Phillies 2, Braves 0 (by sansho1)

ESPN Box score

Ten things I learned at the ballpark tonight:

1. In 1946, at the advent of night baseball, the Braves played a couple of games in satin uniforms, on the theory they’d show up better under the lights (tonight the team fielded as though everyone in the stands wore their shiniest clothing).

2. Three home games into the season, and there are still no permits for street vendors. The vendor who handed me the flyer below (click on link) is convinced that the Braves organization has conspired with the city to delay permitting on this crucial homestand, when a large percentage of apparel is purchased. I don’t know about that, but I do know the hat I saw priced at $28 at the clubhouse store was the same hat I got for $15 last year from a street vendor.

3. The stadium organist continues to be generally awesome. Here’s a list of the songs I think I could identify for the Phillies batters:
Ben Revere – Midnight Rider
Chase Utley – theme from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Ryan Howard – theme from Ryan’s Hope (don’t ask how I know this…as your intrepid reporter, all manner of knowledge is my business)
Michael Young – theme from The Young & The Restless (again, I really must ask….)
Domonic Brown – Brown Eyed Girl
Laynce Nix – Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks

4. Jack Quinn is the only Braves player in history to hail from Austria-Hungary. This and many, many other fascinating facts can be learned by touring the Braves museum, which everybody should absolutely do. Especially when it’s as cold as it was tonight.

5. You can probably get away with underage drinking at the ballpark if you have a friend who is of age, but if you combine being young and drunk with yelling obscenities at Jason Heyward from the right field stands, well…not so much.

6. The Holeman & Finch burger is BY FAR the best food I’ve had in 40 years of going to the ballpark. I mean, it looks like this, okay?

7. It’s irritating when the beer vendors at the kiosks mention that they work for tips before you’ve even paid them. This did not happen to me tonight, but a vendor did inform me that they all work as “volunteers”, and tips are their only compensation. She pointed to her jacket and said if she didn’t have her station broken down and the jacket returned by 9:30, the stadium authority charges her $75 until she returns it. I can’t confirm this…but tip your beer vendor anyway.

8. The New York media referred to Milwaukee as “Bushville” during the 1957 World Series. But Braves fans got the last laugh – first by the team winning the Series, and then by taunting the Yankee faithful with some totally not bush league signage:

9. I can last about 5 ½ innings at the ballpark in this sort of weather.

10. Oh yeah, the game. I promised Alex I’d do the Thursday game recaps, but do we really want to relive this one? Also, a gentle reminder… if there’s an aspect of a game you don’t think is sufficiently addressed in a recap (which, in this case, would be all aspects), just bring it up in the comments. Not only are we volunteers, we don’t even get tips!

While I have the floor, I’d like to take a moment to say rest in peace, Roger Ebert. He and Bill James are my writing heroes — and just like James, Ebert was often at his best when confronted with ineptitude. Here is a sample from his review of Jaws: The Revenge, which I consider to be the “Enos Cabell essay” of the Ebert canon:

Ellen Brody has become convinced that the shark is following her. It wants revenge against her entire family. Her friends pooh-pooh the notion that a shark could identify, follow or even care about one individual human being, but I am willing to grant the point, for the benefit of the plot.

I believe that the shark wants revenge against Mrs. Brody. I do. I really do believe it. After all, her husband was one of the men who hunted this shark and killed it, blowing it to bits. And what shark wouldn’t want revenge against the survivors of the men who killed it?

76 thoughts on “Phillies 2, Braves 0 (by sansho1)”

  1. You forgot to mention that your team is good, but not good enough to win a World Series. Yea, you have power. Your defense is not on par with any championship team I’ve ever seen–the Upton brothers continue to make dazzling plays here and there then head scratching plays the next; Dan Uggla looks like he’s gonna strain a bicep and pop out of his jersey each time he fields a ball or tries to throw it. Your stellar outfield can’t work counts for shit and swing at doo doo–aside from Justin Upton this series, BJ Upton is a pitcher’s best friend and Jason Heyward is another piece of diarrhea disguised as the next MLB legend (I say diarrhea because you don’t know when that shits gonna hit, but when it does it’s too much to handle).

  2. By the way–I’ve heard all types of junk about the Phils rotation being too old, etc etc. What about yours? Hudson is older than the entire Phils staff put together, Maholm has been mediocre and that’s your #2, then Medlen is thriving off a great rookie season with a garbage spring and he was garbage tonight (he would’ve got hit harder if it was warmer, same with Lee but Medlen couldn’t locate his house on a GPS.

  3. Look, I get your team can hit well, but not as good as the 08 Phils, who David Murphy, a Phils beat writer, compared this version of the Braves to.

  4. What the heck, they’re migrating here from the ajc blogs?

    Anyway, our common enemy is the Nats, we should focus our hatred towards them and their tanking seasons to get #1 picks for half a decade.

  5. This is one of the best write ups of all time.

    The comment section is great too! I would just like to add that Roy Halladay’s mother is so fat that she sat on a quarter and a booger came out of Washinton’s nose.

  6. The great thing about the H&F burger is it doesn’t have a crazy ballpark mark-up. The thing is $10 if you went to the restaurant, and $12 at the Ted. Not bad. I figured they’d charge $15 at least.

  7. It was $11 last night — I wonder if they’re doing variable pricing? I know there was a 40-minute wait on Opening Day, but yesterday I walked right up.

  8. Cliff Lee looked good and the weather sucked hard. Win 2 of 3 and bring on the Cubs.

  9. I know we’re not supposed to feed the trolls, but can’t we block them?

    Also, Holeman & Finch has a burger at the park?!? Whoa.

  10. By the way, if you’ve never read Bill James’ Enos Cabell essay from the 1983 Baseball Abstract, you can read a part of it on this page. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but it was sort of a shock to see it in print at the time. Almost nobody was calling out the sacred cows of baseball then, and certainly nobody in so condemnatory a tone — 30 years later we have an entire industry devoted to it. Despite the fact James retracted much of it in the ’84 Abstract, and publicly regretted the tone, the Enos Cabell essay was the “Dylan goes electric” moment of the sabermetric movement.

  11. Thanks for the recap, sansho, and especially the gentle reminder in #10. ;)

    Phillies, LOL.

  12. “The great thing about the H&F burger is it doesn’t have a crazy ballpark mark-up. The thing is $10 if you went to the restaurant, and $12 at the Ted. Not bad. I figured they’d charge $15 at least.”

    This is interesting. I wonder if the “upscale” eateries in stadiums are less price-inflated in general than cheaper options in general. Maybe it’s just that the mark-up for everything is a flat $3 or 4, so it’s less apparent on items that are overall more expensive.

  13. I haven’t been this year yet, but last year the steak sandwich at Rathbun’s was $15 but with season ticket holder discount it was $10. I haven’t checked yet to see if there is a season ticket holder discount at H&F.

  14. Is the steak sandwich something you can actually get at Rathbun’s? $15 seems completely reasonable for that kind of deliciousness anywhere, much more so at a ball park. Very excited about the H&F burger as a second option though.

  15. The weather was like October, so they played like it was October. Let’s move on.

  16. Roger Ebert will forever be etched into my memory as the guy, who upon looking up his photo after Gene Siskel passed away, one would remark “Oh, i figured it was the other guy who would go first”

  17. This morning on 680AM I heard the first of what will, unfortunately, be many fans calling in to say that “BJ Upton didn’t look like he was trying very hard”. I didn’t see the play they were talking about, because I mercifully missed last night’s game, but I wonder if that dude would’ve called in to make that observation had it been Jeff Francoeur making a miscue in the field.

  18. Both Uptons missed catchable fly balls last night. But when you score zero runs it doesn’t really matter how good or bad the defense was.

    I will say that Medlen was not sharp at all. In warmer weather he would’ve given up 6+ runs. Hanging breaking balls to almost every hitter.

  19. Having had several ligament repair surgeries I can say for sure my body parts do not function as well in cold weather. So if Medlen pitched *the same* in warmer weather, yes he would have given up more runs, but I think he would have pitched *better* in warmer weather and would have had a much better outing. I was at the game last night I just kept thinking I don’t know how Medlen can even stand to pitch in that cold. It was hurting me and I was just sitting there watching.

  20. The Rathbun’s steak sandwich is a tasty thing indeed and if the line is not too long (they slice the steak as you order so it takes a minute to make the sandwich), it is one of my favorite food options at the park. The best value by far is still the pasta in Lexus level.

  21. The BJ “I guess I’ll play this one on the bounce” play reminded me of the flyball that got Andruw yanked by Bobby.

  22. Well, sure, it’s irritating when avoidable errors happen, but that is different than “not trying very hard”.

  23. I was far more irritated by Laird’s lolipop throws back to the pitcher that allowed Rollins to get to third. Esp when there is a real alternative sitting on the bench.

  24. @32, the worst thing about Fredi’s bench usage is that the backup C is usually glued to the bench. Because you know WHAT IF! Hopefully, Gattis’ bat will be real enough to either change that, or keep him as the 5th OF when McCann comes back.

  25. We ended up with quite a bit of salary space left this season, so in hindsight, the decision not to pay up for Ross might look questionable.

  26. We may need that extra money to buy some pitching before the year is over. A healthy McCann backed up by Gattis should make us not miss Ross much. Laird playing at all bothers me, because he’s not really particularly good at anything, but it’s just for a few more weeks.

  27. But Laird has a two-year deal, so we’re probably stuck with him in some role for a lot longer than a few more weeks.

  28. @ 36

    I agree; definitely looks like he’s pressing.

    @ 40

    Initially I was in favor of not paying Ross what Boston did; they overpaid. But we actually had a reason to overpay, and now I think the Braves should have. I don’t think Laird is in hampster territory though.

  29. I don’t have a problem with not spending on Ross, but problems are already abounding with the choice of Laird specifically. I get that the team still may not be sure of what it has in Gattis, but still…Gerald Laird.

  30. I have no idea what Boston paid for Ross but I’d blindly pay it if McCann was 3 months away and not 3 weeks away.

  31. The wind was doing funny things last night. Heyward looked especially uncomfortable finding the ball before he made a nice diving catch late in the game. I suspect BJ had a similar experience trying to track that ball.

  32. I was fine with the Ross move, on its own, and fine with Laird being the backup they signed — but signing him for two years was insane, I thought, and made the Ross decision look really, really questionable. Thinking back, the whole Ross/Laird thing is one of the only things Wren’s done in his tenure that I just truly do not understand his reasoning on.

  33. Well, we got “Cliff-Leed” last night so the fielding wasn’t really a factor. But still . . . Justin should have caught the foul ball, and B.J., well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen again; Uggla is Uggla and I guess we’ll have to live with that – but PLEASE “Fredi” Laird? Are we really going to have to watch a man imitate a walrus trying to play catcher? ugh

  34. I thought the reason we got Laird was that he was a defensive specialist… Is he another guy who gets that reputation simply because he can’t hit?

  35. On the B J Upton ball, when I saw that I remembered something Marquis Grissom said about when somebody (Lee May?) took him out for fielding practice early in his career. That was, to start off sprinting to where you think the ball will be and then slow down. Don’t “cruise.” Marquis was great at that (think about the Series ending catch in 1995).

    It sure looked like BJ wasn’t motoring and just didn’t quite get there. Even if the wind held the ball up, that is why you start fast and adjust down.

  36. Nearly all of Wren’s worst decisions have been crappy veteran retreads to fill out the roster. Garret Anderson, Livan Hernandez, The Hamster, Jack Wilson, Scott Linebrink (at the salary we had to pay him), etc. He historically hasn’t been good at filling out the roster — instead he tends to leave a hole or two, like he has at third base this year, and has in left field and/or center field in previous years.

    The Uggla extension is the about the only thing I can think of as a really bad decision that we all thought was bad at the time that doesn’t fit that model.

  37. Uggla’s value through 2 seasons: 24.5 million
    Uggla’s contract through 2 seasons: 24.8 million

    Doesn’t sound really bad, but needs to be re-evaluated at year’s end. Thus far, Dan is continuing to walk, strike out, and hit for power, or…what we expect from him. What wasn’t expected was that he seriously changed his body type and eating habits. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised with Dan this year.

  38. @52

    Ross isn’t worth $6.2 million. Plus, if he played everyday, he would be exposed.

    He has played two games. I am not ready to say Laird sucks.

  39. According to FanGraphs, Ross was worth $6.1 million per season over the past two years. So, you’re counting on that being way off or on Ross being way worse than he’s been, going forward.

    And anyway, the question would seem to be whether he’ll be worth more than Gerald Laird + wherever that $3.2 million in savings goes, over the next couple of years. IMO, the odds are pretty strong that he will be.

  40. There is a question of what “worth” exactly means. Those Fangraphs numbers just try to approximate what it would cost to buy that production on the free agent market. But the free agent market is the least efficient way to obtain production. (Particularly when, as in Uggla’s case, you already have an All-Star second baseman in the organization.) So I think it’s better to think of the Fangraphs dollar value not as a measure of “worth,” but rather as a measure of equivalent free agent price. Of course, nowadays, the prices for long-term extensions appear to be converging on free agent prices. But still, it’s a price that, all things being equal, you don’t want to pay.

  41. Right, there was actually a recent, somewhat-lengthy discussion on this very site about those FanGraphs numbers, as I recall. So, like I said, they’d have to be WAY off for Smitty’s claim to be right.

    $6.2 million over two seasons is a lot for “an old back-up catcher on a mid-market team up against its payroll limit,” but $3.2 million over two seasons is not, IMO, a lot for “the difference between David Ross and Gerald Laird for two seasons on a team with $10 million in current payroll room.”

  42. Catcher is a hard position to fill and isn’t like any other position on the field in terms of what you are looking for. Add in the fact that your star catcher is in his walk year and is hurt (and the extent of his injury wasn’t really known when they signed Laird), plus you didn’t really know what you were going to get with Gattis, and I’m not going to be too hard on Frank Wren for going with Laird. The Braves will be fine at catcher this year.

    Who knows, maybe Ross wanted to play in Boston.

  43. I agree, although I really do think we’re stuck with Laird for a while, for good or ill. My whole problem really boils down to the second year of Laird’s contract.

  44. I know we should give him time, but from what I’ve seen of Laird, his swing reminds me of Rafael Belliard. Maybe it’s just the start of the year, but first impressions have not been good! I have some hope for his defense, but his offense is concerning. On another note, I will say that the orignal signing of Ross was not exactly met with great optimism either.

  45. True. Here’s what Mac wrote about Ross when he was signed in 2008:

    Ross’ career batting average is .222. Batting average is overrated, but you simply aren’t going to be productive hitting .222, not in today’s game. He does have power, and he will take a walk, and if he hits .250 he’s a very valuable reserve player whom you could play regularly if you’re not too particular. On the other hand, I could have said some of the same things about Corky Miller, who played for some of the same teams (the Reds, the Red Sox) and look what happened there… I’m sure that Ross has a good defensive reputation. Catchers who hit .222 always do. He does have a pretty good arm, or at least has thrown out 38 percent of basestealers (87 of 228) and threw out 42 percent the two years he was a semi-regular for Cincinnati. Has three career triples, no career stolen bases, rarely grounds into a double play, looks to be a good bunter. Basically, there’s evidence that he’s a good “little things” player, and real power, but that .222 is a great big bad thing.

  46. If Fredi plays Gattis over Laird it is going to be because the pitchers tell him to. Like last year when Hudson apparently went up to Fredi and told him that Simmons will play SS when he starts, thank you very much.

  47. It looks like tonight’s game will be on the MLB Network. As much as I love technology and appreciate MLB.TV, it just isn’t the same.

  48. Oh man. “Furcal acquisition post is now up. I got sick of waiting for an official announcement.” Now that takes me back.

  49. The thing is, Mac was right. When the Braves signed Ross, he was a 31-year old backup catcher with a career line of .222/.309/.435 in 431 games, 1307 plate appearances. Usually, by that point, a guy pretty much is who he is.

    But in 227 games and 663 plate appearances over four years in Atlanta, he hit .269/.353/.463, far better than what he’d ever done before.

    It may be that he was simply deployed far more effectively in Atlanta than before, or that in Atlanta he was more comfortable because his role was clearer. But I think it is also the case that David Ross played better than it was reasonable to expect that he would, in retrospect. He basically just exceeded all expectations.

    Now we just have to hope Laird will do the same.

  50. With Gattis on the team, I don’t think there is much Laird can do that will get the Braves Journal gang behind him

  51. I like to go back and read Mac’s spot-on prediction for McCann before his first full season.

  52. October 19, 2005:

    I have a post brewing about McCann, I don’t know when I’ll actually write it. In short: he’s the most important player in the organization.

    January 3, 2006:

    Long-term, I like McCann a lot. 21-year-old catchers who can hold their own in AA are valuable commodities. Ones who can hold their own in the majors are precious commodities. When Ivan Rodriguez was 21, he hit .273/.315/.412. When Mike Piazza was 21, he hit .250/.279/.390 — in the Florida State League. Every trade the Braves pursued this year seemingly had the other team asking for McCann and quickly being laughed at.

    He might stall out, which happens to catchers, but if he just hits like he did last year he’d be a plus at the position. Another possibility is that he’ll get moved off catcher by the rise of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and move to first base. In that case, he might become a much better hitter. Some people compared him to Carlos Delgado in the minors; that’s a pretty tall order, but he’s a good hitter. Hits some homers a long way and has as much raw power as anyone in the organization, not excepting Andruw Jones or Jeff Francoeur. Slugging .487 in Myrtle Beach at age 20 — as McCann did in 2004 — is a major accomplishment. Then Saltalamacchia came through slugging .519 at the same age… If he stays a catcher, McCann might not get any better as a hitter and still wind up second all-time (behind Yogi) for homers by a lefthanded-hitting catcher.

  53. By the way, Mac was almost certainly right about the last point. Here’s the top 10 list for homers by a left hand-hitting catcher.

    Player HR
    1. Yogi Berra, 358
    2. Bill Dickey, 202
    3. Darrell Porter, 188
    4. Brian McCann, 156
    5. A.J. Pierzynski, 155
    6. Ed Bailey, 155
    7. Darren Daulton, 137
    8. Matt Nokes, 136
    9. Ernie Whitt, 134
    10. Tom Haller, 134

  54. @70

    Here was the thing about Ross, though — although those were his career numbers when we got him, few of his individual years looked anything like it. He’d shown, at various times, the ability to HR at twice the league rate, walk at twice the league rate, and throw out 40+ % of base runners. Those were all talents he possessed.

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