What Miserable Braves Playoff Loss are YOU? #2: The Umpire, Open Thread (by W.C.G.)

Ed. note: This is the fourth in a series of posts by W.C.G. that is predicated on something Mac used to say: “I’ve mentioned before that I have a low opinion of hope, which normally plays you false.” Or, as W.C.G. noted in his introductory post: “Braves fandom has mostly been a series of pleasant, sometimes even inspiring, regular seasons spoiled by some giant turd of a playoff series. As the data set is fairly rich at this point, I have attempted to organize the turds into five different subcategories, which I have named and ranked. The series will begin with the least aggravating type of Miserable Braves Playoff Loss and work its way up to the most aggravating. I’ve also set odds for the likelihood of the 2013 Braves to join each category.”


#2: The Umpire

I don’t have words for Game 5 of the 1997 NLCS, so I’m just going to leave this here instead:

Eric Gregg never worked another postseason game after this effort. Two years later, he joined a group of umpires resigning as part of a labor dispute, and MLB simply accepted his resignation and never looked back. He never worked in MLB again.

Would that Bud Selig had taken the same stance toward Sam Holbrook. Holbrook, too, had resigned as part of the 1999 labor protest, but MLB took him back in 2002. Ten years later, he was working the left-field line during the wild-card game at Turner Field when he forgot he was working the left-field line and called “infield fly” on a ball 225 feet from home plate.

We have… um, we have been here before about this game.

1997’s Game 5 is the archetypical Umpire game; the series was tied 2-2 going into Gregg’s game, the Braves still only lost 2-1, the game swung the series, Gregg awarded Livan Hernandez 15 strikeouts, and MLB gave Hernandez the LCS MVP trophy just to fart in the Braves’ collective face.

2012’s was a more multifaceted loss; it was the clincher of a one-game series, featured a bunch of defensive miscues from normally surehanded infielders, and was pretty much a loss of the Braves’ own doing by the seventh-inning stretch.

But it still counts as an Umpire game because Holbrook’s call broke a crowd that was already agitated about having to play this new, arbitrary coin flip of a game against a team six games worse than ours in the regular season. Had the Braves already screwed themselves into a hole by the bottom of the seventh? Sure. But we’d been waiting for years to will our side to a comeback win, and when that ball hit the ground it felt like we’d psyched Holliday into screwing the play up, like an SEC student section with a rattled opposing quarterback near its end zone. The Braves would have finished that comeback. We’d have made them. That’s what the stadium felt like in that moment. It made sense if you were there.

When Holbrook took that away with his ridiculous (and less-than-last-second) interpretation of the infield fly rule, the rhythm of the game felt interrupted by something conspiratorial, a force dating back to Kent Hrbek pulling Ron Gant off the bag in 1991, running though Livan’s 15 “strikeouts” in 1997 and Buster Posey being out in 2010. The trash that hit the field that night was a monument to history. The rational part of my brain says there is no conspiracy. But it also acknowledges that it sucks that this stuff goes against us every single time.

Chance of the 2013 Braves doing this: 10%. We just went through this last year, and they wouldn’t do this to us two years in a row, no? All bets are off if they let CB Bucknor work the playoffs, though.

131 thoughts on “What Miserable Braves Playoff Loss are YOU? #2: The Umpire, Open Thread (by W.C.G.)”

  1. Thank you for clarifying for all the hard truths of being a Braves fan. Kent Hrbek, Eric Gregg, Fucking Sam Holbrooke, if I am unlucky enough to be delivered to hell upon my death, I fully expect them all to be there, waiting for me, laughing.

  2. And now I’ll speak ill of the dead: All that was missing from Eric Gregg’s performance that day was a gong, a panel of C-level-celebrity judges & a random appearance from Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.

  3. As I recall, NBC had a proto-K-zone thing going in the ’97 NLCS and eventually just shut it off midway through this game.

    I really can’t type much otherwise about the game, as mad as I get about it. Disgraceful.

  4. For the last thread, another year that could go in the clincher category was the ’91 Series.

    It was Drew Coble who called Gant out on the Hrbek play.

  5. I’m pissed about the Uggla thing. There is absolutely no reason E. Johnson should be getting starts. Look at his career stats. Uggla comes up with a runner on first and two outs trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth, you think you have a shot; Johnson you just hope he gets on so the next person can win it.

    Idiotic decision. Between that and Garcia, it seems the Braves want to lose. I can’t understand why they brought these two losers that were jettisoned by the Orioles and Royals here anyway. It’s like signing Durbin and Livan Hernandez just before the 2012 season started. The idea is to make the team better, not worse right at the last second.

  6. I think he gives us a marginally better chance than his replacement, whoever that is. Frankly, I’d rather have him start games than EJ, but even if he doesn’t start, I’d rather have him pinch hit with two men on down three runs than anybody else who’s available. Think Rick Ankiel, 2010 NLDS. .167 BA, .702 OPS

  7. but: do you really believe that Dan Uggla gives us the best chance to win?

    When the other options are E. Johnson and Janish, hell yeah.

  8. I don’t have a problem with EJ getting the start. I have no idea who the better hitter is at this point, but EJ’s definitely the better defender.

  9. @4 I know it was the deciding run in that game, but it’s really hard to win ballgames in which you do not score any runs for 9 innings. Had he been properly called out, the Giants may have just won it in 10 innings. Who knows? Maybe it did cost the Braves a win, and maybe it didn’t.

    Every time I have watched that Eric Gregg clip I am dumbfounded by it. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it. It still amazes me that anybody could be so inept at something they’re paid to do and have presumably undergone a lot of training to be paid to do. There are just no words.

  10. In the stretch run, Elliot Johnson has been better than Dan Uggla & Freddy Garcia has been better than Paul Maholm. I wish those weren’t facts, but they are.

  11. @15: Fine. but the “stretch run” was more of a jog than a run. We need to play better than we played during the “stretch run.” So I’m willing to take a chance on players with higher ceilings than EJ and FG, even if their expected means are lower than EJ and FG, which I’m not sure they are.

    Put it another way: Dice-K apparently earned a spot in the Mets starting rotation next year by pitching Garcia-like in the games after we bombed him. I take it that that sort of decisionmaking is transparently idiotic.

  12. I am definitely more comfortable giving a start to Garcia than Maholm. It’s not ideal, but that’s what we have left after Huddy and Beachy going down and we need Wood in the bullpen.

    I would slightly prefer Johnson over Uggla at this point. With Uggla, we can only hope for walk and HR. Johnson makes more contact and has better speed and is a better defender.

  13. #8

    Durbin worked out pretty well last year.

    Look, if it comes down to the team having to manufacture runs, I like someone with E. Johnson’s skill set–he’s proven that he can hit to the opposite field, something which Uggla never understood–he can steal bases, and he plays reliable defense. With Uggla, there’s the chance of a three-run blast, but that’s never going to happen because he strikes out too much. A single can score a run too, don’t forget.

  14. With Uggla, there’s the chance of a three-run blast, but that’s never going to happen because he strikes out too much.

    I don’t get this statement. Aren’t the best home run hitters usually the ones who strike out a lot, compared to the ones that strike out the least?

  15. Regardless, being in a position of having to choose between the two is a pretty bad knock on your GM.

  16. The guy Dan Uggla reminds me of right now is Alex Gonzalez, except he makes less contact and hits more popups.

  17. Dan,

    If Uggla doesn’t make contact, the ball isn’t put into play. If the ball is put into play, there’s always the chance that the ball will find a hole or a fielder will make an error. When a batter strikes out, nothing happens except the batter walks back to the dugout. (Well, maybe there’s a passed ball or a bad throw to 1B for a third strike that lands in the dirt.)

    Yes, a lot of HR hitters strike out a lot, but Uggla’s not hitting enough homers to warrant keeping him in the lineup. Sort of like Halley’s Comet–it just doesn’t happen that often.

  18. Id like to add that Uggla does walk more and he also has a LOT more power. This Braves bunch wins with HR’s not manufacturing their runs. 22 HR 2B not being on the roster is ridiculous when Janish, BJ, and EJ are all occupying spots. What’s the point in carrying 12-13 pitchers in a short series anyways?

    Some guys can elevate their game in a playoff setting. Id like to see, as highly likely as it may be, if Uggla is one of those guys.

  19. One more thing.

    If you put the ball in play, you can make what they call “a productive out.” For example, if you roll the ball to the right side and move a runner from second to third. The way Uggla’s been hitting this year, he’s not making many productive outs.

  20. I would also like to point out that in Game 4 of the 2010 NLDS, Omar Infante did, contrary to the umpire’s call, keep his foot on the bag on that force play in the 7th inning.

  21. Why would the Braves leak the possible roster decisions like that? What possible good would it do? Are they maybe trying to motivate Uggla? I expect he’ll be on the roster.

  22. IMO, Uggla’s strikeouts aren’t nearly as troubling as the fact that he’s gotten exactly one XBH since July 30.

    That includes the 2 weeks he missed & the 2-for-41 skid just before it.

  23. I hope they win but I don’t know why anyone considers this play in game being part of the playoffs. IMO, the 4 playoff teams haven’t been determined. It irritated me last year when the Braves celebrated getting one play in game spot.

  24. @34

    The Braves might be the most hated team in baseball if that happened. The media’s already tried to sell the team as a bunch of angry rule police (always ignoring the fact that McCann was just standing up for his teammates instead of being angry about admiring homers). Beating the underdog that everyone’s pulling for is going to exacerbate their hatred even more.


  25. I hope Freddie Freeman wins the MVP award, but McCutcheon is probably the sentimental favorite.

  26. Beating Kershaw will obviously be difficult, but we really need to do what we can to win Game 1. The last time the Braves won a Game 1 was also the last time they won a playoff series (against Houston in 2001). Not a coincidence.

  27. I can’t help but root for Pittsburgh. I hope they win it if we can’t.

    @38, I’m not going to get my hopes up for Game 1. I feel like we have to beat Grienke twice or we’re done for.

  28. Liriano on the mound too, let’s not forget.

    // he has had a nice season in all fairness. That sounds a bit harsh considering.

  29. Whoa, J.J. Hoover has acquired a rockin’ beard-situation. Juancisco gave us some fun home runs, but that’s one I wish we could get back.

  30. For those wondering, here’s Dan Uggla’s splits by month:

    April – .169/.296/.325 – 4 HR in 83 ABs
    May – .195/.297/.460 – 6 HR in 87 ABs
    June – .250/.394/.452 – 4 HR in 84 ABs
    July – .186/.273/.454 – 7 HR in 97 ABs
    August – .083/.286/.083 – 0 HR in 48 ABs
    Sept – .122/.295/.184 – 1 HR in 49 ABs

    This is a trend in the wrong direction and I agree with him not starting. And if he’s not starting he’s probably not worth rostering because his defense is not strong and he doesn’t make enough contact to be a pinch hitter that would inspire any type of confidence.

  31. So basically,

    April: mostly shit
    May: mostly shit, but could run into one from time to time
    June: actually okay
    July: mostly shit, but could run into one from time to time
    August: completely shit
    September: completely shit

  32. Uggla has hit more home runs in 2013 than E. Johnson in his career. You start him and hope he runs into one. It’s a tiny chance, but it’s a better shot than letting Mr. Lifetime .500-something OPS start.

  33. @53 I guess the man knows all along that his problem is not his eyes. It seems like he is now at a point where he either makes consistent contact or maintains his power.

  34. @55 I understand, but there comes a point when it’s not worth hoping for that chance anymore because of all the other things that he doesn’t do. Especially when we are only talking about possibly three games. It can easily be 0-9 with 7ks.

    At this moment, I will take his August and Sept stats as an indication of how he will do in the playoff.

  35. That McCutcheon guy looks like he’ll be heading to St. Louis with the rest of the Pirates, Dan.

  36. I think skipping over Dan here is a fair-sized mistake, unless he can’t even hit in BP. Again, I’d start him, but I respect the decision not to start him. But who’s your power off the bench? Dan Uggla hit 22 home runs (admittedly not lately). Isn’t that more than the rest of the bench put together? If you need a power bat off the bench, who? If he strikes out, he strikes out… just like JUpton.

  37. At this point we have to consider the possibility that the eye surgery at least in the near term made Uggla’s eyes worse. He’s not even walking at the rate he was in the good bad old days this year. The one skill he has (had?) was the ability to run into a homer with decent regularity, but he’s done that once in two months. I can’t trust him in any role in a playoff series right now. I have more faith in EJ being replacement-level at the plate and providing plus defense.

    As for power off the bench, there simply isn’t. You’d have to start JUpton/Reed/Heyward and bring Gattis off the bench as a PH if you wanted that threat, which I don’t think is worth it. Just play the PHs (Terds, Reed, Laird?) most likely to extend an inning and try to get it to the dudes who can hit one out.

    (This is part of why I think this team has really high Dead Man Walking potential, FWIW. We’re really scraping the depth barrel just to get a solid 1-9 out there at this point.)

  38. I honestly think there is something more between Uggla and Wren/Fredi than just performance issue. Fredi is supposed to be the biggest fan of Dan, and I was expecting Fredi would start Uggla every game after we clinched so that Uggla can get a week of at bats to get comfortable for the playoff. That never happened. The writing has been on the wall for a while.

  39. I’m fine with not starting Uggla, but not carrying him at all seems bizarre. Do we really need 12+ pitchers? In a 5-game series I think we’d only need about 10 pitchers at most – 5 starters (one or two for long relief) and 5 relievers – that’s plenty. Our good relievers are going to have to be ready to pitch every game, which hopefully is no big deal.

  40. 62- I know we don’t really need 12 pitchers, but AA is right; Uggla is unplayable if he doesn’t start because of his lack of contact and defense.

  41. You can say the same about BJ. Both might get lucky and hit one out though, which to me is worth having them on the roster. I would like to limit their ABs, but if we need a pinch-hit HR then who else you gonna call on? Our bench sucks.

  42. It’s ok for the bench to suck. I’d rather that the guys that play the whole game be good. This is why I want Jason in CF.

  43. In a short series where one run can be a difference-maker, I have more faith in Eliott Johnson either saving a run defensively or producing a run with his “skills”. I have zero faith that Uggla and his one home run in 98 August and September at-bats is going to “run into one” like some think he will. At the end of the day, if the Braves’ second baseman turns out to be the difference-maker in the series, then a lot of more important and impactful players didn’t do their jobs.

    I feel pretty good about this series considering the big debate is over starting two players with about 80 OPS points difference between them.

  44. Dropping Uggla from the NLDS roster completely makes no sense if Janish is the ONLY backup IF.

    What if someone gets hurt or tossed from the game?
    What if GOD FORBID you need to PH for EJ, since his CAREER slash line is .216/.238/.311?
    What i EJ gets the yips a la Brooks Conrad? is Fredi certain this 31 year old journeyman with all of 160 games in the bigs can play in the playoffs?

    Is BJ getting some reps in at 2B? He used to play there in 2007, right?

  45. Peanut says Schafer has been sick. That makes me think Uggla makes it.

    Right now Elliot Johnson is a better player than Uggla. We don’t have time to see if Uggla can fix his lack of bat speed. You play EJ and keep the best 25 players. Is Uggla one of our 25 best players? Right now, probably not.

  46. I figured since we have two guys under .200 we might as well look at both. Here’s BJ’s splits:

    April: .143/.225/.275 – 3 HR in 91 ABs
    May: .147/.237/.206 – 1 HR in 68 ABs
    June: .238/.359/.452 – 4 HR in 84 ABs
    July: .176/.171/.176 – 0 HR in 34 ABs
    August: .269/.315/.343 – 1 HR in 67 ABs
    Sept: .106/.218/.149 – 0 HR in 47 ABs

    The big difference between Upton and Uggla IMO is that Upton has other skills to offer. He’s a decent defensive player who can serve as a defensive replacement if Gattis gets the start. Plus the man is fast. At the very least he can be valuable in a late inning baserunning situation.

  47. Oh my word. I didn’t realize how bad that game was umpired in ’97. Geez…

    So, we’re keeping BJ on the roster when we have an abundance of OF that can hit, but leaving Uggla off because we have an abundance of 2b that can’t. Well, that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

  48. It’s not that complicated. BJ can pinch run and play defense. That is two more things than Uggla can do.

    Wren not being able to trade for a solid 2B or at least a power bench bat has to be counted against him. No away around that, even granting that the trade market seems to have been pretty thin up the middle. Alberto Callaspo could have been had, and he would certainly be an upgrade over EJ, but of the guys that were actually moved that is about it.

  49. @73

    By the time it appeared we needed one, we were down to the waiver wire. Uggla’s June wasn’t too bad and there was plenty of hope that it was all an eye issue.

    Frank Wren is GM of the year in my book.

  50. To be fair to Wren, Uggla’s best two months were June and July (June for average and July for 7 HRs and a .454 SLG). When August revealed that Uggla was cooked, we don’t know who he tried to trade for only to be blocked by he fact we were leading the league and anyone had to clear waivers.

    I think you put Uggla on the roster, just on the off chance that he gets to pinch hit against a lefty reliever and hit one out. Other than that, you gotta use EJ, because, Lord help us, EJ is just a better player at this point.

  51. I get that using the career sample size that Uggla looks way better than Johnson but I have to agree that the recent evidence suggests that the team is ‘better’ (less bad?) with EJ at second. Right now the odds of a pitcher accidentally hitting Uggla’s bat in such a way for the ball to have a trajectory resulting in a hit are very low.

    Heck he still might make the roster if Schafer can’t play but I wouldn’t be surprised if next year the Braves are competing 2b between Pastornicky and LaStella.

    edit: @72 The name Eric Gregg may be the most reviled among Braves fans. I am surprised that no evidence was found that he was on the take. I actually laughed when there was a story on how he was financially strapped after stupidly resigning and never getting his job back.

  52. we’re paying the price for that fella
    consigned to the autumn favela
    his talents so squandered
    how little we pondered
    the virtues of Tommy La Stella.

  53. He’s not even walking at the rate he was in the good bad old days this year.

    Since returning from the DL on August 28th, Uggla’s walk rate is over 22%. So that’s just not true.

  54. I don’t really think the series is going to hinge on whether we play sucky-playerA vs sucky-playerB. Odds are that neither will be involved in anything good.

  55. a million here, a million spare
    we’ll save a buck and leave him there
    his clock our rule of thumb
    how clever we’ve become
    and second base? we’ll say a prayer.

  56. Tommy La Stella could very well be the 2nd coming of Chase Utley. He can really rake but will play below average defense and probably spend a lot of time on the DL. With that being said, the biggest mistake wasn’t not acquiring a 2b that can hit, but the failure of giving La Stella a shot.

    If Uggla is left off of the NLDS roster, I’d be willing to bet he’s played his last game in a Braves uni.

    I’d love to see a healthy Pena compete for some starts at 2nd base, but realistically, Pena’s first time to succeed offensively was last year, as his minor league numbers matched his anemic offensive years in a Yankees uniform.

    With Gattis inevitably becoming the full-time catcher next year combined with Uggla and McCann seemingly gone, La Stella could provide the balance that the Braves lineup has been known for this year. Assuming the Braves give BJ another chance to succeed next year, there could be 5 RH hitters (Gattis, Simmons, CJ, Jupton, Bupton) and 3 LH hitters (La Stella, Heyward, Freeman). If the Braves choose to start with a platoon in CF, the handedness would be 4 to 4.

    Depth is a nice problem to have.

    Now, about tomorrow…GO BARVES!

  57. I certainly am not suggesting that Wren shouldn’t win GM of the Year. Obviously he’s done a fantastic job overall. But it’s also true that we have a gaping hole at 2B and an anemic bench. That data belongs in the ledger.

  58. I think Uggla should be on the NLDS roster, but he’s stank up the joint so much that I don’t have the effort to make a big argument. Like defending the free speech rights of hate groups, or something.

  59. A high walk rate is a great sign for a young player: it means that he has good plate discipline.

    But it can be a very worrying sign for an old player, because it may be the only thing that he can actually do. There is, essentially, no indication that Uggla is capable of seeing the ball or of hitting the ball if he sees it.

  60. @87

    indeed…the fear, the only thing he can do…

    Hymns Ancient and Modern

    we scan the field and scatter
    the good hit as ’twas planned
    but what does really matter
    is Douglas should be banned.

    he swings away and misses
    creating so much pain
    when we renew our kisses
    he does it all again.

  61. @80, good point. I stand corrected. Uggla is in fact walking more now than he was pre-DL.

    I’ve seen some good points raised as to just having another warm body in the infield for depth/roster balance. Uggla would certainly fit that bill. I’m pretty much back around to having him on the bench just to not have 12 pitchers or 18 outfielders hanging around, but I still agree with the decision to start EJ.

    Not that it has any chance of happening, but an interesting rules quirk: technically, La Stella could be on the NLDS roster if they wanted to. Since he was part of the organization on August 31, he’s eligible to be an injury replacement, and we have plenty of injured players who we can designate a replacement for.

    This happened once in the modern era. A guy named Mark Kiger got a couple innings in the 2006 ALCS for the A’s after Mark Ellis got hurt in the ALDS. Played defense, never got a PA. (In fact, those two games in the ALCS were his only career MLB action.) But he proves it’s possible to debut in the playoffs. The more you know.

  62. @89 That would be a neat story to be able to tell your grandchildren. To only play two games in the majors and have those games be in the playoffs is pretty incredible. What an experience that would have been!

  63. The level of disrespect being leveled at the Braves this week by national types is absurd. There is absolutely nobody picking us, and I love it. We are way better than currently being given credit for, and I hope it fires everybody up. The Dodgers haven’t played well in a month, and their vaunted rotation has no postseason pedigree to speak of.

  64. The only problem with La Stella now is he hasn’t had an AB in about a month.

    I assume the orgainization felt he wasn’t ready.

  65. @94

    “No word on how seriously Fredi Gonzalez considered swapping the struggling B.J. for Kate in the Braves divisional series line”

    Love it.

  66. @81. I totally agree. This series will be own or lost by our offensive stars. I think we have a pretty good idea what our pitching will bring. The starters will hopefully keep us in the game, the bullpen will be a strength. If neither of those happen, we’ll be cooked.

    The element that takes us from a good team to a club that can rip through the playoffs is our offense. If Heyward, Jupton, Freeman, McCann, and Gattis show up – or at the very least hot some timely home runs – I like our chances. Especially Jupton. I find it to be no coincidence that this team won at precipitous rates when Upton was hot.

  67. @83 La Stella has played only 81 games at AA. Seems the best thing to do would be give Uggla the starting 2B role for the first couple months next year to see if he can make the necessary adjustments – if the Braves dump Uggla this offseason they’ll be forgoing the possibility of finding a team to accept any of his remaining salary. Once we’re around the 2014 Super 2 deadline, the Braves should have a better idea of what they can expect from Uggla and La Stella, and can act accordingly.

    Also, while I’ve never seen La Stella play, the scouting reports and minor league stats don’t scream “2nd coming of Chase Utley” to me. It appears La Stella’s got a very good idea of the strike zone and moderate power, but keep in mind he was playing AA for the first time at age 24 in 2013 – he’s not a toolsy, premium prospect. It looks like La Stella might be able to manage something like .280/.350/.430 in the majors for a few years before tailing off. A good comp might be actually be another height-challenged Braves 2B, Marcus Giles, except with a bit less power and defensive ability.

  68. @83
    how good does he have to be to better what we’re having to choose from now?

    agreed, unfortunately, but still??? (BTW,loved East TN, thanks!)

    Good to know – but we would still be guilty of profligate waste letting him sit on his arse all September.

  69. I had not looked at the 1997 video in a while and just looked. I remembered it as being fairly bad for the whole game, but thought McGriff’s last at bat went to a new level. however, there were LOTS of pitches 10 inches out of the strike zone called strikes.

    I have NEVER seen another Major League umpire call THAT MANY pitches, THAT FAR out of the strike zone as strikes. Not even CLOSE to that many.

  70. I just wish we could squeeze about 20 million more in payroll for next year. If neither Uggla (10% chance) nor Upton (50% chance, maybe) make it back to something reasonable next year, we need a 2B (I guess we could let Pastornicky be our 60 day bridge to La Stella) and one more credible major league outfielder (Gattis is a catcher next year and Success may have had his ultimate success).

    We also need one more decent starter ready to go on April 1 (able to be a major league # 4 or better). I assume Maholm is gone without a tender offer. Somebody will offer Maholm more than Braves would want to (or more years). Also, if Hudson is willing to sign an “incentive laden deal” I wouldn’t count on him unless the pitching scouts see him throwing before trade time and doing well enough to hold down at least a number 4 slot. Gilmartin and Graham can’t be counted on. Sims is way too young unless it is desperate late. I am 90% confident on Beachy that he will be ready to go and be at least a 3, but I was 90% confident he would be ready to go by August 1 of this year as a 2 and that sure didn’t work out, did it?

  71. #100
    Gotta give Livan & his catcher Charles Johnson credit on this: They knew if they hit that spot 6-9 inches off the plate, it would be called a strike. Livan basically took what he was given.

    But yeah, an utterly disgraceful umpiring performance.

  72. ububba @ 102,

    Glavine and Maddux both lived on the pitch “one baseball width away from the black.” And, for many years, most pitchers who could consistently hit that with the catcher’s target set there, got that call.

    But not the Eric Gregg zone.

  73. “The level of disrespect being leveled at the Braves this week by national types is absurd. There is absolutely nobody picking us, and I love it. We are way better than currently being given credit for, and I hope it fires everybody up. The Dodgers haven’t played well in a month, and their vaunted rotation has no postseason pedigree to speak of.”

    I’ve resisted bringing my gloom-and-doom disposition around here, but I have to say, I completely understand why few see the Braves taking the LDS. This idea that the Braves are built for the postseason doesn’t make sense to me. The offense is literally two-dimensional: they hit homers and they walk. But against the likes of Kershaw and Greinke, they won’t be able to do either. It’s always possible that one of those could have a bad game, but I wouldn’t bet on it. And besides, one bad outing from one of those guys will not save us.

    True, the Dodgers have cooled off of late–but so have the Braves (i.e., 13-14 record in September). I know a lot of that had to do with Heyward being out, but there are other legitimate and persistent reasons, such as the bullpen going from automatic to merely very solid in recent days. Besides, as has been discussed here before, weak regular season finishes don’t mean much, historically.

    I really, really, REALLY hope I’m wrong–nothing baseball-related would make me happier–but I don’t see the Braves winning more than one game, and I think it just as likely they get swept.

  74. @ 104. And they were going to beat Cleveland in the World Series too. I’ve always believed 95-97 should have been a “three-peat”. As Sam said last week, that would have completely changed the narrative of he franchise. Look at what three championships in four years did for the Patriots in the NFL.

  75. @98
    Marcus Giles might be the most obvious Braves player to have benefitted from…a bit extra.

  76. While Utley is obviously a long shot for La Stella, their similarities are not that far off. La Stella will probably make his debut at 25, Utley made his at 24. While Utley showed more power, both had/have above average power in the minors, with La Stella showing more plate discipline. Both are adequate defenders but aren’t known for their glove. Utley is a bit bigger therefore La Stella’s power ceiling is probably 15-20 HR where Utley’s was 25-30.

  77. @105 – I respect you, your opinion, and your right to share it. My response to it, “WHATEVER” This is baseball. It’s a sport. I don’t agree with the assertion that there is really any team built for the postseason (or not built for it in this case). Some teams get hot at the right time. Some teams are very balanced. For most of the Braves’ late 90s/early 2000’s teams, they were very steady, very balanced, and owned one of the most dominant rotations, yet those teams were rarely billed as being “built for the postseason.” To those comments, I say “What? You think there’s some better way to build a team than the blueprint that wins you 95+ games nearly every season??” Was last year’s Cardinals team “built for the playoffs?” That makes me snicker. Let’s face it, when you build a team that wins 60% of the time, you’re setting yourself up (marginally) better for the postseason than a team that wins maybe 55% of the time. We’re only talking a few percentage points difference if even that, though. Furthermore, it’s not as though we are magically some kind of team that crushes average or worse pitching but can’t hit a lick against aces. Every team struggles against ace pitching. Period. That’s why they’re aces. It’s no great mystery. And Clayton Kershaw is not some kind of trickster pitcher who lives and dies by finesse, so… Dig in. The way to beat Kershaw is to clobber him early and often!

  78. Re: Uggla

    I was just reading Mac’s review of Chipper’s 2009 season (in which he slumped at the end and finished with an uncharacteristically low average of .264), and this insight is…rather alarming:

    “If he was really done, you would expect a big rise in “non-contact” plate appearances, with both strikeouts and walks going up.”


    Chipper Jones

  79. @105 – We share the same disposition. I don’t think the Braves are being “disrespected”, just assessed objectively for what they are – a team of streaky hitters prone to strikeouts and a solid rotation with no shutdown ace.

    That’s not to say the Braves can’t win and I absolutely hope they do. Gotta win game 1.

  80. @111 – But then how about last year’s Giants? I was surprised to see how soft their team looked during the season, top to bottom.

  81. Well, we’ve got, as they say in the WSOP a chip and a chair, so anything is possible.

  82. @107 I totally agree Ryan, the Brothers Giles were pretty juicy.

    Also, I would love it if La Stella could be a well-rounded player in the mold of Chase Utley – though you’re very much selling Utley short by calling him an “adequate defender”. Since he became a full-timer in 2005, Utley has lead all second basemen in defensive value (and offensive value, and base running value). Dude is a boss, basically.

  83. @110, yep. That’s the thing about “old player” skills. They’re most often associated with a guy losing bat speed. If you can’t get the bat around as fast, then you do one of two things: 1) you cheat, so you start your swing earlier and have a lower likelihood of making contact; and 2) you take more pitches. Hence: more strikeouts, more walks.

  84. Pitchers (11): Avilan, Ayala, Carpenter, Garcia, Hale, Kimbrel, Medlen, Minor, Teheran, Walden, Wood
    Catchers (3, depending on how you see Gattis): Gattis, Laird, McCann
    Infielders (5): Freeman, Janish, C. Johnson, E. Johnson, Simmons
    Outfielders (6, see above about Gattis): Constanza, Heyward, R. Johnson, Schafer, B.J. Upton, J. Upton

    No Uggla, no Downs, no Maholm.

  85. So I didn’t see the 1997 NLCS, and can’t find any video: did Maddux get the same strike calls? If so, then as bad as it was, you can’t really complain.

  86. @83: that’s not giving full credit to Utley, I think; in his prime he was the best offensive 2B and the best defensive 2B in baseball at the same time.

  87. Chase Utley didn’t make his major league debut until the age of 24 not because the Phillies didn’t think he was ready but rather because he was being blocked by Polanco at 2b and Scott Rolen at 3b. The only way he could get consistent at bats was to leave him in the minors.

    I remember Rob Neyer writing an article on this back in the day explaning how the Phillies should think outside the box to get him in their lineup. When Rolen left the following season and David Bell replaced him Utley got called up.

    LaStella is not Chase Utley.

  88. Who cares what writers or pundits think about the Braves’ playoff chances? If it matters to anyone, the Braves probably won’t be a favorite or media/fan darling this entire post-season, no matter how long it lasts for us.

    BTW, Zach Greinke has gotten roughed up in every post-season game he’s ever pitched. It’s a grand total of 3 playoff starts (6.48 ERA in 16.2 IP vs. Arizona & St. Louis in 2011), but his next good start will be his first one.

  89. Though it’s possible La Stella would’ve helped, I don’t think the only reason he’s not up here is his arbitration clock. The Braves have shown they’re not afraid to toss that aside, if need be. I’m inclined to believe they wanted to get him into the Arizona Fall League and that they didn’t think he was ready to be thrust into a pennant race. If he had come up and just been awful, his development might have been hurt by that, as well. He’ll probably start next year in AAA, too.

    And yes, you guys are severely underrating Chase Utley at his peak.

  90. Hale? Constanza? Really?

    That roster has me rather…surprised. I don’t care one way or the other about Uggla being on it, but Constanza? I know Terdoslavich really slumped at the end, but I’d rather he or Uggla made it over Constanza. Ugh, Fredi.

  91. I’m pretty sure Utley is the rival player that, over the last 20 years of Braves baseball, I have respected the most in respect of on-field achievement and attitude.

    I mean, the guy has a peak-based case for the HoF. His peak is one of the very best five-year periods ever put up by a 2B.

  92. Dan Uggla, former Brave.

    @116 – I agree, but Dan looked late on a lot of fastballs. Maybe he should have started his swing when the pitcher was looking for the sign.

  93. @ 117

    how do you know? quick rush to judgment. we’re arguing he should have been given the chance to show us in September.

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