An Oral History of the Braves-Cardinals Wild Card Game (by W.C.G.)

Board –

If you were at the Braves-Cardinals wild-card game and you have interesting stories to tell, I’d like to email-interview you about it for a while, for a piece that should go up just before Opening Day. I’m especially interested if you

– threw beer bottles onto the field
– got beer thrown on you
– were sitting within earshot/beershot of Sam Holbrooke
– witnessed any type of physical altercation
– have pictures (of anything)

But I’m totally open to any other random stories from various sections of Turner Field, too. The more the merrier. If you’re game, hit me at the brand-new burner gmail account I created for this project,

I should note that all participants will be ID’d by board handle only, so no worries about disclosing your transgressions that day…

145 thoughts on “An Oral History of the Braves-Cardinals Wild Card Game (by W.C.G.)”

  1. I never really disliked the Cardinals, until we started playing them on the post-season (’82, ’96, ’00, ’12). Even the one time we beat them, which was pretty sweet, they were incredibly annoying with Dennis Eckersley’s finger-pointing.

    I kinda liked the Herzog teams (when they weren’t beating up on the Braves), but the LaRussa Era… pure villainy.

  2. I never hated the Cardinals. In fact, there was a few-weeks period in 1982 when they were my first favorite baseball team before I settled on the Braves. What surprised me the most was how dicklike some Cards fans were intent on being during a game I went to at Turner Field. Mets fans, Cubs fans? Definitely. But I never imagined Cards fans would be such in-your-face assholes on visiting turf.

  3. @2

    I imagine that tends to happen when you’re constantly told you’re the best baseball fans in the world. I’m sure they think everyone loves them and would be shocked to learn that you thought, or anyone would think, they were being assholes.

    For a similar example, see Duke basketball fans, 75 percent of whom hilariously have no idea that everyone hates them. Seriously, ask one about it. Chances are good they’ll be flabbergasted.

  4. I find the Cardinal fans pretty obnoxious when I see a game here in DC. But I admire the history of the Cardinals and it is a great baseball city. I went to a game there a few years ago on the last day of the season when the Cards were out of contention. There were 40,000 people there rooting hard for the team. How many would you have in Atlanta in that situation?

    But I think there is no justification for throwing stuff on the field or anything like that just because of a bad call. In the end, it’s just a damn baseball game.

  5. If I had been at the game I would have thrown beer, nachos, or some piece of trash on the field. It was such a terrible call.

    From now on I will always root against the Cardinals.

  6. @5

    And yet if you’d asked everyone before the game if they were prepared to trash the field in the event of a bad call, I’ll bet even the majority of those who ended up doing so would have said no. I can’t be too hard on them, and I don’t think it says anything in particular about Atlanta fans — mob mentality is a real thing, after all. If I’d managed to resist throwing something onto the field, it would probably only have been because I’m a cheap bastard who doesn’t like to waste beer or food.

  7. Especially since the Braves were a hell of a lot more responsible for losing the game than the umpires. They had already pretty much pissed away the game. And the ball should have been caught so it would have been an enormous stroke of luck for the Braves.

    And, if it makes anyone feel better, the Cardinals lost a World Series once due to an egregiously bad call.


    “After chatting with volatile Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight before a game against the Braves, McGwire is ejected by rookie umpire Sam Holbrook in the first inning for arguing a called third strike. Fans at Busch Stadium show their displeasure by showering the field with trash and assorted knickknacks. “The farthest thing from my mind of what I wanted to do was eject Mark McGwire,” Holbrook would say. “I bent over backwards not to do so. I did everything I could to keep him in the game and he continued to argue. At some point I had to draw the line.””

    The sainted Cardinals fans, trashing their cathedral after a first-inning, regular season game ejection! Obviously they were there to watch McGwire chase Maris — but it just goes to show, if you concoct just the right scenario, it can happen anywhere.

  9. @9
    They lost the game after the call. True.

    But they completely lost their composure after the call, with Clark blowing an easily makeable catch. Todd Worrell almost saved them with a brilliant play at 3rd.
    Then Porter booted one to the backstop and they were clearly wrecked.

    But they had another game to play. To compete and win.
    Saberhagen, on 5 days rest, strangled them. The Cardnials lost it again, with Whitey and Andujar getting tossed. Tudor had nothing.

    Still, Card fans blame the ump.

    On the other hand, the ’75 Reds watched Fisk hit a dramatic home run in what’s called one of baseball’s best games.
    And came out and won the Series the next day. Because they were Champions.

    If the Braves have to take their responsibility for the loss, then I can’t cut the ’85 Cards any slack. What I remember last October was a vanquished Chipper interviewed and saying they played like trash and got beat.

    Whitey’s wrote two books and stil wants the bad call reversed, even on the day he was inducted to the HOF.

    Go Braves!

  10. I was at Turner Field when it went down. If Fredi comes out and throws a base and gets tossed, the fans would have clamed down. I know it is a playoff game, but YOU HAVE TO GET EJECTED THERE!

    Secondly, we should have taken the field and burned the stadium.

  11. While I recognize that it’s 95 percent likely that a horrific umpiring call cost the Cards a World Series (the right call would’ve put them two outs away with nobody on, but it was only a one-run lead), and I do sympathize, I can’t possibly fathom what that has to do with us. They were playing the Royals in that World Series, not us, and I don’t see how getting their bad karma transferred to us, a totally unrelated team that happens to be the one I cheer for, should make me feel better in the slightest, especially since they’ve one two World Series since that happened.

    I don’t think people went to the park expecting to throw crap on the field, but I can’t blame them for doing it in the face of such an absurd call that ruined our last good chance to get back into the game. Even if there was only a 40 percent chance that we win that game from that point and we played horribly leading up to it, there was nothing about that situation that was the slightest bit understandable or OK, despite all the BS MLB spewed afterwards.

  12. Both Atlanta and St. Louis have a reputation (fairly or not) for “polite” fan bases — Atlanta in particular is the “spoiled by success so the fans don’t even show up” city. (I have my own opinion which is quite different, but it’s neither here nor there.) The ensuing response to Holbrook’s call belied the narrative, but only to a point. In Cleveland or Philadelphia I’m not sure the game ever restarts.

  13. @13
    He spiked the ball after a close call. I wouldn’t say that’s no reason. Greinke was supposedly upset that he didn’t get to the bag in time and that seems valid but it still looked like poor judgment from both parties.

  14. Players have been tossed for throwing helmets. There is not much of a difference, but its an extreme overreaction on the umps decision.

  15. Greinke’s ejection had absolutely nothing to do with what he did, which on its face is an absurd reason to toss a player. It had to do with what the umpire perceived it to mean (erroneously, imo), specifically, that it indicated Greinke objected to the call (as opposed to his just being upset that the runner was safe). In other words, it was ego protection, and that sort of behavior should not be tolerated from umpires.

  16. Teheran is carving up the Nats. 5 Ks in 3IP with only a single hit, a solo shot by Harper. Only a couple regulars, but some solid bench players (Moore, Lombardozzi etc.). #Gettingexcited

  17. I don’t care what anybody says, I like the World Baseball Classic. It would be better if it happened in November instead of March, so that you wouldn’t have to deal with spring training and pitch counts and whatnot, but every sport with any sort of international presence should have a World Cup, in my opinion, and that includes baseball. All the other sports manage to work issues between international and club competition out somehow, and there’s absolutely no reason why baseball can’t, too. It is absolutely worthwhile. /soapbox

  18. @23 I agree. I don’t get the “fans” who do nothing but bitch about it. The WBC is great for baseball.

  19. @23, I think it would be wonderful if they made it into a 20 and under tournament to show premier young talent from each country. At that age, it’s nothing more than an extended winter league competition that (I don’t think anyway) teams wouldn’t be hesitant to send their young stars to. It’s a great idea in concept, maybe not so much in execution given how many players see it more as a danger to their health rather than a chance to represent their country.

    In my mind, a great way of tweaking it would be as follows:
    Putting all the players that want to play in it into a pool
    Selecting 16 different captains from each of the competing nations.
    Randomly assign the 16 captains a draft order, snake-style
    Let the captains divide the teams into order.
    Play Ball.

    I’d totally watch every game of that tournament, especially the draft.

  20. I was at a bar with friends for the game. When the call was made I stood up and said “What the hell?!”, flailing my arms to the side. Apparently my friend aside me simultaneously flailed and my iPhone went flying out of my hands and across the room, shattering the screen. I then started a bar fight and stabbed 6-7 cards fans with chicken enchilada stained utensils. Ok…that last sentence didnt happen…

  21. I love watching Simmons at SS. Just had a rocket hit at him, he threw one to first about as fast as the ball was hit at him.

  22. Is Bogaerts highly rated defensively? He’s made some great defensive plays at 3b for the Netherlands. I’m sure their manager loves the left side of that infield.

  23. I think Bogaerts is expected to stick at SS, so he’s probably pretty good defensively.

  24. There was a pretty amusing Twitter war last night. After Heyward bunted in yesterday’s game, Ben Duronio tweeted Heyward and mentioned that it’s statistically a bad idea. Heyward tweeted back, Medlen got involved, and now Braves Twitter Country is torn asunder. Funny stuff.

  25. Looks like Uggla has some more work to do this spring to get over his strikeout problem.

  26. I gotta say, reading through that Twitter crap.. Heyward and Medlen look pretty bad.

    They started calling him Coach Ben, started tagging their tweets #coachben (which, in the world of Twitter bullshit, creating or repeating a hashtag is the signal to all your sycophants to start using it too. And, why would they use it without harassing the person, too.)

    Pretty poor form from guys the media has tried their damnedest to make us like. Turns out they’re high school jock bullies.

  27. At least now I can mentally prepare for Heyward bunting because he’s “a number 2 hitter.” Good to know simple mathematics eludes both coaches and players alike.

  28. That seems like a rather ridiculous overreaction to a rather tame, albeit humorous disagreement.

    Players are people too, and they even have opinions. Sharing them in the same fashion as everyone else on twitter doesn’t make them “high school jock bullies.” And they aren’t responsible for what other people say.

  29. I get the feeling most of you don’t spend much time on twitter. A humorous hashtag is not bullying. Having people disagree with you is the risk you take for sharing your views, even when they are right.

    I don’t know about you guys, but my bullies always told me, “I respect ur opinion”

  30. I spend a lot of time on twitter, and I’ve spent most of my life being a woman in men’s groups, so I think I’m especially qualified to point out jockish behavior. They are using their popularity to make someone else feel small because it didn’t fit with their viewpoint.

  31. You’re right. A bunch of people on an Internet comment board don’t spend time on twitter. It’s too strange to them.

  32. I know one thing: I’m not buying tickets to see Jason Heyward freaking bunt, that’s for sure. That’s like going to a Gallagher show (if that’s your thing) and he refuses to smash things.

  33. It may be disappointing to see Heyward and Medlen act that way, but it’s their right to say what they want. He probably knows that he gets better results when he swings than when he bunts, and how good of a player he is. He probably also knows that there’s a rule in the dugout that you do what the manager tells you do to, regardless of whether you think it’s the correct decision or not. He’s probably just having fun at the expense of someone that isn’t exactly familiar with how a MLB team operates with regards to managerial authority. If that’s the definition of bullying, then I’m sure each and every one of us on this board has been guilty of it more than once in the last month.

  34. Having fun at someone else’s expense when you’re in the position of power is exactly what bullying is. It’s wrong and there’s no excuse for it.

  35. Please, enlighten me as to which specific tweet by what player constitutes “high school jock bullying.” Ben had an opinion, Heyward had a different one. Ben isn’t crying about it, why are folks on here?

    @41 Lots of people on the internet don’t use twitter. Based on the ridiculous overwrought reactions here, it seemed the plausible explanation. But wait a minute, you just had fun at my expense so you are a bully.

  36. Does anyone remember if Kimbrel has had control problems in previous spring trainings? ST stats are pretty much meaningless and all that, yeah, but his control has been absolute ass so far.

  37. @44, I don’t know; are they in power? I get that they’re probably convincing a bunch of (dumb) people that antagonizing Ben on the internet is fine. In that sense, you’re right it’s bullying. But they probably don’t realize that, and that’s not their intention. And I think that if they lack the intent to persecute and rather are privately joking at his viewpoints, it’s okay. For them, it’s joke between two major league players and Ben, not two MLB players, twitter, and Ben. Maybe they should be mature and realize that they’re essentially giving free reign to their follower to pile on Ben, but if that’s their sense of humor, I think it’s fine.

    Is it any more or less bullying if they’re career AAAA players with 200 followers? I don’t think so.

    Edit: Hmmm… well, honestly, the more the think I about it, their actions were pretty bad and unbecoming for MLB players, especially the veterans they are. I mean, they are my team, but I probably wouldn’t be so forgiving if they were Yankee players.

  38. You know, my brother was the curator/manager at Rickwood Field and after he got the gig, i asked him what it was like to hang out with pro players. His response, which has stuck with me to this day, was “they are the same guys you knew in high school, just 5 years older and without the benefit of a college education”. Like musicians, I love the display of their skills, and try not expect much more than that from them.

  39. @46

    Given his achilles heel coming up was his control, I’m gonna guess that yes, he’s had springs with control issues before. Also, maybe he’s working on something. And you’re right, spring training stats don’t matter. Not even a little bit.

  40. @48 I’m sure that’s exactly what they are like, but it’s not an excuse for their behavior either.

    @45 If the best argument you’ve got is “you’re being too sensitive” and “he’s not upset so why are you”, then there’s no point in continuing the discussion.

  41. I agree – my comment was not to excuse, just sharing an anecdote to describe my expectations – I don’t expect my cat to sing either. Whatever consequences accrue to their behavior are outside my control though.

  42. If what Heyward and co. did is considered bullying, then our society has become too sensitive and we might as well stop trying to do anything good in this world because there’s no hope. This is coming from a guy that basically has to give the bullying talk to at least one kid a week.

  43. Disagreeing with Ben is not bullying.

    I think the #coachben thing is bullying. You know you have 50,000 followers, or whatever. You know what hashtags are for. Creating and repeating the hashtag is INTENTIONALLY goading your 50,000 followers to join you in ridiculing this guy. I don’t see how that’s confusing.

    “ridiculous overwrought reactions here..” Saying something that you disagree with is neither ridiculous, nor overwrought. No one here is being ridiculous. There are people in the world with a different point of view than you have. If you find that ridiculous, then I don’t know what to tell you, grst.

  44. @52 – This is another thing that kills me… “Our society has just become too sensitive.” Since when do I speak for society? I’m just a guy with an opinion, just like you. It’s insulting to reduce my opinion to some rehashing of some kind imaginary “social movement.” I don’t think its bullying because I’ve been brainwashed by movies-of-the-week or something. I think its bullying because I think its bullying.

    Do a Twitter search for @benduronio or #coachben and read the human garbage that was showing up in Ben’s feed. Argue that that would have happened without Heyward and Medlen, and you’re lying to yourself. Argue that its not they’re not responsible for what their followers say, and we’ll just have to disagree. They have to know that they’re being followed by 50,000 or so sycophants, they know what kind of repugnance Twitter is capable of. By using that stupid hashtag, they were unleashing that on Ben; and not because he was mean or somehow inappropriate. Just because they could, and “who cares about this guy?” Thats bullying to me.

  45. From USA Today…

    [Walter and club president Stan Kasten] believe the Dodgers will become a dynasty, and when asked whether it’s possible for anyone to duplicate the Atlanta Braves’ era when they won 14 consecutive division titles with Kasten as president, they weren’t shy.

    “It’s going to be done again,” Walter said, “this time on the West Coast. Oh, sorry.”

    Kasten, briefly taken aback by the bravado, said: “I’m saying, ‘Yes.’ But that’s all I’m going to say.”

    Good luck with that.

  46. Yes, we will have to agree to disagree. By the way, check out all of Ben’s “lol” posts after retweeting bad stats from braves players this spring, or him saying “the only person that gets excited about Ramiro Pena being announced is Ramiro Pena”. So, the Braves players spoke out against a guy that speaks our against them on a regular basis and that’s bullying?

  47. Oh…and not to mention he was shitfaced drunk while tweeting and reminding others of that fact on twitter.

  48. Yeah, Ben Duronino comes from the Peter Hjort school of being kind of an ass so I don’t have much sympathy. Maybe Heyward was out of line but I doubt there was any malicious intent.

  49. The Dodgers, to me, look like the new Worst Team Money Can Buy. Sure, they spent a lot, but what did they get? Carl Crawford? Uh, yay?

  50. No tears shed for fans who think they’re tough on Twitter and try to tell professional athletes how to do their jobs. There is certainly no conclusive evidence that says that Heyward (or anyone) should not bunt in that scenario. If Ben Duronino (whoever that is) wants to mess with the proverbial Internet bull, then he’ll get the Internet horn. A know it all got put in his place? Say it isn’t so.

    It’s like the Coach K/crowd storming conversation this week. When fans/analysts/reporters want to be human and act like idiots, then don’t be surprised when the athlete wants to be human and act like an idiot.

    Frankly, I’m one of the few that has respect for the sanctity of the personal lives of athletes, and Ben Duronino needs to shut his can on Twitter.

  51. The Dodgers are good, but I wouldn’t put them up with someone like the Nats in terms of expectations. They have a lot of talent, but more than a few potential question marks among them as well.

  52. @63

    That pretty much perfectly sums up the thoughts I was trying to put together on the subject. Duronio didn’t post something on his blog talking about how Heyward shouldn’t be bunting, he confronted Heyward with it on Twitter directly. It doesn’t count as bullying if the bullyee is being an ass and butting into other people’s business unwantedly and that’s what prompts it.

    And by the way, it’s freaking spring training! Must we already start this mindless knee-jerk bunting freakout? Isn’t it better that Heyward is capable of bunting than that he’s not?

  53. @63

    Ben Duronio is one of the main bloggers at Capitol Avenue Club. I agree with Trace @61; those guys are all pretty full of themselves, I assume due to the fact that they got picked by Rob Neyer to be the Braves’ entry in the SweetSpot lineup on right before he left. Which I’ve never really understood (them being chosen), since neither their content nor tone is anywhere near Braves Journal’s.

    I think what Spike said @48 is, sadly, pretty much the dead-on explanation of the other side.

  54. Well things got pretty dramatic here yesterday.

    I think CAC has gone down hill and those guys have big heads. Much like Keith Law.

  55. I agree with Bethany. Ben was bullied, and it was an ugly episode. There are three mitigating factors that I can see.

    First, I think Heyward and Medlen and the other Braves did not realize that they were tacitly encouraging a Twitter war against Ben Duronio. I think they just saw some nerd on the internet basically telling them he knew baseball better than they did, so they decided to respond jocularly, and really had no thought of the consequences. They’re in their early 20s and I’m pretty sure that they’re not particularly social media-savvy.

    Second, Ben isn’t quite a private citizen: he’s a prominent Braves blogger who writes about these guys a lot, and in this case, he directly tweeted at them. It’s not that they randomly attacked someone out of nowhere. Fortunately or unfortunately, if you have a byline, it makes your name more public than it otherwise would be.

    Third, Ben was drunk, and probably didn’t consider his words carefully, which undoubtedly didn’t help.

    In the end, Ben got bombed by Braves fans who follow Braves players on Twitter — Heyward may not have intended that, but that’s what happened. I think that Ben will be fine in the end, just a bit dazed by a tremendously weird day on Twitter, and fortunately it wasn’t worse. Players often don’t realize the power that they have.

    That doesn’t excuse Jason Heyward’s behavior, but I think it mitigates it. He may not realize that over the course of a few tweets he inadvertently ruined a guy’s day and could have had an adverse effect on the guy’s career. Hopefully he will learn. But it’s likely that he won’t. Generally speaking, it probably isn’t a good idea to tweet free advice at players on twitter. Ben said that he never thought Heyward would respond. In that case, why did he tweet at Heyward?

  56. @69 well said.

    I think I’m going to print spike’s comment @48 and post it on my computer. I’ll glance at it when these issues come up and remember to root like hell for the Braves the next day anyway.

  57. Wasn’t the decision to bunt the manager’s call? That tweet should have gone to Fredi, right? And I think we all could get behind bullying Fredi.

  58. So, does Turdoslavich (he’s going to have to change his name if he ever sticks in the bigs) bear watching?

    Small sample size, but the guy is hitting like, well, Martin Prado in a good stretch. (You know, the one thing this team is missing?)

    Can he play 2B? ‘Cause the guy we got there right now ain’t seein’ it.

  59. I dunno, Heyward showing he’ll bunt isn’t such a bad thing.

    Can’t wait to see the look on the 3B face when his manager tells him to get in on the grass with Jason at the plate. Talk about your wide-mouthed frog …

  60. Late to the party I reckon, but I think CAC went south when Hjort and the cadre turned off the comment section for awhile when they got tired of dissenting opinions in the comments (“trolling” they put it, IIRC).

  61. Alex, I understand your points, but people have to be held accountable for messing with athletes. Ben knows he can gets a rise out of Heyward by going after him, and Ben didn’t like the consequences.

    I think we’re also taking Twitter a bit too seriously when we determine it has the capacity to “ruin someone’s day.” If a bunch of random fans that you don’t know say mean things to you through an Internet message, and that ruins your day, you probably shouldn’t be on Twitter.

    I also think the “jock” insults are probably indicative of the overall way you view athletes. If you grew up on the side of the fence that got picked on in high school by athletes, you probably think they’re “bullying jocks”. If you were an athlete in high school, and happen to like athletes, then you probably just see Heyward and Medlen making jokes. I think this is more a result of your worldview than the events themselves.

  62. I think the whole thing is a “step away from the internet for a minute” situation.

  63. @78, what you said. People are dicks on the internet in ways they wouldn’t be in real life for the most part. That’s all I really take from this.

    Thanks to all who have written me back in reference to this post, we’ve got a variety of firsthand perspectives and I’m looking forward to putting this project together.

  64. I’ll just say that when a substantial part of your life is the internet, it can be really shitty when a bunch of people just randomly start throwing vitriol at you. I know nothing of the above exchange beyond a brief back and forth between Heyward, one or two other players, and the guy, (who I’d never heard of) but from what I understand about twitter use, it’s considered “correct” to respond to a DM with a DM. If Duronio meant it to be a private exchange, it would’ve been polite for Heyward to keep it private. If he did anything wrong, it was that breach of protocol. Beyond that… I mean, he called down the fire, and now he reaped the whirlwind. Given what an issue actual malicious bullying can be for young kids, teens, etc., I don’t consider a grown man getting himself into trouble while drunk on the internet, resulting in 1,000 people tweeting him mean things to rise to that standard.

    But w/e. It’ll be done in two days. Hell, it’s probably done now.

  65. If you want to see the intelligence level of the people on the internet and why you shouldn’t take them seriously, just read an article’s comments. The cretons come out of the woodsheds for those.

  66. In Duronio’s defense, I don’t think he really complained about the players’ responses, he mostly just retweeted a few of the more moronic insults lobbed at him by fans. I don’t think there’s any problem with Heyward practicing his bunting in spring training; it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Fredi asked him to bunt for real sometime past April, which I think was the event which was preemptively, unnecessarily complained about; and the common insult that Duronio should shut up because he doesn’t play the game and thus can’t know proper strategy is deserving of ridicule, which he provided in his twitter response. Ultimately no one got hurt though.

  67. So, who thinks Uggla ever returns to his former self? At this point, I’d be glad for 2011 Uggla. How many Ks is he up to this spring? 10?

  68. 11 K’s now I think, and sporting a 0.100 batting average. I can’t say I’m that hopeful really. I’m going in thinking he’ll bat 0.200 and maybe I’ll be positively surprised.

    On a more bright note Gattis had some nice stops on Venters’ and Gearrin’s pitches.

  69. @W.G.C 79 – I have been thinking more about that game (I was there) and I have decided I should maybe at least tell you how it felt to me at the time. That entire game was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. It seemed like we started off good so my emotions were high, then we had a series of missed opportunities and errors which had me quite mad at our team. So by the time the “infield fly” happened I was already thinking the Braves had given away the game… except the events leading up to the fly, right before, had raised my hopes that we would snatch another come back victory (seemed like we did that a lot last year). When the bad call finally happened what I recall thinking is “typical and if we hadn’t blown other opportunities this would not even be relevant or meaningful”. I recall complaining about a bad call made by a referee at a judo tournament when I was younger and my dad saying if you don’t want the referee to make bad calls then next time leave your opponent flat on his back in the middle of the mat and take the referee out of the decision process. I was feeling exactly that same sentiment at the game. Just win decisively and these horrible calls won’t matter. I didn’t throw anything but I did participate in a good bit of yelling at the ump and I did get a bit of beer on me from the upper deck.

  70. The Major League record for strike-outs is 1,529 (2010 Arizona)Do we break that is year?

  71. If these guys stay healthy we will be celebrating the strikeout record with champagne. JUpton is an amazing hitter. Such a sweet swing. #Gettingexcited

  72. Was Uggla really that bad at the plate last season? Everyone keeps citing batting average and strikeouts, but he hit 19 home runs, tied for the NL lead in walks (94) and had a .348 OBP. For a second baseman, that’s hardly a huge drag on a team.

    If half those walks were turned into regular old singles with no one on base, Uggla’s OBP would still be .348, but his batting average would be .310 and the AJC crowd would likely be singing his praises, despite having the same offensive season.

  73. He’d probably get less slack for hitting .270/.310 than he does for his .230/.350. Not sure why but some are stuck on batting average and then they see his salary. I would prefer to see less Ks moving forward, but I can handle a 2B putting up a 350obp with 20 hr.

  74. Well, he did start off really, really slow, too. And we signed him to hit closer to 30 hrs than 20. >_< For me anyways, it's mostly that power decline that's worrisome.

  75. I don’t think he’s going to get walked as much this year, and a lot of his walks came earlier in the year, when he was still hitting well. Then he hit rock bottom and all he could do was walk, and he wasn’t hitting for much power either. He’s not punishing pitchers for making mistakes and he’s missing a lot of good pitches.

  76. It’s a little unwise to assume that those singles would come with no one on base, considering where he hits in the order. The reality is that probably half the time, a runner is on base, and that strikeout has more negative value than if he even just made contact for an out. A .348 OBP is great for a second baseman, but when it’s coupled with so many rally-killing K’s, then it’s not as valuable as the alternative.

    We laugh at setting the strikeout record as this team mashes the ball, but for those that are going to be watching the games on a daily basis, you’re going to see a lot of missed opportunities because we can’t get a runner home from third with less than 2 outs or can’t get a runner from second to third with a ground ball to the right side. And in the late innings, when situational bullpen match-ups are going to work against us, the only thing that will keep our Pythagorean record from spinning out of control is going to be our own shut-down, situational bullpen. If we had both, we’d probably win 100 games…

    I could not be as progressive thinking as most, but there has to be a balance in how many people in your lineup will make contact or be in the top 10 in strikeouts. I have a feeling this is going to be the most frustrating 90-win, Wild Card-winning team in recent memory.

  77. mravery makes a good point about Uggla as well: he’s paid to have ISOs of .100 and .150, but because he can’t make enough contact, his OPS is falling way below his salary. Coupled that with average defense at an important defensive position and being the wrong side of thirty already with time remaining on his contact, and it’s not unrealistic to wish we were getting more right now.

    What’s all the WAR/VORP stuff say about him?

  78. WAR/VORP?

    Good God, y’all. Lord knows there’s got to be a better way. (sorry, sorry)

    So, about this kid Ramos – middle infielder? Hits line drives to the opposite field that one-hop the fence? Hmmm … wonder if the Dodgers would like to add another NAME PEOPLE KNOW ?

  79. @94, you have to count GIDP, too. When you include that, everything balances out, according to The Book:

    Overall, an out is an out. The run value of a strikeout is roughly the same as any other out. On average. There are individual cases where a strikeout is much worse than another type of out: runner on 3B and less than two outs. In this case, a strikeout is a killer, as was detailed in The Book. There are situations where a strikeout is actually preferable than another out: runner on 1B and less than 2 outs, since you won’t ground into a double play on a strikeout.
    Overall, there’s not much to choose between a strikeout or a regular out. The difference is around .01 or .02 runs per out. Being 100 strikeouts worse than average means that your strikeouts have a additional direct cost of 1 or 2 runs.

    @90, if you turn 30 of Uggla’s walks into singles, his line goes from being .220/.348/.384 to .262/.348/.417, if my math is correct. That’s actually quite a bit more valuable, especially when you include situational hitting. If I’m interpreting the Runs Created formula correctly, a single is worth 2.286 times more than a walk.

  80. Rob Cope is right. At some point, you hit Strike Out Critical Mass and the vortex of suck overwhelms all else.

    If we replaced Uggla with a high OPS guy, I think we’d have the perfect balance to challenge for the WS.

    As it is, some Cardinal lefty (they’re the other Wild Card) will have 21 strikeouts in the WC game. Sigh.

  81. OPS (and OPS+) overweight slg %, in terms of correlation to runs. IIRC, the better figure is 1.4 OBP + SLG. Uggla is still an excellent OBP guy for a 2B, and in context, really not a drag on the offense. You can argue whether he’s overpaid or not, and it’s effect on the construction of the roster but that’s another story.

  82. Good God, y’all. Lord knows there’s got to be a better way.

    If 2006 Chip Caray was any guide, the most important stat is two-out RBIs.

    “And here’s Francoeur, leading the majors still in two-out RBIs.”

  83. I think I read somewhere that Uggla lost 20 pounds. Even if he does lose some power (which isn’t likely) it is likely to help him in the field, which is where he has given away a lot more runs over the years than with the strikeouts. He didn’t have any difficult chances that I saw today but it wouldn’t surprise me if he looks smoother in the field this year.

    Speaking of surprisingly smooth, Gattis looked good behind the plate today. I never saw him throw down to second, but otherwise he seemed to be a serviceable major league catcher. He and Minor had a good rhythm.

  84. So Mike Trout’s agent gave a little lip about the Angels only renewing Trout’s contract for $20,000 over the league minimum, something about it being unfair since Trout had just put in the single-best season (by WAR) by a player in 9 years (and yeah, it was stupid. If he’s going to be the best player since Bonds, you may want to try to keep him happy). Now Trout is getting lauded as ‘choosing the high road’ by deciding to not discuss it in spring training. Do agents really come out like this and speak their mind? Or is it definitely something Trout had discussions about, and the agent let slip to the media (and my money is definitely on the latter)? It’s a pretty pathetic hero-worship of Trout, I feel.

  85. Trout was the best player in the American League, playing center field, winning Rookie of the Year, and finishing second in the MVP vote. By way of saying thank you, the Angels kicked him out of center field and gave him a $20,000 raise. I don’t mind him having his agent say, “Really, guys?” to the press.

  86. Oh, no, I think it’s completely fine that the agent said what he said. I’m just a little miffed that the media seems to be giving Trout credit for not saying anything, whereas the truth is that the agent is really Trout’s mouthpiece. If Trout wanted it go to unmentioned, he would have told his agent not to say anything. If Trout wanted the media to know about his anger at being moved and not being paid while at the same time appearing to be a ‘team player’, he would have told his agent to say something to the media while not mentioning the topic himself (which, in my mind, is what happened).

    To me, if the agent was allowed to mention it, it’ s because Trout also believes that he’s being underpaid and ill-treated and that he wants the world to know it. So instead of Trout coming out and saying it (and looking like the bad guy), he told his agent to say it. Now, it looks like Trout is the good guy, and the media has hung on to that story.

    Neurotic explanation? Probably. Incorrect? Maybe. But publicly complaining about a player’s salary isn’t something the agent does unless the player approves it (especially if that player is of Trout’s caliber and celebrity).

  87. Look, kids. If you go on the internet and start telling professional athletes how to do their jobs *during spring training* you can probably expect to get some shit for it. Don’t want to get “bullied” by mean old athletes and their followers? Don’t get drunk and tell them how to prepare for a season athletically. For fuck’s sake, you’re not a baseball coach. You’re an internet blogger who happened to get scooped up in the “ESPN buys all the local baseball team blogs” thing a few years ago.

  88. Sam,

    I agree.

    I am going to say that Jason Heyward knows more about baseball than all of us combined.

  89. Don’t agree with 112 at all, but yeah, I basically agree with 111. Glad I wasn’t around this weekend for the height of this “bullying” discussion. Good grief.

  90. Do the Angles really plan to play Hamilton in CF? That’s just… comically dumb. Maybe it’s an ego thing? He’d only agree to play there if he got to play center? Trout’s defense in center is top-teir while Hamilton’s (never elite) is slipping.

  91. @115 I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton pulled an Uggla and said “I’m only coming here if I can play ‘my position'”

  92. I believe there is a 3rd guy, not Hamilton or Trout, who will play center, but I can’t think of his name.

  93. @102
    Wow, he does look much smaller. Almost looks like this was a clip from his time in the minors.

    Also, the older guy trying to catch Uggla’s HR ball showed really poor form. He almost lost his enitre beer while tripping over those children.

  94. @120, IIRC, around the trade/extension time, there was some debate about whether we couldn’t put Uggla in LF and Prado at 2nd, it was made clear that Uggla would not be interested in playing LF.

  95. Bourjos is noted to the the CF on the Angels team page. Hamilton in right and Trout in left. I’m not sure how “official” that is, but I understand it.

  96. Bourjos also rates as an excellent defensive CF. And since Trout appears to have the weakest arm of the three, that alignment makes sense (as long as they shade Bourjos significantly towards RF).

  97. Who’s our current backup 2B? How hard would it be for Pastornicky to learn 2B and become an infield utility? That would also help reduce exposure if Uggla starts off horribly.

  98. @126

    He has been playing there some this spring (4 games)

    He is hitting the ball really well too.

  99. Oh. Hmm. Guess the Angles will have the best defensive OF in ever then, not the Braves. :-(

  100. @126 – I assume Pena is our backup 2B right now, with Janish waiting in the wings. From what I saw of Pena he looked pretty damn slick with the glove. So far Pastornicky looks as shaky at 2B as at SS, but he would be a better bench bat than either Pena or Janish, that is for sure.

  101. @128, Hamilton played CF somewhat credibly in the recent past, and frankly they could throw Manny Ramirez out there with Bourjos and Trout and it would be a top 5 defensive OF.

  102. Anybody watching the game on MLB TV? Betancourt sure does have a good arm. Huddy’s pitching okay, but a little inconsistent. BJ Upton sure does have a big swing. Pastornicky’s at short, made a good play in the hole but threw terribly to first. Chris Johnson bailed him out with a good stride towards right to scoop it up.

    Hey, Chris Johnson just singled. Dumped it into right center.

  103. It’s Spring Training so Brian Snitker is getting his reps in sending Chris Johnson home to get thrown out by a mile.

    T-Pas just smacked one to left. Run scored. Tie game. Hey, EDIT FUNCTION!!!

    T-Pas thrown out trying to steal second. Our baserunning this inning is terrible.

    I hereby anoint Blake DeWitt’s nickname to be B-DeW. Please capitalize the W.

  104. @135

    I think they are really agressive running bases in ST. I guess to see what you have

  105. My first chance to see El Oso Blanco. He sure has a pronounced crouch in his stance. Perhaps he should be nicknamed Crouching Bear?

    Base hit to right center.

    Up steps J-Terd, with a base knock to right center. Gattis motors to third. Nice!

    Who is this Joe Leonard guy?

  106. @140, Joe Leonard may end up our starting 3B at some point this season, if the shit hits the fan.

  107. Useless BBRef Play Index trivia — Brandon Hicks’ 7 runs scored without benefit of a hit for the 2010 Braves was the most runs scored in a season in the NL by a player without a hit since Miguel Dilone scored 8 in 1975 (in the AL in the ’70s, the A’s had a bunch of these guys with Charlie O. Finley’s stable of professional pinch-runners).

  108. #143
    Herb Washington, a world-class sprinter, was the first big “designated pinch runner” that the A’s used. He scored 29 runs in 1974 without ever picking up a bat or a glove.

    His best-known moment, probably, was getting picked off first by Dodgers reliever Mike Marshall in the ’74 WS. Come to think of it, I guess he did get a WS ring.

    Anyway, I remember getting Washington’s APBA card. It read:

    Bats: —
    Throws: —

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