Things You Can Do On A Warm Summer Night: Braves 5, Giants 4

The rumors are true – the hardest part really is not falling down hills when you take your foot off the brake from a dead stop.

By lesson #3, you’ve come to realize that “hill” has a more expansive definition than you knew before. Start from even the most gentle downslope, and you can use gravity to your advantage, letting the clutch out as the car acquires modest but natural momentum and practically starts on its own. But from the slightest upslope, it’s an awkward dance of brake-foot-to-gas on the right, clutch-out-at-a-controlled-rate on the left. To err one way risks falling backwards, to err the other risks peeling out, and to split the difference inartfully is to stall out. Suddenly streets whose topography you’ve driven without observing for decades are the greens at Augusta, subject to similar slope-based risk analysis.

It’s sort of an outdated and constantly busy mode of driving, but that’s the point of learning it, you suppose; to be an empowered user of a technology is to understand its underlying principles, which you usually try to do. But here you are realizing that you’ve spent almost nineteen years now letting the machine do this somewhat difficult work while you play with the radio, and it’s humbling and even a bit embarrassing to be a grown man feeling like an unsure teenager again. You venture out from your school parking lot practice course toward the Virginia-Highland gas station, only to be defeated by a stoplight with a slight uphill gradient and a panic-inducing crowd of horn-honkers behind you.

The Instructor has an upbeat attitude, though, which is good, because it’s her car you’re going to tear up if this lesson goes sideways. Back in the day, she passed the downtime in high school teaching her classmates this form of driving, so she’s convinced that despite your obvious struggles, you grade out pretty high on her curve.

Nonetheless, that’s a curve pitting you, modern grown man, against her memories of a bunch of turn-of-the-millennium teenagers. Small comfort. It occurs to you that you have no real business writing about or criticizing the performance of any major league baseball player, given that just fouling off a 95 mph fastball is a miracle of human timing and here you are, struggling to use three foot pedals to competently move a Honda Civic forward. By those lights, maybe you should spend your summer sitting down to watch the likes of Chase d’Arnaud, Gordon Beckham, and Tyler Flowers. They are nobodies within their context, and yet they are miraculous talents when viewed from a broader perspective.

But it’s not them you’re put off by. It’s the suits who brought them to you while insisting out loud you’d not see the difference, as to huck a couple extra tickets to those who might believe it. It’s the brass who laid on the table every non-sports-fan’s critique of how a pro team’s affection for its fans and its host city runs as deep as a stripper’s, and bet you’d still come back anyway. Deep down you always knew the critique was true, but all you needed was a little kayfabe, you know?

There are a lot of interesting things to do on a warm summer night. Back in the parking lot, you start and you stop, and start and stop some more, because that’s the part in need of most immediate practice. To retain momentum is relatively simple; to obtain it from nothing, that’s the hard part, especially if your metaphorical ball is about to roll down the false front of the 14th hole once you take your foot off the brake.

You shake off the memory of the earlier disaster on the way to the gas station and attempt the drive home, this time on less crowded streets. It’s a downhill start heading out of the school grounds, and you’re off, shifting conservatively, first to second to first to stop. The stop is at the crest of a hill because of course it is, but fortunately there’s no one behind you. You steel yourself against the inevitable roll backwards, roll a bit, catch it with the clutch, give it some gas – how much gas? Whoa. The Instructor’s car sounds like it’s running from the police now, but it’s going forward! And she’s laughing, saying good job, and you make it back to her place and park the car, feeling like a dork, but a dork who learned something and made progress tonight.

The Braves beat the Giants in extra innings tonight, 5 to 4. From what y’all say, it was pretty well-managed and Freddie Freeman hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th. The Instructor’s car has a broken radio, though.

42 thoughts on “Things You Can Do On A Warm Summer Night: Braves 5, Giants 4”

  1. You know, this place is so full of great writing and amazing game recaps that I seldom remember to comment on it. But this was brilliant enough to remind me what a great bar this really is. Thanks W.C.G. And everyone else while I’m at it.

  2. Alex Wood
    (Twitter says) his posterior has impinged where none thought it could
    the elbow has been overlooked
    it’s perfectly possible it’s only lightly cooked.

    Freddie Freeman
    has acknowledged velocity to be his current demon
    with this dispatch of a twenty mile an hour curve incurred
    one day, perhaps, he’ll bring someone home from third.

    Adonis Garcia
    Our Hero! whatever ball was vaguely near
    impeccable defense
    whoever had predicted this has the minimum of sense.

  3. #1 – Agreed Beege. Makes me feel inadequate with every boring keystroke I make.

    I’ll take the long view here – – meaning, I’ll see if the post-Fredi .500 ball is sustainable. But either way, even in the immediate term, it’s a heck of a lot more fun to watch and read about than the flaming pile of Melvin that we had gotten used to.

  4. I loved what Snit did in the 8th. He new Lopez was going to stay in and pitch. He then hit Flowers for AJ, thus running Bochy’s plan. Hitting Frenchy for Smith was also a good move. He forced the Giants to run through their pen faster. We may have seen the same guy in the 13th, but who knows?

    Did it win the game? Well, maybe it did. At the very least he put his team in the best spot to win.

    Good work Snit!

  5. I have no idea where this rebuild will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.

  6. @9

    if Beckham goes on the DL surely that’s an automatic call up for either Dansby or Albies…who else and when else? Castro, nah, he’s had his chance, not an everyday player…Garcia rumored to be leading in early Gold Glove voting.

  7. Braves call up Brandon Snyder from Gwinnett. Beckham’s our utility guy, and neither Albies or Swanson have been getting any reps elsewhere around the infield than at short. I’m curious about when that will change.

    Also: Braves are a full game up on the Twins for second-worst team in MLB. Not sure how I feel about that.

  8. @12, get used to it. Our pitching is too good to finish last, and we have an unfair advantage with an extra starter in the rotation. We’ll be 3rd from the bottom again.

  9. @13

    an itinerant writer named coop
    was always in search of a scoop
    but for games after dusk
    what he wrote although brusque
    was tempered he tending to droop.

  10. Fredi I viewed as worse than BC in terms of in game strategery, and I thought BC was one of the worst of all time in that department. I presumed Snitker was better because he simply couldn’t be worser.

    I don’t know if this is the fabled New Manager Boost Effect or actual real life in-game managing, but the results are inarguable. Fredi 9-28. Snitker 7-8. Against good teams. I seem to see a crisper step in the Braves’ collective performance. Players who are in position to make a play are starting to do so.

  11. Sometimes when you get men on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the bottom of the first, you wish your cleanup hitter wasn’t Jeff Francouer.

  12. Bravo, blazon; boo, Jeffy and Adonis. Jeffy playing gives me posterior pains, but Adonis needs to do more than play gold glove defense.

  13. The Braves were on pace to win 40 games when Fredi was fired. That was unsustainable under any manager, whether it be Fredi, Snitker, or whomever. So, whoever took over at that point is going to do better than a .243 winning percentage, (as Fredi would have if he’d stayed the rest of the season.)

    But, close to .500 is significant, and if Snitker can stay around .500 for the rest of the season, I would consider that a feat.

  14. Ugh. I don’t mind losing, but between the first inning bounce of Freddie’s ball and that homer, this is unpleasant.

  15. dave stewart is gonna look like a genius if dansby doesn’t pan out , with inciarte and blair doing terribly.

    (only partially sarcastic)

  16. Walk, homer, walk, homer, hit-by-pitch, homer. That sounds like a rookie pitcher, alright.

  17. So Blair walks more guys than he strikes out. Usually that isn’t efficient. Not impressed with someone who barely touches 90 and doesn’t miss bats.

  18. Alex, FYI, “bravesjournal.com” isn’t working for me — only “bravesjournal.us” is.

  19. Add Blair to the pitching suspect list. Bill James, “No such thing as a pitching prospect”.

  20. 29—Yeah, I’ve been thinking he’s one of the guys the Braves should try to trade in exchange for Evan Gattis.

  21. Let’s keep running Blair out there and see. Nothing to lose except meaningless games.

    Aaron Blair
    Kept running out there
    His pitches, slow and fat
    Kept running into bat after bat

    P.S.: @31, ooh, or trade him for Gattis

  22. #16
    Not that it matters much with this leaky boat, but Fredi’s opening-month schedule was a death march.

    But yeah, similar to hockey, the relative turnaround is probably attributable to the boost/shame of the managerial change.

    FWIW, all I care about this year’s club is that any valuable future pieces improve & stay healthy, we beat the Mets (& hopefully damage their season a bit) and, of course, we don’t set any records for futility.

    Because after the NBA/NHL Finals, I’m not going to really care about another game until 3 September.

  23. Cubs are being inhospitable to the Dodgers, and Jason is once again the greatest player ever.

  24. I think this offense will keep the futility records within reach, even if the pitching stays good.

  25. I mean it looks like some here have given up on our chances for setting some records this season. Don’t give up. I still think we can do it.

  26. I’ve only watched a bit of Blair, but what stuck out to me was breaking pitches that would swoop rather than bite. Is that a fair characterization?

  27. I definitely think we can still set some records for futility. You’re not alone in that. Should be a pretty brutal set coming up with the Dodgers.

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