Apollo Creed 3, Rocky 1

As we move to the part of the season where only Chip is obsessing over playoff placement (“Braves fans are all big Twins fans tonight!”  No, really, Chip, they aren’t, even as they would prefer a Minnesota win; fandom connotes a lot more than a preference for which team wins a particular game.  Even worse, Chip has been known to use this phrase in May) my thoughts begin to turn to obscure academic articles.  I found one: Sinister right-handedness provides Canadian-born Major League Baseball players with an offensive advantage: A further test of the hockey influence on batting hypothesis.  With a title like that, you know the authors have privileged obscurity over style, so I’m bound to be interested.

I plan to discuss this article in some detail at some point in the offseason while we are still drunk on World Series Champagne, an inebriation that I forecast to last until the second game of Spring Training 2020, when people will freak out over somebody’s hangnail.  For now, I’ll describe the thesis and give my two word rebuttal.

“Sinister right-handedness” is not what you might think it is at first glance.  It has nothing to do with Josh Donaldson’s evil thoughts, although I have no doubts those are spectacularly evil and worthy of academic study.  Sinister right-handedness is simply the phenomenon that anyone looking at any baseball site will recognize immediately as Throws:R Bats:L.   The observation in the study is that those who bat left do better in baseball than those who bat right, but those who bat left and throw right do even better, but only if they come from Canada.  The reason for this, it is argued, is that Canadians learn to play hockey, and right and left shooting in hockey is far less dependent on brain dominance (hockey is rarely classified as a brain-dominant sport, of course, but most hockey players shoot lefthanded, irrespective of the hand they use to sign checks), leading a hockey-practicing culture to carry this left-handedness in the hockey shot to the baseball swing and thereby profit from the advantage held by left-handed batter without requiring the much rarer trait of right-brain dominance, ie natural left-handedness.

Anyway, this is an interesting, if not particularly Moneyball-ready, hypothesis which it seems to me is refuted thus: Scott Thorman.  If you really wanted to push it, you might counterargue: Pete Orr, but I think that’s a weak counterargument.  Note, by the way, that the best argument for this hypothesis would be Freddie Freeman, but while his parents were born in Canada, he wasn’t.  But if you told me they started him playing hockey on the mean streets of Orange County, California, there may be something.  Other than a mention that he attended a lot of Anaheim Ducks games as a child, though, I can’t find any evidence that Freddie ever played hockey.   I note in passing that Tom Glavine played a lot of hockey but he is not a sinister righty; he’s just sinister.

Game 3 of the final Trip to the Bank found Keuchel facing the disappointing Zach Eflin, who hasn’t disappointed me in the least, but then I never saw any of his work in the High School Musical franchise.  He pitched OK through June, but since then has seemed to hit a wall: 6.49 ERA, and his team is 2-10 in those starts.  But he is tied for the league lead in complete games, with 2.  When the record for a counting stat for a season is 2, it’s probably time to consider retiring that counting stat.

No complete game for Eflin tonight, even though he gave up no hits until the 4th; but the first hit was a 3 run Flowers homer.  I am part of the growing chorus of fans who would love to see a McCann-Cervelli two catcher playoff roster, but if you’re squinting to find a reason to keep Flowers around, his occasional homer is surely all you need, unfortunately.  And that would be all the Braves would get, continuing a recent pattern of an all-or-nothing offense, which can still work if you can hold the opposition’s offense. 

Keuchel didn’t follow with a shutdown inning; it was a give one back inning.  But at that point, you like your chances:  Eflin had given way to the bullpen, and Keuchel was still at 66 pitches.  His fifth inning was scarier: bases loaded, one out and everyone’s tenth-favorite Mormon ballplayer at the plate.  (Dale Murphy is clearly first and Barry Bonnell is second, followed by Roy Halladay, Kyle Farnsworth, Jeff Kent, Wally Joyner, Harmon Killebrew, Dennis Eckersley and Danny Ainge.  Harper is ahead of Jack Morris, though.)  Harper hit into a 463 to end the inning and Keuchel pitched one more: 1 run in 6 innings.  That’ll generally do.

The Former Mr. Paltrow threw an immaculate 9 pitch 3 K inning in the 7th, the first for the Braves since Buddy Carlyle in 2007.  Greene had an Atlanta-clean 8th.  Melancon, the Rubber Undertaker, got the first out in the 9th, but then gave up two infield singles to make it interesting. Dansby, whose offense has still not recovered, speared a humpbacked liner for the second out, leaving it to Mikael Franco, Hero of March. He fouled out to JD leaning over the dugout railing to end it.

Chip Watch: (a) “Eflin wins the war, but Acuña may have won the battle.” (after Ronald sees 9 pitches leading off.)  Exactly backwards, Chip.  If you’re going to use clichés, practice them at home first.  (b) “The Dodgers clinched the NL West, so they’ll now wait to see who the Wild Card teams are.”  Ummmm… Chip?  Exactly how confident are you that the Dodgers will be facing the Wild Card team?

So, one more game tomorrow, in what the musical 1776 describes as “Foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia!”  Cheesesteaks are highly overrated. 

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

118 thoughts on “Apollo Creed 3, Rocky 1”

  1. I heard (a) of Chip Watch when it happened and laughed out loud. It’s almost as if he realized it wasn’t the most apt metaphor for the situation, so instead of not using it, he just decided it made more sense if he did it entirely ass-backwards.

    A top three entry on the season-retrospective Chip Watch IMO.

  2. There should be a list of worst things Chip has said on a broadcast. You could have an extensive list. I welcome anyone’s suggestions. For me, it’s always going to be:

    This is too easy though.

  3. @1: Chip’s obsession with running up starting pitcher’s pitch counts makes a lot of sense when you’re facing Jacob deGrom. When you’re facing Zach Eflin, as this game demonstrated, keeping him around is the best way to score runs.

    @2: That’s the alltime winner, which is what makes compiling a list of the rest of them no fun. That particular one, of course, cost him national postseason pay, probably for the rest of his life, so there’s no particular reason to rub it in. Unless you enjoy rubbing it in….

  4. I too, heard the backwards metaphor and exhaled the heavy sigh of a disappointed parent. Basically, this:

    Thank you for the wonderful recap, JonathanF, and for the Efron reference.

  5. Beautiful recap, JonathanF, thank you.
    I stopped worrying about the pen. When I woke up and checked the score with the Braves up 3-1 in the 7th, i easily was able to fall back asleep.
    I wasn’t able to do that before mid August.

    I have to admit that I was sceptical about Keuchel. Shame on me.

    Go Braves!

  6. I’m reasonably neutral on Chip, but did anyone notice him saying that Riley just missed a long homerun? How do you just miss a long homerun?

  7. A generation of Braves fans’ children’s first words will likely be, “Shut up, Chip.”

    great recap, JonathanF. Thank you.

  8. @8: I heard that, as well as him calling Flowers’ home run a “long home run” when it made the third row at Citizens Bank. I try to keep the Chip Watch succinct. Some days it’s hard.

  9. Hey, I got to watch some last night. Game was on ESPN. Those doofi (plural of doofus) were so busy goofing off that they didn’t mention Martin’s immaculate inning until bottom of 8.

    Like Chauncey Gardner (also known as Chance the Gardener), I like to watch.

    Great job, Jonathan F.

  10. If they really want my money they will make a TV with separate volume controls for each announcer.

  11. Ortega likely bought himself another day (or 2), but I cannot imagine he makes it through the weekend with Markakis likely back.

    Great recap, JonathanF. Any complaint about how bad Chip Caray is at his job gets my approval. There’s literally no one, not even Danny Santana, Dan Kolb, or Emilio Bonifacio, that I’ve wanted gone more than Chip.

  12. We won’t have to suffer Chip tonight BTW, as the game is on the Fox broadcast network, for some reason. I guess their renewed TV deal allows them to move to Thursday in September since they probably had to make room for Thursday night NFL and don’t have any programming on that night on weeks where they don’t have the NFL game (such as this one).

    Unless you’re in California, Maryland or eastern Virginia, you’ll get the Braves game (the other game with regional coverage is Dodgers-Orioles). I believe I heard Chip say the announcers are Joe Davis and John Smoltz…so definitely a step up from Chip.

  13. I view Chip the same way you’d view your lovable, but goofy cousin who can’t quite seem to say anything correctly.

    You make allowances and move on.

  14. @16

    We are going to update the Worst Braves list in the offseason. I wonder if Chip Caray now ought to be included?

  15. Seat Painter: Is someone paid large sums of money to be your cousin? That’s the difference. PS: If being your cousin is a paid gig, sign me up…. I’ll be as goofy as you like.

  16. Are we peaking too early? The suspicion by some was that during the Septembers of our division title run, the division was so locked up that there was some sort of “we didn’t stay in postseason mode” attitude amongst the players.

  17. Great recap, JonathanF. Thanks.

    The worst part of the Chip broadcast for me was when Chip went on at length about the Eflin “rags-to-riches” story trying to get us to use all our Kleenex and root for him. That was way over the top for an opposing player.

    You guys are lucky. I can’t ever be too annoyed at Chip when I’m stuck with FP Santangelo a bunch of the time.

    I better not get blacked out tonight, at least on MLB.com.

  18. @22, I’d say winning a lot is one of those good problems.

    Some more info on the sordid legal case surrounding Hector Olivera, who probably belongs on that list too: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/mlb/as-feds-probe-mlbs-latin-american-operations-a-flashy-scout-and-contested-deal-draw-interest/2019/09/10/12a32708-c02e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html

    Santín had doubts about Olivera from the start, he said. Olivera would never look him in the eyes, Santín said, and he was often playing video games on his phone or looking off in the distance. Olivera regularly drank to excess, Santín said, and was so unreliable they needed to employ one person whose job was “awake guy,” meaning the person was responsible solely for waking up Olivera each morning.

    Santín turned to another old friend to help get Olivera in shape: Angel “Nao” Presinal, a physical trainer with a colorful track record. In 2001, MLB banned Presinal from all league facilities after an incident in which airport authorities in Toronto accused the trainer and Juan Gonzalez, then one of Presinal’s top clients, of trying to bring through a bag containing anabolic steroids and hypodermic needles. (Presinal and Gonzalez accused each other of possessing the bag, and no criminal charges were filed.)

  19. @24

    Unless this Thursday night Fox broadcast is somehow different, I think you should be good to go on MLB.tv. The rules should be the same as with all the Saturday night Fox regional coverage games in June.

  20. I dunno, maybe my standards are set way too low?

    I thought that was Mrs. Seat Painter’s thing. I mean after all, she married me.

  21. Chip can say some boneheaded things at times, but I don’t mind him. He’s leaps and bounds better than those clowns over on ESPN, who seem more interested in doing their “bits” in the booth than calling a game.

  22. I will give Chip credit in that he’s not a blatant homer like some we could name *cough* FPSANTANGELO *cough*.

  23. To quote Richard Gere in the same movie, Chip’s response would be “I’VE GOT NO PLACE ELSE TO GO!”

  24. DOB says Markakis is probably going to play everyday regardless of the handedness of the opposing pitcher.

    And he won’t get off his high horse to listen to why that’s a bad idea.

  25. @37

    Well, at least he got six weeks of rest, so we don’t have that to worry about.

    I would also say that it’s a potentially bad idea to have him face lefties in the playoffs. I don’t really think it’s a bad idea for the rest of the regular season, since he’ll basically be undergoing a rehab assignment while in the majors. He just needs ABs against anybody right now.

  26. As much as Chip frustrates me, I’m apparently not as down on him as some on the board. But one of my chief complaints is that he is not enough of a homer—at least on this respect:
    I don’t want to cheer the accomplishments of our opponents, or feel good about their overcoming obstacles, or hear what a great hitting team the Pirates have.

  27. Markakis may be a great clubhouse presence and an all around great teammate, but the Braves and their state media act as if he is a great hitter. He’s not. He’s pretty good against righties, but his OPS against southpaws this year is .615. And as I said yesterday, I worry that the effects of the broken bone may linger for weeks. What would it take for the Braves to decide he would not start every game of the playoffs?

    And of course he is a poor fielder at this stage of his career (last year’s gold glove notwithstanding).

  28. @40

    Part of the problem is also that our other corner outfield options aren’t exactly spectacular. Folks tend to act like these last six weeks where we’ve won without Markakis mean we have no use for him at all, but I think we’ve largely won in spite of our corner outfielders, not because of them. If Markakis can make it back to game shape, we could certainly use him. Ortega, Joyce, Duvall and a broken Riley really aren’t scaring anyone.

    I do think the Braves should have more of an open mind on him than they apparently do, and shouldn’t just mentally slot him into the No. 5 spot in the order without even thinking about it, but having him back could prove to be very helpful.

  29. Oh—I’m delighted to have him back. He’ll be an improvement over Ortega. When the playoffs start, I just hope they do think about who is the best option for each game.

  30. @37 The way some on here feel about Chip’s commentating is exactly how I feel about DOB.

    I was trying to think of an adjective…




    I just can’t stand him, purely based on how he comes across to me.

    As for Markakis, I think he should get regular ABs against RHP. I think he’s one of the 3 best OF options in that regard. Against LHP though? Oh no…

  31. @43

    Well, Chip has a more lovable idiot vibe going, whereas DOB’s vibe is more of the loathsome know-it-all. DOB is easier to just flat-out ignore, though, so I don’t know…YMMV on which one is worse.

    I think DOB is undoubtedly better at his primary job. The level to which he’s a tool on Twitter, though, is pretty irritating.

  32. Yes, they did say that. I guess they want to keep Matt Joyce in the starting lineup and think he would be better in right.

  33. @44 – I used to wonder if he had some kind of a goofy clause written into his AJC contract that mandated a certain # of tweets, b/c I’ve never understood why he engages with so many people on Twitter, as he very much seems to hate it. But maybe he just enjoys hating it. Who knows. We’re complex animals, I guess.

  34. DOB sent me a DM back in 2010 ridiculing me for my predicting that Derek Lowe would start on 3 days rest for a start in September and then the playoffs.

    Derek Lowe then made his next start…on 3 days rest. And did so in the playoffs.

  35. An Inciarte/Markakis platoon vs. RH and Duvall/Riley vs. LH could be very successful. The Duvall/Riley team is what’s in the lineup tonight against Smyly. Let’s see how that goes.

    I wonder how much having Joyce or Acuna in RF has helped the pitching. Doesn’t anyone think not having Markakis in the field has been a boon to the defense?

    Looking at the advanced defensive stats at FG, it is pretty clear that our biggest defensive liability is range. We rank near the bottom of the league (28th? I think) in range factor which kills our UZR.

  36. I guess Pfeifer is behind Dayton in the pecking order. Hopefully Dayton does better than in his last appearance at Gwinnett. His overall numbers at Gwinnett are quite impressive.

  37. Except that six of the nine runs he gave up at Gwinnett were HRs. Not including the 2-run HR he gave up in the playoffs to a lefty.

  38. This is the first I have heard about Webb having surgery.

  39. Giving up homers in this park is to be expected. OTOH, the two Julio has given up would be out in any park.

    As Chip might say, those were long home runs.

  40. I guess my major complaint with the Chip/Frenchy booth is that I don’t feel like I learn anything new or insightful about the game listening to them.

    Don Sutton was always good for some more detailed explanation of pitching or approach. I surprised they don’t use Glavine more to explain things like pitch grips, pitch sequencing, hitter approach, etc. mostly he just seems to correct Chip when he calls a 4-seam fastball a cutter.

  41. I don’t like Bad Julio. But he has awful career numbers against the Phillies. And it looks like it’s raining to boot.

    3 walks and 3 HRs is classic Bad Julio.

  42. That’s what we expect from Duvall against Smyly.

    Smyly is a crappy pitcher so we should be able to keep up with the offense with Bad Julio on the mound.

  43. That was actually a decent AB by Riley. He took a couple of breaking pitches out of the zone that he usually whiffs at. He did miss an 88mph pitch in the middle of the zone so, it wasn’t all good. But he should’ve had a walk there.

  44. @80 He needed a head start to score on that ball if it fell in. I don’t begrudge him the jump; that was awfully close to a trap.

    That was a really good AS for Dansby. Looks like he’s getting back to where he was. Took a bunch of breaking pitches and hit that last pitch hard.

  45. Holy crap, BMac, I’ve never seen a missed swipe like that in 30+ years of watching baseball.

  46. It’s so frustrating the Braves lost by one run because of Snitker putting in Minter in a close game and now may lose by one run because of whatever that tag attempt by McCann was supposed to be.

  47. This is feeling a lot like the game the other day. Can’t get over the top. If McCann had made that tag, we’d be tied.

  48. I’m not upset with McCann for the play at the plate. Watching for the ball, while watching for the runner, while making sure you don’t block the plate takes a lot of timing and concentration.

  49. Good job, O’Day. Would it not be nice if Darren were to contribute the rest of this season? He used to be special. Perhaps he will be again.

  50. Riley looks like he doesn’t want to play in October. That’ll be a shame. Hopefully he can find something positive soon.

  51. I can’t remember a Braves prospect who made me feel more depressed than Austin Riley. His promising start seems like centuries ago.

  52. Swarzak…you captured our hearts for 2 months. Thanks! Now you can do that thing where you get paid not to pitch.

    Edit: Apparently Swarzak’s wife said some pretty racist comments to another player’s wife and the hubby has been garbage since. Thanks a lot, Mrs. Swarzak.

  53. Finally, here comes Snitker! I was beginning to wonder if we were leaving him out there in hopes that his arm would blow up and rid us of the need to figure out what to do with him.

  54. Yeah, that game sucked.

    It is incredibly mysterious, and pharmacologically inexplicable, that Yankees players are simultaneously hitting unprecedented numbers of home runs and also suffering catastrophic freak injuries!

    I’m definitely not insinuating anything!

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