Phillies 3, Braves 2, Innings 10

The Braves have only once played opening day game on the road on April Fool’s Day — a 2-1 opening day loss to the Astros in 1997, in which Shane Reynolds outdueled John Smoltz and a Chipper Jones homer plated the only run for the good guys. That team won 101 games and went on to win the World Series when Eric Gregg was sucked into the 9th dimension by a giant wormhole created by Stephen Hawking as a proof of concept just before he (Gregg, not Hawking) was slated to monitor the dish in Game 5 against the Marlins in the NLCS. That sentence shows just how bad I am at April Fool’s stuff, so I’ll stop right now. (It also shows how convoluted my sentences can be before I get into midseason form. But just stop and think how interesting it would have been to have Stephen Hawking as a home plate umpire.)

I live about 3 hours north of Philly, and spring baseball up here is generally pretty miserable weather. Snowstorms in Detroit, and a cancellation in Boston. (The DC cancellation was COVID-related, not weather.) But even where they play, the weather is not good. We used to call Camargo Claude Rains around here, but Pache’s outfit made him actually look like the invisible man. That makes these games a little difficult to use as harbingers. Fried had some uncharacteristic command issues, but that could easily just be the weather. On the other side, a stiff 20 mph breeze to right field turned the normally HR-stupid Citizens Bank Park to a normal park. Dansby and Freddie were robbed, but so was Harper. To be fair, though, robbed in Philadelphia is equivalent to the warning track most places.

The Phillies scratched out a run in the 1st and 3rd, but Fried did a lot of wriggling in the other innings as well. The Braves wouldn’t mount a substantial threat until the 6th, when an Acuña single and an infield error on Freddie put two runners in scoring position with one out. Snuffed out.

Matzek replaced Fried in the bottom of the 6th, wriggling out of some two out difficulty as well. (Given their body types, it’s a lot easier to picture Fried wriggling than Matzek. Melancon, who I don’t miss, wriggles even when he’s pitching well.)

Then came the 7th. An excuse-me double by Pache led to the first pinch hitter of the season: Pablo Sandoval, who would be more likely to stop shipping by falling in the Suez Canal than to wriggle anywhere. He crushed a two-strike fastball on Nola’s last pitch: tie game. Gabe Kapler was never forgiven for removing Nola too early in his first game as Phillies’ manager on opening day 3 years ago. Joe Girardi went one pitch too long.

Minter pitched a perfect 7th. No wriggling required. José Alvarado, who would not fit simultaneously in a hot tub with Pablo, wriggled out of bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning. Gwyneth Paltrow’s ex took the 8th. He did some major wriggling, with the third out recorded on a blistering line drive right at Albies with a runner in scoring position.

The other Grammy-winning reliever struck out the side, including Harper, in the 9th.  Free baseball, with a free runner on 2nd.  Ozzie was thrown out at home trying to score on a potential sac fly, ending the inning.  He oddly delayed on his way down the line, but I don’t think it made any difference, Nate Jones made his Braves debut in the bottom of the 10th.  I’ve never seen him pitch before, and if he doesn’t pitch great, he’s going to make me completely crazy by May. What an odd looking delivery. In any case, a Jean Segura one hopper over Riley’s head ended it.

Nobody played horribly. We hit some balls hard. We got some timely pitching. So it’s just one game, right?

For everyone who thought that there would be no math on opening day, you lose (and not just the game). How important is opening day to your season? One thing you know both the managers will say after the game: “It’s only one game.” The winning manager will add “but it’s always good to get off to a good start” and the losing manager will opine “but I saw some good things out there and we’ve got a long way to go.” Are they right? I took the 50 162-ish game seasons that the Braves have played since 1966, excluding last year and the strike years. I then ran a simple linear regression:

Wins = A + B x Opening_Day_Win

So to predict wins in a season, you start with A wins and then add B more wins if you win on Opening Day. If an opening day win is “just another game,” you’d expect B to equal 1. When we do this, though, we get:

Wins = 79.8 + 7.9 x Opening_Day_Win

So an opening day win is apparently 8 times as important as a random win somewhere else in the season. I did not expect this at all. But then I did the analysis properly, and it turns out that this result is actually total random. April Fools. But when Brian Snitker says that today is just one game, you’ll now know he doesn’t “Trust The Science.”

Tomorrow off so Pablo can eat some cheesesteaks to recover his lost strength from his trot around the bases today. Charlie Morton against Zack Wheeler on Saturday. 161-1 is still a pretty good record.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

70 thoughts on “Phillies 3, Braves 2, Innings 10”

  1. “Pablo Sandoval, who would be more likely to stop shipping by falling in the Suez Canal”

    Damnnnnnn, that’s harsh, lol.
    Some positive signs today even with the L.
    Get em next time.

  2. Max Fried had the 6th hardest hit ball of the day? Who said we should have a DH? Of course, the next few pitchers will probably make us yearn for the DH.

  3. When we were discussing the bench a week or so ago, I was pretty critical that none of pinch hitter options are likely to hit one out. Panda still makes good contact, but without much power.
    As usual, shows what I know. Even with a loss, feels so good to have real baseball back!

  4. Two encouragements to be taken from last night’s loss.

    Acuna’s at bats strongly suggested a more thoughtful and disciplined approach without any loss of the con brio so essential to his magic.

    Pache, late, with runners on, used the wind to take his deep fly ball to the RF corner, ending just a yard foul. With the collapse of Kingery ringing in our ears it was encouraging to see our phenom, thinking, using the elements and almost getting it right.

  5. We could start 0-10 — ok, maybe 0-5 — and I’d still feel great about this team. I hate that we have to open the season in the cold, but whatever.

    I did not know that the musical Chris Martin was married to Gwyneth Paltrow. Thanks Jonathan.

  6. @9 I think Panda’s HR went upper deck! He spanked it good.

    Last night’s game was just one of those unsatisfying contests where your team plays well, deserves to win but loses anyway. It happens a fair amount in baseball, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve done better at accepting that reality (playoffs excluded, those losses hurt no matter what).

  7. Baseball is the only sport where you can really say, “that’s baseball” and it’s not cliche or pithy.

    It’s the nature of the game that teams lose. The Dodgers got smoked yesterday by the terrible Rockies.

  8. @12, 13

    Same here. Feel the same way. And with the advent of stuff like exit velo, you know that the boys hit the ball hard, and they found gloves. That’s baseball. It likely won’t happen tomorrow, and even some 88 mph grounders will grow eyes too.

  9. the winning hit…I couldn’t get it into focus…

    was it a ground ball that bobbled over Riley’s glove as he knelt down for it……

    or hit down hard into the ground and then bounced over him?

    was it then in any way an error?

  10. @15 No error. The batter chopped the ball off the ground and it bounced over Riley’s glove. He was playing in – if back at his regular position he fields that ball easily.

  11. Ke-Boom
    for Pittsburgh did you see how quickly he attacked the gloom?
    showing such excellent taste
    which was roundly rewarded with a propitious paste.

    @16 I thank you. the threat of the steal then.

  12. Reading the Journal for the past couple of weeks, I have gained much knowledge I will never use. Thank you all for surviving the offseason. Especially thank you, Jonathan, for sharing you insights and wisdom. I promise to use nothing I learned today.

    161-1 ain’t bad. Go Braves.

  13. Was the play that was reviewed but called out on Philly a bad call? I had to listen to the Philly Radio feed and one guy complained for innings about it.

  14. 19 – He was probably safe but the replay wasn’t 100% definitive, so they actually ruled correctly in my opinion.

  15. Every replay I saw, Harper looked safe “from me to you,” as Jim Powell might say. There wasn’t a single replay where it even looked plausible that Riley touched him. Pretty clear gift from where I sat.

  16. @18

    welcome back, stranger…I was about to call Doctor Phil…trust all, or most, systems are go.
    Don’t be too nice to Jonathan, he’s rumored to have a ten thousand word recap all ready to go.

    to Jonathan, seriously… had to wonder if you are yet familiar with ITG’S extraordinary series of posts on TC from a couple of days back…what he seems to be trying to do is to take take this whole business of analysis to another level within the confines of one club, the Braves, by which means he produced his new tables/graphs/what needs changing etc to what must be a miserly 50 to 100 hours of hard work most of it in terra nova. I understood some of it but not much which is why I thought you might lap it up and let me know your thoughts. Being unable to compete with you a mano you will understand my need to appear vicariously on these matters. Cheers.

  17. On the replay, I agree with Francoeur. It looked like Riley tagged him, otherwise his glove had a bounce back reaction that couldn’t be explained by science.

  18. I think at some point we may need both Kipnis and Edwards Jr. I’m glad we could stash them.

    By the way, great podcast Ryan and Brent. I didn’t mean to earn a “shout out” with my irrational defense of Lukey Jackson. But I did tell Brent through DM that he would catch these hands if he kept up the Lukey slander. :) I agreed with you most of you guys’ predictions for the PECOTA OPS over/unders. That was fun.

    This is the lamest day of the year, bar none. We waited 5 long months for ball, we get to watch a little bit, and then they go ghost on us for a day.

  19. If there was ever a day to lift the “no politics” rule, is this the best or worst day? All-Star game has been moved out of Atlanta.

  20. Yes, trying to avoid the politics of it all, this just stinks.

    My brother got season tickets this year mainly for the All-Star Game priority tickets.

    Was really looking forward to going to the ASG for the first time.

  21. And with that… my lifetime of following and loving baseball is over. Farewell and godspeed, my friends.

  22. I think the no-politics rule was never more needed.

    The entire Nats-Mets series just got postponed because a bunch of Nats have gotten sick. Stay safe, y’all.

  23. As a non-Georgian, I’m curious, how much will the average person give a hoot about losing the MLB all-star game? Compare that to say, if the SEC were to pull the football conference championship out of Atlanta?

  24. Mac had an elegant solution to this issue — his other blog. Perhaps someone (as in, not me, lol) could set one up and you could tack it on to the blogroll.

    For my part, I’ll just say my own stadium boycott remains in place.

  25. People think I’m wearing a tin foil hat when I say these things, but the US is getting closer and closer to having two countries, and a hypothetical move of the World Series out of Atlanta would be a step in that direction. You just simply can’t have politics being shoved into every fiber of American life with highly divisive outcomes before you declare it a divorce over irreconcilable differences.

    The sanctity of the “no politics” rule being invoked far more frequently than before is another data point of that. You can’t keep having to do that because every time you turn around, politics is being infused into the sport. It’s got to stop, especially since one side of the aisle hasn’t even started doing this to this scale. There’s going to be a messy divorce.

  26. Strange times. Put aside the decision but not the man who announced it. The Manfred was widely derided, here and everywhere, as a nonentity surely incapable of a contentious attack of free thinking such as this.

    So it was the owners then, Liberty and all. Really? In 100 years can you imagine the NFL owners making the same decision re the Superbowl with the appalling Goodell at the helm? Times must be changing?

  27. The All-Star Game is an exhibition put on by the league to market the sport, which makes it an easy thing to move. They’re not going to alter the playoffs.

  28. @32, I don’t live in Atlanta (about 100 miles away), but I imagine the SECCG is more of a big deal for the fans of the teams playing than it is for the residents of Atlanta, while the ASG is a big deal for baseball fans in and near Atlanta. I doubt it would be that much more inconvenient for most Alabama fans to get to Nashville or wherever than to Atlanta, though it would be less/more convenient for individual Alabama fans in Atlanta & Nashville. Also, I assume the economic impact of the SECCG is smaller than that of the multi-day ASG (though both are probably exaggerated by interested parties).

  29. I realize that the kind of statements that appear @36 are common on the internet. But if they become common here I will have to leave.
    Mac was quite wise in instituting the no politics rule for this bar. Let’s honor his memory by strictly adhering to it.

  30. @37

    ‘If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly.’

    Macbeth

  31. Yes, @36 is a direct, partisan discussion of a piece of legislation. That is a clear violation of the no politics role.

    I do agree that the All-Star game was an easy thing to axe, and they wouldn’t do it to the playoffs. Axing an exhibition sounds like a stronger move than it really is. I don’t know if I could’ve even gone, but I was pretty excited about going to the home run derby if fan capacity was gonna be higher by July. I’m told the stuff surrounding the All-Star game is a whole lot of fun, and while I didn’t have tickets, I would’ve definitely liked to have seen Truist Park with All-Star game festivities.

    I don’t see how we can keep doing stuff like this, though, and not just have a culture that fights each other all the time.

  32. Mr. Bill, gotta dial it back, please. I know it is difficult to parse the disappointment with the All-Star game no longer being in Atlanta with the political connotations, and I know that you don’t create that connection, but you can’t have a direct political conversation on this blog. Say that it sucks to lose the All-Star game, and say that it sucks that politics is infused in sports, but don’t go as far as you are going. That’s a rule that has been in place for years, and yes, I’ve broken that rule at times, and I apologize, but you’ve gotta dial it back.

  33. @40 That’s too bad. Everyone has opinions. I tolerate a whole lot of opinions I don’t like and don’t agree with and still manage to smile and go the full distance for those people. I do it because deep down I know there is someone worth liking inside of everyone… Well, almost everyone, but I’ll take being wrong 1 out of 10 times.

  34. Are rebuttals/retorts to @36 and @42 going to be allowed, or will obviously one sided comments be allowed to remain as long as they are appropriately admonished? Obviously admin is free to do as they please, but allowing comments like @36 and @42 to remain sends a message that is, in my opinion, in violation of the spirit of Mac’s no politics rule – a rule which I have been admonished for myself when I used to comment here some 8-10 years ago. I distinctly remember Sam H. and others calling for my head at the time, but I was on the other side of things.

    Times and ownership and etc. have certainly changed, but I do not believe that letting such comments stand is in the spirit of what Mac wanted for this place.

  35. Would the Braves player(s) selected to attend this year’s All-Star game become regional hero if he publicly said “no way” because of today’s move?

  36. We need to bring back Sam just to demonstrate to Mr. Bill how to be an asshole without also being as dumb as a box of rocks.

  37. @49 I actually agree with you on more points than you might think. Doesn’t change the rules.

  38. I’m not bringing in politics but I do want to know if there is any way as fans we can express our disapproval to major league baseball. A fan boycott for me of the asg is a given but I would like to do more. Any ideas? If the commissioner would have chosen to keep the game in Atlanta those against that position could have done the same thing.

  39. Hey crew! I’m the admin and Mr. Bill’s comments are coming down. Y’all, wife is working and we are leaving for vacation tomorrow and I’ve been packing all day and watching kids. Sorry for the delay.

    And Mr. Bill, this is your one and only warning. We stay away from politics, even when it’s close to home. Rob gets some leeway because he’s put his time in as the admin.

    Now, be nice.

  40. @52 I can’t think of anything that would be beneficial to the cause without simultaneously being damaging to the team. The best course of action is to simply write the office of the commissioner. Will he read it? Not likely, but nothing is more powerful than writing an honest letter.

  41. I don’t want to mess up this blog with political discussions, but I do agree that it’s hard to veer from this since it specifically involves the All Star Game, major league baseball, the state of Georgia and Atlanta. I remember Mac used to have a political discussion on another site. I’m sure I disagreed with it a lot, but I didn’t respect him any less and I think it’s cool that he did it.

    Just an idea that you guys may be totally against, but how about one thread outside of the main thread with disclaimers like “this will get political”, “post at your own risk”, … I think we’ve lost the ability to disagree in a rational manner and maybe it would be possible. If it’s a horrible idea, never mind – just a thought.

  42. I’m all for someone opening up a blog that discusses politics. And if it’s someone here that does it, I’ll even link it on the side bar. However, we’ve paid respects to Mac here for years and have kept politics out of the discussion and that will never change as long as I’m here. We will stay true to the original vision and that’s why people come back.

    There’s no animosity or disrespect intended in my words, but the rule is hard and fast.

    And Mr. Bill, you don’t come into a bar and insult its regulars. That’s when you meet Bluto. You won’t like Bluto.

  43. @52

    So, there was this one day something political directly collided with baseball or the Braves or something, and I veered into politics a tick on here, and I got my hand slapped. I think I was running the site at the time. Well, I got all huffy and puffy, and boy was I gonna show YOU people, and I signed up for a WordPress blog to sort of be like Thomason Tracts, the political blog substitute to Braves Journal.

    Well, as with most things, I lacked follow through, never wrote a single post, never sought to bring anyone over from Braves Journal, and spent 89 dadgum dollars on the site registration and fees for absolutely no reason.

    Really, it never got off the ground because I just wasn’t going to commit the time to blog about politics. It would be MUCH better if there was just simply one separate thread on this site where we get to talk these things out. Especially this since it uniquely affects Braves fans, and this is a Braves blog. Rivals has it for my premium membership to their Gators coverage, and it’s great. Everybody gets to talk over there, and you decide to go at your own peril.

    Please, Ryan? C’moooooon, it’ll be fun.

  44. @52 What if it’s simply a Braves Journal page on the side? I don’t wanna drop another 89 bones, man.

  45. Has any consideration been given to just having a board set up where multiple threads can be discussed? You could segregate the social /political issues, minor leagues/prospects, game recaps, feature articles, etc. and people can comment in each as they see fit.

  46. @55
    I appreciate the idea, but that would ruin the spirit of the blog. We might be the only blog holding onto its origin but we are not going to veer.

  47. @Ryan – this thread has become confusing because the deletion of posts has messed up the number references. Is there any way post text can be deleted without altering the numbering (e.g. a number followed by “post deleted by admin” or something)?

    I would personally prefer that baseball be about baseball. Unfortunately, politics and life periodically intervene. Baseball’s eras are marked by the times that politics have entered the fray and kind of makes it more connected to being American. From Landis/Black Sox to WWII to Robinson to Flood/Messersmith/free agency to Marvin Miller/labor strikes to talk of baseball’s legal special status. There’s always been something connecting baseball to what’s going in real life. Politics is as much a part of baseball as baseball is part of America. But it’s nice to be able to get away from it here. I can get plenty of politics in other places but I can really only get Braves-love here.

  48. @52 Thanks, Ryan and thanks everyone for sticking to the no-politics rule. This is one of the reasons that this is such a special place.

  49. @58…

    Incontrovertible. And January 6th was one of them. Landmark moment in this country’s History. Note= saying that takes no side per se, for now at least. At some point it may, the ASG being an early, small but not insignificant example. We all better behave then, it is being required of us. It won’t be easy.

  50. @36
    The NFL has pulled the Super Bowl before. They did it in the early 90s to Phoenix

  51. SB not played before home fans, much less a home-and-home series. You can’t move a portion of a baseball series without fundamentally altering the fairness of the contest. Enough what-ifs, they’re just an excuse to get mad.

  52. Can someone much smarter than I provide some economic analysis? How exactly does this decision “stick it” to the state of Georgia? Because in my limited knowledge of economics, this would seem to have a disparate impact on people working the game and benefit from the game, not the state of Georgia government. And next in terms of significance, I think it would also hurt Liberty Media, which probably has no interest nor involvement in Georgia legislature, though I don’t care if they suffer, per se.

  53. @63, I assume the economic impact is from not getting visits by out-of-staters who would have spent money on hotel rooms, restaurants, and meeting sites. That reduces amount of taxes the city and state governments collect, and to the extent that it hurts the people working the game, it reduces the taxes the city and state collect from them too. There’s a multiplier effect as well, as the people who would’ve worked the game also aren’t spending money that they would have earned, which hurts other Georgia companies and workers and reduces the taxes they pay, etc. It mainly depends on the out-of-state visitors; the economic impact on the state from preventing Atlanta-area fans from seeing the game is pretty minimal, as it’s likely that those fans will spend most of their freed-up money on other local things anyway.

  54. Hey, all. Haven’t posted in a while. Been lurking. You’ll all be glad to know this post isn’t about politics! But I just want to revel in a little Braves fandom for a moment in a place I came to value over the last 15 years or so. I’ve been a Braves fan since Bob Watson hit a game-winning pinch-hit home run off Steve Howe in 1983. I remember running around the house like mad when that happened. I knew right then I was a Braves fan. I watched every single game from 1983-1987, and then from 1991-lord knows when. I guess I kept watching until one day I dropped cable because it got too expensive, and I enjoyed the game just as much in many ways on the radio.

    On April 1, just a couple days ago, I took my girlfriend to a sports bar to experience an opening day with me. We just started dating last fall. One of my first gifts to her was a Braves hat. When she was a little girl, she was adopted into a Braves-loving family. Her adopted dad watched the Braves and taught her how to keep score. She, too, had some great memories built around the Atlanta Braves. Opening Day was a great game even though the Braves lost.

    This blog has been a great place to be, even when tempers get frayed. I’ve enjoyed all the sharing of trivia, knowledge, games updates, in-game excitement, analysis, arguments and even the poetry. I’ve partaken in it all. It’s been a fun ride. Mac made a great house here to augment our love of the game and of the Braves.

    This will be my last post, and Opening Day was my last game. I’ve already told the commish of the fantasy league I’ve been in for almost 20 years to find a replacement for me. I’m giving up baseball. Why? Not that it matters, I guess, to many reading this, but I feel like baseball has given up on me. I’m not going to stick around any further to feel that way about our relationship. Perhaps my loss won’t matter to MLB. Maybe for every one like me, two more new fans will replace me. If that’s what happens, good for MLB. They’ve made the right choice. I’m going to be happy and content with other areas of my life from now on, with what precious time God and fate will allow me for the rest of it. Baseball has been a focal point of my life but now something will replace it, I’m sure, just like MLB will replace me. And so it goes in life.

    Best to you all!

  55. Whatever happens out there, you’re always welcome at this bar, John. I hope you won’t be a stranger.

    New thread.

  56. @63 – I think we err in saying this decision was actually based on “sticking it” to anyone, or actually accomplishing any kind of social/political goal. According to Howard Bryant’s twitter (he of ESPN): “Just got off the phone with MLB/MLBPA sources who all confirmed the same thing: MLB’s decision to move was the result of corporate sponsor pressure. It was NOT the result of a player-threatened boycott. The players did not even vote on the issue.”

    (source: https://twitter.com/hbryant42/status/1378123941835911168)

    So it seems, then, like it was sponsors/Manfred not wanting the negative publicity of having the game & their brands showcased amidst the controversy surrounding the law. You might think it’s silly for that backlash to exist, but it would, and for me to go any further on that point would feel outside the no-politics bounds, so I’ll leave it there. But it seems like, ultimately, a business decision that we are all ascribing a different motivation to. They were going to have some kind of a backlash either way— the backlash of holding the game in this context, or the backlash of moving it. They chose the latter.

    PS. Thank you as always to Ryan C for modding & keeping the place going.

  57. @64 Economically, I don’t see that adds up to anything more than the people working the game and enjoying the ancillary benefits of the game being in the area being hurt more than the government. The person that makes one dollar as a result of the game being in that area is not going to pump one dollar back into taxes and the local economy, so therefore the person working the game is hurt worse by missing that one dollar than the local government and surrounding economy.

    It seems like, from an economics standpoint, they’re punishing a murderer by electrocuting his mother. Will the murderer not like that? Sure, but I think the brunt of the punishment is directed at the wrong person.

    I can conceptualize and appreciate the economics involved when someone harms someone economically because they did something morally or political wrong. This doesn’t seem to be that.

  58. @65

    John R… After reading your great intro it comes as a bit of a surprise to find out you are dumping everything to do with the game, you can understand that. May we know why? If you feel like telling us that is. Cheers.

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