’82 Braves, Stubs & All, part 2 (by Ububba)

In case you missed the last one, here was Ububba’s intro:

I remembered that I have a shoebox full of old event tickets—concerts, ballgames, all kinds of stuff—basically from the mid-1970s thru about 1984 or so. Of course, there was a slew of old Braves tickets in there, too, including a bunch (in picture) from that crazy 1982 season.

So here is part two of the games in the box:

82_Braves_Stubs

5/25/82, Braves 10, Mets 2

Went with a Mets fan from Pittsburgh (I swear), who lived on my dorm hall. It was a Tuesday night with a tiny crowd, so we easily scored seats behind home plate ($6!). We sat next to Mookie Wilson’s brother, who looked just like him. Mahler went the distance—he always seemed to pitch when I went—and the Braves battered future CYA winner Mike Scott with an 8-run 2nd inning, which included HRs from Murphy & Hubbard. With George Foster up later in the game, my Met friend said, “It would be just like Foster to hit a meaningless HR here.” And he did just that. (Time 2:02; Attendance 9,581; Braves 27-16)

6/19/82, Giants 9, Braves 4

Working at Ft. Benning for the summer, I drove up from Columbus for this Saturday-night affair. On the strength of a Rufino Linares solo HR in the 7th, Atlanta took a 4-3 lead into the 9th. Then it got ugly. Gene Garber & Al Hrabosky coughed up the lead & left the bases loaded with 2 outs & the Braves down 5-4. Torre then called on Bedrosian, who promptly gave up a cannon-shot GSHR to Chili Davis that landed deep in the RCF bleachers. It was a long 100 miles back home. (Time 3:00; Attendance 30,497; Braves 39-24)

7/4/82, Braves 4, Reds 1

A perfect day. Drove up from Columbus early Sunday on the 4th of July, only to find the game completely sold out, a real rarity back then. Luckily, a woman appeared on the plaza holding up a pair of tickets in the 2nd row of the uppers behind home plate for face value – $8. We’ll take those, thanks. Bob Horner hit 2 near-identical homers, an efficient Bob Walk went into the 8th, then Bedrosian shut the door. A glorious Independence Day. (Time 2:19; Attendance 48,905; Braves 48-29)

8/1/82, Dodgers 9, Braves 4

Here’s when things started to get shaky—it was Game 4 of the 19-of-21 slide. Up 10.5 games on the Dodgers, the Braves dropped a home twin-bill to L.A. on Friday. Then, the Braves got shut out by Fernando Valenzuela on Saturday & the Dodgers had picked up 3 games in 2 days. Everyone was nervous, but the big Sunday crowd got a charge early, as Chambliss crushed a 1st-inning GSHR off Auburn’s Joe Beckwith. Alas, the Braves couldn’t hold on, as L.A. clobbered Niekro, Carlos Diaz & Gene Garber to complete the 4-game sweep—2 HRs for Dusty Baker & another bomb from Pedro Guerrero. A 10.5-game lead had shrunk to 6.5 – <i>uh-oh</i>. (Time 3:12; Attendance 33,957; Braves 61-41)

8/22/82, Braves 10, Mets 9

By now, the Braves had fallen out of first and were suddenly in a pennant race with the Dodgers and the Giants. Still licking their wounds from a disastrous West Coast trip—10 losses in 11 games—the Braves dropped 3 more at home to Montreal before they ran up a 3-game winning streak. On this Sunday, they’d sweep the Mets to make it 4 in a row and stand one game behind L.A. in the division. Nobody pitched well, really. For the Mets, it was Rick Ownby, Pete Falcone, Jesse Orosco & Tom Hausman. For the Braves, Mahler, Donnie Moore, Bedrock, Diaz & Garber. Murphy hit a 2-run job off Orosco (#30) to take the lead late. (Murphy really annihilated LHP that 1st MVP year: .351/.453/.649 in 159 PA.) Then in the 9th, Dave Kingman hit a titanic blast (also #30) off Garber to pull within one, but that’s as close as they got, with Geno earning another shaky save. From here on in, it would be a day-to-day battle until the very last game. (Time 3:28; Attendance 20,466; Braves 67-56)

After That: I’m not really sure why I didn’t see any more Braves games in 1982, but it probably had something to do with school starting up again in mid-September. There was also the matter of Georgia football, which essentially ruled out attending Braves games on most September Saturdays. (Back then, we had this guy named Herschel Walker…)

When the playoffs started, for some reason, I figured I’d go to Game 4 or 5 of the NLCS vs. St. Louis, but, as we know, those games never happened. Still, with the record start, Murphy’s MVP season and the first real pennant race many of us ever experienced, it’s difficult not to remember 1982 fondly. For a generation of Braves fans, it was all new to us.

51 thoughts on “’82 Braves, Stubs & All, part 2 (by Ububba)”

  1. In 1982, 89 wins for the Braves got them the West division and 92 wins got you the other division’s crown. The Braves also led the league in homers that year. That must have been a great year to be a living Braves fan.

  2. “DH in NL” currently trending. I’d been against it for so long I keep forgetting I’ve changed my mind — the Pavlovian response is indeed a powerful thing to overcome.

  3. Grrr…the death of strategically interesting baseball is nigh. And when it happens, the pitcher injuries being cited as a main reason will be infuriatingly absurd. If pitchers are incapable of running without getting injured, that’s gonna eventually manifest itself in the field regardless of whether or not they have to bat.

    I’ve watched plenty of baseball with the DH, and it’s fine. I still like it, I’ll still keep watching. I’ll get over it relatively quickly, even. But playing without it is more interesting, and the game will lose a little something because of it. Among the reasons to change it, pitching injuries don’t even make the list, and the fact that the couple of those that have happened have, out of context, pushed this over the top is irritating.

  4. I agree that injuries are overstated as a concern. The reason that I’ve ultimately accepted it despite my preference for DH-free baseball is that all other levels have gone to it.

    Pitchers don’t hit in the minors or even really in college anymore. And it shows in their declining offensive performance in the big leagues. It was one thing when pitchers were below average offensively and could at least execute bunts. Now they’re just atrocious and they can’t even bunt anymore. It’s painful.

  5. Greetings from Anaheim, Cal….

    The DH sucks.

    I’ve been watching AL ball @ Yankee Stadium since 1990 & that version ain’t baseball. Everyone should hit & everyone should wear a glove.

    If your best hitter can’t walk & talk & chew gum, then let him play 1B or LF & hope he doesn’t cost you the pennant. Make Edgar Martinez play 3B. Make David Ortiz play 1B. Make them play baseball, not just live & work in a batting cage.

  6. Well, we all have our lines in the sand. Or should, anyhow. For me, it’s expecting a certain level of proficiency if what I’m watching is to be called major league quality baseball, and I believe the modern day pitcher at the plate has fallen below that level. I went through the history of pitcher hitting stats here sometime in the last year or two, and their performance relative to league has fallen considerably from its already modest tradition. It’s not taken seriously by the participants or coaches, so why am I watching it?

  7. @10, “It’s not taken seriously by the participants or coaches”

    If coaches aren’t taking one of their 9 line-up spots seriously, they probably need a good lecture.

    @Blazon,

    Ever read Michael Schmidt’s Lives of the Poets? I’m taking it bit-by-bit on my breaks at work. I think you’d love it.

  8. As I understand, there are a couple of main theories on why pitcher batting performance has dropped so precipitously:

    1) They just don’t practice it anymore

    2) As the population of excellent baseball players expands due to population growth, player development, global scouting, etc, the quality of major league pitching improves and becomes more difficult for a player of marginal skill to hit. The minimal level of skill required to be an adequate hitter rises. And as such, the chances that a player who is a world class pitcher will also be an adequate hitter falls dramatically.

    I find #2 more compelling, but there’s prolly some #1 in there, too. I find national league baseball more entertaining, so I’m willing to watch pitchers bat .040. Others find this intolerable.

  9. @13

    I draw the opposite conclusion as you. I think there may be some of #2 in there, but it’s mostly #1. Especially since pitchers are now getting other pitchers out with batting practice fastballs. Modern pitchers don’t practice hitting and don’t want to practice hitting. If they did, they’d at least be able to get a bunt down half the time or be able to mix in an accidental bloop single to the opposite field more than once every 50 freaking at-bats.

  10. @14, @15

    This encapsulates why I believe it’s time to make the switch. There IS time to practice, they CAN be better. But saying so amounts to moralizing to the participants themselves about how to perform their craft, because tradition. That, to me, spells time to give up the ghost.

  11. It seems like in the analytic age, with the emphasis on squeezing every possible run saved/created out of a roster, one might encourage pitchers to practice hitting/bunting. That is, unless there is a perceived injury risk that threatens to cost an individual pitcher tens of millions in future earnings…

  12. @13 and @14 – seems to me that MLB pitching is tougher to hit now than it ever was (objectively, pitchers who don’t plan on a CG every time out throw much harder). I’d also bet that, by and large, being a successful pitcher in today’s MLB requires more pitching skill-specific training now than it used to, leaving less time and emphasis on batting. From an economics perspective too, pitchers are working hard to enhance their pitching (which pays really well) as opposed to polishing the turd that is their batting performance (very little factor in pitcher contracts – see, eg, Jon Lester).

  13. A market inefficiency? In 2008, Carlos Zambrano was worth 1.4 oWAR. Mike Hampton was worth > 1 oWAR in three different seasons.

    I get that you want to put as much emphasis on pitching as possible, but when you can’t even throw every day, there’s lots of time to practice hitting in between.

  14. @16, Right, we’re moralizing. But it seems to me that someone with some authority in the game can turn hot air into actionable goals–not for tradition, but for the W/L column.

  15. I’d let pitchers hit in the Minors. Of course, I’d try to find someone with an arm to throw BP, so what do I know?

  16. Moralizing from the peanut gallery? Yes. True. I want to see the tradition continue.
    I’ve also just felt like it’s a missed opportunity to play the game better. (à la Edward at 20)

  17. I really just want the season to start. It’s so hard predicting how prospects will end up. This is from a 2012 Mets Prospect List:

    “1) Matt Harvey, RHP, Grade B+: He can be a number two starter and someone to build around. Some evaluators see him more as a closer if his changeup remains erratic, but I’m cutting him some slack on that issue and am optimistic.”

  18. Also, I think the DH thing is simple economics: there’s no money in the lumber for pitchers. Someone used the example of Jon Lester. You get paid to pitch. There are probably 5 pitchers who have been legitimate hitters in the last 10 years. It’s brutal to watch the rest. The MLB is competing with the NFL for ratings, and the NFL is constantly tinkering. Sports is entertainment, and there’s nothing entertaining about 1,2,3 and back to the dugout.

    It’s also a competitive advantage for the AL. They can rest their aging players or simply put them full-time at DH. Would we still have Brian McCann if the NL had the DH?

    I kinda wish they had done this before we traded a DH who needed to be a catcher on our roster.

  19. Two-platoon baseball, I say. Why stop at pitchers? And while we’re at it, let’s just make the whole thing a computer simulation. Then no one will ever get hurt.

  20. I find #2 @13 convincing. Teams must choose a balance of skills when filling their pitching roster spots – to get better hitting pitchers, you have to sacrifice pitching ability. Teams aren’t willing to do that because pitching is so important. Extra hitting practice for pitchers isn’t going to make more than a tiny it of difference – what it takes to be a successful MLB hitter isn’t extra practice (there are plenty of great position player athletes who’ve failed to make it in MLB, and it’s not because they weren’t putting in the time or effort). At this level, pitchers are going to be bad hitters when pitching ability is valued as it is.

    The question of whether to adopt the DH *is* aesthetic/moral, and my personal feeling is that the DH is boring and the NL should hold out forever.

  21. I would think that pitchers can understand that their abilities with the bat can impact the outcome of the game. I don’t think these guys can be taught to be great hitters, but they can learn how to bunt. The constant failures to execute bunts is a disgrace at the ML level. Send them to the instructional league after the season, make them bunt until they can do it in their sleep.

  22. I think Teheran is an excellent example of a guy who helps himself (throughout his game actually). Flipping balls out to right field and bunting effectively. Throw in a pick off move that turns walks into strikeouts (in terms FIP can understand), and you have a guy who always helps you a bit more than you think.

  23. Nobody is going to keep a bad pitcher on the roster even if said bad pitcher can handle the bat. Nobody comes to the park to watch bad hitters make outs on purpose, so might as well bring on the DH.

  24. They don’t hit in the minors, either. The lower minor leagues have full-DH rules, the higher leagues have rules that if there’s an AL team involved, home OR away, pitchers don’t hit. The PCL defaults to DH, even if both teams are NL affiliates, unless BOTH teams AGREE to forego the DH. The NCAA uses the DH.

    It’s not a matter of getting more practice. Unless a pitcher was a two-way star his whole life, he’ll get his last swing as a 17 year old, and his next against Clayton Kershaw.

    It’s incredibly stupid as it is. Either make them hit in the minors, or bring in the DH.

  25. I fear the DH is inevitable. Do we have DH candidates in our pipeline? Is one of our 30-year old Cuban twins our DH in 2017?

  26. Despite the DH rule, teams still have the option to allow pitchers to hit. The DH rule does not require any player to refrain from batting. NL teams that don’t allow their pitchers to hit in the low minors, and expect them to hit in the majors are making a mistake.

  27. I don’t want pitchers to spend them time working on hitting, I just want them to be halfway decent at laying down a sacrifice. Seems like that’s a skill to practice that they could build into their regimen. Maybe I’m just trying too hard to keep things the old way.

  28. @38

    With all due respect, I’m calling BS on that. Whoever will quit watching baseball because of the removal of the double switch and the reduction of the sacrifice bunt is not much of a fan.

  29. I’ll miss the double switch only because I love watching AL managers shoehorn it in during interleague in order to show how smart they are. I’m pretty sure I remember John Gibbons double switching in order to move the pitcher’s spot down two spots in the seventh inning one time.

  30. Well, we watched some must-see TV tonight because the Pats missed a PAT early in the game. Why did he miss it? Because the NFL saw the entertainment value in moving the PAT back a few yards, and there you go. That kick would have been good from the original PAT point, and it was no good today. The NFL is blowing the rest of the sports away because they’re willing to make changes, move with the times, and improve the product. Major League Baseball is still fighting over who the home run king is and don’t even have the same rules in both leagues. Reap what you sow.

    There’s nothing entertaining about watching pitchers hit. I was watching a clip on MLB Network, and I could clearly see that a pitcher was hitting. He was awful. They’re all awful. Put an actual hitter up at the place. The NBA doesn’t make Dwight Howard shoot threes just because he’s got a jersey and sneakers on. They don’t make Gronk line up under center and throw a few. Why are we making pitchers, WHO SUCK AT HITTING… ALWAYS, hit?

  31. That’s another good reason for the rule change: it’s easier to evaluate the managers. You could be a tactical dunce in the AL and no one knows. Fredi pulls off a bad double switch and the Twitter machine goes crazy.

    Another big thing that I don’t see getting talked about much is how much it helps rest your starters in the long season. In a hot Atlanta August, you can take your $20M man and let him get his 4 ABs without being out at first for 9 innings. Or your catcher. How much better would AJP be if he could play 100 games behind the plate and another 20-40 as a DH? How much shorter of a career would Edgar Martinez or David Ortiz have had if they couldn’t DH? Why does the AL get to have all of those players?

  32. I guess I prefer the extra strategery that the NL brand of baseball provides, but the rug has been pulled out from under the NL rules.

    At this point, nothing is ever going to happen to produce a pitching class that isn’t made up of automatic outs. I get it… Manly men want pitchers to be men and swing their sticks with the rest of their manly mates. Manly men also hate any sort of not so manly change. The strategy aspect of the argument is a nice caveat to have in your toolbox while defending pitchers and whatever it they’re doing at the plate these days, but I’m finished pretending to loosely hold this opinion simply for the sake of holding an opinion.

    Opinions are fun though, so maybe I’ll just double down on my support of the DH from here on out.

  33. Oh don’t worry krussell; we’ll pick apart the next guy. We didn’t like Fredi in game, we didn’t like Bobby in game, and I bet if Braves Journal had been around, we’d have heard about Joe’s in game. The next guy won’t be any different.

  34. OK, Rob, I’ll start. First game of the 1983 season, 1st inning, Butler leads off with a double and Joe has Ramirez bunt. In the first freaking inning of the first game of the year. Fell off my barstool.

  35. @43 — Pierzynski spent his whole career, minus one season with the Giants, one season with the Braves, and 30 games with the Cards, in the AL, so it’s not a mystery how he responds to the DH. (For his career, he’s a significantly worse hitter when he’s not playing the field, something I suspect is true of a lot of guys aside from the full-time DHs.) Besides, if he’s still wearing a Braves uniform by the time the DH comes to the NL, I shall despair.

  36. I think the thing that bothers me most about the DH is not that the pitchers don’t hit but that the DH (whoever they are) doesn’t play the field. Everyone else has to drag their ass out into the hot sun and make plays why does this shmuck get to set in the relative comfort of the dugout enjoying gatorade and generally relaxing except the once every approximately three innings when he is called on to step up to the plate? Baseball is a sport and its participants are supposed to be athletes. Hitting takes skill, sure, but I am not too sure it requires much in the way of athletics. I want that fat blob on the bench to get his butt out on the field and prove he is some kind of athlete. So I suppose if we are going to the DH in order to protect our poor fragile pitchers then I would rather see us just not make the pitcher hit and have a batting order of only eight players. Someone resting for most of three innings and then having a plate appearance is just wrong to me.

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