Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
There are few epigrams better known (or if the truth be known, overused, but I ain’t letting that stop me) than this one from George Santayana. As my senescence advances, I recognize the irony that the more of the past you have experienced, the less likely you are to remember it accurately. And I’m perfectly willing to let kids flip bats on my lawn. And I remember Bob Gibson. The lesson that we’re supposed to take away from Gibson is that hitting batters is a lost art. But as Joe Posnanski pointed out two years ago, the use of the hit batsman to intimidate batters is a bit of a myth. That won’t stop people from pretending. As they say in the last scene of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: ‘When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.’ A much less well-known quote from Santayana: “History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.” The Marlins are not recovering a forgotten strategy: they are behaving badly. Hank Aaron had 180 plate appearances against Bob Gibson, more than anybody but Billy Williams. Aaron hit 8 homers off of Gibson. Gibson never hit him. Don Drysdale was even more famous than Gibson for hitting guys: he hit over 50 more in 400 fewer innings pitched. (He led the league in hit batmen five times: Gibson was never close.) Aaron faced Drysdale more than any other pitcher in his career: 249 times. He hit 17 homers off Drysdale. Drysdale never hit him.
But enough of that. Game 2 brought us Screech Anderson against Pablo Lopez, brought to us by Jim Kaat, who I thought was dead for some reason (Honestly. Talk about “kids get off my lawn…” He at one point identified Terry Francona as Tito. I do that all the time) and the very, very chatty Buck Showalter, who I just found out is two months younger than me.
So back to the kids. Let’s start with Locomotive Breath. After all the agita, much of it justified, over the Braves’ starting staff, the appearance of Ian Theodore Anderson on August 26th has changed the discussion from “Ohmigod! Who can start a game other than Fried?” to “Is our third starter really good enough to compete?” That’s a really different discussion. He only made 6 starts, but led the starting staff in ERA and ERA+, both over the outstanding ERA and ERA+ of Fried. After two starts in the playoffs, there is nothing that leads you to think he isn’t the real deal. Nothing. 6 2/3rd IP, 3 hits, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk.
Anderson left with a man on 1st and two outs. Darren O’Day entered with a HBP (which nobody complained about because it was obviously unintentional) and a walk to face Matt Joyce. Matt, still on the Braves payroll apparently, weakly grounded out to first.
Tyler Matzek pitched a clean 7th. Will Smith pitched around a Dansby error to pitch a clean 8th, which included a weird play by Markakis that I don’t want to get into because it interferes with my chosen narrative. But Showalter, his old manager, wouldn’t shut up about it. Melançon pitched the 9th, cleanly.
On the offensive side, homers from Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud (who my wife calls ‘The Duck’ for reasons that are too obscure to go into) provided all the offense. (RAJ’s 4 strikeouts have to be mentioned, I guess.) So, contra Chip, in the playoffs a solo homer is a rally, or what has to pass for one.
In the top of the 5th Anderson got a very generous call on a 3-1 count and eventually struck out Miguel Rojas, who fumed. I realize Rojas was only 8 years old in 1997, but karmic retribution can skip a generation or two. Karma still owes us a lot, though. I remember the past and have no interest in repeating it… unless you mean 1995.