Braves 3, Brewers 2

So we open with Cobie Smulders revisiting her role as Agent Maria Hill – she was the operational officer in charge of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier while Nick Fury was off glowering at people with one eye – explaining the show concept to New Guy and, helpfully, the audience. New Guy is apparently named “Grant Ward,” because that’s easier for the writers to type out regularly than “the character that’s Pierce Brosnan era James Bond.” The downside, of course, is that I’ll inevitably confuse this guy with the second, less talented half of Hüsker Dü for like, three years. I still do that with the Asian-ish “Grant” guy that’s been on Mythbusters for like, six years now, too. All Grants are Harts to me.

Anyway, Agent Hill is explaining to New Guy Grant that they’re getting a new S.H.I.E.L.D. team together because otherwise they wouldn’t have a TV show, and eventually lets drop the big reveal; the team is lead by Phil Coulson! Which is the least kept reveal in the history of all things, perhaps. So New Guy Grant is all like “I’m level six clearance, I know Phil Coulson died in the Battle of New York,” which was just a weak excuse for the writers to have Coulson pop out of a dark corner and say “welcome to level seven” with little gravitas and much snark. It did get them a good line in there about “I was just standing in that corner; it’s really dark back there. I think there’s a bulb out,” which was vaguely entertaining.

So now we have Agent Coulson back on the roster with New Guy, and he explains that he was dead for like 40 seconds before rehabbing in Tahiti. That was just a set up for Hill to mutter ominously that Coulson “can never know” something something something… So let me clear this up for you. Coulson died. Not just mostly dead. Dead dead. He’s either resurrected or a clone, either of which is perfectly feasible because Marvel’s universe is friggin’ deep and huge, man. Just pick up the new Infinity Avengers reboot and dip your toe in, if you’re confused on this point of order. Anyway. Agent Hill departs, because How I Met Your Mother was filming in 30 and there’s no way the show runners could afford Samuel L. Jackson in the pilot.

So then we cut to Gunn from Angel, who is apparently a laid off factory worker in Los Angeles. This is odd, because I’m pretty sure LA doesn’t have a manufacturing sector outside of porn, but hey, we’re dealing with a fictional universe where Thor, God of Thunder will totally show up for a cross-promotional opportunity when “Dark World” is released. So okay. Factory worker in LA. Good for Gunn, finding work after that whole apocalypse thing went down last time he worked with Whedon.

By the way, “Thor, God of Thunder” is currently the best written, drawn and inked trade comic on the market. Just sayin’, yo.

Unemployed Gunn apparently has a son, but not a wife, because again, pilot ep budgets are rough. He’s talking to Gunn-son when a building explodes across the street. Then he’s like, “hey, newspaper and periodical vendor that I know by name, watch my son while I skulk off into the alley!” In the alley, he punches his hands into brick walls and climbs up to save people from the explosion. The least believable aspect of this scene is that 1) there are still periodical vendors on the streets of LA, and 2) Gunn is not only on a first name basis with the guy, but would just use him as street-side day care when a building just blew up in front of his kid. Bad Daddy. No points awarded.

Anyway, that all leads us to meet Skye, super-hacker, because seriously, is it even possible to have a TV show these days without a super-hacker character? Super-hacker character is the 2013 equivalent of the “black Mammy” from 1930’s era movies. Try harder, writer people. Seriously.

Anyway, Skye is basically a member of Anonymous, only hot and wearing a low cut blouse. She tries to get Gunn to join Anonymous, which had some sort of Marvel-y name that I forgot. (Apparently it was “Rising Tide.” Because Nick Saban said so.) Gunn is like, “uh, no.” So Skye goes Mulder on him and warns him about the men in black suits from S.H.E.I.L.D. who will come to disappear him. And steals his driver’s license. Which begs the question; why is Gunn walking all the time if he has a car? Maybe he was just concerned about getting stricken from the voting records in Orange County? Weird.

Um, so now we go back to meet more agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., because the show is called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so it’s expected. There’s Melinda May, a field agent with issues, to compliment New Guy Grant, a field agent with issues. May is played by Ming-Na Wen, because Stargate Universe got cancelled and the occasional spot as Finn’s mom on AdventureTime just doesn’t pay the bills. She’s all “I don’t want to do action sequences,” which means she’s going to do a lot of action sequences. They kidnap Skye, because good guys always kidnap citizens, and because they needed to introduce her to the young tech dorks “Fitz” and “Simmons”, who are often called Fitzsimmons because, get it, they’re like, twins and stuff. I think. Not really clear on that, actually. Fitz is a girl, so she does a lot of biology science stuff. Because, baby factory, right? And Simmons is a boy, so he’s all hardware tech and hard science, because hardware is totally like a penis or something. Again, writers. Try. Harder.

So there’s this scene where Coulson recruits super-hacker Skye into the team, even though she is totally AGAINST THE MAN, MAN! Which totally wasn’t telegraphed from the fact that she was a hottie with low cut blouse in the opening sequence. Ah, broadcast tee vee. You rarely disappoint.

Skip forward and apparently Gunn is not a mutant who is just coming into his powers – which would ABSOLUTELY WORK because Marvel is the same universe as the X-Men. But no, this is an Avengers tie-in, not an X series tie-in, so he’s actually been supersized by some nefarious group calling themselves “Centipede” – because, comic books – who apparently have access to the Extremis virus that wreaked havoc* in Iron Man III. Okay. I’m following that. I’m not sure the rest of America did, but I gotcha Joss. I’m on your wavelength, geekboy.

*havoc. Not Havoc. Not an X-Men tie-in.

The thing about Extremis is, unless you’re Tony Stark or Pepper Potts, it typically makes you explode. Which is actually how that whole building exploding thing from the open went down. So fine. Extremis. Now Gunn is actually Bomb. Literally. And he’s totally losing his self-control too, because someone really wanted to write a metaphor for the disenfranchised working class into this episode. Like, *really* badly. So disaffected working class Gunn-Bomb goes back to his factory job, looking for work, and gets into an argument with the foreman, where he rips a fork lift’s propane tank off of the back of the lift and beats the guy with it using his super strength. This is weird for two reasons. First, the propane tank did not explode, which, okay. And then second, the later news coverage of the event just says the foreman was assaulted. I’m alright with the gas not blowing up, because sure, why not. But you just had a super-powered, super-strong angry man rip a propane tank off the back of a fork lift and swing it at full force into a non-super’s skull. Gunn-Bomb is a murderer, dude. No way around that shit now. Stop being pussies! Stand by your muse!

Meh. So the agents of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. save the day by shooting Gunn-Bomb in the head with a super-techno-jazzy dart gun and he doesn’t explode, and then they apparently send him to a farm to rehab until they need him to return as a super-powered member of the team later in the year. Maybe to help Thor with that cross-promo bit. Then Clone Coulson gets Hot Super-hacker Skye into his sweet vintage ride, which apparently flies. Okay.

All in all, on a Whedon scale of Dollhouse to Episode 11 of Firefly (Objects In Space) we’ll give this one a solid “early episode of Season 2 of Buffy.” Not bad. Should get significantly better as the cast gels and they get the cadence and timing of Whedon-dialogue down. Plus they should have big budgets to get through the awkward setup process of season 1, what with Marvel backing this gig.

Oh, and Freddy Garcia allowed on 2 runs while striking out 7 in 6.2 innings, which really sort of has to put him in the lead for “starting Game 4 barring catastrophe” race. Paul Maholm breaks out his left arm tonight.

90 thoughts on “Braves 3, Brewers 2”

  1. JC’d

    Braves were 5-2 against LAD this year only allowing 17 runs in 7 games. Granted we missed Kershaw completely and only faced Greinke once (one of the losses). Maholm pitched really well against them twice.

    I’d actually argue if we played the Dodgers you go Medlen, Teheran, Minor then Maholm/Garcia. Dodger Stadium is where you want to pitch if you are having trouble with the homerun ball like Minor is. Also sets him up to start Game 1 of the NLCS on regular rest and lets Teheran start at home for his first playoff start.

  2. Perfect, Sam. Watched the first episode and plan on watching all of them. Kate, who has actually become a fan of comic-book movies, thought it was “boring,” but I watch things like Royal Pains with her, so she’ll be watching all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes, too.

  3. I’m Marveled-out and am if this show gets good word of mouth after it’s first season, then I’ll think about watching it. But I can’t do it now; I’ve got superhero-Disneyfied-action overload.

  4. “Dodger Stadium is where you want to pitch if you are having trouble with the homerun ball like Minor is.”

    While it’s a lower run scoring environment than Turner, Dodger Stadium has had a higher HR park factor in 2012 and 2013. As I look over the park factor elements, Dodgers Stadium has consistently and notably low park factors for triples and walks, while suppressing other types of hits only slightly. By comparison, Turner’s park factors for hits, 2B and HR are more or less comparable to Dodger Stadium, but walks and triples are pretty average. Turner’s 2013 park factor for runs is .95 (1 is average) and Dodger Stadium’s is .88. The more you know…

  5. @3 No Marvel score book for comic book deprived. My comic books (c.1960) disappeared the same time as my baseball cards.

  6. Good info Blauser, wonder if that changed recently, Always thought of Dodger Stadium as one the better parks for flyball pitchers.

  7. Mikemc @ 8,

    It seems stupid to me to a point, but there is such a thing.

    When you look at the extremes (Coors Field and Petco before this year) you can see how that can work. Why pitch to Adrian Gonzalez in Petco when no other Padre can hit it out? Why pitch to Andres Gallarraga when anything in the strike zone can go out?

  8. Coors would be the big example of a “walk friendly” park. Breaking pitches don’t break in the thin air. Leads to more breaking pitches high and low and out of the zone. More walks.

  9. @10 It seems intuitive that there would be a strong correlation between the amount of walks a pitching staff gives up and the expected SLG % of opposing hitters. Career-prime Barry Bonds comes to mind as a good example; in many of his at-bats, the cost (in terms of run expectancy) of walking him was less than the expected cost of pitching to him. Similarly, parks which suppress slugging will also suppress walks to some degree.

  10. on the postseason rotation.

    Reds and Dodgers don’t have large left right splits. The Cardinals suck about 70 ops points against lefties and the Pirates are around 50 down against righties. For those 2 teams, the handedness of Garcia / Maholm (Wood) could be important.

    I do believe that Wood is hitting a wall. He said he feels better but was really tired trying to pitch on in the 5th inning of his last start.

    Another thing about Wood in the postseason is his “gimmick delivery.” I remember how hard it was for American Leaguers to hit Mike Stanton in the early 90’s. Anybody that hasn’t seen him is going to have timing problems. he is a tough match up.

  11. I think larger foul territory could play into it as well. Many walks come as a result of long at bats which involve fouling off a lot of pitches. Larger foul territory could turn those foul offs into outs.

    That being said Oakland is not big on suppressing walks this season and it has the largest foul territory I think.

  12. I have to admit that upon further examination (of the park factors on ESPN’s site) I’m really not seeing a correlation between a park’s overall run-scoring and its BB park factor. Even the effect at Coors Field appears minimal (as measured by park factors) – its 2013 BB park factor is .99, and in the past 5 seasons has been as high as 1.08 and as low as .92.

  13. Is Cobie Smulders going to keep showing up, even periodically? I know she has one more season of HIMYM, but I also think there’s a lot of potential to do more with Agent Hill. Then again, I only think there’s potential there because Smulders was criminally underused in The Avengers, which seems to be the norm for female characters in comic adaptations.

    Oh, also, I enjoyed Andy Greenwald’s writeup of the new drama season, wherein he praised Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and placed it in the “Watch” category:

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9689330/breaking-new-fall-tv-dramas

  14. Another thing about Wood in the postseason is his “gimmick delivery.” I remember how hard it was for American Leaguers to hit Mike Stanton in the early 90′s. Anybody that hasn’t seen him is going to have timing problems. he is a tough match up.

    Too late, Wood will be in the bullpen. Garcia has “postseason experience”, and apparently that matters.

  15. I don’t know if Smulders is an irregular guest or just a one-time pilot continuity contrivance. The show has been promoted as a Phil Coulson vehicle, and unless Melinda May doesn’t pan out as a character, I don’t see a lot of room for a regular appearance of Maria Hill.

    Alex Wood is a good selection for the pen.

  16. I turned away from the radio and watched some with the missus on the couch. Was that supposed to be a comedy? Because between the plot, dialog, recycled character actors and the flying corvette, I was crying it was so damn funny.

  17. Cardinals beat the Nationals again today, 4-1, bringing their record to 94 – 65. The Braves are 93 – 64 and own the tiebreaker for NL’s best record. Looking at possible outcomes, the Braves will guarantee themselves the best record if they finish the season 5-0 or 4-1. If Braves finish 3-2, the Cardinals would have to sweep their final series (vs. Cubs) to take best record.

  18. He didn’t touch the plate! Does that count?

    Weird, on that replay Maholm had his back to Gomez when Gomez started yelling at him. Wonder what made him react that way?

  19. @40

    There ought to be a general-asshattery clause that keeps the run off the board in this instance.

  20. @41 I wish.

    Wonder if Laird got ejected because one of the umps thought he was Fredi? That would have been funny.

  21. McCann’s actions reminds me of when Carlton Fisk yelled at Deion Sanders for lollygagging on a ground ball: “Run it out, you piece of crud!”

  22. #43

    Maholm’s first pitch to Gomez buzzed the tower a bit. Gomez stared at Maholm as he got back in the batter’s box, then Gomez hit the home run, etc.

  23. Lohse through 2 innings at only 19 pitches, and Freeman’s already ejected. I gotta say, this is not a great start.

  24. Kim Hudson (Tim’s wife) tweeted this a little bit ago:

    And I’ll say this…the @Braves do a heck of a job of protecting each other. That’s what real teammates do (unless you have a bum ankle). :)

  25. What the hell did I miss? That Gomez kid needs a reality check. He acts like a petulant child every time he strikes out.

  26. There’s a sect of Braves “fans” out there who always, without fail, side with the other team on issues like this. To them, the Braves should have silently taken Gomez’s garbage. Thus, they are the culprits in the confrontation.

    Whatever.

  27. 54- Not to be one of those guys, but we are getting a lot of these incidents, which makes me wonder if we’re doing something wrong.

    On the other hand, Gomez was clearly looking for a fight with all has jawing, and was going to start one eventually.

  28. @56: I agree. But I think this situation was borne out of some history between Maholm and Gomez. The Braves were just sticking up for their teammate. Twenty-nine other teams would have done the same.

    The Jose Fernandez situation–at least on McCann’s part–was intended to be civil. Chris Johnson had been jawing with him through the night, but McCann wasn’t looking for a fight there.

    If you want to meet some whiners, take a trip to DC.

  29. This game has really been no fun to watch so far. Maholm is pitching fairly decently, but we’re one bunt-single away from being perfect gamed. It’s sad to see Regression actually regressing to the point where the batting title is more than likely out of reach.

    I’m really hoping we get to experience some fun baseball in October this year.

  30. 63- Well, perhaps we can get Elliot to swap paint with somebody. At least that way we’re not losing someone we can’t do without.

  31. So the Cardinals are going to pass us tonight. Call me a pessimist, but I’m afraid we’re losing to the Dodgers next week.

  32. I admit to cautious pessimism, but the Dodgers aren’t playing terribly well either (8-11 from Sept. 4 on, 65 runs in those games- very close to our totals).

  33. “There’s a sect of Braves “fans” out there who always, without fail, side with the other team on issues like this. To them, the Braves should have silently taken Gomez’s garbage. Thus, they are the culprits in the confrontation.
    Whatever.”

    What are you, 12 years old? The players are all overgrown adolescents and I guess a lot of the fans are too.

  34. Maybe 4 days off before the playoffs start is a good thing. After all, they sure came out on fire after the ASB.

  35. Who do we think the October roster is going to look bullpen-wise? Varvaro might have pitched himself off of the roster over the past two nights, if he was on there to start with.

  36. 76- Actually, they lost four of seven (to the White Sox and Mets!) before going on that long winning streak. Can’t afford to do that again.

  37. How Varvaro has managed to post a 2.76 ERA is, to me, one of the great mysteries of the universe.

    EDIT: Maybe that’s “The Reason.”

  38. Dude. Baseball players have a rule of etiquette they expect their peers to live up to. It includes not taking 10 seconds to get to 1B on a HR.

  39. Glad to have Marc Schneider back on board after the Nats’ epic failure. They still a model organization that the Braves should strive to be more like there, Marc?

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