You Better Shop Around
When I was a kid my American League team was the Detroit Tigers.Â In those days before interleague play, it was safe having a team you liked in the other league, and since there was only one nationally televised baseball game a week, and half of them were American League games, you needed a rooting interest over there.Â Iâ€™m not sure how I came to the Tigers, exactly, although I think when I first saw the batting stance of Dick McAuliffe my natural penchant for the eccentric was piqued.Â Plus, Mickey Lolich was fat.Â (I was pretty skinny back then, so this was again my tendency to celebrate human oddity.) They had a couple of Â some sluggers, Willie Horton (no, not the revolving door one) and big Gates Brown off the bench.Â Then came Birdmania and Mark Fidrych, even if the teams werenâ€™t nearly as good.Â
My Tigermania didnâ€™t really last that long.Â By the time they won their second World Series in my lifetime (1984) they were coached by Sparky Anderson, who took the Tiger Beat in 1980.Â I never liked Sparky Anderson, so that pretty much put an end to it.Â I recognized that Trammell and Whitaker were great players, but Sparky was too much to maintain my love for the laundry. (Anderson and Lasorda were my two least-favorite managers, at least until La Russa came storming up from behind. ) 1980 is also when Magnum PI premiered with Tom Selleck in his trademark Tigers cap.Â My crush had reached the mainstream, so I had to move on.
Why am I talking about the Tigers? Well, I was just looking at the team batting numbers and the Tigers are the only team that has not yet hit 100 homers. Not coincidentally, they are also the only team that hasnâ€™t scored 500 runs. And while their spacious park bears some of the blame, that notion is belied by the fact that their pitching staff has given up 600 runs. Until I looked them up a moment ago, I couldnâ€™t have told you who a single Tigers pitcher was, and even now that that Iâ€™ve looked them up I have no idea who any of them are except Joey Wentz.
So I have no real reason to recount any of this except out of gratitude for my National League team, who I didnâ€™t even pick: they picked me by moving to Atlanta in 1966.Â Sometimes you just get lucky.
You Can’t Win If You Can’t Score
So it is general wisdom that the loss column matters more than the win column. The theory behind this is that you can always create another win, but there is no way to reduce your total losses. But even when you win 70 percent of your games, your chance of winning any particular two games is only about 50 percent. Tonight the Braves, trailing the Mets by two wins, made up one of those games in a tilt against the Phillies, and failed to score, thus falling a game-and-a-half behind the Mets.
Maximus was on the mound against Yogi Bear’s nemesis: Ranger Suarez. (“I did not realize those were pic-a-nic baskets, Mr. Ranger, Sir!”) The Phillies managed the only run of the game in the 2nd when Realmuto reached first on an infield single, advanced to third on a single and scored on a sac fly.
Lee and Minter pitched three good innings, but they were matched by Zach Eflin (now working out of the bullpen) and Jose Alvarado. There were plenty of opportunities for both teams but they combined for 0-12 with runners in scoring position and 16 men left on base.
The weather has turned cold up here in the Northeast, which might signal a reduction in homers. If true, this might be bad for a homer-dependent team. But it’s not like there were a lot (or any) warning-track shots tonight, so let’s hit the ball hard in the three remaining games of this series and then see how far it flies.
Chip took the night off. AJ Pierzynski really likes to talk. Kenny Albert appeared to recognize he gets paid no matter how much AJ talks.