Last week was my 45th high school reunion, which I didn’t attend. But I know I have readers from that class, because one friend of mine forwards my missives to another. (Hi, Dennis.) The 1974 team had Hank’s 715th, of course, but was not otherwise a particularly memorable team, an 88-74 team that fired their Hall of Fame manager, Eddie Mathews, at the All-Star break. Worse for the team, but good for us, they drew under 1,000,000 fans, next-to-last in the National League. Worse, this figure hides the fact that there were a number of really well-attended games leaving a bunch of other games under 10,000 fans. A late May series against the Phillies drew under 20,000 total, despite matchups like Steve Carlton against Carl Morton won by the Braves with a pinch hit by Vic Correll off Carlton in the bottom of the 11th before 7,816.
This was good for us because the Braves announced a policy which would be unthinkable today in a lot of ways: they let you bring beer to the stadium as long as it was in a plastic receptacle. You’d rinse out a half-gallon milk jug, fill it with beer, pack it in ice and go to the game. I have no great lesson here except that things were different back then. Baseball wants to appeal to younger folk now and my advice: think outside the box. The things that bind me to the Braves won’t work anymore, or even be legal for the most part, but empty seats are a powerful motivator.
Tonight’s baseball game combined an excellent Fried, timely late hitting for a change, and solid baseball for a 5-1 win over the Padres Fried gave up a homer to Machado but was otherwise perfect until wriggling out of a jam in the fifth ending on a Wil Myers double play. Fried is pitching so well, and so economically, that there is always a question whether or not to let him bat in a close game late. Snit pulled him in the 7th here, and was rewarded with a three run inning on an aggressive dash home from Culberson and a two-run homer from Dansby . But is it enough? Webb came in and promptly loaded the bases on a single and two walks. (Fried walked none.) Tomlin got Reyes on a fielder’s choice force at home and then, facing Machado, got a critical strikeout. That left Renfroe, who took a called third strike. That, ladies and gentlemen, is clutch relief pitching. It can be done. A four run lead in the 9th is a Major Minter Margin. (I coined the Minter Margin last week, I think, and it is the current equivalent of Reitsma Room, or would be, if we were certain Minter was going to be the closer.) An uneventful 9th followed, but if the lead had been 1, who knows?
Back to .500. Undefeated in May. Day game tomorrow.