The Long Autumn

Coppy’s out. The Nats are out. The new spring training complex is in. There’s not a whole lot to do till February other than root against the Yankees and Dodgers.

Starting after the World Series, we’ll do some offseason content — the usual WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? posts, player previews, SEC football, music, and so on. Anyone want to request something in particular, or volunteer to write something specific? Please email me at the address in the upper right.

Here’s a great German punk band from Dresden:

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299 thoughts on “The Long Autumn”

  1. Wow, Alex, wo hast Du denn die ausgegraben?

    And I don’t think I ever heard “great punk band” and “Dresden” associated. Ever. Nice going.

  2. Speaking of great punk(ish) sounds, while I am 100% absolutely and completely not ready to acknowledge that emo-revivalism is an actual thing, this year’s brand new Brand New album is obscenely good.

  3. I just finished reading / listening to “Unscripted” by Ernie Johnson, Jr. I highly recommend it. EJ Jr has gone through a lot and has developed great character just like his Dad had. Makes me wish that if the Braves wanted to go the nepotism route they should have chosen Ernie and not Chip. In all seriousness, it is very hard not to like Ernie and his whole family after reading the book.

  4. I don’t understand punk rock.

    So, sadly, it remains antithetical for me.

    Can I be saved? Doubtful at this age.

    But glad you guys get off on it.

  5. the Dresden Dolls
    and their assorted molls
    were de riguer
    you could choose whether you preferred him or her.

  6. According to Peanut, the Braves are interested in Walt Weiss as a bench coach. Apparently TP doesn’t have much of a sabermetric lean at all, and they like Weiss for that reason. If so, that’s an encouraging development. Makes sense considering the FO was displeased with Snit’s lack of an analytical approach in some of his moves.

    Also, the investigation is nearing its completion. McGuirk says it could be a matter of days until they find out.

    The last German punk I listened to was Wizo. Or Goldfinger, if they count.

  7. Punk was a reaction against the overstuffed, plodding, nigh interminable technical precision of prog rock. Baseball needs a punk revolution to save it from sabermetrics gone mad.

  8. If we want to run with this analogy, I think you could say that Altuve is punk rock. He’s basically Rod Carew — who was the MVP in 1977, the year that Television released Marquee Moon.

    McGuirk should almost certainly be fired. In the end, the Braves’ unwillingness to clean house must directly be coming from him.

    Here’s another great one:

  9. John Coppolella
    gone, floppo fella
    no severance pay needed
    names will be dropped but will they be heeded?

    @12 Sam, thanks.

  10. This is actually one of my favorite analogies right now. When we think about prog rock, we can find some over arching themes and descriptors to define it. Or at least I can. Prog was a perfectly natural progression out of rock and roll music from the late 60’s and early 70’s. Early prog pioneers began toying with the edges of format, instrumentation, and process in the studio looking for new sounds and artistic formulations. They began to embrace cutting edge technologies and recording techniques that “traditionalists” avoided. They evolved multi-tracking, overdubbing, synths and drum machines, and electronic elements. At its best, prog was a grand and revolutionary addition to the American music catalog.

    But it didn’t come without its drawbacks. Not everyone was Brian Eno. For every mind-expanding release (maybe Pink Floyd’s “Animals”) there was a King Crimson record. And as it became a “scene” and a “thing,” prog became unbearable. The experimentation on the edges became a rote devotion to technical precision uber alles. Adoption of technical recording and instrumentation grew ever increasingly over the beating heart of rock music like an exoskeleton. The sweltering humanity of Chuck Berry and Elvis live were replaced more and more with over-engineered studio sessions that punted everything alter in favor of noodling wonkery. Live shows became more famous for their laser pigs than the actual energy in the venue. And songs became long. Interminably long.

    That was the morass into which Johnny Rotten, wearing his home made “Pink Floyd sux” t-shirt, sauntered in ’77. A scene obsessed with technical precision as the only desirable outcome of the “game,” where technology itself had overlayed the basic functions of the art so completely that it was difficult to find the original concepts at all anymore, and where the output itself was an exercise in self-absorption and endless slogging to merely *get through* an album.

    I find this to be a perfect analogy for the sabermetric revolution in baseball. What started in the 80’s and 90’s as a simple insurrection at the edges of a staid “traditionalist” game – “you know OBP is better than BA, right? And slugging is valuable!” – has morphed into this near religious obsession with technical perfection, as evidenced by the constant stream of reliever changes and matchup wonkery, defensive shifting that puts 23 people on the same side of the diamond, and player evaluations that many believe can be reduced to “WAR” counting. It’s led to a league where the dorky spreadsheet jockeys of the front office are seemingly more important than the schmucks swinging the bats (much less the stupid old “baseball men” who still occasionally are allowed to sit in the dugout as “managers.”) Add in the technophilia of replay and review – all, once again in the blind service of “perfect technical outcomes” at the cost of the breathable pace of play for the game itself – and you get MLB 2017. An interminably long King Crimson record played on repeat, interrupted only occasionally by mind-numbingly tedious bass solos, as if anyone ever sat around as a kid wanting to hear a fucking bass solo.

    So, yeah. I love this analogy. And I would really, really like to see baseball find its punker moment. The game needs one badly.

    Also, someone needs to duct tape Justin Turner to a chair and forcibly shave his face and head entirely. For fuck’s sake! He makes the Fighting Irish mascot look like a sober, reasonable man.

  11. Sure, Sam, but your analogy has one huge problem: punk was a statement about esthetics and sabermetrics is a statement about winning baseball games.

    Emerson Lake and Palmer made a lot more money than the Sex Pistols, whatever your take on the relevant esthetics. They sold a lot more records, if that’s your metric. Your protest is: maybe, but they didn’t do it with true raw passion, and that’s the *real* thing we watch when we watch sports.

    If you want to watch gritty baseball without the endless sabermetric strategizing, get thee to a minor league park, or, better still, a beer league somewhere. You’ll see low paid, hungry guys who love the game playing hard. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if your goal is winning baseball games by getting the best players and putting them in the best position to succeed, the new methods augment the old (which is still necessary because managing actual people isn’t Strat-o-matic) and create success. at least until the rules are changed. And I suspect you won’t like it much when they are, because there are few ways to mandate that grit succeeds.

    FWIW, I’m with you on replay.

  12. My position is that MLB should change the rules to make winning baseball games less tedious, tiresome, and interminably long. My relatively elegant solution to this problem is twofold.

    First, rescind video review/replay to boundary calls. Home runs; fair/foul distinctions. Everything else reverts to on-field umpires, as it had existed for years prior to the advent of ever more detailed video replays. If the umps miss a tag or wrongly call a trapped fly ball an out, so be it. Baseball can, and has, lived with that for aeons. It can live with it again. (To the analogy, this is the element of choosing heart, pace, beat and the aesthetic of a live show instead of over-engineered studio wankery.)

    Second, limit substitutions, by rule, to five (5) per game. This would include pinch hitters, pinch runners, defensive replacements and relief pitchers. The manager has five subs to use per game. He can use any he likes, but he only has five per game. In the event of an extra inning game, one (1) additional sub may be added. (To the analogy, this removes the incessant cavalcade of “bass solos” – i.e. bringing in one-batter relievers in a steady sequence, and thus extending the game into the 3.5 to 4 hour range.)

    I like the sub limit a lot more than trying to tweak an ever increasing subset of relief pitcher usage rules due to it’s simplicity and elegance. Yes, I cribbed it from soccer’s 3-sub rule.

  13. I like the idea of limiting substitutions, Sam. Also limit the times the catcher and pitcher are allowed to meet.

  14. If you start an inning you have to finish it. Allow pitching changes only between innings. Problem solved.

  15. They need to just put the game on a clock. Just like every other sport. You can’t slow the game down to a crawl because you want to make a change. Make the change within the clock. And we’re basically talking about “time outs”. I agree with Sam; you get a certain amount of “time outs” to slow the game down to have conferences, to make substitutions, etc. And there should be a play clock. A football team has a certain amount of time to run a play, a basketball team has a shot clock, etc. Keep the game moving.

  16. I like both ideas (limited subs/no pitching changes mid inning). You would have to account for injury/vast ineffectiveness on the second one, but an easy way to do that would be to allow a change after the opposing team has batted around and if a pitcher leaves due to injury he has to go to DL.

    I had never considered limiting subs, but it really would seem to make a manager be more selective on when to make moves. I don’t know if 5 is the right number, I tried to look up the average # of substitutions per team per game but no luck.

  17. Why not the following rules:

    -The pitcher has 20 seconds after the previous pitch crosses the plate or previous play ends (noted by umpire calling time) to deliver the next pitch. The pitcher is able to pitch at any time within that 20 second period unless a change of batter occurs. If the change of batter occurs, the time increases to 30 seconds. Failure to pitch during the allotted time is an automatic ball.
    -The pitcher can delay that clock by taking a 1 minute time out (2 per game), or a 2 minute time out (3 per game). Failure to pitch during the allotted time out periods is an automatic ball.

    That’d really speed the game up. You get 5 times a game to slow the game down. Otherwise, the buyer has to be in the box or the pitcher can pitch, or the pitcher gets a ball because he didn’t pitch. That would speed the game up so much and it wouldn’t sacrifice the quality of play whatsoever.

  18. All of these rules would speed up games, (and as I said, I’m with you on replays) though whether they’d reduce (or be allowed to reduce) the commercial breaks that pay for the television contracts and take up the vast majority of dead time is another matter. But doing this will simply change what strategies are used, not the effectiveness of thinking hard about strategies and going “against the book.” Flamethrowing one-pitch guys would be replaced on rosters by durable knuckleballers. 10 minute bass solos have now been replaced by two hour Grateful Dead jams. (I never liked the Grateful Dead, but insert your own group of pedestrian musicians…) Anyway, to complete the inaptness of your analogy, punk didn’t make new rules to eliminate Triumvirat, it made itself known as a phenomenon outside the rules. But games are nothing but their rules… Rulebreakers don’t change the rules. It’s rule obeyers that do.

  19. @24, yeah you have to account for fake injuries for sure. I would be in favor of implementing a max-subs limit as well.

    I mostly want to get rid of the extreme specialization of roles. There’s no room for LOOGY’s if my rule is implemented.

    Also, you would have to think twice about starting an inning with Ian Krol or Jim Johnson or Dank Lob or whipping-boy-flavor-of-the-month. You would even think twice about having them on the roster at all. What a novel concept.

  20. I love the idea of following the existing rules. And I’m not against the idea of substitution rules on “one inning” and such, but I like the simple subs limitation because it’s elegant and doesn’t require micromanaging the details. Tony LaRussa Jr wants to burn all five of his subs on a single run of relievers in the 7th, fine. Have at it TLJ. You out of options until the 10th.

  21. Last 5 Braves games of 2017, in inverse order:

    9 substitutions (7 relievers)
    6 subs (all relievers)
    9 subs (4 relievers) (includes Max Fried as a pinch runner!)
    3 (3)
    7 (4)

    That’s probably skewed by the stupidity of September call ups, but yeah. I’m keen on five subs.

  22. I really like the idea of subs. But I do think the NL will need more than the AL (or the AL could just abolish the DH, a man can dream)

    So probably 6 subs for NL games, and 5 for AL games. And you get one more per extra inning. I like it. Simple and easy to understand.

  23. Disappointingly, the Yankees are not as hateable as in previous years. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate them, just not with the same level of disdain that I had a few years ago.

  24. So yeah. The other upside of “five subs, do with it as you will, then you’re done” is that it solves the DH problem. Though, probably not how NL fans would like. It allows the NL to adopt the DH while retaining the “managers need to do the strategery” elements of the senior circuit because, well, you gots five bitches.

  25. Remember Freddie Freeman’s spring training quote when asked about some proposed change…

    ‘It’s a beautiful game as it is, we don’t need to change it’.

    And if we ever do…

    it would appear from a brief overview of the posts here the more committed the sabermetrician the more changes-and detailed changes- he advocates.

  26. Sorry, there’s no going back on replay. With high-speed cameras and HD TVs in every house, the public has far less tolerance for blatant blown calls than in years past. Which is a very good thing, imo. MLB was able to get away with far too much umpire incompetence for far too long. As far as I’m concerned, the more scrutiny they get, the better.

  27. Yes to a limit on substitutions.

    No to the “can’t change pitchers until the other team bats around” idea. That would take way too long and would not be pleasant to watch.

    Get rid of umpires entirely. We have the technology. Automate and give umpires a basic income!

    More importantly, I deny this prog/punk analogy.

    The first “prog” song

    The first “punk” songs (a natural outgrowth, not reacting to anything)

    Don’t make fake distinctions when it comes to rock. Don’t let pencil-pushers and scenesters try to divide us. There is only one meaningful division: either it rocks or it doesn’t. Never mistake your friends for your enemies. “Prog” and “punk” go together.

    Speaking of which, Alex, I’mma do a Keltner for you. We’ll see what Sam thinks.

  28. Managers can change pitchers once during an inning. The new pitcher has to at least finish the inning. This solves the problem of absurd ineffectiveness or injury, but limits the usefulness of LOOGYs or ROOGYs. Manager can’t visit the mound for any pitcher other than the starter without making a change, and there’s a limit even on that (maybe 2X per game).

    And I’ll possibly get pilloried for saying it, but put the DH in the NL. The NL is at a competitive disadvantage in interleague games because they don’t have a DH built into their roster. The double switch is not that interesting, and most of the bench spots are just used up pinch hitting for the pitcher. Eliminate the need to do that and the bench can be utilized as an actual bench, with guys deployed strategically rather than just because the 9th spot in the order was up.

  29. @40, “…limits the usefulness of LOOGYs or ROOGYs.” Let’s see how that one gets past the Player’s Union.

  30. @36

    who knows..anybody?

    What concerned me about Ajax was reading a month or two back an account by a father who took his young son to a MiL game where there was a good deal of intermingling going on post game and how friendly the Braves players were towards the kids, Jackson being the exception – rude, brusgue, dismissive. Be as rude as you care to be to another adult. Do it to kids, nah, red flag.

    Postscript: Achilles would have said- I feel such a heel.

  31. Kris Bryant
    resembles a fallen Brobingdian giant
    while Carlos Correa
    makes it perfectly obvious, anywhere but here.

  32. I actually like Sam’s five subs rule a lot. Like, I think I’m in love with it. I would also add that if a player leaves because of injury, that’s a free sub. And I know that somebody would try to seriously take advantage of this at some point, but figure out a way to work it out…maybe have the trainer confirm with the umpire that the player is actually hurt or something. You might have to play with the extra-inning sub rules a little (one new one every two or three innings maybe?), and if you told me it needed to be six subs per game instead of five, fine. But overall, I really like it!

    The best part about it is this entire unwatchable postseason with its 30-pitch starts because you have to go to the bullpen the first time the starter gets in trouble would never happen again. Kudos to Justin Verlander for his performance the other day and to the Houston manager (whose name escapes me right now) for allowing it to happen, I was starting to wonder if something like that was even still possible.

    I still think replay is an overall good thing, though. Sorry, Sam. There is nothing worse than a blatant missed call deciding a game. Nothing…not even an unwatchable 5-hour, 9-inning baseball game is worse than that.

  33. If you want to have an injury exception for a sub, the simplest solution would to require that any player who is injury-subbed out hit the 10-day DL immediately. It would allow for true injury subs, but severely penalize teams that tried to game the system.

  34. A likely effect of the 5-subs rule would be having teams develop actual middle relievers who could go 2-3 innings. Hell, they might even develop TWO “closers” and have them alternate days where they pitch the 8th AND the 9th. Crazy!

  35. “Punk” has long ceased to have much meaning to me anymore as a descriptive. It reminds me of Duke Ellington’s famous definition of jazz – “You probably heard of the word `jazz.’ It’s all right if that is the way you understand or prefer it. We stopped using the word in 1943, and we much prefer to call it the American Idiom, or the Music of Freedom of Expression.”

  36. Klaw on Alex Jackson:

    He has cleaned up his swing and can now hit balls on the outer half. However, his receiving was awful. He said other catchers have struggled in AFL before after a long season, but given his lack of a positive track record back there, he is not optimistic that Alex can stick at catcher.

    And from Klaw chat:

    Greg:

    A couple Alex Jackson questions: 1) are the issues you saw fixable ones behind the plate? 2) if he has to move back to the outfield, what were the reports on his defense in a corner when he was with Seattle? 3) is the bat enough to profile as a corner OF in the big leagues? Thanks for the chat.

    Keith Law:

    I don’t think they are fixable, he’s playable in the outfield but not average, the bat may still profile.

  37. Just read the phrase “silence his critics” in a write-up of an ultimate game. Burst out laughing. All thanks to y’all.

  38. Get ready to hear a lot about World Series from the 1940s and 50s, folks…well, and the late 70s. It’s about to be the Yankees vs. the Dodgers in the World Series! Guaranteed that some imbecile from the New York media will utter or write the phrase: “These two teams should play in the World Series every year!” As if it hasn’t been 36 years since they did so.

    Whatever, at least the Nats aren’t in it.

    And yes, I’m aware that Houston still has something to say about it, but I’m not convinced that what they have to say is going to change anything, obviously.

  39. I think Alex Jackson’s offensive ceiling is higher that Gattis. Gattis has a lifetime .303 OBP. He has pop but not much else. But defensively it sounds like it would always be a battle back there for Jackson, same as Gattis.

  40. I liked Perez and Pendleton well enough, but I don’t know what they were bringing to the table these days. Rumor is that they were not on board with analytics, so maybe that’s a good thing. I hated Walt Weiss as a player, but am indifferent to him as a coach.

  41. In other news, I just had a little imaginary sketch in my head where one of Coppalella’s special assistant nerds stopped by to tell Terry Pendleton that part of his job now also included reviewing Statcast exit velocities and launch angles and going over that with the hitters, and then getting punched through a wall.

  42. @65

    That sounds about right. On the broadcast of the Dodgers-Cubs game the other night, they actually said that Contreras’ home run was the longest ever recorded by Statcast at Wrigley Field, as if that fact was meaningful in any way whatsoever, and I wanted to throw myself through a wall.

  43. According to DOB, Church Hernandez is returning so they don’t have to hire another pitching coach for second consecutive year. Seems like a pretty lazy idea since almost every pitcher regressed under his leadership this past season.

  44. @67 Does any major league coach have the kind of power that can force all hitters or all pitchers to regress? Maybe the head coach, but anyone else? I really doubt it. Just like I doubt firing Eddie Perez or Terry Pendleton will have any meaningful impact on the team’s future.

    Want to turn this organization around? Sign good players. Simple as that. Put good players on this team, and I bet this team wins. What are the barriers to getting good players? Remove those. Make those your highest priority. Not firing assistant coaches and the like.

  45. “Winning a lot of regular season games and winning divisions is not enough,” said Rizzo.

    I wonder what Bobby and JS have to say about that.

  46. @69, couldn’t agree more. I look at everyone involved with this front office and see them as a barrier to getting good players. They don’t know what good players look like. Replacing them all will be a good start. The new guys might be worse, or they might be awesome. It’s time to make a change because we *know* the current guys suck.

    The coaches in the dugout hardly matter. Nobody can win with this outfield and this pitching staff.

  47. Good showing for Houston! I will never not hate the Yankees. Plus, I think it would be cool for McCann to join Heyward in getting a ring.

  48. No one ever thought Dusty Baker was a good in-game manager. Of course there is a question as to how much good a good in-game manager is. Bobby Cox wasn’t a very good in-game manager, but he was better than Dusty Baker. CB Bucknor shows better in-game judgment than Dusty Baker. Dusty was not the Nats first choice; they screwed up negotiations with Bud Black and settled on Dusty because baseball requires you to have someone called the manager so the camera can focus on him thinking, and Ted Turner was barred from occupying that role.

    But, having said many times that Dusty Baker was a terrible in-game manager, let me channel Sam just a bit to argue that that’s a tiny fraction of the actual value of a manager. The Nats lack of success isn’t Dusty’s fault.

    But to be completely honest, I’m still mad we traded Dusty for Jerry Royster, Tom Paciorek and the other three guys in that trade that I’m too lazy to look up. I blame Eddie Robinson, who I’m somewhat astonished to find is still alive. Good on him.

  49. I’ve never been a huge Dusty Baker fan, but I don’t get the Nationals firing him. In general they probably slightly underperformed based on their talent level, but not enough to blame the manager for. Dusty has always been known as a poor in game manager but he wins everywhere he goes. That is much better than being a great in game manager and losing everywhere. You can argue that he has great talent, but he still usually wins, you can’t say that for a lot of managers.

  50. I got to meet Dusty at a Spring training game in Arizona once. He seemed like a really nice guy and took the time to actually talk with me a bit. When I told him I still had my “Dusty Baker” bat from bat night at Fulton County Stadium when I was 7 years old he said he would have autographed it if I had it with me. Nice guy.

  51. Probably not a shock but I am not in favor of any sub limitations or anything that’s been mentioned in this thread. Get rid of replay unless its a fair or foul call on a home run etc. and just play the damn game the way it was intended to be played.

    Some of the proposals in this thread are scary and to me wouldn’t really be baseball anymore.

  52. @72 And Fredi Gonzales was a constant in Atlanta’s late season melt downs. That doesn’t mean he is a root cause, of course. Frankly, how different would Fredi’s career be if he had a Tom Glavine and a John Smoltz in his rotation when he was manager of the Braves?

    I don’t like Fredi. I much prefer Snitker. The truth is that I probably wouldn’t have liked Bobby Cox if the Braves weren’t winning.

    The Braves have a tolerable manager who the players seem to like and respect. I wouldn’t waste any time on the clubhouse management. I’d be looking to pay top dollar on a front office that can work miracles, because it’s going to take some stuff cutting right for this team to overcome its obstacles. Not much different for any other team except some teams have money to cure their woes while we don’t. We need a front office that can minimize wasting $$$$ and if they’re lucky they can walk into some stellar deals for a difference maker or two.

    Edit: I don’t pretend that it’ll be easy regarding contracts and free agency, etc. It’s a lot of hard work and risk management.

  53. The Nationals have a window that is closing quickly. Werth is probably not returning. Harper is likely gone after 2018. Murphy and Gio are free agents after 2018. They have Scherzer and Strasburg under contract for a while but after those guys the future isn’t exactly clear. I think they’ve missed their biggest opportunity to win it all already so I get the desire to make a managerial change, as short-sighted as it may be. Without the purse strings, they’d be a marginal franchise at best. Ownership has poured a ton of cash into the on-field product, but the results remain the same. Again, I don’t say that solely at the feet of the manager, but I get it.

  54. Say what you want about Dusty Baker as a baseball manager, but the man received the world’s first high-five and smoked a J with Jimi Hendrix. That’s livin’ right.

  55. @83 Even so, it’s not good news that he’s starting an elimination game for the Astros (perhaps that was implied in your comment.). He’s going to get his ass handed to him. Yankees and Dodgers! Het ready to party like it’s 1977. Bleh.

  56. While avoiding the repeat of old arguments and acknowledging The shortcomings of grumpy old men in the modern iteration of the game, I’ll simply note that Dusty Baler’s Natinals won 190+ games I two seasons.

  57. Charlie Morton is a middle rotational option. Nothing more. That he’s currently more valuable that Nate McLouths entire Braves career is beside the point.

  58. @79 My sarcasm wasn’t terribly clear.

    Dusty has only been there for a couple of their collapses, but a lot of the same characters have been present throughout.

    That said, eff ’em.

  59. I’ve never paid attention to the Astros. Charlie Morton, Evan Gattis and Brian McCann, all in the same game on the same team?

  60. Firing Dusty Baker is kinda like my attitude towards FSU fans wanting to fire Jimbo Fisher. I’m thinking, “Yeahhhhh. That’s a good idea. Good thinking. That won’t help the teams I cheer for AT ALL!” And then I play off my lies very poorly.

  61. He looks like Tom Glavine out there. And I hate the Yankees, so this is all good. Add in Alex Wood with the Dodgers and it will be quite the Braves reunion in the World Series.

  62. When you think about it, the Braves have found some good players in this rebuild. Camargo obviously is a good example. But really, no power like the way Gattis was found money. Maybe Cumberland, AJax, or Slugbauer can be someone to put in the middle of a lineup.

  63. @92–and Brian McCann. My favorite brave of the last decade. Big hit there in the 5th. I was there in October 2005 when he homered off Clemens in his first postseason at bat.

  64. Good to see Mac go from 0 for 20 to one of the heroes of those last two games. Up till then you were assuming this was it, all over for him. That play at the plate too, no margin for error, had to be perfect, it was. Sanchez was horrible defensively but with the attention now off him expect his bat to flourish again.

    To a lesser extent El Oso came alive at the end, happy for him too. BTW, did we know when he was with us he couldn’t handle high fastballs?

    Home field advantage, wow, what a difference. Every single game. Wouldn’t work for us though – we can’t even sell out. Hitters and pitchers who dominated at home, arrogantly successful, wimped out on the road. Look at Robertson those last two games. Houston too, no difference.

    Has there ever been a pitcher throw so many curveballs, in succession, in toto, as McCullers?

    Hate the Dodgers.

  65. Can anyone come up with a rhyme for Altuve?

    Could be a single word(unlikely) or a phrase that ends with words that blend into something like what we want.You would be granted a liberal interpretation if you are close.

    Most promisingly, it can be a ‘forced rhyme’ BUT in that event it must be funny.

    I’ll be the judge. I’ve been a month on this and got nowhere, first time. Show me!

  66. @103 –

    Jose Altuve
    decidedly did not befoul the duvet
    we’d think him a jockey passing by on the street
    but in these playoffs, a homer for each of his five feet.

  67. I’m sure we’d love it if Fredi or Snit said this:

  68. Ha! All you Morton haters out there! Turns out he had just enough in the tank.

    Look at his peripherals this year. If he can keep his velocity and stay healthy, he’s pretty damned good for a #3 starter.

  69. His K/9 is 10. He throws 96. That’s not just luck.

    The Astros noticed he was doing this when he returned from injury in Philadelphia. They were smart to sign him. I’ll take $7 million a year for 3 WAR in 150 IP any day of the week.

  70. 33 year old. First season with an era below 4. He’s having a moment. Good for him. Don’t go insane about it.

  71. You jack one outto mediocre #3 starters as you will buddy. I’ll wait on preppingCharlie Morton’s induction ceremony speech.

  72. @110, @114

    He’s had tremendous value, but I don’t understand why there’s almost this attempt to damn pitchers with faint praise by saying, “they’re a solid #3 starter.” Morton was 27th in MLB in pitching fWAR. He didn’t pitch enough innings, sure, but he was #1 starter level in his 146 IP. I’m inclined to say that it should be as simple as #1 starters are 1-30ish in fWAR, #2 31-60, #3 61-90. That weeds some weird pitchers like Brad Peacock who were swing starters or guys like Jansen and Kimbrel who accumulate a bunch of WAR as relievers. The sad reality is that, as bad as our staff was this year, Teheran was 102nd, Newcomb was 92nd, Dickey was 82nd, and Folty was 79th in fWAR amongst pitchers with minimum 100 IP. About a third of the teams in baseball didn’t have even 3 SPs accumulate one whole fWAR. There’s not that much pitching as people think, and a 3+ fWAR pitcher like a staff #1 at this point.

    Which leads me to another declaration that 2018 could be a much better year than many are envisioning. A rotation of Teheran, Folty, Dickey, Newcomb, and Gohara was one of only 11 teams in baseball with 5 SPs with one fWAR apiece. Of course, as referenced in the previous paragraph, none of them were anywhere close to being a staff ace. But someone out of 4 starters aged 27 or younger has to come up with a big year next year. I mean, come on. Someone has to be a top-30, 3+ fWAR pitcher next year. Someone has to be a top-60 fWAR SP and turn in a 2 fWAR season. Obviously the simple answer would be Gohara, who produced 1 fWAR in only 5 GS. But you have 3 guys throwing 96+ and working to refine their command and secondary pitches, and they’re 26, 24, and 21. Someone. And that’s without spending the $20M freed up (Dickey salary re-spent) or any Kakes/Kemp salary savings. And the defense should be better next year too.

  73. Charlie Morton’s problem over his career has been his inability to stay healthy. He’s always had good stuff.

  74. You jack one out to mediocre #3 starters as you will buddy.

    I’ll be sure to do so from atop a pile of my fantasy winnings this season. I owned Morton in every league from the start of the season.

    Maybe it was a fluke season, and maybe he’ll revert to something between league average and replacement level. Maybe he’ll get hurt again. The velo spike that he held onto from 2016 says he might also be able to replicate this performance.

    Now, you want to know which pitcher I really believe in?

    Someone has to be a top-60 fWAR SP and turn in a 2 fWAR season. Obviously the simple answer would be Gohara, who produced 1 fWAR in only 5 GS.

    Quoted for agreement.

  75. I’m sorry. I thought we were discussing baseball, not dorks winging out their precious bodily fluids over their fantasy leagues.

  76. #3 starter

    I have two relatively simple points here. First, Charlie Morton is a useful and valuable guy to have on a championship caliber team. (Clearly; obviously; cf Astros, Houston, World Series Bound.) That being said, he’s not an especially dominant talent, his five innings (woo?!) under the bright lights last night notwithstanding. I don’t see that as “damning with faint praise.” I see it as acknowledging the edges of reality where they actually exist.

    Second, I see little reason to project Morton as a player with a better future profile than the Braves’ top four at the end of 2017. Gohara has more raw talent and projectability than any of the others, Morton included. I’d take Julio and Folty on age alone as the #3 slot, over Morton. The point being that the Braves don’t need Charlie Morton. They need Justin Verlander.

  77. @123, We were discussing baseball, until some weirdo creepily brought it up @118.

    @124, This isn’t an argument about whether the Braves should sign or should have signed Charlie Morton — though you better believe they regret not topping 2/$14 right now. So, stop moving the goalposts.

    Nobody disagrees with @124 except, I suppose, the people who had assumed Morton would crap the bed last night, probably on account of their memories of him as a Brave. He’s been a completely different pitcher this season. Your take here — “Charlie Morton is a useful and valuable guy to have on a championship caliber team” — has come a long way from @86, “Charlie Morton is a middle rotational option. Nothing more.” Maybe in another 40 posts, you’ll be ready to acknowledge that velocity spikes of Morton’s magnitude, sustained across seasons, bode well at any age.

  78. @107

    you win the ‘pure’ rhyme with duvet, congrats

    @108

    definitely cheating, but fun!

    @106

    Alex, sorry but were you drinking? I cannot recognize the format let alone any rhyme. But kudos for effort and thanks to all.

  79. Manny Acta
    was a serious factor
    to manage the Mets new fallaway
    but instead they have chosen Mickey WhoHe Callaway.

  80. @130

    Jonathan F…

    looked it up, bulk French wine, pronounced koo-vay.

    Good, now you need to front it with one syllable that makes some sort of sense and rhymes with the Al of Altuve.

    eg…Malcuvee…bad wine but no rhyme with the t in Altuve

  81. First check all the definitions; cuvee is the first (best) pressing for Champagne — hence my use of that particular beverage.

    And the French party that Jose will attend after winning the World Series, is the Bal Cuvee, of course.

  82. @blazon,

    I’d say we had reason to believe back in the day that El Oso Blanco didn’t mind taking a crack at some high heat.

  83. @133
    remarkable

    @134
    Hey. My point was not that he didn’t ‘have a go’ at them but whether or not he missed an inordinate number and was taken advantage of by opposing pitchers. That was the point they made repeatedly during the ALCS, that everyone knew this. When he played for us i was trying to remember back to what we then believed his major limitations were.

    @132
    Jonathan, you are leaving me well behind. I thank you for the instruct.

  84. @133

    How many games do MLS teams play per year? Locally, there’s been a bit of a debate over whether St. Pete wants the Rays or the Rowdies (NASL), who are trying to get into MLS. We’re a peninsula on a peninsula so land is a premium, and it’s kind of being duked out in the public square how the Trop’s near-downtown 66 acres should be best used. The Rowdies currently play at an old waterfront minor league baseball stadium, so that almost tells you what you need to know about the way soccer is trending. After all, the Braves were far along on a deal to put their ST complex in north St. Pete, and that also got shut down. But is attendance really that good for MLS adjusting for games played?

  85. I know 90% or more of us will be rooting for the Astros in the WS but let’s make some predictions.

    I’m going with heart over head and saying Houston in 7 with Springer winning the MVP.

  86. There were 17 home matches this year, Atlanta sold out all of them between Bobby Dodd and MBS. A few things contribute to this… Atlanta is actually a really good soccer town for one. Also there’s no one with prior allegiances like in baseball or basketball so all the transient folks who are 3rd generation Cubs fans don’t feel the same about the Chicago MLS team and can get behind the Atlanta team. I also think the energy of the first few games set a good tone and more people wanted to come out and see what it was all about. It helps that the team is really good too.

  87. BA kicks off their 2018 Top 10 prospects with the braves list:

    1. RONALD ACUNA, OF
    2. LUIZ GOHARA, LHP
    3. MIKE SOROKA, RHP
    4. KYLE WRIGHT, RHP
    5. IAN ANDERSON, RHP
    6. AUSTIN RILEY, 3B
    7. KOLBY ALLARD, LHP
    8. MAX FRIED, LHP
    9. KEVIN MAITAN, SS
    10. CRISTIAN PACHE, OF

  88. It helps that the team is really good too.

    That’d help the baseball club as well. Really, all the pieces are there but that. Likeable fan favorites (Dansby, Freddie, Ozzie, even Kemp really). Brand new stadium. Geographically convenient location (::ducks::). Decades of rich team history (both bad and good). Just need, oh, 10-12 more good players.

  89. @ #133

    That’s an astounding figure, considering that there were 80,000 at Wembley Stadium yesterday for a match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspurs.

  90. @140

    Wow. Allard sunk a little.

    Maitan has had a bad few months. Rumors in his fall league that his swing looks bad, and he’s gained weight. With the weight gain, he’s really taking the Miggy comps seriously.

  91. That’s the problem with baseball. Similar ticket prices, but the individual significance of each game pales in comparison to MLS, NFL, college football, or even NBA.

  92. 143 — From what I’ve seen across the internets and Twitters, Allard’s fastball only topped out around 90 this year.

  93. Why do the Mets get to officiall hire Mickey Callaway and we can’t know anything going on with our franchise?

  94. They declined RA Dickey’s option. Regardless of his retirement plans, I’d like them to shoot higher than him anyway. Spend $12M and get a better pitcher.

  95. Triple post! Apparently multiple team veterans are lobbying for Dayton Moore, which is interesting that only one player (Flowers) was in the org when Dayton was last here.

  96. I wonder if Moore coming only if he gets complete control is the reason. That would speak less than highly of the current regime.

  97. I wonder if current players don’t like Hart so much that they want Moore because it would require Hart to be removed. :)

  98. The problem with Dickey was the same risk as Colon: you never know when they’re toast. How much better would this team have been if Colon turned in a season remotely close to what he did in 2016? Heaven forbid you exercise Dickey’s option, and he turns into a pumpkin the way Colon did. You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

  99. @138 I would add that Bobby Dodd and MBS are both well served by subway to a list of contributing factors.

  100. Atlanta faltered a bit down the stretch, losing their legs a little at the end of a brutally intense final 2 months of the season. With a win, yesterday, they could have managed to take 2nd place in the East, with a little help. But Toronto, the league’s best team in 2017 by a large margin, pulled even in the final minutes and took away the draw. As a result, United is seed 4th in the division for the playoffs, and will host one of the first round single elimination games.

    I mention that yesterday’s match was against Toronto FC. With the draw, TFC took away a single point and set an MLS record for the most points accumulated by any team in league history. They are a really, really good squad. Yesterday’s attendance figures of 71,800+ supporters set a new MLS record for the most fans at a single game, breaking the record set by Atlanta earlier in the season against Orlando City (also 70K plus.) Yesterday’s crowd also push ATLUTD into first place for average crowd size in American soccer history. Averaging 48,200 supporters per match, UTD set the new standard for MLS (beating Seattle’s 2015 record of 44k per game) and pull ahead of the American record previously held by 1978 New York Cosmos.

    Other fun and interesting bits from yesterday; the clubs (and eventually the entire stadium) were raucously booing both Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley of Toronto all match, including repeated chants of “It’s all your fault!” when they touched the ball early. ATL soccer fans are NOT happy with USMNT personnel these days (the home side’s Brad Guzan notwithstanding, as he did not play in the debacle in Trinidad and Tobago…)

  101. Atlanta also leads all of MLS in attendance for 2017. United’s total attendance draw of 819,404 fans for the season is eeks ahead of former league leaders Seattle, who drew 742,314 this year. Toronto FC slots in third with 470,005 for the year. Orlando City grabs the fourth place ribbon with 425,477.

    Given that Orlando City drew nearly half a million fans while failing to qualify for the playoffs, I’d think there’s probably enough interest in Central-ish Florida to support a Tampa based club. I think it would be better suited than the Rays, simply because the schedule is “weekly” rather than “nightly” and that helps.

  102. @156

    I would also note that the downturn in form directly coincided with Miguel Almiron’s injury. When he came on the field last night the change in tempo and pace was very noticeable and should have won the game except for a great free kick by Giovinco. I don’t think anyone in the East is better than Atlanta except Toronto but you never know especially if something fluky happens early against Columbus.

  103. I agree completley, gaz. The entire tenor and pace of the match transformed when Miggy subbed in yesterday. (The crowd was ecstatic when he walked up to the sub spot to check in.) His first couple of touches were rusty and tentative, but then he found his stride again and *boom.* Just a switch. Josef saw more real opportunities in the second half, with Miggy on the field, than he saw in his three previous matches combined without 10 running the offense. I’d honestly consider Almiron as league MVP. He’s that good. Josef’s back heel goal to send us up 2-1 was technically assisted by Villalba, but Tito was in position to make that cross because Miggy made a perfect pass to switch the field.

  104. @160. Agreed. Do they serve kombucha at the ATLU games and if so is it organically farmed, or mass-produced?

    Not sure if I prefer incessant poems or MLS-talk. It’s close.

  105. I’m sorry to distract the conversation from the shitty baseball team in perpetual rebuild mode who are apparently about to lose some non-insignificant portion of the half-assed rebuilt prospect pipeline they even have for shitting all over the rules in the exploitation of Latin American talent system without going directly to the Coaches and “University Athletics” programs making billions off of the unpaid backs of indentured child labor concussing itself into early onset senility leagues. I doubly apologize for side tracking the conversation with a discussion of literally the most exciting sport team to exist in Atlanta since 1995.

  106. United’s 800k attendance figure would have been the sixth highest attendance of any club in the 2016-17 English Premiere League.

  107. @161
    Personally I’d take either over relentlessly negativity and grumpy Hank Hill jokes. But who am I to complain about free content delivered to my pocket computer via spacebeams, especially when I like it enough to read everyday? Go Braves!

  108. @ 161

    Incessant verse
    you know, it could be worse
    non-extenuated launch angles
    on which the fate of many a franchise apparently dangles.

  109. @162 Don’t mind me. I didn’t grow up playing soccer and don’t relate with it. As a spectator sport, I find it completely uninteresting, so to find out people are attending those soccer matches is informative to me. Good for the sport.

  110. Soccer has always seemed to me like hockey. Lots of back and forth with typically low scoring (which is boring to me). The difference between the two is the speed of the back and forth, the distance of the back and forth, and the physicality (and of course the surface they play on). For those reasons I prefer hockey over soccer. Plus hockey season aligns nicely with baseball season… one ends and the other begins with just about a week of overlap on each end. One of the funnest days I had was going to a “double header” Thrashers game and Braves game in the same day.

  111. Quote from an extremely long Bill James article today about predicting future success from a rookie’s proven major league ability, age, and skill-set:

    “There are 166 Level Seven Rookies in baseball history. A Level 7 Rookie, historically, has about a 15% chance to be a Hall of Famer. There were two Level 7 rookies in the major leagues in 2017: Manuel Margot of the Padres, and Ozzie Albies of the Braves.

    A Level 7 Rookie is most often a strong Rookie of the Year contender if he gets enough playing time, and generally, most of the time, is headed toward a pretty good career. Recent Level 7 rookies who completely bombed include Cameron Maybin (2007), Chris Coghlin (2009), Everth Cabrera (2009), Jose Tabata (2011) and Brett Lawrie (2011). Coghlin in 2009 was chosen the National League Rookie of the Year over Andrew McCutchen (although not in our system. In our system, Coghlin was a Level 7 rookie, McCutchen a Level 9.) But other Level 7 rookies of the last twelve years include Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Kemp (2006), Jacoby Ellsbury (2008), Starlin Castro (2010), Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa and Eddie Rosario (2015) and Trevor Story and Byron Buxton (2016).”

    I encourage anybody who is very patient to check out the whole article: https://www.billjamesonline.com/rookie_scores/

  112. I picked up soccer in college. Growing up in the deep south, we had football and baseball (and basketball, but football was the king by a long shot.) Of note, long long ago I attended the same high school that generated Byron Buxton. Going to a D-III school in the city, the big sports were basketball (NIAA) and soccer. We added baseball my “fifth-year senior” year. From there I started following the USMNT team, then the women’s nationals, then some EPL matches.

    I understand how soccer would *seem* uninteresting to folks who don’t know how to watch it. I think it’s very much like baseball that way. If you aren’t really into the game enough to know what to watch off the ball, or to see the players flow (correctly or incorrectly) into different shapes to set up attacks three or passes down the road, it’s sort of like not understanding the tension building when a great pitcher is shaking off the catcher against a masher in the box.

    At this point, soccer is by far my favorite sport to watch live. Baseball I still love, but the pace of the modern game absolutely drives me batshit, and my wife gets annoyed by the fifth time I shout angrily “get in the goddamned box and hit you shit!” at the uncaring television. Comparing the pace of futball to American football is just unfair. I mean, I’ll watch a football game certainly, but there’s always a part of me annoyed that 85% of the game is spent in conference committee listening to the Skype presentation coming in from the coaches box atop the stadium. Soccer is constant. 45 minutes of actions, non-stop, plus a couple minutes added for injuries or delays. Halftime. 45 minutes again, plus stoppage. Done and done.

    I also push back a little on the ‘low scoring’ critiques of soccer. If you were to change the “points awarded for a successful crossing of the goal line” to American football rules instead, United’s 2-2 draw with Toronto last Sunday would have been a 14-14 tie. If you further Americanized the scoring and gave each side a “field goal” for a shot on goal that didn’t score the “touchdown”, you’d have and extra 12 points for UTD, and an extra 6 for Toronto, bringing the final “American football score” of that match to 26-20. But soccer doesn’t count near misses (field goals) and it only awards one point for a score, rather than randomly awarding 7.

  113. @172

    The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. With nothing to substantiate it, really, it seems the person who wrote that e-mail might be a little bit on the younger side. Perhaps Coppy was a certain way to certain types of people, and another way to others. This person had a really positive experience, as I’m sure many others did too. Let’s be honest; could every one of you think of two people that might give two completely different summaries of you? I know I could. Sam’s wife probably likes him. Crazy. (Just kidding, Sam). I continue to think that he had some personality flaws that didn’t show themselves to everyone, and someone in the FO wanted him gone. So you get a story about how he egregiously breaks oft-broken rules, and Bob’s your uncle. It wouldn’t surprise me if Hart or JS turned him into MLB themselves.

  114. American soccer fandom is dramatically different than the rest of the world, I’ll give it that. It’s a bit jarring to hear people who I know have not set foot outside of the deep South, let alone this country’s borders use words like pitch and footie though.

  115. @173

    Is it just me or has Ozzie’s hype been rather disproportionate to Dansby’s, especially considering their perceived ceilings?

  116. The best (IMHO) supporters group for ATL UTD call themselves “Footie Mob.” It’s the most ATL thing ever, this side of that one time we named an industrial tunnel boring machine “Driller Mike.”

  117. The Run That Sank Pittsburgh, by Sid Bream

    And realize this: You will never, ever be able to have a play with that excitement again, because of replay in baseball. Just think, if that was today, Jim Leyland would have called for a review, and all the excitement would have been delayed waiting for the powers that be to render a verdict on the play.”

  118. I’m coming to the conclusion that this is my favorite baseball quote:

    When I’m in a slump, I comfort myself by saying if I believe in dinosaurs, then somewhere, they must be believing in me. And if they believe in me, then I can believe in me. Then I bust out. -Mookie Wilson

  119. Even for the Mets, it’s sort of embarrassing that Mookie Wilson is in their organization’s hall of fame. That quote is really the best justification.

  120. @168

    Admirable openmindness towards a sport you don’t find involves you. Try this – Watch NBC on Saturday lunchtime. 12.30, for a Premier League game, and try to watch the pregame yakking to get some background on what to watch out for. If you have NBCSN you also have the choice of 2 games earlier that morning and two more Sundays starting at 7.30am. These games are all EPL, English Premier League, by general consensus the most intense and watchable. Again, the pregame will help.

    It’s true of life i guess that whatever we do not understand and have not learned about will never grab us but if and when we do then who knows what may happen. Cheers.

  121. A rhyme for Kershaw, as before?? shaw is easy, ker? her maw? nah!

    Keuchel has many, the fun here is to pick the right one for the last two lines to tie things up into something of a story.

  122. Dallas Keuchel
    Always wanted to hit for the cycle
    But after going for the triple
    Paused to admire his past participle

  123. @173 – Thanks for that.

    @174 – My oldest and youngest sons played soccer into high school; it’s about like any other contest – if you care who wins, it can be exciting. The scoring may be low, but my analogy is that it’s full of a bunch of guys getting thrown out trying to stretch doubles into triples. It was exciting until it wasn’t.

    I don’t watch it any more. If there was someone I decided to talk myself into caring about, I could easily watch it though.

  124. @189

    That’s pretty good..the last line, usually the hardest to end with a bang, not so much.Unless i’m missing something.
    It helps to remember that all Clerihews should ideally contain an element of whimsical humor which in most cases is achieved through some form of hyperbole.

    So…a suggestion

    Dallas Keuchel
    always wanted to hit for the cycle
    but en route to his triple
    he had paused to enjoy a much needed tipple.

    Now Kershaw – tough!

    Clayton Kershaw
    can certainly pitch, that’s fer shaw
    sadly, his much exaggerated bunny hop
    he learned on Sesame Street, cannot stop.

    Thanks for your input, keep them coming. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clerihew

  125. Oddly enough I really don’t like hockey. I think it’s my seething anti Canadian bias. Also, while the previous iteration of the thought was ham fisted at best, there’s probably at least a marginally suspect aspect to why the Atlanta/Marietta Braves glom into pretty white frat boys for the marketing push.

    Marginal. I mean, Jason Heyward existed.

  126. That play button on the Youtube ad behind home plate is pretty distracting. Can I get a recliner’s eye?

  127. This is pretty freaking stupid by Dave Roberts. Yes, by all means, take the best pitcher in baseball out when there’s absolutely no sign that you should so that you can feel important about managing or something.

  128. Houston will change the top of their line up tonight, they have to…maybe Gurriel @2, Bregman leading off…Springer is totally psyched. Correa close.

    Taylor we had never heard of till we played them this year. Goofy face, slight build, 447 first pitch. Amazin’

    The Astros could still win this thing. Though they are awful on the road offensively they have to win one of the remaining three games in LA.

    Agree??

  129. Chopcast is doing a series on each position in a “what went right, what went wrong” type of thing. They’ve done 1B and 2B, and they highlighted a few things I thought were interesting:

    -Why couldn’t they trade Matt Adams and Brandon Phillips (earlier)? They say how Jaime Garcia was ultimately traded to NYY and they also traded for Alonso. Why not just trade them both Garcia and Adams? I wonder if Coppy couldn’t get things done with teams.

    -2B defense was pretty bad with Phillips according to DRS. Will our team be better in 2018 simply having better defenders in RF, 2B, and 3B over their 2017 full-timers? Hopefully LF too.

    -They discussed Santana vs. Peterson as a bench players in 2018. Is this really where we’re at in the rebuild? Santana had a 56 OPS+ for Atlanta. It should be very clear that Danny Santana can never have a spot on the Atlanta roster ever again. You traded for him because he had an option. You used it. Cool. Move on.

    I’d love to know what a full year of a bench of Lane Adams, Jace Peterson (second half version), and Johan Camargo could produce vs. the bench for the first half of the year. Am I crazy to think there’s a 3 fWAR swing in the bench?

  130. @200
    It seems there is an unspoken consensus to that effect. Vegas too. Prompted likely by the recent history of the Astros offense away from home. It seems they can’t hit without that rollicking, roaring home crowd around them.

  131. Houston throws Justin Verlander in Game 2 and then back to Houston for 3 games. This is far from over.

    Houston gave up a couple legit but not elite prospects to get him, but that Verlander trade looks pretty good right now.

  132. @203 – precisely. If Verlander goes out and matches Kershaw’s start from last night, carrying the Astros to a 1-1 split leaving LA and going back to Houston, every hot take on the planet changes back to Houston’s favor. Momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher.

  133. Justin Verlander
    is not one to whom we need pander
    with a predominantly gritty complexion
    he scratches each ball ‘spite the threat of ejection.

  134. @200

    Only in hindsight, never while it’s happening.

    Like, if L.A. wins tonight and Houston winds up only winning one game the whole series, you’ll be able to look back and say, “Houston was never in it. It was over after Game 1!”

    But that’s obviously not the type of thing you can tell now. All Houston has to do is win tonight with Justin Verlander on the mound and this series swings into their favor.

  135. Fascinating possible facts:
    Near as I can tell, 0-5 is the worst any franchise has started World Series play. Astros broke a three-way 0-4 tie with the Rockies and Pads, last night.

    The Tigers took the longest to win their first WS game. They started off with a tie in 1906, then lost six straight to the Cubs before finally winning one in 1907.

  136. LA can throw Kershaw three times in the series. They got exactly what they wanted in game 1, a dominate and efficient 83-pitch effort. Houston pretty much has to win every non-Kershaw start. Good luck with that.

  137. Atlanta can throw Maddux three times in the series. They got exactly what they wanted in game 1, a dominate and efficient 83-pitch effort.

    I mean…

  138. @210, Maddux made 3 starts in the same postseason series exactly 0 times. Bobby Cox, master tactician.

  139. I dearly hope this Dodgers bullpen management blows up in their face spectacularly in this series. And I’ll bet you a nickel that Roberts doesn’t throw Kershaw in Game 4, @209. He’s gonna wait until Game 5 and then take him out after he’s thrown 75 pitches in 7 innings again because managing.

  140. Roberts and the Dodgers are the most data-driven-managed team we’ve seen. I can definitely understand rooting for them to fail. Richest and smartest is not a likable combo.

    Dodgers are playing 3D chess and the Braves are eating the checkers.

  141. Wonderful.

    Take your starter out at 60 pitches and set up a magnificent 4 1/2 hour entertainment for the rest of us. Thank you.

    Nick had it right @198.

    What a fabulous game of baseball.

  142. George Springer
    we know now there was no ringer
    famous base stealer Roberts, Dave
    displayed his usual preoccupation with an overmanaged save.

    A little detail we were told early in the game became prophetically relevant. Springer had gone to AJ and asked what he could best do to break out of his awful slump. He was told anything that comes your way, a walk even. Which he duly took as the first batter in the game.

    It makes sense. Do that, leading off, and you’ve put your team on base with no outs, you’ve taken the initiative away from the home team. Swing for the fences, strike out, and you’ve handed it to your opponent.

    That can come later!

  143. My stupid self went to bed before the 9th inning. I missed some of the best few innings of baseball all year.

    I don’t care if the balls are juiced. That’s good baseball.

  144. 226 — me, too. Kicking myself. Went to bed a little earlier under the pretense that I’d go to the gym this morning? pfffft. Didn’t happen. oh well.

  145. I have a hard time keeping up with who here is a stats guy and who, aside from Chief, is a grumpy old guy that hates the kids like I do (but way less originally, because they lack my cleverness and flair for the theatric.) That said, it’s somewhat amusing to me to see a Braves board, populated by a *general* fandom well weaned on hating Bobby Cox for sticking with his starters too long in playoff games, taking aim at the guy that went with the New Statnerd Book approach and pulled Rich Hill Who Sucks The Third Time Through The Order preemptively, before said suckage could manifest.

  146. @229 Such a good point regarding Rich Hill.

    One thing of note that I see with the Dodgers is that they’re not riding their strong rotation into the ground. Apart from Kershaw, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Dodgers went to an all reliever staff before any other team in MLB.

    And I will hate it with the fury of a thousand suns going super nova..

  147. I’m not sure what camp you’d put me in with those two options, but I think there’s a backlash to managers pulling their starters in the 4th inning when you might be able to get them through the 5th or 6th. And in so doing, you open yourself up to a game like last night. I just think you need to get the SP through at least the 5th or 6th, but that has nothing to do with Bobby Cox or Dave Roberts.

  148. An all reliever staff would really be a wild phenomenon. I don’t know if the baseball curmudgeons are ready for that.

  149. It’s an interesting question. The 5th inning line of demarcation is entirely built around “getting the starting pitcher the Win” at the end of the day. The more rational approach, I think, is to have a plan for the pitcher in question and stick with it. If Rich Hill sees the 2017 Houston Astros lineup twice through by the end of the fourth, you’re playing with fire to send him out there to face the top of that order a third time just to “get through the fifth.”

    On the other hand, if he DOES go out and even just get one out and put a guy on 1B, you can then maybe go to directly to your OOGy and try to induce a K or a GIDP, thus saving Maeda for a more highly leveraged inning later in the game.

    But it’s hardly cut and dry. Rich Hill is not Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander. He tends to get hammered the third time through, and Houston has absolutely no shortage of hammers to drop on him if he gets into a situation before the break-in-case-of-glass reliever isn’t quite warmed up yet.

  150. No, the line of demarcation is controlling how many relievers you have to go to to finish a 9 inning game and hedging your risk on extra innings. Nothing to do with the win.

  151. @233

    Well, he took Kershaw out when he was having no trouble whatsoever the other night, too, so it’s not just Rich Hill.

    While I lean more traditional, I don’t mind data-driven management, as long as it’s smart. This is dumb, one-size-fits-all, jam-the-square-peg-into-a-round-hole-with-a-bludgeon data-driven management, though, in my opinion. And yes, he got to Jansen with the lead, which was the point, but he unnecessarily left himself completely exposed on the back end. Once the Dodgers blew the lead, the advantage completely swung into the Astros’ favor. Roberts was left going to his crappiest relief pitchers and, had the game gone another inning or two, he’d have had to blow up his whole rotation for the series and throw Alex Wood, not in the 18th inning or something, but in the 12th.

    If you have to use all your relief pitchers early because of starter ineffectiveness, I get it. You deal with extra innings later, if they happen. And I agree with the general principle of throwing your best relief pitcher in the highest leverage situation or, if you’re on the road, not waiting until you have the lead in the 13th to throw your closer when you need to figure out a way to get through the 10th. But when you take the philosophy to this extent, you’re left burning pitchers for no particular reason and find yourself unable to win a game you should still have a 50-50 shot to win.

    I’m not saying to not have a quick hook with Rich Hill or to leave him out there while he gives up five runs and the game, but waiting until he was at least in a little bit of distress or another couple innings, whichever came first, would’ve been a far more prudent option. Roberts doesn’t seem to have the concept that the longer the starting pitcher can go, the better it is for the Dodgers.

    Add all of that to the fact that I don’t really find baseball games where new relief pitchers are coming in every 10 minutes aesthetically pleasing, and there you go. I will loathe the first team that goes to an all-reliever pitching staff with the fire of a thousand suns. That would make the game unwatchable and won’t be nearly as smart as a bunch of people will think it is.

  152. Their data definitely says that 3rd time through the order is a big deal – the exact inning isn’t important. They do it with all the starters. They won 100+ games and are in the World Series, so I’m not going to criticize them too much.

    Of course it only works because their bullpen is usually lights out. I think they’d probably leave Kershaw in no matter what if next up were Ian Krol and Jim Johnson.

  153. @237

    Who would have thought 3 years ago that we’d be regretting giving Nick Markakis a 4 year deal?! Not me that’s for sure…

  154. @243

    Once again, you really have no idea what the other interest was on Kakes. Maybe somebody got played, but giving a 30-year old Markakis a 4-year deal wasn’t the problem. He’s a 1 WAR player that plays everyday, and provides leadership, which certainly has some monetary value. Are they overpaying a little bit? Probably, but not that much. As for the term, they probably figured he’d remain healthy enough to be able to dump him in year 4, and they’re probably not far off from being able to do that. Maybe they have to eat a million or two.

    And while I made it a pun, it’s really more about getting Acuna in RF. Would a $10.5M Markakis in hopefully the last rebuilding year a terrible thing in LF? It’s not Kakes’ fault they compounded one bad deal by adding Kemp’s even worse deal. Bottom line, though, is one of them needs to go, and I’d imagine it should/has to be Kakes.

    Fun fact: if Camargo had gotten 600 PAs this year and maintained his production, he would have been 11th in fWAR amongst qualifying 3B (Braves 3Bs were 27th in baseball, according to Chop Cast). He’d have been ahead of Machado, Moustakas, and Longoria, all three of which have been lusted over. It’s really crazy how, through really no singular fault, this roster was not able to be utilized properly. Imagine if Camargo adds some SBs and improves in his second year. He’d be the first 3 WAR 3B we’ve had since Chipper’s 2008 season. It’s been that bad.

    600 PAs for Matt Adams? 14th among 1Bs. Ahead of Wil Myers, Gurreal, and Yonder Alonso, who was successfully traded (albeit not for much). For real, trade that guy.

  155. Plenty of us blasted the Markakis deal at the time. It really seemed like a poor use of resources for a rebuilding team. If I recall correctly, myself and others pointed out that Nori Aoki could be had in that same free agent market for half the price and – more importantly – on a one-year deal.

    I don’t think it has really mattered in the long run, since nobody outside of maybe Bowman actually believed the “aiming to compete by 2017” rhetoric coming from the FO.

  156. The Markakis deal never bothered me. Someone has to play RF even on a rebuilding team, and there were no compelling in-house options. Markakis is a solid professional, good clubhouse guy, decent production if below average for a corner OF, plays every day – plenty to like there. Is the deal maybe a year too long? Yea, that’s fair and probably was a fair criticism at the time too, but it’s not my money and I don’t really believe that deal has hamstrung the team in terms of competing.

  157. If we use the “well the team isn’t good so who cares who plays RF” argument, we’ll never be good.

    It does matter who plays LF and RF. A lot. That’s where a lot of your run production should be coming from.

  158. @249 – sure, but the 2015 and 2016 teams clearly were not trying to win, and made no bones about that fact. It’s not that it didn’t matter who played RF – it did matter – those teams needed a halfway competent professional who could generate above replacement-level production. Which is what they got.

    Now that (in theory at least) we’re supposed to be trying to win, then sure, it’s time to move on from the Markakis’s of the world.

  159. Why did they need anyone at all in RF if they weren’t trying to win? I mean you have an infinite number of near-replacement-level options in RF that would have been several times cheaper than Markakis, and you wouldn’t be stuck in a crazy 4 year deal.

    There’s no framework in which his FA signing makes sense, if you care about being competitive. If you are tanking, then save the money. If you are trying to win (lol), then he can’t be on the team.

    If you are intentionally trying to fall somewhere in the middle, then there’s literally no hope at all for the franchise until we get new leadership.

  160. It was a fig leaf move to try and convince folks we were “going to compete” in advance of the new park, and pointed as such by many here at the time.

  161. 1) Opportunity cost of Kakes. What else were you going to spend the money on? You’re pretty much tapped out in the draft and international market, and we were successful one time trying to “buy” a prospect. What do you want, a $40M team payroll but nowhere to spend the rest of money available?

    2) If you employ the “we suck, so why bother?”, then why not take that all over the diamond? We suck, so why bother with Freeman, Teheran, whoever has value? We suck, so why bother?

    3) He’s a good player. He doesn’t fit on a team with no power at CF, SS, 2B, 3B, and C, but he’s a good player. I don’t understand the hate at all. You have to spend on money on the team, and his contract is fair.

  162. I’d have rathered they just wrote off the cost of their bad contracts and maximized the return on the players they traded rather than stick the fans with shit teams with the odd Markakis on it. But that ain’t The Liberty Way.

  163. @254

    You’re assuming you can’t find any players anywhere who can be more of an asset than Markakis at $11 million is. Maybe you go through auditioning players who suck but maybe you find someone actually useful. If you’re committed to finding actual good baseball players and don’t base your strategy around duping fans into thinking the crappy team can be competitive then you never sign someone like Nick Markakis. He should be on some AL team he can be the 4th OF/DH, not playing every day in RF on a team losing 90 every year.

  164. Nick Markakis, horrible, no good, very bad albatross contract that is keeping the Braves down; 2017: 33 years old, .275/.354/.384 (738). Played bad defense in 160 games in RF. 11.5 mil.

    Matt Holliday, primary DH over the course of the season for the mere-outs-away-from-the-World-Series New York Yankees; 2017: 37 years old, .231/.316/.432 (748). Saw 105 games as DH. 13 mil, not counting the 1 mil the Cards spent on his 2017 buyout.

    Neck isn’t a good player any more. He won’t be a good player next year. The Braves need a full time RF who is both better offensively and defensively. But pennant contenders have players like Neck on their rosters every single year. They’re just not asked to be as pivotal to the success of the team as Markakis was in Atlanta. In short, Markakis isn’t really the problem. The lack of talent for him to support is the problem.

  165. AL East Division Champion Boston Red Sox DH Hanley Ramirez, 2017: .242/.320/.429 (750)

    NL East Division Champion Washington Natinals RF Jason Werth, 2017: .226/.322/.393 (715)

  166. @257 Uh…. I agree with you that Markakis isn’t the problem, but you didn’t go where I thought you were going. Markakis isn’t really the problem. The lack of team payroll to add more talent for him to support is the problem.

  167. Yes. The Braves need to stop behaving as if you can win with 11 m per year journeymen being your “big” contracts.

  168. Ah yes…the old denying permission to interview an employee trick. Every now and then, somebody gets defensive and forgets that it’s better for everybody if everybody is given blanket permission to interview your employees. It’s certainly better for the employees, and it’s really better for the teams in the long run. Have some self-confidence that you can keep him if you really want him, Royals…for God’s sake.

  169. 12.10

    Royal entertainment, again. And the good guys won.
    Braves to the fore – Mac with 3 hits, Gattis on base 4 times.
    Sam can relax. JWT swears it’s all coming off after the Series.
    Biggio looks trim and superbly honed. What’s he up to?
    You Darvish yu wouldn’t believe. 1 2/3, 49 pitches. Peacock closed out for the Stros with more than that. No Whirling Dervish tonight.
    Medea pulled off a huge play with the first hitter he faced, Correa. 2 out, 2 on in scoring position. Potential 6 run lead stayed at 4. Not bad when you consider he had to warm up and come on in the second.
    Springer firing on all cylinders again at home. So nearly sealed it with a grand slam.Smile of the night from the pitcher, Stripling-Wow, he said-pure kid’s stuff, lovely.
    Dodgers mustered 4 hits, half from Doc Pederson. Bellinger/Seager 0 for 7.
    John Smoltz. Superb again on the evolving relationship between hitter and pitcher. You learn.

    SO. If the Stros win only one of the next two home gamed the Dodgers will have to take 6 and 7 back to back. Looks good.

  170. ‘undefined’, such a fate
    better not stay up so late.
    corrections made, end when they tell you(5 minutes)
    else ’tis best to learn to spell, you.

  171. I appreciated that Houston went with their gut last night and rode Peacock to the save. A two pitcher victory feels very old school these days.

  172. There’s a World Series game tonight?!? How could I have forgotten? I must have other things on my mind.

    For some reason all my old friends are meeting in Jacksonville today. I wish them well. I’ll stay at home and try to find something to watch until it’s time for baseball.

  173. Gurriel’s overexcited faux pas brings to mind William Styron’s autobiographical reference to when he was an 18 year old Marine recruit on warships in the far reaches of the South Pacific that got only very occasional shore leave. As the date of one of those approached he couldn’t help noticing the increased excitement of the crew and in particular the frequent references heard to ‘sideways nookie’, something he had to have explained to him.

    What a great phrase that is for those politically incorrect,benighted days of war on the high seas. What makes it even funnier is he took it literally until experience proved otherwise. How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm?

  174. Calling Gurriels action an “overexcited faux pas” is vastly understating the case. One of his teammates should have clocked him on the effing spot.

    I am not even going to try and unpack the rest of your comment.

  175. Some of the pundits are recommending what Commissioner Manfred should do, etc. What about Hinch? You let him deal with Gurriel. Sit him down for tonight’s game. Don’t go over the manager’s head like that. Let Hinch and the Astros players work with their teammate.

  176. Nobody’s dead. It was stupid and very offensive, but he apologized, Darvish accepted. It was done in the dugout. Had it been on the field, a far different story. Gurriel was punished and he’ll lose a significant amount of money over it and now has this attached to his name forever. I think we should consider it resolved and move on.

  177. This is just weird. A pitching duel with Wood pitching for LA, Morton pitching for Houston, and Smoltz analyzing them.

  178. Gathering reports from BA and other scouts over the past few weeks from the AFL on Fried and he’s sitting 94-96 with his FB topping out at 98. If this velo stays, Braves really have something!

    Also, if you’re not keeping up with what Braves prospects are doing in the AFL, you should be. Here’s a link to bookmark:
    http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/org.jsp?id=atl

  179. @277, I say it’s sweet for me. Gattis, McCann, Morton, Wood, Cameron Maybin’s Taco Bell commercials, hell, even Chris Woodward. This is the most postseason Braves fun this Braves fan has had in several years…since Ankiel hit that homer in San Francisco, probably.

  180. Walt Weiss back to the Braves could mean Braves Journal is coming full circle.
    I believe this was Macs first post here:

    4/4/98 — Walt Weiss has a pulled hamstring.

  181. If you didn’t click the link @278, Acuna, Alex Jackson and Austin Riley are all tearing the cover off the ball in small sample AFL at bats.

  182. Fried adding velocity and looking dominant in the AFL has got me a little excited. A rotation of Teheran, Folty, Newcomb, Gohara, and Fried has to be the highest ceiling rotation we’ve had since the 90’s. I can’t think of a 00’s or 10’s rotation that has that much talent. They could all be busts or they could all be #2s+. It didn’t seem like Fried was considered to be in the rotation from OD, but if he establishes himself, that also frees up 2018 money to spend elsewhere.

  183. What a game, well worth staying up past my bedtime. I mean, neither pitcher was Alex Wood or Charlie Morton, but dang: get somebody out.

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