As someone who spent his formative years in Atlanta, I harbor not just a once-requited (thanks, 1995) love for all things Braves, but a smattering of other local memories which have transmogrified over the years into a set of nostalgic synaptic relays which fire with regularity almost irrespective of stimulus: The Varsity, Georgia Tech football, late night movies at the Film Forum at Ansley Mall with George “Bestoink Dooley” Ellis, Officer Don Kennedy and the Popeye Club (I once played “Ooey-Gooey”), the soda fountain and comics rack at the Wender & Roberts drugstore, and, of course, Coca-Cola. These are my memories, and I ask no one else to approve. But living for the last thirty-five years in the shadow of the Pepsico headquarters, I continue to defend my beloved carbonated phosphoric acid-laced sugary water against all interlopers and pretenders.
So I will continue to defend Pemberton’s brew, but only to a point. I have tried to ignore the many twists and turns the company has taken in its continued quest for world domination, and watch with amusement wars over tea, water, sports beverages and other liquids, but mostly from afar. (I am partial to Honest Tea Peach-Ooh-La-Long, a fairly recent acquisition by the House that Woodruff and Candler built.) So it was with some trepidation, but with a sense of patrimonial requirement that I tried the new Orange-Vanilla Coke. I tried it this evening. It tastes exactly like when you were sick as a child and your mother gave you St. Joseph’s Chewable Aspirin washed down with Coke. I had no particular need to relive that experience, but if I do, I now know where to go if I don’t want to just combine the two original ingredients. Good to know.
[RANT] One other thing I want to get off my chest before the recap. I don’t want any of my players in the All Star Game and I particularly loathe any of them in the Home Run Derby. And the new social media marketing of All Star Game participation is the sort of thing that people enamored of social media as a marketing tool think up. I wish they would stop. There are far too many kids on my lawn already, defacing it with their hashtags, their curated beards, their one large ice cube in drinks and their avocado toast. Freddie, Ronald and Mike are very, very good players who require no imprimatur from a midseason exhibition game. I will say that people actually watch the ASG, unlike the Pro Bowl or the NBA and NHL No-Defense-Fests, so I understand an unwillingness to let it go. But just pick some players in a smoke-filled room and be done with it, and try as best as you can to pick players whose teams are uncompetitive. We see all the other guys all the time already. [/RANT]
But before the ASG Saturnalia (which was actually in December – the highly obscure Neptunalia was in July), we have the Phillies and Braves play their eighth head-to-head game of the 2019 season in SunTrust Park. Bryse “Jarvis” Wilson got his third start of the year, a rematch of his first, in which he and Nick Pivetta battled for 3 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings respectively before giving way to a game in which Wes Parsons (no longer around) was saddled with the loss. After my rant about millennials above, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I judge player’s ages not by how old they are, but by how old they look. So Wilson, youngest pitcher in MLB, is obviously older than Fried or Soroka.
The first three innings saw two singles and a walk by the two teams combined. (Note to Chip: while it is of course technically correct that Bryse Wilson broke up Pivetta’s no-hitter with a single in the third, describing it that way is not particularly judicious.)
The scoring began in the bottom of the fourth. After a Dansby single, a Freddie Freeman double play grounder had a throw graze Swanson as he headed to second leading to two men on for Donaldson, who continues to disappoint some people just as he continues to impress me: a 3 run homer. The margin was cut to 3-1 on Bryce Harper’s 1,000th hit, his 200th homer, and 7,000th artful tousling of his hair in the 6th. A double and single brought home another run and nervousness began. But Bryse pitched 6 for the first time in his career and left with a lead after 86 pitches.
The nervousness was short-lived. The bottom of the 6th chased Pivetta with a Freddie single, a Josh walk and an Austin Powers for three more runs. This brought on Juan Nicasio who gave up back-to-back doubles to Albies and Flowers and a long home run to Matt Joyce for a 7 run lead.
At this point I could relax and pour a generous helping of Journeyman Featherbone Bourbon. It’s not great Bourbon, but it’s way better than Orange-Vanilla Coke. Newky pitched a perfect 7th and 8th, aided by an Andruwesque diving catch in CF. That Acuña kid might be worth keeping around, if he doesn’t wear out his swing in the Home Run Derby.
Webb was given the mop-up duty in the 9th, and he Swiffered his way through a walk to Harper, a Hoskins K, a Realmuto K, a Bruce single and an Hernández flyout.
Rubber game tomorrow. Soroka on the mound. Happy 4th, y’all. The 3rd was pretty happy, if you forget about the Orange-Vanilla Coke.