Looking back and waiting for spring

Well, now that the smoke has mostly settled from the World Series, it’s time for a look back at it and a look forward.

First off, the World Series itself. It was, admittedly, not the best series to end the season on. Both clubs had some off-the-field baggage (Houston with the cheating scandal, Atlanta with the continued existence of the chop as well as how they had become a prop for some politicos), and the series highlighted some of modern baseball’s most frustrating features (such as early pitching changes and the degradation of base-running ability for all but a few).

Still, it had some great moments and some big personalities. Freddie Freeman, a Hall-of-Famer in the making (the player most similar to him statistically through the age 31 season is Eddie Murray), now has a ring to show for it. Max Fried had a coming-out party that helped solidify his place as one of the best pitchers in the NL (he had been great the previous two seasons as well, but sometimes the playoffs knocks people higher in the conscious). Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall proved to be perhaps the best trio of mid-season replacements in years, if not ever, a masterstroke for the Atlanta front office. On the Astros side, the usual suspects were joined by unexpected people like Zack Greinke, who will now likely go down in history as the last pitcher (aside from two-ways like Ohtani) to get a hit. And the two dugouts were run by old-time baseball men in a new-age baseball world: Brian Snitker and Dusty Baker, who both fittingly have deep ties to the late Henry Aaron and his family.

Ultimately, I consider any series that goes at least six games “good.” Nobody likes a sweep or a near-sweep (save for the team that wins, of course). So while the games themselves were, with one or two exceptions, hardly the most entertaining that baseball could give, I am generally happy.

Now, of course, is the offseason. It could prove tumultuous. A lockout in December is considered so likely that The Onion has already made a joke about it. The fact that the work stoppage will come during December is, ironically, probably a good thing, as it makes it more likely that some sort of new Collective Bargaining Agreement will come about before games are lost. However, given the greedy stubbornness of the owners as well as the (largely justified!) grievances of the players (who, frankly, got pantsed in the last CBA), the ultimate outcome is unknown.

What is known as that when a new CBA does come into force it is likely that baseball will have shifted into yet another new era. It is considered all-but-certain that the DH will become universal, and other rules changes will likely also be either implemented or be put on the road to being implemented. The financial rules will also doubtless change, although given the very nature of the CBA those are likely the hardest to predict.

And so we wait…

Finally, a word on Buster Posey. In my opinion, the three most important on-field people in the long history of the New York/San Francisco Giants are (we can argue a bit on the order) John McGraw, Willie Mays, and Barry Bonds. The fourth most important? Buster Posey.

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): A Lost Year for Atlanta

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, the Atlanta Braves.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins would play a regular season game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In most years, one would think this would mean the Marlins were giving up a home game. However, it’s the Braves who are.

And that seems fitting for Atlanta, a team that will be going nowhere this season as they turn their eyes almost entirely to the future. Defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons is gone. All-Star pitcher Shelby Miller is gone. Guys like Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel are now distant memories. The acquisitions by the Braves this off-season have either been entirely aimed at the future (former Number 1 pick Dansby Swanson, for example) or meant to fill a spot and keep the team from being a complete joke. Oh, Freddie Freeman is still there… although you can bet there will be talk of him possibly being traded, even if it could end up as just that: speculation.

The plan is clear: After this season, the Braves will move to the wealthier suburbs up in Cobb County, playing in a new stadium called SunTrust Park. The first year or two there, the thought is, will be a honeymoon, as people will go there just because it’s new.

The Braves hope that by the time the honeymoon ends, the team will be good enough to get people to come to games to see a winning team.

Only time will tell if they are right. But I don’t think it will take much time for the 2016 Braves to stink up the joint. It could get ugly really fast.


30 Teams, 30 Posts (2015): A Haiku About The Braves

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, I lazily reduce the entire Atlanta Braves into a Haiku.


Atlanta Braves Team

No more Heyward or Justin

Markakis there now



Stuff I Found In Storage: Atlanta Braves 1993 Spring Training Program

So, I found this in my family storage. It probably was gotten by my grandfather:

93BravesSTcoverYou see that? Well, yes, it’s an image of Pittsburgh’s hopes and dreams being extinguished, but it also is the cover of the Spring Training program for the Atlanta Braves in 1993, when they were in West Palm Beach.

Let’s go inside, shall we (after the jump):

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The only post about the Braves’ move to reference “Back to the Future”, Doctor Who and Joe Mauer in the first two paragraphs

I need a time machine. Now. Or, well, I guess later would work as well. That’s the thing with time machines, after all. Still, I need a time machine. And when I have it, I intend on going back to Las Vegas in 2010, and tell them that I wanted to place a bet that by Opening Day of 2014 the Atlanta Braves would have announced plans to move from Turner Field and Joe Mauer would become a full-time first baseman.

I then would have hopped into my DeLorean and/or TARDIS, travel to today, and cash in enough money where I could buy a small nation, because that’s what happening. And, while many could read the tea leaves about Mauer, nobody saw the death of Turner Field coming, and for a very good reason:

It goes against almost every single thing we know about stadium movement. Most teams move towards the center of their cities, the Braves are moving away from it. Most teams flee old stadiums, and while Turner Field isn’t young anymore, it’s less than two decades old. Most teams don’t keep their moving plans total secrets… but the Braves did.

Now, to be fair, the Braves do have some good points: most of their season-ticket base is from the suburbs, and their new Cobb County facility will be closer to them. That, in turn, would likely increase in-stadium attendance, a  And, yes, they are getting a good deal from Cobb County, essentially letting them get a whole new stadium for the same price (as far as the team’s own funds) as what they would have spent if they renovated Turner Field entirely out of their own fund. And, at least in theory, the new stadium would be better located logistically, near two major interstate highways.

But, well, it still goes against most conventional wisdom, especially when one takes into account various caveats about the Braves’ good points. For example, the traffic in the areas north of Atlanta is infamously bad, and I myself remember being stuck in traffic during a family trip down there back in 2008. There is no mass-transit to Cobb County, for various reasons (some of them ugly), which would presumably have helped alleviate that traffic problem.

But, most of all, there is the general bad taste that is left in people’s mouths as a post-Camden Yards stadium is replaced for the first time, even as the Athletics and Rays are stuck in fields from a bygone era. And, perhaps even more worrying: virtually every stadium opened since Camden Yards changed the landscape of baseball stadium design was built with platitudes about them being able to carry their franchises “well into the 21st century”.

And yet, come 2017, not even a fifth of the way through the century, one of them will be replaced.

While Turner Field has always been something of an oddball amongst the post-Camden Yards boom (more brought about by the 1996 Olympics than any type of real plan), one worries about what sort of precedent that might set.

Justin Upton to the Braves: Brothers in Baseball (and the many inexplicable appearances of the Padres)

Well, that escalated quickly. I wake up, turn on the the TV, and then, BOOM! Upton family reunion in Atlanta.

No, seriously, after seemingly endless rumors and innuendo over the last year or two, Justin Upton is finally leaving Arizona. The Diamondbacks aren’t exactly getting pennies back from the Braves, either, as they are receiving Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and some minor leaguers from the ATL.

Now, of course, is an excuse to run a feature on the best brother combos in baseball. I don’t mean cases where two or more brothers both played baseball, I’m talking when brothers played on the same team. Y’know, like how the Uptons will starting this season.


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Jair Jurrjens has gone missing

So, Monday night I went to a game between the Rochester Red Wings and Gwinnett Braves. The pitcher was somebody who they claimed was Jair Jurrjens. However, I don’t think it was actual him. Jair Jurrjens, after all, is a star pitcher from Curacao. I saw him during his rookie season, where he ended up third in RoY voting.  He was somebody who pitched in the All-Star Game last season who finished 2011 with a 2.96 ERA. Who had a HR/9 of 0.8 in his career. He had some injury problems, including last season, but definitely one of the better pitchers in baseball.

That man, I believe, was kidnapped over the winter and replaced by this guy:

It’s an identical twin of Jurrjens, who has a glorified BP fastball and who gives up 11 hits and 6 earned runs to a team that, while recently resurgent, is in last place in their division. And, the thing is, if not for him Houdini-ing his way out of a few innings (such as the first inning, where the Wings got a man to third with no outs but were unable to bring him home), it would have been an even bigger massacre.

So, if anybody out there knows where the real Jair Jurrjens went, please let the Braves organization know. It’s sad to see such talented pitchers lose their stuff, get sent down and then try to make their way back up to MLB as shadows of their old selves. We’ve seen it happen to Dontrelle Willis recently, and to other pitchers in the past. And it remains sad to see.

The Art (and Question) of the Farewell Tour

It is a given these days that future Hall of Famers announce their retirements in advance, so that they can receive their applause from the rest of league. It is a good tradition, allowing even every city and fanbase to show their appreciation to a transcendent talent.

It is an old tradition. During his famous “Luckiest Man” speech, for example, Lou Gehrig noted that the New York Giants had sent him a gift, despite the fact he would, he admitted, have been willing to cut his arm off to beat them.

The tradition continues to this day. Take this tidbit about what the Cardinals have given Chipper Jones:

It’s hardly surprising that the Cardinals would giving gifts to Chipper. Heck, a few days ago the Cardinal fans gave him a big round of applause during his first at-bat. Chipper will probably be getting a good reception most everywhere- in Wrigley Field, for example, he was given the Braves pennant that was used to indicate their place in the division standings.

But this leads to a interesting question: what is the proper etiquette for the teams? Do they look bad if they don’t give the retiring HoFer a gift? Like, if the Mets decide that Chipper Jones had inflicted too much pain on them during the 1990s and decide not to honor him, is that breaking one of the unwritten rules?

I think too much about some of this stuff.