know what a player is like as a human being based on what he does on the field. I agree that “hate” in this context may not mean true hate, but in today’s world, you can’t simply dismiss it as meaningless. I would be willing to bet that one day there will be an incident of a fan shooting a player. There is no way in the world I would want to be an opposing player in Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium or wherever, especially as it becomes more acceptable to abuse and even threaten players.

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