Iâ€™ve noticed several words that repeatedly turn up on this blog this year.Â Weâ€™ve described the 2021 Braves as disheartening, dispiriting, soul-crushing.Â Youâ€™ll note that these arenâ€™t just words of disappointment; these are words that pertain to the spirit.Â This team has impacted our souls (or at least mineâ€”shouldnâ€™t speak for the souls of the rest of yâ€™all).
It has also caused me to reflect on Braves fandom as a spiritual practice. â€œLife is suffering.â€ That is the first of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.Â
The 2021 edition of the Braves have confirmed that truth. The 2018-2020 seasons were magical; whatever could go right usually did. In 2021 the Universe has given us a powerful reminder that things donâ€™t always go our way. You donâ€™t need me to remind you of all the ways this season has sucked. Yesterdayâ€™s 4-3 loss to the Mets reiterated many of the elements of this soul-crushing season.
But the great spiritual traditions also affirm that suffering can be good for the soul. Rumi, the Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic, wrote: â€œSuffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy. You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.â€ And the founder of Christianity said â€œBlessed are they that mournâ€¦rejoice when you are persecuted.â€
Like the 2021 Braves, sometimes everything goes wrong. Sometimes fortune doesnâ€™t smile and you canâ€™t catch a break. Sometimes when bad things happen itâ€™s your own fault (looking at you, Liberty Media).
How we respond to adversity and suffering is often a better test of character than success. If that is true, perhaps this 2021 season has been given to us for the good of our souls.
* * *
Just as I was about to accept that the 2021 season will continue to discourage and dishearten, the Braves teed off on the Mets tonight.Â The final score was 20-2.Â The Braves has 20 hits to the Metsâ€™ 4.Â Obviously there were many offensive stars, but the brightest of all was Albies.Â Ozzie had 5 hits, including 2 homers, and he drove in 7.Â Freeman and Riley had 3 hits apiece, and believe it or not Heredia, Almonte, and Kevan (sic) Smith had 2 hits each.Â Ronald only had one hit, but it was massive; in his first AB he crushed one nearly across I-285.Â That one was big in another sense; the Mets had jumped to a 2-0 lead off Fried in the top of the first on a 2 run shot by Alonsoâ€”and many of us were thinking, here we go again.Â RAJâ€™s blast helped get my spirit back on track, and it set off an offensive explosion.
After giving up 2 runs on 2 hits in the first, Varsity looked sharp, shutting them out through 5 with only one more hit and striking out 7.Â Chavez, Tomlin, and Santana were all excellent in mop up duty.
* * *
Perhaps tonightâ€™s result should not be surprising.Â On this very blog today, a couple of commenters reminded us that â€œDum spiro spero.â€ The quote is from Cicero. â€œWhile I breathe, I hope.â€Â The statement has been adopted by many in the Christian tradition as a spiritual motto.Â
(And for some strange reason by the State of South Carolina.Â It is also the motto of St. Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland.Â Towels and trinkets from the town of St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf, usually bear that motto.Â Golf is another sport that reminds us that life is suffering.Â Personally, I gave up hope about golf long ago.)
There is still hope for this Braves team. They are just 4.5 out as we head into July. The bats are waking up and the starting pitching has been quite good. More importantly, the rest of the division is mediocre. Despite the house of horrors that the season has been so far, this team could very well make a run at the division title.
But letâ€™s donâ€™t get too excited about this one victory.Â Baseball, like life, happens every day.Â And the best way to deal with life is one day at a time.Â
The Braves face deGrom on Thursday.Â Iâ€™m not going to worry about that right now, though: â€œTake therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.â€
Letâ€™s enjoy this one for now. And you never know about tomorrow. Like life, baseball has a way of surprising us.
The quality of the recaps this season is inversely related to the quality on the field.
@1–thanks! If the quality of this recap is inversely related to tonight’s result, I’ve hit a new low!
@2 Not so, of course. But I’m not ready to restore my optimism. Last night’s loss was just too awful for it to be that easy to recover. DeGrom doesn’t scare me; the Braves have always been competitive in games he pitches and win more often than not. But this season would look so different with a sweep in this series.
It doesn’t help to watch the gNats pull their annual mid-to-late season run while we’re still floundering.
Wow. This was incredible. Thanks, Tfloyd. I am more excited than I thought possible!
Very nice, Tfloyd.
The offense was a nice surprise, but how about the lockdown bullpen trio of Jesse Chavez, Josh Tomlin, and Edgar Santana? Shades of Oâ€™Ventbrel.
In vino veritas, tfloyd? Cause there was a whole lotta veritas in there.
Haha love seeing hitters going after the pitchers on this stuff.
That Trevor Bauer report…dear lord. What a scumbag.
Trevor Bauer is a sicko.
Thank you, Brother Tfloyd. You, even this game, outperformed the Braves, except maybe my favorite, the great and wonderful Oz.
As to golf, I sold my clubs about four decades ago and bought a ball peen hammer. Whenever the golf bug bites, I pound my foot repeatedly with the hammer. It is less painful and expensive.
I don’t think Sean Newcomb’s a golfer. He’s never seen anything good he couldn’t spoil with a walk.
@12 Haha nice. I wonder if we have seen the last of Newcomb. I’ve been a huge Newcomb fan, but he’s been such a huge disappointment. Let him go somewhere else to try to crack a rotation; the ship has sailed in Atlanta.
@6â€“thanks. In this case, if there was Veritas, it was in St Bernardus. Belgian monks know whatâ€™s good for the soul.
Newk only cost us Simba.
@11 now that made me laugh out loud. And so true though.
The last two recaps, of very different games, have been special, touching on the philosophical (AAR) and the spiritual (tfloyd) in ways that really resonate with me. Thanks, guys.
So are we buying or selling today?
Buying… I think we win tonight for some reason. Maybe we make him work hard and get him out after 5 or 6 and hang three runs on him. He is due to give up some runs and maybe the team is loose after last night.
@18 I still wouldn’t buy rentals for real prospects. One game won’t change my mind. Win 8 out of 10 like the Nats have done then we can talk. I could see them buying and selling if they keep this pace up. Trade guys on expiring contracts. Buy guys who can help thru next year and beyond.
I’d guess waiting and seeing. Selling’s always bad for morale and attendance. For a bubble hopeful like this team, I’d guess that you want to wait as long as you can before committing yourself, albeit not so long that you miss the boat on the market.
Should they sell? Eh. It’s still a winnable division, and I’m not sure how much they could truly usefully get back for anyone other than Freeman. And I can’t imagine they’d swallow that pill. The team is built to win. They should be trading prospects for role players. Their role players won’t bring much back in the way of prospects.
I have absolutely no data to back this up, but with reasonably equally matched teams my observation has been the team that gets blown out often comes back and wins the next game. I’m not predicting it will happen, just trying to temper my expectations.
I would have liked to have bought for this week. This is the part of the schedule where we need to get it close
All Star Break
Can we go to the break 2-3 back? The Mets have the Yankees, Brewers and Pirates. Nats have LA, SD and SF
If so, we should go get a bat and a reliver.
Yes, the schedule from here to the ASB looks rosy…
But after ASB? Not so much (TB, SD, Pha, NYM, Mil)
Would def be nice to pick up any ground in the next 10 days.
I wonder how many of those losing teams have a deGrom-caliber pitcher going for them the next day?
So a sub five hundred team playing similar teams with a shot at going 5-4 is rosy. The Braves record against Miami is?
Lose tonight go 5-4. Result still 3 games under 500. Than the schedule gets serious.
Dream a little dream with me.
But look at Mississippi State.
Atlanta Hawks. David. Phil Mickelson.
The Little Choo Choo.
Than there is the 12 of 13 years many of us suffered through when the Braves could only win one one run meaningful game.
I apologize for reminding you.
Go Braves and Hawks. Both teams star player out.
OPS vs deGrom:
Kevan: 1.500 !!!
Yuck. (but, except for Freddie, pretty small sample sizes.)
I expect Kevan to be tonight’s hero, as one should.
We’re playing 9 consecutive games against 2 teams that are a combined 32 games under .500.
Relatively speaking, that’s pretty rosy. But most importantly, it’s also an opportunity not to fumble away.
Yup, he’s pretty tough. The Mets are 10-2 in his 2021 starts (flipping the script a bit). So far, he’s given up 2 ER in April, 2 ER in May & 2 ER in June — that’s it.
But… like most starters these days, he rarely goes beyond 5 or 6 innings. So, maybe we get to their Seth Lugos & Trevor Mays for the series win.
The Braves have a better record against winning teams than losing teams.
This is why Anderson throws so many pitches. Stop being cute and pound the zone.
Aint swung at a strike yet …
Well, that was the first earned run that deGrom has allowed on the road all year.
EDIT: And that was the 2nd & 3rd. Austin Riley… yippee!
For the moment, deGrom’s ERA has gone over 1.00.
Riley’s a strong young’un.
Ozzie and Rileyâ€¦huge!
I have to say I called this one. Keep it up Braves!
Mr. Riley. I am very impressed. If this continues the rest of the year I owe you a deep apology for not believing. I sincerely hope to apologize.
Great start! Keep those bats going boys.
The stupid shift cost a base there that could lead to a run.
It is going to rip some hearts out when the bullpen blows this one.
Quit swinging at every pitch .. half of them are balls .. I’d look at 3 straight down the middle before id swing …these guys falling right in his hands especially albies and Freeman …. you aint gonna hit that slider anyway ..
@42 and then you get balls called strikes, like two of them to Riley his last AB.
Nice of the umps to give him a Glavinesque strikezone.
Edit: and now again getting calls against Almonte. Smart of Degrom to exploit blind umpires.
Well .. here we go ….
And the bullpen is here to do its usual meltdown and squash our hope like grapes.
Three more outs….
An insurance run or three wouldn’t hurt.
Heh, have I mentioned how much Will Smith sucks?
@41 – Welp
Kill this bullpen with fire.
And Dominic Smith still hits lefties better than righties.
Everybody hits Will Smith. Mediocre stuff gets hit
This team is the opposite of everything that made it fun the last few years.
Inciarte now up. Just kill me.
Great at-bat by Ender.
Guillorme fails to step on third.
Thanks for not running to 3rd, Gulliorme.
What a game!!
Yeah that was a fine plate appearance to draw that walk from Ender.
About time we win one like this. Props to Ender for that AB.
Guillorme did have a force at third if he had only looked.
Yeah, nice to win one of the close-late games for a change.
Everything turned rosie despite a thorn prick. Can someone please explain how Smith gets a win? I know the way the moronic game is scored, but how does the pitcher with a game ERA of 9 get the win?
So now taking 6 of 9 puts the Atlanta Braves above 500. Good golly Miss Molly, maybe there is hope. Maybe.
Still a good win. And who would expect W S to keep outperforming himself? Not me brother.
Gotta stop letting Will Smith pitch to other guys named Smith. The rest will fall into place.
With Smyly on the mound tomorrow weâ€™ve got the makings of a 3 game winning streak.