KHAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!

You know that scene from The Wrath of Khan where Khan, for no reason other than his own pretension, quotes Moby Dick at a fleeing Kirk, even though Kirk can’t hear him? That’s what it’s like when anyone from Atlanta meets a Torontan.

Torontan? Torontian? Torontonian? Huh. Google tells me that it’s apparently Torontonian. Which makes me think that the native peoples of Toronto are small teddy bear looking characters who plan on using their primitive but adorably effective tools to beat off a massively more powerful, militarily superior, technologically super advanced occupier/invader. It’s like, al Queada Moons of Endor, or AQMoE, if you’re speaking in “intelligence business lingo.” Pronounced ak-MOE. Also purveyors of tasty burritos.

Where was I? Oh. Toronto. Khan. Atlanta. Kirk. Hate’s last breath and all that. That’s a totally distinct sci-fi universe for crimminy’s sake! Actually, I suppose it might be three distinct sci-fi universes. There’s the one universe where aging religious fanatics from the dusty outskirts of civilization wage a war of counter insurgency and terrorism against a massive, technologically advance Empire. There’s the universe where genetically engineered ubermenschen holdovers from a series of global eugenic wars in the 1990s wage violent personal vendettas against the admiralty of a pseudo-militaristic yet post-capitalist-in-the-Marxist-sense federation of planets, all while dressed in chest bearing leather. And then finally, there’s the universe where Toronto and Atlanta are “natural rivals.” All things considered, I think the last one’s the least believable.

Today marks the fourth and final game of our split home and away series with our “natural rivals,” the filthy, stinking Torontonians. They will celebrate this day by starting a guy named “Dickey.” That fact has little to do with anything other than that I chuckle like a half-baked 14 year old every time I say “Dickey.” Go ahead. Say it out loud. “Dickey!” Use your Beavis voice.

Anyway. Rivals! Toronto! No, you’re not the only one to look at this and thing “what the hell?!” As iceberg584…heh. I just referred to a real human being as “iceberg584.” Internets! You so crazy!

As iceberg584 pointed out yesterday, Atlanta’s original “natural rivals” were the Red Sox. If anyone asked, this was hand waved away by citing the Braves’ franchise history and its roots as the Boston Beaneaters. Or Bees. Beaneaters, I think. Regardless, as tenuous as it was, as far as it reached, at least it was an attempt. But then, stupid things happened. And as stupid things tend to do, the stupidity started with Jeff Loria.

See, originally, while the Braves played Boston for history’s sake, the Blue Jays played Montreal. Because, Canada. That made sense. It was a lovely baseball reenactment of the Quebecios’ ruthless drive for independence and throwing off the Anglo-European yoke of their misery. And because, Canada. And all the while, Philadelphia played a nice little geographic rivalry series against the Baltimore Orioles who were less than an hour down I-95 from them. But then, Loria happened. Loria killed the Expos, the Expos became the Nationals, the Orioles then had to be “natural rivals” with the team from Washington, which in due order sent Philly hurtling up the NEC for a “natural rival” in Boston. No one actually believes any of this, by the way. Excepting the Orioles-Nationals bit. Especially not Major League Baseball, because in point of fact, the “natural rivals” for the Atlanta Braves in 2014 will once again be the Boston Red Sox. Next year, the Phillies will line up with the Torontonians. MLB is just admitting it up front, calling it a “split rivalry,” which is Selig-speak for “we’re just making this shit up as we go.” This is also true of the “natural rivalries” between the Texas Rangers and their hated nemeses, the Arizona Diamondbacks. This year the Rangers hate the D’backs and the Astros, who up until last year hated the Rangers, because, Texas, now hate the Rockies. But next year the Rangers will totally hate the Rockies and the Astros will hate the Diamondbacks. All the while, they will continue to secretly continue to hate each other. Because, Texas. If this all begins to feel like a really bad episode of ABC’s Wife Swap mashed up with that horrid remake of Dallas you’re cottoning on to things pretty well.

The fact of the matter is there are only five or six “natural rivalries” that ever made one measly iota of sense, and most of them are split NL/AL cities. Subway Series? Yes. Crosstown Classic? Absolutely. In fact, no NL/AL set can really match up to Chicago vs Chicago. Those guys really do hate each other. Way more than the Mets-Yankees thing, which despite this year’s results to date is really just a case of the older brother holding the younger brother down and farting on his face while everyone else points and laughs.

A’s – Giants makes sense out by the Bay, as does the annual showdown of overpriced free agents on both LA clubs. Glamor! Stars! Carl Crawford! The O’s – Nats series makes sense too, both because it’s a mere 30 miles between the two stadiums and because any excuse to poke Peter Angelos in the eye is welcome. But that’s really about it. Honestly, if there’s less than 50 miles between the teams, it works. Otherwise? I guess STL vs KCR works, because 300 miles of flyover country is like 30 miles of a coast. Mmmmm, cow farms. Hard to wash that out of your nostrils, kids!

Everything else is crap marketing that makes no sense whatsoever. Miami vs Tampa? Is that something like golf, where the team with the fewest fans to show, wins? Anyway. Game thread.

162 thoughts on “KHAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!”

  1. Sam,

    Long may you rave!

    Is anybody going to do a write-up for Alex Wood?

    Go Braves!

  2. Surely, Sam, you’re not going to say that “crap marketing” isn’t a worthy goal. Otherwise, how do you explain the Home Depot tool race?

  3. Very shocked that FatJuan has been DFAd. Very shocked. He’s been frustrating, yes, but he plays better defense than C-Jo and can hit the ball really really hard. I’m sure that’s part of his problem as a developing player, because he sure does swing out of his shoes at everything. And maybe he’s being DFAd because Braves Mgmt. consider him to be unteachable. I still feel like he’s a talent, though.*

    * Although those 8 straight (or was it 9 straight) strikeouts a few weeks back was pretty turd-worthy.

  4. From the previous, there is a reason why guys who have been DFA’d still get traded for actual players. Boston, for example, could really use 3B depth, and Juan will never make it that far on the waiver list, regardless of how bad we think he is. Not saying you’ll get back a ton, but it’s quite common for DFA guys to be traded.

  5. Alex Wood – lefty that throws hard with a good changeup – somewhat awkward delivery that can be deceptive – pretty much filthy stuff although his breaking pitches need work. Already gotten his TJ surgery out of the way. Hitting mid 90’s consistently. Nothing really more to prove in the minors (especially since he pitched in the SEC for a couple of season) – sub 1.0 WHIP , K per inning, ERA in the low 1’s in AA this year.

    No reason to think he won’t help us. Would rather him throw innings that matter on the major league team than innings that don’t in the minors. Are we “rushing” him? I dunno, what does that even mean? Are we hindering his development as a starter? Who says he won’t get some starts this year…wouldn’t mind seeing him take a few zombie-Hudson starts.

    He can help right now, and we kind of have an emergency situation with EOF and Venters gone. I’m all for it.

  6. I like Fat Juan. I hope he makes it through waivers and goes to to AAA. I know that is not realistic, but here’s to hoping.

    It is nice to have that power LH bat on the bench.

    I understand the move. Pena can be the LH part of the platoon and play D.

  7. Yeah, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume we get nothing for Juan. Of course you lose some leverage DFAing him but as spike said, a contender that wants him will know he won’t make it to them in the claims process. We could also package a prospect to get the right LOOGY maybe.

  8. My wife (who is Canadian from St. Katherines near Toronto) and I watched Wrath of Kahn last night since the night before we watched the new Star Trek movie and at that point I found out she did not know all the Kahn history. I find it extremely creepy that this thread shows up today talking about Torontonians and Kahn and Star Trek and stuff… are you spying on me Sam? Anyway, good work on that rant ;-)

  9. So we have to piss away a legitimate piece rather than send BJupkis down to do what we hear he’s trying to do anyway (retool his swing). So we don’t hurt his feelings? Really?

    BJ, Uggla, Lowe …

    Wren gets a lot of the smaller things right, but for a (sub) mid-market team, he continues to make the irreparable mistake. We simply cannot afford these catastrophic blunders with our payroll.

    What percentage of the Braves’ budget do BJ and Uggla consume? Is it as much as a fourth?

    I do know we’re paying a guy with the worst hitting mechanics I’ve ever seen more than Chipper.

    What it probably means is we’re going to have to let McCann go so we can pay BJ Freaking Upton to swing like a drunken frat boy at whiffleballs.

  10. Ialea acta est with respect to BJ. I am not sure he even has options left if you wanted to send him down. I don’t believe that he turned into a permanently terrible baseball player overnight, and unless you want to give him away while STILL paying the bulk of his salary and STILL letting McCann go, you’d better get used to the idea that he has to stay up if only to gain trade value – which is severely limited by the fact he can opt out of his deal if traded in the 1st year of it.

  11. Guess who’s last in OPS for outfielders?

    Uggla is fifth from the bottom for 2B.

    Guess who’s leading all 2B in OPS? Kelly Johnson.

    Tell me again why we didn’t like KJ and LaRoche?

    Yes, we’re in first place.

    No, it’s not sustainable.

    Sorry for the ranting. Just pisses me off to see us give away FatJuan for nothing.

  12. When I see a full year of the Hawks playing smart, unselfish, Spurs-like basketball is when I’ll believe it.

    But at least now there’s a chance.

  13. @15 Good lord with the whining. How is it not sustainable? The team is what it is. If we won this many games with big holes from center and right in the lineup, why can’t we continue to do so?

    As for KJ, gimme a break. Talk about not sustainable. He’s always been streaky and could put together very good stretches, but he’s a career 105 OPS+ hitter. He hasn’t suddenly and magically gotten 50% better. He’s just hot.

    As for LaRoche, I think we liked him just fine, even if he was maddening early in the season.

    Edit: I need to just stop responding to trolls.

  14. So I went to the game last night, mostly for the opportunity to “boo” Melky in person.
    My fiancee didn’t understand why I was so grumpy towards the end of the game. It wasn’t that we were losing… it was HOW we were losing.
    Also, not getting to see Gattis swing the bat at all really pissed me off.

    Highlight of my night was the couple behind us in line for KR steak sandwiches letting us scan their season tickets for $10 off dinner.

  15. Matt Diaz may be done:

    “So about two weeks ago I took a normal lead off first and when I broke to go to second base I felt a strong pull or tug on the inside of my knee. I tried to play through it, and it kept getting worse. I met with a knee specialist in Colorado today and have come to the conclusion that I need surgery. When I wake up tomorrow, there’s a strong chance that my season will be over, and since I was hurt last year and terrible in 2011, my playing days could be coming to an end as well.”

  16. No, it’s not sustainable.

    Then neither is the Nats/Phils going .500 much longer with a negative run differential.

  17. I know it’s not completely rational, but this lineup makes me nervous precisely because it’s what we’ve been asking for, with Chris and Oso, and without BUpkis or JNay. If we don’t score a zillion runs tonight, Fredi will just take that as proof that we can’t have nice lineups.

  18. @11 Yeah, thats THE Khan.

    Juan was the most redundant guy. I agree with the consensus that he doesnt clear waivers.

    Sure hope they dont pitch Wood’s arm off.

  19. 23- I still think Reed was the more redundant man who was redundant, but Juan hasn’t done much to earn his keep this year either and I’m fine with letting him go.

  20. @22: It’s not really a nice lineup. As someone put it on Twitter a little while ago, ten months ago Schafer was on waivers and CJ was backing up Willie Bloomquist. These are lousy players on nice hot streaks, and I would prefer Fredi didn’t get it into his head that they have magic pixie dust.

  21. 25-So I take it you would prefer to run Uggla, BJ and Heyward out there every night regardless of how badly they are struggling or how well the other players we have are performing right now?

  22. @25, Chris Johnson is not a lousy player by any measure. Not even close to lousy. He’s not going to hit .340 … but he’s not going to be terrible either. Schafer doesn’t do anything for me…but right now anything is better than BJ.

    I liked FatJuan too. But he had ample opportunity to show progress towards being a more disciplined hitter, and he didn’t do it. Maybe he’ll go tear it up for another team. Sooner or later you think something is going to click with him, but our coaches have been saying that since his acquisition, and the Reds said the same thing.

    If we had let go of Reed Johnson I would’ve been feeling better, but it’s hard to argue that Juan was an integral piece to the puzzle.

  23. @26: I don’t really care what they do with Dan. He is what he is: an extremely low-contact hitter who will occasionally hit bombs, and a serious liability in the field. But yes, I want them starting Heyward and B.J. pretty much every night. They will get right eventually, but sitting them just delays that.

  24. Good start by Mike “Staff Ace” Minor, he made Bautista look like Bupton there.

  25. Schafer and Simmons are making Fredi look smarter tonight. (Appearances may still be deceiving.)

  26. Jupton hit a broken bat liner to second that got caught, I’m not sure if Simmons was running on it or just thought it was hit harder.

  27. I always liked the braves’ original Blanco backup catcher. Still showing good defense at 41.

  28. HENRY BLANCO IS THEIR CATCHER???

    Goodness gracious I feel like we’re taking on the 2003 Braves.

  29. Joe Simpson is lauding a braves hitter for going the other way? I feel like I’m watching the 1998 Atlanta braves.

  30. Mike, if you can make Melky wear the golden sombrero tonight, you will be a Braves hero for at least as long as you also continue to pitch really well.

  31. @43, I don’t understand that criticism of Joe. Being able to go the other way is a sign of a versatile hitter. It is a hitting virtue. Not the only one, of course, but still a virtue.

  32. Between 2010 and 2012, Jason Heyward tallied the 8th-best fWAR among MLB outfielders, ahead of guys like Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Alex Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, and, yes, Justin Upton. Those were his age-20 through 22 seasons, and they included, if you’ll recall, the ugly 2011 campaign as well. I’m not saying I have a problem with sitting him occasionally for a hot hitter – and of course, it makes sense to get Evan Gattis into the lineup however possible right now – but at the same time, a stranger reading this blog would never know how fucking good he’s been already in his brief career.

    I’m thrilled Schafer has been doing better, but if the Atlanta Braves are going to win the World Series, it will be on the back of the talented outfield they put together in the offseason. And the most important cog in the group is Heyward. It sucks that he has been struggling, but whether folks here like it or not, his success will play a big role in how far the Braves go. Ride the hot hand, sure, but remember that Heyward is the future, and the sooner he gets going, the sooner the Braves will be great.

  33. What was up with Freddie and BJ’s hug after the HR? It looked pretty awkward (as in BJ didn’t want to).

    @48 – We know how good Heyward can be, but It’s been a third of the season and he’s just not snapping out of the funk. I’m tired of hearing, “he’s been hitting it hard, just bad luck”. No, it has not been bad luck, he’s approaching last year Andruw Jones levels of suck, with his constant groundout to 2nd.

    Heyward didn’t even hit that well in his rehab stint in Gwinnett; send him back down until he gets itall back, his defense does not support himn hitting.150

    Shame we can’t do the same with BJ….I can’t believe Uggla is hitting better than both of them.

  34. The “going the other way” thing has been raved about here for years. I remember people complaining that he’d say that about Francoeur. I don’t get it either.

    If you’re hitting the ball hard to the opposite field, you’re staying through the ball. It doesn’t preclude you from pulling the ball. It means you’re not pulling off the ball. No one is implying that hits to that side are more useful. Just that it’s a good sign for the future.

    Sure, pulling 90% of your contract does not mean you’re pulling off the ball. But driving it the other way can prove you’re not.

    It’s just like when they say “getting jammed can be a good sign, don’t be scared to get jammed,” in reference to Heyward. No one thinks a broken bat popup is GOOD. But if you’re staying through the ball, inside pitches will jam you sometimes. But an approach that gets you jammed means you’re probably not pulling off outside fastballs and rolling weakly to your pull side.

  35. Evan is not a burner; but despite his limited range, he’s a decent outfielder. Also, that bear can hit.

  36. Even the best can get turned around on a line drive like that; it’s very easy to guess the wrong side when it’s low and almost right over your head. It was an awkward recovery, but got the job done. You’re not supposed to turn inward like that, but given how hard it was hit he may have had trouble finding it again in time if he turned properly.

  37. Simmons is letting his poor performance at the plate affect his defense. He’s been a wreck in the field for a week.

  38. Corner OF defense doesn’t matter. Catch the balls hit near you. That’s all I ask. If you can hit then all is forgiven. I could write a long diatribe about why I think sabr-nerds overvalue defense, but it boils down to defense being mostly pitching. Give me Klesko in LF any day of the week.

  39. errrr… okay, Andrelton made an error, but he didn’t give up an XBH to a .212 hitter.

  40. @76 You serious? Simmons gave away 3 outs this inning.

    He grossly misplayed the “infield hit” for Dickey then botched a textbook DP ball. This is no one’s fault but his.

  41. I could write a long diatribe about why I think sabr-nerds overvalue defense, but it boils down to defense being mostly pitching.

    Nice timing. Also, nice touch with the ad hominem. Way to make your argument stick.

  42. Andrelton has bailed out this pitching staff enough times that they could return the favor.

  43. @mlbbowman
    Simmons had committed five errors in the 92 career games he’d played entering Friday. He’s committed 3 in the 7 games that have followed.

  44. Andrelton saves more runs than he costs. He booted one. Cut him some slack. Pretend he’s a .150 hitting outfielder.

  45. Gattis now has a higher BA than all of our “regulars” but Freddie and Chris Johnson.

  46. Braves back on top. That half inning and 3 runs will be a footnote to the season. Lets all move on.

    Down with Leaving minor in?

  47. I want BJ to get some ABs to turn it around, but how can you sit Schafer and Gattis at this point?

  48. Anyone feel like this lineup would have scored more than zero runs off Esmil Rogers last night?

  49. Gattis is the best hitter on the team. Every day he doesn’t play is a crime. I’m not a Schafer fan but can’t argue that he’s playing really well. I don’t envy Fredi – gonna be a tough job to manage all the bruised egos in that clubhouse if things don’t turn around for the regulars anytime soon.

  50. @82

    You said “saber nerds” – do they live in their mom’s basements?!? – “overvalue defense.” But you don’t say how, and I’m not really sure how. Most of the WAR computations count defense about 10%. Do you think it should be less? If so, how much less? And why?

  51. @105, I use the term lovingly. Anyone that argues about WAR on in internet forum is a sabr-nerd (nttatwwt). I’m saying that defensive valuations for corner OF’s doesn’t matter one bit. Not even 1%. You have the luxury of leaning heavy-offense at all the corner positions – not doing so is not a good way to construct a team.

  52. It’s just becoming harder and harder to cling to reason regarding Success!. Every brain cell in my head says he can’t have transformed into a truly decent ballplayer, especially in such a short period of time. And yet…

    SSS eventually becomes MSS. And, at some point, LSS. Like Jack Buck, I don’t believe what I’m seeing. And yet I’m seeing it.

    (Also, for those concerned about sitting Jason: I’m fairly certain we won’t see that be an everyday occurrence. Bets are off for Melvin and Dig Dug, though.)

  53. @109, I’m guessing Jason and BJ are sitting due to Dickey starting. If they sit tomorrow then we’ll have a real story.

  54. I will say this about Fredi, he isn’t afraid to sit guys and play the hot hand.

  55. Chip: “It’s great to see this braves offense that strikes out 7 times a night only strike out twice against a pitcher with a trick pitch”

    Hmmm…I wonder why they haven’t struck out as much….

  56. First time El Oso’s scored three runs in a game. (He’s only scored two runs once.)

    4 RBIs for Pena. (Never had more than 2 in a game before.)

  57. The Nats gave Baltimore a gift run for a 2-0 lead in the 8th. On a high pop to shallow right, Bernadina called off the second baseman, who was pretty much right the ball, and then doesn’t make the catch.

  58. At this pace, Mike Minor’s looking like an NL all-star.

    And how ’bout Ramiro Pena & Jordan Success? Unreal.

  59. So, it was all nerves about getting DFA’d for Reed apparently.

    Probably not…

  60. Apparently Reed is pleased he wasn’t the one who was DFAd.

    Edit: Damn you, @139! Missed it by *that* much. :P

  61. Hopefully it’ll be a good thing that Alex’s debut isn’t exactly a high-leverage situation. You know he’s gotta be freaking a little bit. What a thrill it must be to take that mound.

  62. RED ALERT: Juan Jaime was injured to start the season, struggled a bit with his control, but is now at AA putting up video game numbers. In his previous appearance he gave up one hit and K’d all four of the other batters he faced. Tonight he pitched two innings, faced 6 batters and got them all out, again four of them by strikeout. He throws a 100 miles an hour.

    Edit: I overlooked one hit batter. But its still impressive.

  63. Juan DFA’d huh? I’ve been calling for that over the past week. You can’t continue to play as poorly as he does and expect to keep getting chances. 3 straight sub .300 OBP seasons hitting .230 or so “in a platoon” will cost you a job. He needs to play for someone like Houston or Miami where they don’t care about winning right now. He truly was the right person to cut from this team.

  64. Good job Alex. We need you to graduate three more times this weekend and 11 times in October

  65. Congratulations Alex. I gotta figure out how to not get emailed every time someone comments on a post of mine.

  66. FatJuan swung the bat as if he was trying to be David Ortiz. The problem was that he missed the ball a lot more than Ortiz.

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