My First Braves/Pirates Game (by Ububba), June 4 Game Thread

To celebrate my 10th birthday—August 25, 1973—mom agreed to load up her 1972 Buick Riviera with 4 friends (plus my sister), and drive us all the 100 miles from Columbus, Ga., to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for a Braves/Pirates game the following Saturday.

And what was really cool was that I was going to have a “ballpark birthday party.” I had no idea what that meant—a birthday cake presented at a picnic table, it turned out—but it all sounded pretty great.

Luckily, Mom loved baseball. Born in Hartford, Conn.—home of the Hartford Chiefs, a Braves minor-league club—she grew up a Red Sox fan. Later, when she went to grad school in Boston at Simmons College in the late-’50s, she liked nothing better than paying 75-cents for a Fenway bleacher seat on a Sunday afternoon to see “the great Ted Williams” (and that’s exactly what she called him).

So—to borrow from a still-annoying pop song of the day—the first part of the journey would be a trip up the old two-lane Georgia Highway 85. The I-185 connection from Columbus to the part of I-85 that took you to Atlanta didn’t exist yet, so it was a slow-going 40 miles at the start. (Odd that the state’s second-largest metro area wouldn’t have an interstate connection to Atlanta, but we were told that Columbusites had a habit of supporting the wrong gubernatorial candidate—the guy who’d promised us a highway would always lose the primary.) Anyway, as we eased up the old road somewhere around Hamilton, Ga., a big, dark sedan was high-tailing it up to our bumper.

It was pretty noticeable and my mother seemed annoyed for the moment. But her annoyance quickly turned into sudden shock. Her eyes bugged out a little as she looked in the rear-view. Then she quickly pumped the brakes and let the car pass us. As it went by, we saw what was freaking her out…

The two passengers in the speeding car were wearing masks! And why? Well, everyone in the car (besides mom) was a WTCG-TV watcher and we all immediately realized that the occupants were none other than Mr. Wrestling # 1 and Mr. Wrestling #2! (Of course, to a car full of 10-year-olds, this made perfect sense.)

Mr. Wrestling #1—aka Tim Woods “from Michigan State University”—was at the wheel in an all-white mask, while Mr. Wrestling #2 “from parts unknown” rode shotgun in his black- trimmed hood. As the storylines went, #1 was the “scientific wrestler, a man of 1,000 holds,” while #2 was the precursor to the anti-hero character that would begin to dominate the wrestling biz—you know, the good guy who would righteously lose his temper and unleash furious anger, not to mention a devastating knee-lift on villains like Ox Baker or Mr. Fuji. (Perhaps it shouldn’t be so shocking to know that Miss Lillian, the mother of future POTUS Jimmy Carter, was a big fan of #2.)
We were so excited because everyone in the car was a wrestling fan—except mom, of course. She didn’t know Mr. Wrestling from Mr. Rogers—she thought those guys in the speeding car might be bank robbers and seemed prepared to exit the road like a fuel-starved Richard Petty flying into the pits. But she sensed from our reactions that the coast was clear, so she stayed on the two-laner and returned to being merely annoyed.

The traffic was a little thick, so we stayed behind the wrestlers until we got to the I-85 interchange where we implored her to catch up to them. She did and, as we cruised up beside them, all the kids in our car began waving and yelling. And to our great satisfaction, Mr. Wrestling #2—a man later revealed to be one Johnny Walker—began waving back and, somehow, underneath that tight mask you could actually see him smiling. What a bizarre thrill.

In retrospect, two things occurred to me about that encounter. One, as it was a Saturday, the grapplers certainly were leaving one TV show (a local Columbus production with promoter Fred Ward) to appear on another (the nationally known Georgia Championship Wrestling with Gordon Solie)—that’s why they were blazing down the road with such fury.

Two, the reason for our excitement was oddly connected to our Braves fandom. A lot of families—in Columbus’ Oakland Park and beyond—had gotten cable TV in the house because of WTCG’s programing of NWA wrestling and its soap-opera-like storylines. Sad to say, the Braves—with future Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro and all-stars like Ralph Garr and Dusty Baker— were just a by-product of that wrestling fandom for many. But in the early ’80s, as WTCG became WTBS and the Braves went from hopeless laughingstock to genuine competitors, more and more people began to appreciate the contests that were not being staged for dramatic effect. Of course, Dale Murphy and Bob Horner had a lot to do with that, too.

OK, The Game: Even as a 10-year-old, I knew we might see some runs—these two clubs could swing the stick. From Pittsburgh, this was The Lumber Company of Stargell, Oliver, Hebner, Sanguillen and Zisk. After winning the NL East the previous three seasons, it was a down year for them. But because their division was so awful in ’73, their 80-82 record meant a third-place finish, only 2.5 games behind the (eventual pennant-winning) Mets. They weren’t eliminated until the final weekend.

And, truly, this was one of the crazier Braves teams in history—no pitching beyond Niekro and Carl Morton, but three guys (Aaron, Darrell Evans and Davey Johnson), who hit 40 homers each, plus Garr and Baker, who were plenty formidable. Even journeyman Frank Tepedino had a big year pinch-hitting. But bad moundwork meant a 76-85-1 finish—yes, that’s a tie—22.5 games behind The Big Red Machine.

What I Remember About the Game: Dock Ellis pitched, but Henry Aaron sat (in favor of Mike Lum, a Hawaiian magician/LF, who also played some 1B). But the Bravos rocked the Psychedelic Starter early and knocked him out after 4 IP with a Dave Johnson grand slam— #36! It cracked off the bat impressively—Atlanta Stadium had some amazing acoustics—and loftEd High down the left-field line. The sunbaked 26,113—a good crowd for those days— managed a sharp cheer the instant the ball settled into the foul pole netting. We then watched the ball drop straight down about 100 feet onto the warning track. As it bounded away from their left-fielder—an underwhelmed Willie Stargell—Johnson approached home plate where he’d be greeted by Lum, Baker and Evans. Atlanta had a 6-1 lead.

It got to 8-1, but the Pirates awoke in the 7th—Al Oliver laced a 3-run HR over the right-field fence off starter Roric Harrison. Then, things got scary in the 9th. Pittsburgh loaded the bases, eventually scoring two more to make it 8-6. With nobody out and the tying run at the plate, lefty reliever Tommy House retired the imposing Oliver, then struck out the downright- terrifying Stargell. Righty Adrian Devine came in to face Richie Zisk and got him on a called third strike. The slugger complained bitterly to ump Dick Stello, but the Braves were winners, and our return trip to Muscogee County was a happy one.

And when we got back to the schoolyard that following Monday, would we have some stories to tell!

232 thoughts on “My First Braves/Pirates Game (by Ububba), June 4 Game Thread”

  1. 1. LF: Starling Marte
    2. 2B: Jordy Mercer
    3. CF: Andrew McCutchen
    4. 1B: Gaby Sanchez
    5. RF: Russell Martin
    6. C: Michael McKenry
    7. 3B: Pedro Alvarez
    8. SS: Clint Barmes
    9. SP: Jeff Locke

    Note the RF – it’s his ML debut at the postion

  2. My first Braves game was in 1976 as a freshman at Ga. Tech. It was college night, I think a buck or so to get in and 25-cent beers. Needless to say, I’m a bit hazy on the other details.

  3. Man, I never got to sit in the picnic area. It’s beyond inconceivable now, that an area where you could fit probably 200 $50+ seats could ever be given over to kids’ birthday parties among a few picnic tables. Great remembrance.

    (and Mr. Wrestling II and Tony Atlas were the greatest tag-team combo of all time)

  4. I had a friend whose son met Andre’ the Giant at the bar in The Jefferson Hotel. He and a friend went up to say hi and Andre’ said “Scam kids”. He had a good friend whose mother had “dated” Sergeant Slaughter. Mickey Mantle ignore me when I asked for his autograph at an exhibition game.

  5. There’s an article on Andre the Giant and his inhuman ability to drink somewhere out there. It’s fascinating.

  6. Great first game reminiscence. I’m not sure I get the pop song reference, though. I remember 1973 and being “born in the backseat of a Greyhound bus rolling down Highway 41,” but I presume that’s not a “still-annoying pop song.” Plus, 41 goes to Macon.

  7. Sam H., I’m pretty sure that this is the article that you mean:

    As far as great drunkards go, there is Andre the Giant, and then there is everyone else.

    The big man loved two things: wrestling and booze—mostly booze—and his appetites were of mythic proportion.

    First, consider the number 7,000. It’s an important number, and a rather scary one considering its context, which is this—it has been estimated that Andre the Giant drank 7,000 calories worth of booze every day. The figure doesn’t include food. Just booze.

    http://www.drunkard.com/issues/10_06/10_06_andre_giant.html

  8. that mighty sage Gattistocles
    will catch tomorrow if you please
    but likely it’s a cinch
    tonight when in the pinch
    he’ll clear the highest wall with ease.

  9. Hopefully I can celebrate my 31st the same way you did your 10th!

    With a Braves victory, I mean. I suppose masked wrestlers would also be acceptable.

  10. I’m going to miss Zach Duke. Seeing him come in for the Nats is what I imagine other teams fans felt when they saw Linebrink/Proctor/Livan come in for us.

  11. @13

    Alex…Socrates/Demosthenes/Gattistocles…all in the family…they could probably hit too…

    Ububba

    lovely write up, thank you…my first game was a season later, 4th July ’74…caught a BP ball from Willie Stargell…my three (brit) kids terrified by the late night fireworks, quite new to them to be so close…cheers!

  12. Thanks, y’all.

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough, but it was my first Braves/Pirates game, not my first Braves game.

    Earlier that season, I’d seen a pair of scheduled doubleheaders (remember those?), one vs. the Cubs, the other vs. the Dodgers. But this one was easily more memorable.

    #5
    Had a long airport layover in a bar a couple years ago with Mean Gene Okerlund, the former wrestling announcer, and he personally attested to Andre’s prodigious appetites & thirst.

    Sadly, he said that, because Andre knew he had this condition where he never really stopped growing, he knew he’d be lucky to make 40–so he pushed it to the limit almost every night.

    One time, he said, he, Andre & a buncha other wrestlers were in some city. They all went out after the show & got plastered & it was the only time he’d ever seen Andre get really messy.

    When they all got back to the hotel, Andre passed out on the floor in the lobby, right in front of the elevator bank. They tried to put him on a luggage cart, but they couldn’t budge him. Too big, impossible. So they just left him & went up their rooms.

    That poor night clerk…

  13. Ububba, Great story on pro wrestling. I had a similar experience at age 12. My family and I were pro wrestling fans, and while on a trip to Sioux City we went to the matches and saw a very entertaining tag-team bout between Dick ‘The Bruiser’ and his cousin ‘The Crusher’ (Doubt if they were related but they did look quite a bit alike) against the Fighting Kentuckians or something like that (huge hillbilly types). But what was really neat was the next morning when I was waiting for the rest of the family and the door across from us opened up and the biggest human being I had ever seen at that time, emerged. It was ‘The Crusher’. He turned around and said to Dick, “Let’s get some breakfast, Dick.” The Bruiser held up a can of Bud and said, “I’ve already got the breakfast of champions right here!” Sage man that Bruiser.

  14. Someone said it yesterday, but there’s no reason to throw Justin anything other than heat down the middle at this point.

  15. Ox Baker…. Holy crap, I never thought I’d hear that name again–ever. Seems like every time I saw a wrestling flyer around Brunswick, Ox Baker’s name was on it.

  16. Why does Joe Simpson always mention that Rockies ‘never let the ball hit the ground’ thing?

  17. Great game thread, ububba. I came of age with TBS ten years later, so my wrestling entertainment was Rick Flair, the Iron Sheik, and Lex Lugar, with Gordon Solie as host. Those were the last days before wrestling got stupid.

    I’ll be at the Astros game tonight for some thrilling American League action.

  18. It may be tough to score this evening. Wish Gattis could get more than one at bat.

  19. What the heck happened on that play for /Freddie/ to get a double out of what Gameday calls a ground ball?

  20. Pretty weird 2-base hit there.

    #42
    Freddie slapped a down-and-away slow curve down the 3B line, over the bag, actually. He kinda just threw the bat at it.

  21. Chris may be terrible defensively, but he can handle the bat just fine. He’s not Uggla.

  22. I love it. When a player like Heyward is hitting .100 I get to hear about his LD%. Then when someone is playing well, I get to hear about why its unsustainable.

  23. @48, Well ok, but do you think it’s going to unsustain itself all at once? He’s 4 for his lat 13, and facing LHP.

  24. @45 My observation wasn’t so much about Chris as it was about seeing Gattis in a big situation against a lefty.

  25. It’s a tough at bat for Chris Johnson because the pitcher isn’t afraid to walk him with two .100 hitters behind him. He will get pitched backwards a lot and is going to have to be more patient and wait for a pitch he can hit.

  26. @51 Are you serious? Regression works both ways. I’m not really sure what you’re arguing, but if you think a .438 BABIP is sustainable – Ted Williams posted a .328 career BABIP; Mickey Mantle a .318; Ty Cobb a ridiculous .378; all above average, all well below CJ’s current numbers – then I have some beach front property in Atlanta to sell you.

  27. @53 Actually, he has been much more mediocre since April.

    To be clear: I don’t have a problem with Chris Johnson being in the lineup, especially against a lefty (though he doesn’t have much of a platoon split since being in the majors). I just don’t think we should view him as a .375 OBP-guy.

    That wasn’t close to a strike, ump.

  28. Hurdle and Fredi: “What’s the strike zone?”

    This umpiring crew: “Whatever we damn well decide it is on each pitch.”

  29. I don’t like Uggla and BJ in the same lineup, and if they have to be in the lineup then I don’t like them at 7 and 8. You are basically shortening our offensive opportunities to 6 innings.

  30. @62 I agree, actually. Tonight seemed like a good night to get Gattis into the lineup and BUpton out of it, though I certainly understand the need/desire to keep the latter playing.

  31. ESPN claims MLB is about to suspend 20 players for up to 100 games based on the cooperation of the Biogenesis guy. The Nats might be minus Gio Gonzalez for the rest of the season.

  32. Of course I’m not serious. Just seems like the majority here don’t want to give Chris credit for the job he’s done. I know he’ll regress and I know Heyward should improve.

  33. @69

    Sure, but my point wasn’t “He doesn’t deserve credit.” It wasn’t even “he’s been lucky.” It’s simply that he (in all likelihood) won’t be as good going forward. But it was a semantics thing, and I was being obnoxious for writing anything. I’ll own that: apologies to spike.

  34. Minor has so far allowed as many walks and hits as he has runs. That’s unfortunate.

  35. Both of the homers he gave up were on two strike counts, which is a shame, and then you’ve got Uggla’s error that contributed to the other two runs. Bad breaks for Mike tonight.

  36. Glad they are pulling Locke. He pitched great tonight. Let’s try someone new.

  37. According ESPN, Gio isn’t under suspicion. But I think filing a loser lawsuit against a guy just to get him to roll over on a bunch of players is despicable.

  38. BJ’s not quite earning his pay yet, but I’m glad he’s stealing a lot less.

  39. Man, if Jason and BJ are coming around, I feel a lot better about this team going up against stiffer competition.

  40. I’m taking partial credit for the last inning due to @62.

    I should probably reiterate that JUpton still sucks.

  41. All the Fredi fans out there are loving the sac bunt by Heyward in the 7th…right? right?!?!?

  42. Fredi knows tactics. I expect no less that 10 posts tomorrow explaining to all of the mentally unhinged why that was totally the right call.

  43. Joe, if “it ended today,” then the Reds and Pirates wouldn’t be playing that 3-game set at the end of the season… because the season would have ended today.

  44. As long as we avoid the DP, I’d imagine we’ll see Gattis pinch hit…

    …but in the meantime, let’s go BJ

  45. Criticise him all you like, but Uggla can still walk. People before the season were saying that teams would stop throwing him balls. People were wrong.

  46. I feel like we’re getting a bit greedy with the Gattis late-inning magic expectations. But anyway…help us Evan, you’re our only hope.

    Grrrrr. C’mon Simba. You got this.

  47. Bummer. I mean, I’d fear Gattis if I were an opposing player, but I don’t like it when teams actually follow through with that fear.

  48. Innings like that make me want to petition sabr to change the value of a walk to 0.75 of the value of a single.

  49. C’mon, Craig, get it done. This is actually a good lineup. Can’t let guys on and not pay, unlike against the Nats.

  50. Kardiac Kimbrel. Still effective, but taking years off my life lately.

  51. With the heart of our lineup up this inning, the Pirates using their closer I think is a good call. We’d never see Fredi do that on the road, though.

  52. Oh, and I’ll add what happened tonight as another reason why Fredi can’t just treat Gattis as a silver bullet from the bench. He’s too easily nullified that way.

  53. Bethany, how was that easily nullified? It was a wild pitch in the middle of the at bat that opened up first base. Is Fredi now supposed to be omniscient? How often does that happen?

  54. I still can’t believe Freddie didn’t get that out. So close. He’s just missed on a couple this homestand.

    Okay, Pena, how about you be the hero here?

  55. Cheers and Frasier were cancelled years ago… hanging Grammer at this point is too little, too late.

    And Uggla walks again.

  56. It was a bad AB for BJ there, but the first pitch that was called a strike didn’t look like it was. You could tell he was irritated and it affected how whole AB.

  57. Well, let’s see. He walked the leadoff man. The next guy (who hit a homer earlier) struck out trying to bunt, and then he tries to hit and run, but is saved by a late time-out call, and then the batter gets hit by a pitch.

    Maybe stop managing and let the guy implode, already.

  58. Let’s just pretend that the bunt worked and then they pitched around Reed to get to Simmons.

  59. Simpson: “Braves are 1 for 13 tonight with RISP.”

    Caray: “And it’s not for lack of chances…”

  60. Why were they playing little-league depth with an average-speed runner on SECOND?

  61. @165 They’d better be glad Soriano isn’t on their team, because his 4 year old would have some opinions about that.

  62. Ahhh yea. Great way to end the night. Now to go have a Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown ale.

  63. I’m glad I wasn’t listening to the game- sounds like Chip was extra Chiplike tonight.

  64. To be fair, the bunt is defensible. It’s possible Simmons’ hit wouldn’t have dropped if the outfielder wasn’t playing so shallow. He was playing shallow because the winning run was on second, which would have been there if BJ got the bunt down. I have more confidence in BJ getting Uggla to second by a bunt than BJ or Johnson getting a hit. Johnson getting hit by the pitch was blind luck. Based on the situation (no outs, runner on first, crappy hitter at the plate and on deck), and the fact that BJ has sucked all season (and the previous home run means absolutely nothing when he’s bad that bad all season), means a bunt was the highest degree of likelihood BJ would have gotten him to second.

  65. In fact, as I watch the highlight, I’m convinced Simmons’ hit was a fly-out if the outfielder was at medium depth. BJ should be buying Johnson a drink tonight for getting hit, because if he hadn’t, they’d still be playing baseball.

    IN FACT, it looks like Fredi single-handedly managed his team to victory. Yep.

  66. @169 – I don’t have a problem with giving up an out in the 10th inning to get a runner into scoring position.

    But calling for the bunt doesn’t mean you’re giving away an out to get a runner in to scoring position. It means you’re going to give away an out to TRY to get a runner in to scoring position. That’s the problem with calling a bunt. It’s not guaranteed to work. In fact, it seems to fail more often than not, when position players are called to do it.

    And with BJ Upton up… that’s fucking stupid. He was never going to get that bunt down.

    And that’s before the particulars, specifically, the fact that Mark Melancon sucks, and he was wild. If I could tell from home, he must have been wild. And I knew it BEFORE he hit Reed Johnson.

    The only out he recorded was the one we gave him.

  67. AS is not known for warning track power. They assumed he would hit a soft single at best and they could throw out Uggla at home.

  68. Well, unfortunately, it is impossible to give up an out to advance a runner. It’s not in the rule book. The next easiest way to do it is to pay a FREAKING ATHLETE TO PUT A STILL WOODEN BAT ON A FASTBALL TO PUT IT WITHIN TWO 30 FREAKING FOOT LANES AROUND THE PITCHER. The fact that that athlete (who seems to think WAY more highly of himself than he ought to) CANNOT DO THAT has NOTHING to do with the manager and EVERYTHING to do with the millionaire athlete.

    Get the F*CKING bunt down and stop whining about the umpire. My wife has better biceps than that joke of a ballplayer.

    Yep.

  69. @172 – Yeah, Hurdle just sold out on a soft single, throw him out at home situation. Figured the majority of flyballs will have enough hang time to be caught. He wanted to stop a groundball with eyes from beating him, and got beat on, essentially, a sac fly with the runner scoring all the way from second.

  70. In case you couldn’t tell, I do see the competitive advantage of a sacrifice bunt in extra innings with no outs, a runner on first, and a NOTORIOUSLY AWFUL hitter at the plate. What I cannot tell is why it’s the MANAGER’S fault the PLAYER couldn’t get a bunt down.

  71. @173 – Whatever, man. He never bunts. He has probably attempted fewer than 6 bunts in his career.

    That’s essentially like leaving a struggling pitcher in to lose the game, rather than pulling him, because “He SHOULD be able to throw strikes. He’s a millionaire.”

  72. @175 – Because it IS NEVER a guarantee that he’ll get the bunt down. I thought Fredi was super-clubhouse man, knows his personnel, knows how to pick spots for them.

    Should a major leaguer be a capable bunter? Obviously, yes. Does that mean he will be? Obviously, no.

  73. We’ve been doing an awful lot of arguing during this little winning streak when the responsibility of failure is being placed on the MANAGER and not on the PLAYERS. Pitcher blows out his arm, manager’s fault. Loser can’t get a bunt down (WHEN HE COULDN’T ADVANCE HIM ANY OTHER WAY), manager’s fault. When is it the player’s fault?

  74. @178 What do you want Upton to do?! Pop out again? Ground into another double play? The best Fredi could do is at least try to get an advanced baserunner out of that automatic out. The out was going to happen anyway; just make sure it’s not a double play and something good happens.

  75. I’m really not nearly as vehement about this argument as you are, Rob. I think you’re lashing out against all the “Fredi-bashers,” because there’s one standing in front of you right now.

    And if you think we don’t do enough “blaming the players,” then you aren’t really reading the threads…

  76. He has 16 sac bunts and about a dozen bunt hits in his career, so he’s probably bunted at least 50 times.

    I really think the Pirates outfield was playing way too shallow there. I don’t see why you’d want to take away their chance to record an out on a common play, just to increase your odds of throwing a player out trying to score from second on a single. That looked like runner-on-third depth to me.

  77. Get the F*CKING bunt down and stop whining about the umpire. My wife has better biceps than that joke of a ballplayer.

    How eloquent. It’s like a poem, only not.

  78. Maybe I have an irrational frustration with BJ. Maybe it’s the years of watching this when I lived in Florida. Maybe it’s his disrespectful way he told the third base coach tonight to run the signs again. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s hitting .167 and blames the UMPIRE for a borderline pitch. Take responsibility for the fact that you can’t make an adjustment when you need to.

  79. @183 – I stand corrected. I do wish they kept statistics on failed bunts, though. And not just counting bunts where the lead runner was thrown out, but all at-bats that began with a bunt attempt and resulted in something other than a sacrifice.

    Regarding the outfield, I don’t necessarily agree with it, I’m just guessing that that’s why they were so shallow. I don’t think it was completely dictated by the situation, though. I think a pitcher, Andrelton Simmons and Ramiro Pena are the only batters who would have been played that shallow. He was just selling out and got beat.

  80. I mean, he did hit the game-tying homerun tonight.

    Plus, he actually has made adjustments. His leg kick is almost non-existent now and he’s been able to square more pitches up lately.

    And, lastly, why does the size of his arms matter?

  81. Trace, BJ will have to go on another one of his torrid 40 game stretches where he leads the league in hitting for me to move on from this. Call me irrational…

    In regards to Fredi’s infatuation with bunts, I think the only area where he bears liability is his players aren’t prepared to do it. I could be wrong, but I would like to think that in previous eras, players were more skilled at bunting. Maybe nowadays, with the emphasis on the long ball, it’s become a skill that’s not practiced as much. Fredi does impact that. If he wants to bunt, then he either should have players ear-marked to do it, or the entire team needs to be collectively prepared to do it.

    After all, tonight was a great time to bunt. You have a fast runner on first, with no outs, in extra innings, at home, with a bad hitter at the plate (and don’t fool yourself; he’s a bad hitter). That’s a golden time for a bunt.

  82. The size of his arms matter because he’s clearly not designed to be a power hitter. BJ’s skill sets don’t include top-tier strength and power, but he still insists on trying to hit everything 500 feet, even down to his swing mechanics. He’s not a power hitter, and I fear the 2008 postseason made him think he was a player he’s not. He has top-tier speed, defense, and arm, and he could be one of the best players ever if he would just be Ricky Henderson, who he was looking like at 22 in 2007. He drops 8 bombs in 12 games in 2008, and all of a sudden, his SBs decline from league-leader territory and his BA decreases significantly.

    I also think, with no evidence whatsoever, that he could be affected by his brother’s success in the power department. It’s probably not easy going home at Thanksgiving and talking to his brother about what chicks dig instead of his stolen bases. But, like I said, I have no evidence of that, and that’s just my thought.

  83. @Rob
    Not reading the rest of the thread, I agree with your view of BJ and will root for him while in a Braves uni, but can’t say I wont turn on him immediately when he dons another team’s colors. His constant complaining and his heightened opinion of his own baseball skills really chap my unspeakables. I also noticed that BJ shook his head in disgust after he had Snitker rerun the signs, obviously disappointed he, Lord of Toetap, was being called on to bunt again.

    With that being said, I didn’t agree with the bunts being called for Bupton or Heyward and would love to see guys that are breaking out of slumps given the opportunity to win the game, not opportunities for “productive outs”.

    But…we won anyway, so YAY!

  84. The bunt in the 10th is defensible. I also think BJ’s “wait wut?! you askin’ ME to bunt?” with Snitker didn’t do much to win anyone over.

    My problem is that Fredi bunts way too much in situations where it’s uncalled for and detrimental to our offense. Witness Heyward’s sac bunt in the 7th – another drop in the ocean of anecdotal evidence that Fredi is mildly retarded when it comes to bunting. Not as bad as the pinch-bunts, or the 1st inning bunts, but still bad.

  85. @190: I don’t know what he’s “designed” to be, but I do know he put up a 107 wRC+ last season doing basically nothing but hitting for power. So I’m gonna go ahead and believe my lying eyes over your admittedly irrational hatred of B.J.

  86. Was Heyward called on to bunt, or was it his decision? It was a late show on Heyward’s part, so maybe it was a half-sac/half-bunt-for-hit like some guys like to do.

    If you’re the manager of this team, and you’ve got to work with the resources that you have, and sometimes your team goes stone cold and puts up goose eggs for days, then you have to do whatever you can. If you’ve got 3 guys in the lineup hitting sub-.200, then those are essentially automatic outs. If bunting at least gets runners moved up a base, then you have to do it. He’s not bunting with Johnson, Gattis, McCann, Freeman (guys who are contributing); he’s bunting with guys who are offensive zeroes. Take the names off the jerseys; they’re pitchers batting out of order. Put a bunt down and move on. You’ve got a game to win.

  87. Anon21, your lying eyes aren’t seeing that, as a 22 year old, he had his highest OPS+ when he hit for average, stole more bases, had 30% more walks, and still played Gold Glove defense. Your lying eyes also aren’t seeing that the next year his OPS was still higher than it was last year, he stole 44 bases, and hit for his second-highest career average. Then your lying eyes aren’t seeing the correlation between his SBs and BAs plummeting, his HRs increasing, and his OPS decreasing.

    Go to the optometrist.

  88. Anon21, are you also questioning whether or not body types play a factor in the style of hitter a player becomes? For instance, do you think Evan Gattis will be swiping 50 bags any time soon, or pre-roid Barry Bonds was meant to be 40/40 compared to post-roid Bonds, who was meant for 60/15? Would Andrelton Simmons be benefited by adding 20 SBs and 20 points of OBP to his game, or should he spend some more time in the weight room and look like Popeye to his left?

  89. It’s possible Heyward decided to sac-bunt on his own. Not probable, but possible. He’s just starting to show signs of busting out of his bottomless abyss of a slump, so I can’t see how bunt would even enter his mind there…but it’s possible.

    Uggla and BJ were basically offensive MVP’s tonight so for one night I will refrain from ripping them. I get the frustration with the sub-.200 production, but I still think you should basically never bunt except in the last inning of a tie game or with a terrible hitting pitcher. I think guys like Hudson and Teheran should swing away most of the time.

  90. I think trying to be too much of a HR hitter has harmed BJ and reduced his overall value, and based on comments this year I think he realizes it as well, which is good.

    But it’s got only a little to do with the size of his arms. Strength obviously helps, but you can generate a lot of bat speed even with a small frame.

  91. Where in the hell was the Pirates outfield playing? That was such unbelievably retarded defensive positioning that I can’t even fathom it. It was like there was a runner on third with one out or the pitcher was up. That’s an easy out if Hurdle hadn’t gone out to lunch. Uggla’s got decent speed, but he’s not Usain Bolt. If you play the outfielders at reasonable depth and get a ball hit solidly near one of them, you’ll have a chance to throw him out at the plate without playing seven infielders. I’ll certainly take it, but yikes.

  92. The game thread over at Capital Avenue Talking Chop Club spent about 50 posts arguing about whether we should try to playing Gattis at 2B … so I’m gonna say the CAC influence hasn’t quite taken hold there yet.

  93. We’ve had three “automatic outs,” in the lineup all year. Here’s what they did tonight: Heyward was 2-4, Uggla was 2-3 with 2 walks, and BJ hit a game-tying 2-run homer (his second homer in 3 games.)

    That’s exactly why you DON’T take the names off the back of the jerseys. If the talent is there, then on any given night, you could carry the team.

  94. Fredi has been managing those three automatic outs all year. We’re 58 games in, and a few games don’t nullify that they’ve been ice cold. Until Heyward, Uggla, and BJ put together a week of at-bats that shows they’re turned a corner, you bunt with them when you have one game to win. You’ve got a shot at winning the game, and you have the three pitchers in the lineup get bunts down, because that’s what pitchers do. You can keep swinging away with your automatic outs, and you’ll put up goose eggs like we’re very prone to do.

  95. @197: Okay, so that’s a good argument that he is also “designed” as a gap hitter/speedster. It is no argument at all that he is “not designed” as a power hitter, when he’s coming off back-to-back 20+ HR seasons, in each of which he was an above-league-average hitter overall. That didn’t happen by accident. He has proven he can succeed with a dingers-or-bust approach.

  96. Late to the party, anyway. My first Braves game was WS Game 1 against the Yankees in 1999. Living in London at that time, I bought a $250 ticket over the internet, booked a Delta flight and arrived the day before the game. I was probably the first one to enter Turner Field on game day, hours before the first pitch in order to take it all in. Man, it was cold. I think at game time the temperature was in the 30s. It was a great experience, watching Chipper’s home run to make it 1-0. Eventually, they could not hold the lead obviously. I was really looking forward to seeing Maddux pitch but for whatever reason he was scratched and Glavine started the game. I flew back the next day. A crazy trip but one of my favorite memories.

  97. Has anyone else noticed that Freddie Freeman chokes up? I just saw that tonight.

  98. #18
    Hysterical. Do the Crusher! http://tinyurl.com/lyzbmbc

    #206
    Was at that game, too. Froze my ass off, and that Chipper HR off El Duque was the only hit we got.

    Maddux actually did start that game. Pitched pretty well until the 8th when we began to drop the ball all over the field (a recurring theme in that brief series).

    It was Glavine who was scratched the next game, IIRC, as there was a flu going around the club.

  99. @208, yes, of course. You’re right, it was the other way round. I just remember I was a little disappointed. I am surprised that I was in hindsight…

  100. FWIW, Hammering Hank was not known for his biceps. The Pirates were doing the opposite of the no doubles defense on theory that AS was more likely to hit a short single than a deep sacrifice fly. Did AS see where they were playing and go for the downs? @210 Jet lag does that.

  101. I would advise Rob Cope to try to not comment on BJ Upton. It doesn’t look good on him.

  102. I had to stop reading through the thread when I learned that Rob thinks Upton’s values as a baseball player has something to do with the size of his wife’s biceps.

    Nice not to lose another series to the Pirates.

  103. I just want to again express how delighted I am by the possibility that Jason is becoming his good self again.

    EDIT again, again and again.

  104. AS had 2 singles last night. Would either have scored Uggla from second? @216 SSS, but AS, BUpton and Uggla have been helping too.

  105. Romero source of past delight
    you had a pretty awful night
    not one but two then three
    and each a taller tree
    a ladder, would that put it right?

  106. Freeman is spraying ropes all over the field. I think JUpton passed the baton to him so he could carry us for a month or so. Next in line is the Heyward/Bupton/Uggla mendoza trio. Those guys are gonna pull their weight eventually. Hopefully starting now.

  107. People have been saying Uggla is going to “pull his weight” for three seasons now.

    At least Uggla can take a walk and hit it out of the park once in a while. Makes him a lot less frustrating. Like Zombie Chipper.

  108. Guys, take a deep breath and smile: we’re winning.

    It looked to me like Heyward made the decision to bunt on his own. And if he could have gone up the line rather than pushing it straight to the pitcher, he would have beaten it easily; he runs like the wind and the defense was caught completely off guard. As it was, he bunted straight to the pitcher and they still only beat him by a step and a half.

  109. The Braves win at a pretty good rate
    I think the manager’s fine, not great
    I get what some are sayin’
    So don’t let me parade on your rain
    The haters can feel free to hate

  110. This lymeric game looks like fun.
    I think now I’ll try to write one.
    But my boss is a hater,
    So I’ll finish it later.

  111. @212 – I suggest you read more Voltaire.

    One of the great things about this place is there is a wide divergence of opinion that is expressed quite well by many contributors. Trying to censor someone else is counter to what I believe was intended by the founder.

  112. Laird hasn’t started in probably 10 days if memory serves. Probably good to get him in there.

  113. @211

    I get that, but it was a stupid idea, in my opinion. I still say they’d have had a chance to gun Uggla at the plate on any single hit near them playing at normal depth. Also, they’d have had a chance to acutally catch a ball over their heads, and most importantly, any bloop single wouldn’t have scored Uggla anyway, as he probably would’ve had to hold up to see if it dropped. The only thing that would’ve been sure to beat them would’ve been a bloop single perfectly placed down the line. You’re gonna give up your ability to catch a fly ball short of the warning track for that?

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