Braves 2, Phillies 1

Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies – September 23, 2012 – Box Score

Tim Hudson pitched one of his best games of the year, O’Flambrel was perfect over 1 2/3 innings, and the Braves made single runs in the second and third innings hold up even though Cliff Lee struck out 11 men in 8 innings.

The Braves should have scored more, though. As is often the case, Lee was a lot more gettable in the early innings than he was later in the game. In the first inning, the Braves squandered runners at the corners; in the second, David Ross hit a mammoth solo shot. In the third, the Braves loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles by Reed Johnson and Martin Prado, and Jason Heyward was safe at first on a squibber that Lee couldn’t pick up cleanly.

And then the Braves that you and I know so well showed up. Freddie Freeman struck out. Dan Uggla hit a long sacrifice fly. And then Jeff Baker grounded out. I mean, at least they scored, but you ought to score more than one run if you load the bases with no outs.

Baker was 0-4 and is now 1-9 as a Brave; he hasn’t gotten a lot of chances to succeed, but he certainly hasn’t made a forceful case for more playing time. I would say the same for Lyle Overbay, who lined out while pinch-hitting for Eric O’Flaherty in the 9th. Overbay is 1-15 with 7 strikeouts as a Brave. There’s basically no way to put either of them ahead of Juan Francisco on the playoff roster.

The Phillies got their lone run on a bit of ABE baseball in the 6th. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a walk, got to second when Hudson threw the ball away — it was reminiscent of Medlen throwing the ball away on Wednesday, pretty much his only mistake that day. Anyway, Juan Pierre sacrificed Rollins to third, and Utley hit a sac fly to score Rollins, which would have been a hit but Heyward made a beautiful diving catch.

The magic number is down to 2. As I write this, the Cardinals are beating the Cubs, but if the Cubs manage to hold on then the magic number could be 1 by tonight. The Phillies scored their only run today without a hit, and they pretty much had to: they only got two hits and one walk all day. Hudson threw 85 pitches, 59 for strikes, striking out four, walking one, and allowing just two singles. IWOTP, but it was still beautiful.

228 thoughts on “Braves 2, Phillies 1”

  1. I don’t think Cardinals losses factor into the Braves’ magic number, unless and until the Cards fall behind another team. Right now, Brewers losses are the relevant ones. So, because Milwaukee beat Washington, the magic number stands at 2.

  2. Since arriving in Los Angeles, Hanley Ramirez is batting .257/.310/.458.

    From 2006-2010, age 22-26, Hanley hit .313/.385/.521. The past two years, he’s hitting .248/.323/.417. (His BABIP has declined from .347 those first five years to .279 the last two years.)

    I’m kind of stunned that a team with arguably the best hitter and pitcher in the league, that picked up Hanley, Brandon League, and Shane Victorino at the trade deadline is 11 games behind the giants and is almost certainly going to miss the playoffs. But Burn-in-Hell has been atrocious for them, which is certainly nice of him. He’s been torching his free agent value.

    That isn’t great news from the Bourn perspective, though, because while Bourn and Victorino might have been viewed as roughly comparable before this year, Bourn looks a hell of a lot better right now.

  3. We can beat the Halladays and Cliff Lees. Please dont throw a no name at us in the one game playoff. A lot has been talked about in regards to who starts but who would you rather have behind the plate in that one game?

  4. @8 We always bring up that stat that says McCann is the best in the league at framing pitches. How does Ross rank? Does anyone know where to find those stats?

  5. Baseball Prospectus did a long piece last year: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15093

    According to these numbers, the best from 2007-2011 were Jose Molina and Russell Martin, for what it’s worth. They apparently saved 73 and 71 runs, respectively, over those five seasons. But McCann and Ross are both very, very good, saving 20 and 16 runs, respectively.

    But Hardball Times did a piece last July: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/evaluating-catchers-framing-pitches-part-3/

    And according to those numbers, McCann saved 57 runs from 2008 to 2010, most in baseball; Jose Molina and Russell Martin were #2 and #3 respectively, with 49.9 and 44.4 runs saved. David Ross was #8, with 18.1 runs saved. (Yadier Molina was #8, and brother Bengie was #15.)

    So, in other words, McCann and Ross are both elite at that talent, as are the ubiquitous Molina brothers. Yet another reason that David Ross is not just the best backup catcher in baseball, but one of the most valuable backup players of all time.

  6. Hey guys. Can someone help me out. I’m wanting to get tickets to see the Braves with my brother on his birthday, Sunday, October 7, should we win the Wild Card playoff on Friday. However, I’m not sure whether to get tickets to game one or two of the division series. Does anyone know which game that would be?

  7. Actually, people have been writing about McCann’s elite pitch-framing for years. Both of the pieces that I just linked to, BP and THT, pointed to a blog post from 2008 at Beyond the Box Score that put McCann in the top 10 in baseball, along with Yadier Molina and Russell Martin. That piece is here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2008/4/5/389840/framing-the-debate

    Basically, pitch framing is not a completely settled science just yet. But it’s very clear, through the years, that all analysts agree that McCann is one of the best in baseball.

  8. David Ross is not just the best backup catcher in baseball, but one of the most valuable backup players of all time

    Now there’s a provocative statement worth further exploration!

    Most seasons, 1901-2012 w/ 40-110 games played, =0.5 WAR:

    6, David Ross
    5, Doug Mirabelli, Greg Colbrunn, Dave Bergman, Dick Schofield, Hank Edwards, Hank Gowdy
    4, Jose Molina, Russell Branyan, Jeff Reboulet, Charlie O’Brien, Lee Mazzilli, Kiko Garcia, Ty Cline, Charlie Keller, Hank McCurdy, Ty Cline, Larry Woodall, Joe Evans, Tommy Clarke

    Cumulative WAR in those seasons:

    6.3, David Ross
    6.1, Hank Gowdy
    5.4, Charlie Keller
    4.9, Tommy Clarke
    4.5, Ty Cline

    Well, how about that? If you play around with the parameters a little, Smoky Burgess and Don Slaught also pop up, but it starts venturing into platoon players at that point. Good call, Alex.

  9. My greater and less than tags screwed up the parameters above. That should read most seasons w/ 40-110 games played, 225 or less plate appearances, and at least a 0.5 WAR.

  10. Did Ross’s production drop off last year when McCann was on DL? I think the year he was a starter was sub par by his standards.

  11. Yeah, he gets exposed when he plays every day. And to his credit, he knows it. That’s why he keeps signing favorable backup catcher contracts.

    Before Ross, the Braves’ backup catchers were uniformly terrible. Here’s what Mac wrote back in 2003 about Henry Blanco:

    The Braves’ reserve catchers just keep getting worse. There was Eddie Perez, who was pretty good, at least at the beginning, but stunk when he had to play regularly, then got hurt. Then there was Paul Bako, who drew walks but did almost nothing else with the bat. Now there’s Blanco, the Rafael Belliard of catchers. At this rate, in five years the Braves’ reserve catcher will be a hamster.

    Then we got Corky Miller in 2007, who fulfilled the prophecy. But after Miller left in 2008, we somehow managed to luck into David Ross, who has been little short of sensational.

  12. Just before Eddie was Charlie O’Brien, who had two of his four above qualifying years with the Braves in 1994-5. A tad further back is Hank Gowdy, who made his name as the unlikely World Series hero for the 1914 Miracle Braves (then being the equally unlikely goat of the ’24 series for the Giants), before settling in a while later as caddy for a kid named Mickey O’Neil, who managed to hold down the starting catcher job for years despite not being half the player Gowdy was.

  13. So…

    As it stands, Atlanta would have to

    1) Win 1 game against the Cardinals at home
    2) Win 3 games against the Nationals, with the final game away
    3) Win 4 games against the Giants/Reds winner, with 4 games away

    You know, it doesn’t exactly seem that daunting. For some reason, that whole ‘They don’t really have a chance at this’ feeling that came up before the 2010 NLDS isn’t there for me right now.

  14. Also, another fun fact: No AL team has clinched a playoff spot. There are only 8,9, or 10 games left in the season depending on the team.

  15. 24 – After all these years on Braves Journal, I just learned the origin of “The Hamster.”

    I guess I have to tip my cap to Mac.

  16. @24 And you know what. Lots of people, including me, were doubting whether spending 2yr/4M on a backup catcher was a wise use of resources. We were so wrong.

  17. Did Ross’s production drop off last year when McCann was on DL?

    Yes. Ross’ OPS was .921 in early July 2011. Then he started playing everyday due to McCann’s injury, and his OPS plummeted to .746 by mid-August, when McCann returned.

  18. Would rather face the Cardinals than the Brewers. Since one of these two undeserving teams have to get it, would rather it be the Brewers, just so the Cardinals have happen to them what they did to the Braves in 2011. Schadenfreude.

  19. It’s an interesting dynamic. If the Braves are in the play-in game, they will be pissed because they will have one of the best records and have to play a single-game elimination against a recor-inferior team. The team they play will be thrilled just to be there. This set up is so monstrously unfair; it’s more fitting for the WWF than MLB. And I would say the same thing if it were the Braves winning the second wild card.

  20. Wildcard teams don’t get to complain about how “monstrously unfair” it is that they don’t get treated like division winners.

  21. You can thank Selig for allowing teams hovering around .500 in mid-September to delude themselves into thinking they’re “contenders.”

    The second wild card is a joke. The Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Phillies should all already be in Nowheresville.

  22. Wildcard teams don’t get to complain about how “monstrously unfair” it is that they don’t get treated like division winners.

    The divisions are stupid too. In what world did the 2005 Padres and 2006 Cardinals deserve to be in the playoffs? The latter only had four more wins than that horrible, horrible 2006 Braves team.

    Abolish the divisions, and let the teams with the four best records in each league get in. That would be the most fair way of doing things.

  23. @36 Is that what it would take to overtake the Nats? Oof.

    I like the idea of Ross starting the play-in game to give McCann some rest and still enabling us to use him as a pinch hitter if needed.

  24. Totally agree with Sam here. The division was there for the taking, and the Braves didn’t quite take it.

    I like our chances with Medlen against anyone. But if we do make it back to the NLDS, we still gotta win a series, which we haven’t done since 2001.

  25. Yep, but it’s not as tough as it sounds. The Natinals are only 4.5 games up at this point with 10 left to play (the Braves have 9 left). If the Nat’s go 3-7 and the Braves go 7-2, the Braves are the division winners.

    Still unlikely, but given what happened last year, it’s not out of the realm. If you assume the current winning percentages are the probabilities that both teams will win each of their remaining games (ie, P(Nat’s win a game)=.605) and assume that the outcomes for the remaining games are independent of each other, then the probability that the Braves will win the division is about 0.005, or half of one percent. This of course ignores quality of opponent, “resting starters”, and other things teams that think they’ve locked up the division tend to do. It also assumes that teams don’t get tight, face hot opponents, or are missing one of their best pitchers.

    So I guess I’d put it at closer to 2% in my mind. Still incredibly unlikely, but not impossible!

  26. If the Nat’s go 3-7 and the Braves go 7-2, the Braves are the division winners.

    Wouldnt that just tie us with the Nats? they have the season series advantage 10-8 vs us. Do we have a playoff game with that scenario for the division at their park or do we lose due to season series.

  27. The divisions are stupid too.

    At the end of the day, the entire game is stupid. An arbitrary past time with arbitrary rules and arbitrary end points. Yet we watch.

    In what world did the 2005 Padres and 2006 Cardinals deserve to be in the playoffs? The latter only had four more wins than that horrible, horrible 2006 Braves team.

    In the real world wherein they qualified for the post-season tournament according to Major League Baseball’s published rules.

    Look, I’d love nothing more than to expand the league by two teams, set up four divisions of 8 teams each and have the 1-2 seeds of those divisions play a league championship series to advance to the four team World Series tournament. In that world, there’s no interleague play, the schedules are balanced, and winning your division over the course of 154-62 games means something.

    We don’t live in that world. We live in a 30 team, unbalanced schedule, interleague world. And to get a date in the series round of playoffs, you have to win your division. The Braves don’t seem to be on the path to win their division, so they have to go through the back door, which means playing a 1-game playoff with another back-door team to see who fills out the fourth seed of the division champions tourney bracket.

    That’s the way it is, and if the Braves didn’t want to have to go the harder play-in game route, they shouldn’t have let themselves get swept in Milwaukee last month. Win the division and then you can rest while other second place finishers whine about how “unfair” their route to the playoffs is in a season they didn’t even win their division.

  28. By the way, I absolutely *love* this line and logic:

    The second wild card is a joke. The Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Phillies should all already be in Nowheresville.

    I just love how the line between deserving and a joke is just by happenstance drawn immediately behind the Braves.

  29. 47- Yep, and we would play the division tiebreaker in Washington on October 4 (we’d play there because we lost the season series).

  30. You could view the year-to-year unpredictability of the current format as a feature instead of a bug, if you wanted to. There were nine series last weekend where the home team still had postseason to play for, versus seven who didn’t. The average attendance at the first nine parks on Sunday was 36800, while at the other seven it was 26747. This despite the woefully attended Rays being one of the nine and the Red Sox and Cubs being two of the seven.

  31. I just love how the line between deserving and a joke is just by happenstance drawn immediately behind the Braves.

    Check the records of the Braves, Giants, Nationals and Reds…and compare it to the Cardinals/Brewers/Phillies/etc.

    The Braves are more games over .500 (23) than the Cardinals, Brewers and Dodgers combined (22).

  32. Check the records of the Braves, Giants, Nationals and Reds…and compare it to the Cardinals/Brewers/Phillies/etc

    Meh. It’s just convenient that the line of demarcation for outrage at *those guys* getting a shot happens to fall right behind the arbitrary entry rules that allow the Braves to take a shot, despite losing their division.

  33. @54 – Exactly! If the play-in game had been available last year Braves fans would have *loved* it. Now that it’s an extra hurdle in their path that they wouldn’t have had in previous years, it’s the worst thing ever.

  34. This is the last off day for the team. Who do you think should get some rest, if good things happen here in the next few days.

    I think in a perfect world, Chipper wears out the Mets at home Sunday, then roots from the dugout in Pittsburg.

  35. @56 – I’d expect a more or less standard lineup, with maybe Bourn getting rest for his bum thumb (and second half inability to hit Major League Pitching), but the minute the Braves clinch the WC berth you’ll see a lot of Jeff Baker and Lyle Overbay.

  36. The second wild card is a joke. The Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Phillies should all already be in Nowheresville.

    Check the records of the Braves, Giants, Nationals and Reds…and compare it to the Cardinals/Brewers/Phillies/etc. The Braves are more games over .500 (23) than the Cardinals, Brewers and Dodgers combined (22).

    I disagree.

    Check the records of Oakland and Baltimore. You’ll find that they are exactly one game apart.

    Check the records of the best two non-division-winners in recent years. You’ll find that their records are about even – not always, but more often than not (2011 AL: Rays 91-71, Red Sox 90-72; 2011 NL: Cards 90-72, Braves 89-73).

  37. So then, why stop at two wild cards? The Angels and Rays are very far behind in the AL either. Maybe eight teams to each league should get in.

  38. So then, why stop at two wild cards?

    Calendar. If MLB could figure out a way to shoe-horn another set of WC teams into the money-printing device that is the playoffs while still maintaining a 162 game season, they would do it in a heartbeat.

    The fact of the matter is that once you’ve broken the divisional championship model and added a wild card team, you’ve broken the model. MLB broke the model in 1993.

    You can either go back to divisional play, where the regular season means everything or you can maintain some wild card based scenario. At least the current scenario makes winning the division actually important.

  39. Dan, don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy with two Wild Cards either, but for different reasons (the one-game playoff being just a gamble, mainly). I like the idea of increasing the value of a division title though (as long as the schedule remains unbalanced, that is).

  40. @46

    For the record, Baseball Prospectus has our division chances at 4.3 percent, so they’re even double what you think. I’m guessing this is down to the fact that we play Miami, the Mets and Pittsburgh while they play Philadelphia twice and St. Louis. Though it’s certainly possible that Philadelphia knows their goose is cooked and St. Louis will already be locked in to the second wild card spot.

  41. I have no problem with wild cards. I have much more problem with small divisions rewarding lousy “champions.” I don’t see why they should get any advantage over better wild card teams. As it is, the White Sox (probably) will win the AL Central with likely 86-87 wins while the O’s and A’s will probably both have 90+ wins and have to play a play-in. I think they should seed teams (and this goes for the NFL as well)strictly on the basis of record. Let the White Sox play the play-in game. It would be different if you had large divisions as Sam suggested. But you could still have wild cards; I would not object to having play-in games in that scenario.

  42. If we want to know who was the best team over the whole season, it’s not us. (Well, it still might be, but my money’s on the Reds.) If we want to know who’s the best team at the end of the season, what’s one extra game to prove it?

    If we want to have a meaningless tournament at the end of the season to have bragging rights and something to watch, well, MLB has provided it. No such thing as fairness in that construct… One game? Unfair! Three-out-of-five? Unfair! Don Denkinger? Unfair! Etc, etc.

  43. Once we get past the wild card game, should we have Kimbel pitch the first 3 innings of each game in the next round?

  44. Who else is kind of getting the feeling that this whole winning streak in games started by Medlen is going to end on October 5th? Hopefully I am reversing the jinx by stating this, but it will be tough to swallow if that’s the game the magic runs out.

    Also, on top of not having won a playoff series since 2001, the Braves haven’t led a playoff series since 2002 (when they took Games 2 and 3 from San Francisco, only to lose Games 4 and 5). In their four playoff series’ since then, they haven’t had a series lead.

  45. @65 – Nice retrospective on Medlen there, but I thought it was requested by some guy called “Alex with class.”

  46. @69 Take another look at what Alex linked at @65.
    Awesome! Thanks, Alex.

    The jump to Carson Cistulli @ Fangrapghs shows a couple of things:

    Brave’s catchers are adept at framing pitches and Medlen’s change-up is terric. I don’t know if I’d go to the extreme one of the posts there notes, but it’s a pleasure to watch, all the same.

  47. @69: All true, but (a) these teams aren’t those teams (they don’t even have the same manager); (b) that result is almost surely just random; (c) do you really think that uniforms are destiny? What connects those teams with this one (other than Chipper)

  48. @72

    I am certainly not implying that any of that predestines our outcome at all. I just saw that Alex mentioned our playoff series losing streak, and I found it interesting that we haven’t even led a series in a decade.

  49. After yesterday’s start, if Hudson pitches well in his next one, and Medlin gets lit up by the Marlins, do the Braves start to doubt themselves?

  50. I prefer to think of it as “After yesterday’s start, you don’t feel quite as bad about having to spend Medlen in the play in game.”

  51. In a Fredlot-type move, the Brewers left Marco Estrada in to get lit up for 6 4th-inning runs by the Nationals. 7-1, Washington.

    I think those division odds are about to take a hit. On the other hand, the Braves will have a magic number of just one to make the playoffs (in other words, we’re now guaranteed at least a play-in game).

  52. I haven’t the heart to look it up to confirm it, but I’m told that Florida had more yards from intercepting our (UK) passes than we had catching them.

    That’s not possible, is it?

  53. I’m convinced that after this year, everyone will see how the one-game playoff makes a mockery off everything – no matter who wins or loses.

    154 regular season games, expanded playoffs (best 3 of 5 in the first round) – increases the value of the regular season, keeps hope alive for more teams, and provides more games that more viewers will watch.

    If you’re selling your soul to television, get the best price you can.

  54. They’ll never drop to 154 games. Ever. I could see them expanding the wild-card round to best-of-three at some point, perhaps even sometime soon. I would imagine that, given the travel constraints, all three games would be at the home stadium of the higher seed, with them acting as the road team in the middle game, a la the NCAA Super Regionals. I could see that happening.

  55. They will never drop back to 154 games (although it would make sense)because of the revenue hit teams would take-although they could perhaps make ups some of that by sharing any additional TV revenue from more playoff games. Unless they want to play the World Series in November-or, play scheduled double headers, another non-starter-they are locked into the play-in games. I don’t even see how they could expand the divisional rounds.

    Hank,

    I agree with you about the mockery of the play-in game but anyone with an IQ over 80-which probably excludes baseball people-could see the problems with this. They went ahead and did it anyway and now they are going to be stuck with it.

  56. They’ll never drop to 154 games. Ever.

    It depends on the math.

    If (RegSeasonGate$ * 8 games) < (PostSeasonGate$ * 4 games) then they'll keep the 162 game schedule. If the "less than" turns into a "greater than" then they'll cut the regular season and play the expanded round of the WC playoffs.

    Or they could just start the season a week earlier and twist the schedule to have all of the home games that first two weeks in southern-ish cities.

  57. I doubt MLB has a change of heart. The play-in games are going to get great ratings and are going to provide real drama. MLB has essentially guaranteed itself two “Game 7’s,” and every casual fan loves those. Moreover, the play-in game, by giving hope to more teams later in the season, keeps those teams’ fans interested and, more importantly, going to/watching games. I just don’t see Selig et al. suddenly finding their inner-traditionalist and abandoning the project. Rather, they’re far more likely to say what they have said since introducing the Wild Card: that the experiment has been a big success.

    All of which is to say: I agree with Sam. Folks here are dressing their self-interest up in the garb of principle. If the tables were reversed and the Braves were on the outside looking in, few would be decrying the second wild card. That said, I don’t doubt that there are a number of folks who are ideologically opposed to the idea of a wild card, but those folks–and I count myself as one of them–should welcome the addition of a second wild card, for it penalizes those who make the playoffs in second place.

  58. 82- Or domed stadiums. Indeed, this may be baseball’s way of encouraging the next wave of stadium construction- teams that don’t build all-weather stadiums will have their schedules screwed up every year! (Or is that too devious?)

  59. That said, I don’t doubt that there are a number of folks who are ideologically opposed to the idea of a wild card, but those folks–and I count myself as one of them–should welcome the addition of a second wild card, for it penalizes those who make the playoffs in second place.

    I am on record in multiple venues and fora; I have always detested the WC. I continue to detest the WC. The very most I can muster for the 2012 Braves is “god, it would be entertaining to see Washington fall flat in the playoffs and have one of the titles the Marlins robbed from Atlanta come back due to good karma.” I don’t root for wildcard teams, per se.

    And that said, I think the play-in game and the way it DEVALUES THE WILDCARD is the best innovation MLB has come up with in decades. You don’t want to risk having to play a coin-flip elimination game? Win your damned division.

  60. In Sam’s fantasy land, an 83-win division “champion” Braves team is superior to a Braves team that wins 93 games, but only gets a wild card spot.

  61. In Sam’s fantasy land, an 83-win division “champion” Braves team is superior to a Braves team that wins 93 games, but only gets a wild card spot.

    How do you determine that they are not? Did they play the same schedules? Did they play the same teams in the same league? Without a balanced schedule you simply can’t make that judgement at all. How many of the Braves +/-90 wins in 2012 come from getting to play the craptastic Marlins and Mets 20 times a year? Is that better or worse than getting 40 against Houston and Chicago? Does LA get a bonus because they only get one punching bag in the west?

    I don’t pretend that there aren’t vague injustices involved in divisional winners uber alles, but it’s certainly not the case that a 5-win advantage in an unbalanced schedule league is notably “better” at the end of the day, either.

  62. If baseball could have figured out how to make just as much money from an actual coin flip instead of the wc game they’d have flipped coins instead.

  63. Knucksie on the Leonard Lopate show:

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2012/sep/24/knuckleball/

    He sounds like a man getting up in years (which he is, of course), but Niekro has always seemed a little different. Even from his fellow fraternity members, who began throwing the pitch in desperation, whereas he always threw it. I’ve wondered whether he’d rate somewhere on the autism spectrum, frankly.

  64. Bethany, I’m simple-minded too. I like the play-in game. In the perfect world, you’ve got 2 90-win teams in a do-or-die. This year, it didn’t quite work out that way, and it could come back to hurt the good guy.

  65. I’ve got an idea Bud Selig will love. Make spring training games count! You can start the season way earlier, and tack three extra rounds of sweet delicious money, err, playoffs on to the end of the season. And each round means more teams, so the gate dollars increase exponentially!

    Of course, the teams do probably need some tome to get ready for games, so you won’t count ALL of spring training games.. just some of them. But you don’t tell anybody WHICH games count! So fans will have to watch ALL OF THEM. Plus, you can pick the games that count as only the games your big city teams, or teams of your best owner buddies, had won! So you virtually guarentee you get the sox and yanks will make the playoffs!

  66. Rusty – thanks for providing the Chipper clip. Yes, it served my purpose.

    Interesting to compare the “two-step” stride Chipper employs from the left side and the more simple and common “one-step” stride from the right.

  67. I don’t have any problem with the play in game either. It doesn’t help that in its first year the second team is going to have a less than “worthy” record, but this year is basically the exception. Usually the team right behind the classic WC team has been right there with them in the standings.. So I’m not sure I really get that aspect of the argument.

    And while it would be nice to have a perfectly balanced schedule, with the top five teams from each league getting into the postseason, would that actually work out geographically? As nice as it sounds on paper, I’d hate to see the Braves making extra trips out west every season.

  68. Oh, I’ll certainly watch the one-game and yes there will be the drama of an elimination game.

    But I’d also watch a striptease performed by someone else’s attractive wife. Doesn’t mean either are the right thing to do.

  69. The stigma around the wild card is stupid. Seriously, look through the winners of the past. A bunch of 92+-win teams, including a team that won 102 games (2001 Athletics.) The worst record in any 162-game season since the wild card was introduced were the 2006 Dodgers, at 88-74.

    Compare that with a lot of division “champions” since 1996. The wild card encompasses the entire league, so you’re not as likely to reward mediocrity.

  70. What exactly is so self-evidently righteous and superior about winning your division? Since 1969 (with the introduction of the LCSs), MLB has been moving away from the purity of regular season determinism. The wild card team is no more or less worthy of entry to the postseason tournament than any of the division winners, given that the divisions in their current form never existed prior to the introduction of the wild card. What coherent theory of baseball merit teaches that the 2005 Padres (an embarrassing 82-80) were more worthy of postseason play than the Astros (89-73), just because the Padres won their pathetic division?

  71. Divisions create rivalries, which helps drive interest. We hate the Phillies and Mets more than the D’Backs and Brewers. I don’t find arguments about who has what regular season record in a given year to be a compelling reason to change that dynamic. Some years it works out perfectly, some years not. Some years each of these alternate ideas would work out perfectly, some years not. Dan’s suggestion @42 is the only way to make sure all the teams with the best records advance, but it would be at the expense of valuable rivalries and the late-season interest of too many fan bases.

  72. The thing that it comes back to is that it’s *all* arbitrary. These are the rules. Just play by them and quit worrying or whining about it. If the Braves lose in the play-in game it won’t be notably less “just” or “fair” than if they lost in Game 7 of the World Series.

  73. Don’t forget ’93 when the Giants won 103 games but lost the division of Western teams to Atlanta while a 97 win Phillies team got in the playoffs. Sure, it would be fun to see the best team in each league play against each other, but that hasn’t been true for almost 50 years. Once you start expanding the playoffs in sports that can be played daily, you really can’t stop until you reach what the NBA has. Before I die, I imagine I’ll see 8 teams from each league in the playoffs, and the regular season will just be a warmup.

    It’s not all arbitrary. Long series are much better at determining the better club than 1 or 3 game series. I’d love to see two leagues with a fully balanced schedule and no interleague play with only the best team from each play a best-of-nine series. That will never happen.

  74. Win or lose, I think the play-in game is great. It’ll be two good teams in a high-tension / high-drama contest. That’s why we watch sports. It also gives a tangible advantage to the team with the best record and a tangible disadvantage to the wildcard winner (burn a good starter). That just adds to the drama imho.

  75. 101: I completely agree. I’m really just bristling at the implication that if the Braves go all the way, that will somehow be illegitimate because they didn’t start by winning their division. (Same goes for the Cards, even though their regular season record will likely end up significantly worse than the Braves’.) As you say, the division is merely one arbitrary route into the postseason tournament.

  76. I would argue that of course it’s all arbitrary; it’s a game. And the fact that its arbitrary is why traditions (division titles mattering, etc.) are important. The more teams that make it into the playoffs, the less the regular season matters and the less winning the World Series becomes an indicator of the best team in a given season.

    I would also point out that while the wild card play-in game makes it less likely that you’ll win the World Series given that you’re a wild card team, it does nothing (or relatively little) to change the overall probability that the World Series champion is a wild card team.

  77. Oh and AAR, on a hail mary to end the game, which Seattle converted to win, the refs missed the most blatant offensive pass interference call you can imagine and compounded that error by awarding the TD to Seattle even though a Packer clearly intercepted the pass.

  78. Yes, the MNF was a joke and they even confirmed the call on replay. What a bunch of incompetents.

    Mitch Williams just said that Medlen should start the wild card game. That worries me because Williams is always wrong.

  79. I don’t think Fredi failed as the Marlins manager. He took cheap player and made them decent. That is all the Marlins want to do anyway.

    Well, in between screwing all 7 of their fans.

  80. The fact that Loria is pissed at Fredi gives me new respect for Fredi. You can say what you want about Fredi as a manager but Loria is a scumbag. Ask anyone in Miami.

  81. Yes, not everyone can be a scumbag in two countries and two languages. (What is the French word for “scumbag”?)

  82. @113 That is why DBs should knock ball away than try to intercept. It is not a catch (interception) until feet hit the ground.

  83. I kind of like what Fredi said also. Love him or hate him, Fredi’s done a respectable job as manager this year to say the very least.

    Can’t say the same about Guillen. Add that to Ozzie’s controversial statements and a new stadium that isn’t paying for itself, and it’s been a baaaad year for the Marlins.

  84. I know we all (well, a LOT of us) don’t like Fredi for various reasons, but if he wins the last game of the season, it may just change my mind about him. Funny thing, results…

  85. @126 – Agree totally! I think the complaints about him this year are more personal preference than anything else. I have seen very few head scratching decisions this year – last year was a different story IMO.

  86. I think the Fredi rancor this year is spillover frustration from the fact that last year he just seemed to be transfixed like a deer in the headlights as the season crashed and burned around his head. This year he seems to be responding well and not panicking when things start to go off the rails (see, getting swept at Mil. then coming back and sweeping the natspos).

    I would guess that this is Fredi just trying to emulate Bobby C.’s ‘even keel’ approach to the season. When it works, it’s great, when it doesn’t, it looks like the deer in the headlights approach.

    (Or, I could be wrong about that too.)

  87. @131 – I think this is exactly it.

    Last year’s seeming paralysis has been replaced by a more aggressive response and willingness to shake up the lineup a little. It’s largely worked.

    And let’s face it, whomever made the call on making Cy Medlen a starter is looking like a genius.

    If Leibrandt had gotten Kirby Puckett, Bobby’s legacy of “great in-season manager, lousy playoff manager” might be somewhat kinder.

  88. I’m not sure there is that much difference between managers. (Joe Maddon and Davey Johnson might be exceptions.) It’s all about results. Tiger fans are hating on Leyland now; Mets fans never like any of their managers. I’m sure that’s true in most cities that aren’t running away with the pennant. I would bet if you talked to fans in almost every city, many would dislike the manager. Fredi, like Bobby, can be infuriatingly banal and make silly statements in the “Bobby Cox at Pearl Harbor” mode but that’s more a function of how the Braves operate.

  89. Has anyone seen ‘Trouble With the Curve’?

    I thought it was, eh. It was kind of the Anti-Money Ball + love story + Clint Eastwood.

    A lot of the baseball stuff was poorly put together. There is even a seen where JJ has just thrown a no hitter.

    A lot of it just was really insulting to baseball fans.

  90. #146
    “The Slugger’s Wife,” a disastrous 1985 rom-com (with Rebecca DeMornay & Michael O’Keefe) that gave Skip Caray material for years.

    #145
    Sounds like an airplane movie to me (meaning, I probably gotta be held hostage to watch it).

    However, it’ll have some scenic interest for Athenians, as there are 2 scenes filmed in Athens, including one in The Globe pub.

  91. Has anyone seen ‘Trouble With the Curve’? I thought it was, eh. It was kind of the Anti-Money Ball. A lot of the baseball stuff was poorly put together. A lot of it just was really insulting to baseball fans.

    So it’s the movie version of Scout’s Honor?

  92. I sincerely doubt there is any scene in “Trouble With The Curve” that I couldn’t know by rote from merely watching the trailer.

  93. Wasn’t that Pixar movie “Brave” about Chipper Jones?

    Then there was “Braveheart.” I think that was about Dale Murphy with a blue face.

    And who could forget “Gamera the Brave” in which a Japanese sea monster vanquishes the Philles by throwing heat.

  94. Natalie Wood was the child in Miracle on 34th Street. Bit young for you dudes. My brother told me “Safe at Home” with Mantle and Maris was lamest baseball flick ever. William Bendix was almost as bad in “Babe Ruth Story”

  95. Ozzie Guillen folks…

    “You see those guys’ bodies? I showed it to my wife, and she took a look twice. … You see we have a team with a great body, but not with talent. You see those guys, you see those pictures? My wife take it, they should be a porno star or something,” he said. “I know a lot of women, they want to be around this ballclub because they have nice bodies. They do. Wow. My players are in better shape than the people who went to the Olympics. You see those guys’ abs? That’s unbelievable. …

    “We have great bodies. We drink coconut water every day. We eat salad, organic food. And we’re in last place.”

  96. Really hope Gonzalez isn’t as delusional about winning the division as Caray seems to be. Otherwise, starters that could be rested might not be.

  97. Really hope Gonzalez isn’t as delusional about winning the division as Caray seems to be. Otherwise, starters that could be rested might not be.

    You play through the whistle.

  98. He’s been overused. Or underused. Or something. We should start Hanson for the WC game. (Yes, Fredlot, I’m being sarcastic.)

  99. Still haven’t heard much of Glavine calling games, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed him when I have. He made an interesting point earlier about Fredi perhaps feeling a tension between needing to rest Chipper over the last homestand vs. the ballclub promoting the crap out of it being Chipper’s last homestand and wondering what Fredi would do, and it seemed like he was immediately shushed by Joe & Chip who assured us that Chipper wants to play in all six games and that tickets are available and at this number.

  100. @185: How about: “Who is as worthless as Lyle Overbay?” The good thing is that we managed to burn both of them in that at bat.

  101. Hard to believe that was Freddie’s first ever walk-off. Good time for it! Now we’re in the playoffs, and maybe the Phillies will do us a favor.

  102. Anyone else a fan of the Marlins’ road unis? I think the white “MIAMI” looks really sharp against the gray, but I do wish the numbers on the back were filled in white as well.

  103. What a great game! The streak continues, Freddie’s a beast, and the Braves have clinched a playoff berth. Now let’s catch the Nats.

  104. Anyone know where the dirt throw by Prado came from? He does it all the time and he just spiked the hell out of it from long range this time.

  105. @213- Never read a reporter or heard the broadcast crew explain it, but from my own observation, it started when they used to pound the “hero” on the head . Guys started taking off their helmets so no one would hit them. Then Prado started smearing dirt in guys hair SI they’d keep their helmets on. Then it got a life of its own.

  106. I would prefer a:

    Guess what? We are in the playoffs and the Phillies aren’t.

    Or even better, in around three weeks:

    Guess what? We’re still in the playoffs and the Nationals aren’t.

  107. So what happens if the Braves and Nationals tie? A one-game playoff, or do the Nationals automatically win the division because they won the season series against the Braves?

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