The Streak is Dead! Long Live the Streak! Braves 7, Cards 4

Much like Vladimir and Estragon, we Braves fans have been waiting for something good to happen. And  like Beckett’s famous characters, we had almost resigned ourselves that it probably never will.

But after nearly 3 weeks, we are no longer stuck in an absurdist universe: the peculiar post-ASG streak of never winning or losing consecutive games has come to an end.  And the team is finally back at .500, with a chance to pass that mark for the first time this season tomorrow.

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Over the last couple of months, Drew Smyly has been a winner, because he has demonstrated the most important skill a starting pitcher can possess: excellent run support.  The Braves scored 7 on the night, although Drew wasn’t around to see most of those runs; he left the game after 4 innings trailing 3-1.  Smyly surrendered 4 straight hits in the first, including a 3 run homer by Arenado.  To his credit, Smyly kept the Cards off the board over the next 3 innings. 

J.A. Happ, who had been just about the worst starter in the big leagues this year, baffled the Braves hitters through the first 3 innings.  It sure looked like the post-ASB streak would continue.  But in the 4th, they finally scratched against Happ–a Heredia double drove in Swanson who had singled to cut the lead to 3-1. Then in the 5th, Jorge Soler hit a solo shot to center to make it 3-2.

Let’s now praise Brian Snitker for a couple of excellent decisions in the 5th.  First, he pinch hit for Smyly in the top of the inning, ensuring that he wouldn’t face the top Cards hitters for a third time.  And I’m especially impressed that he chose to replace him with new addition Richard Rodriguez.  Trailing by 1 in the 5th with Goldschmidt and Arenado coming up was a high leverage situation.  I’ll admit it surprised me, because I thought he might think of Rodriguez as “an 8th inning guy” and because Snit has a tendency not to use his best relievers when trailing, even by a run.  Rodriguez came through, getting the Cards in order in the 5th.

Adam Duvall put the Braves on top with a 2 run shot in the 6th (he plated Dansby, who went 4 for 4 on the night and has his average up to .254).  The recently rejuvenated Tyler Matzek held them in the 6th, striking out 2.  Somehow, some way, this much maligned Braves bullpen has become quite solid.  Well, not so fast.  Gwyneth’s ex surrendered a run in the 7th to tie it at 4.  Martin didn’t pitch especially poorly, though.  He gave up a hit, and then Edman stuck his elbow in front of an inside pitch.  Martin still would have gotten out of it, but he allowed a double steal, followed by a sac fly.  On the double steal, Martin never once looked at either baserunner who were both strolling toward the next base while he stared at the catcher.  By the time Vogt received the pitch, there was no point in attempting a throw; both runners were there already.

But Martin’s antics put him in position to be the winning pitcher, proving that this really is a dumb stat (you can shut down the poll, Ryan).  If Martin had held them scoreless, Rodriguez would have gotten the win.  Anyway, Martin got the win because the Braves scored 3 in the 8th, Jackson and Smith held them scoreless in the 8th and 9th, and the Braves won 7-4.

If anyone deserves a Win for this game, it’s Alex Anthopolous.  Six of the 7 runs were driven in by Soler, Duvall, Vogt, and Pederson—all July acquisitions who have greatly strengthened this lineup.  Vogt had a big sac fly in the 8th to give the Braves the lead, and Pederson had a double to drive in 2 insurance runs.

 *    *    *

What an odd streak this has been.  But it’s not the oddest I have witnessed. I was in college in 1974.  Unless you were there, you would not believe how much the streaking craze grabbed the nation’s attention.  From an article in American Heritage Magazine That Streaking Fad | AMERICAN HERITAGE :

“Streaking, or running naked through a public place, began on college campuses in the late fall and winter of 1973…. At the University of Georgia the phenomenon grew and grew until more than fifteen hundred people participated in a mass streak. Students finally had to parachute naked onto the Georgia campus to attract any attention. (Seventy miles west, in Atlanta, after a few people had streaked a city bus, the driver was asked if they were male or female. He replied, ‘I couldn’t tell—they were wearing masks.’)

By March streaking had become a nationwide craze. Time and Newsweek jumped all over the story, grateful (like National Geographic) for any chance to print photographs of bare-breasted women.

The fad reached its peak on April 2, at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.  A naked man ran across the stage as David Niven was reading an introduction. Niven was shaken but recovered his customary urbanity fast enough to quip, ‘Just think, the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off his clothes and showing his shortcomings.’

Dozens of pop songs were rushed out to capitalize on the fad. Most successful was ‘The Streak,’ by Ray Stevens, which stayed on top of Billboard’s pop chart for an improbable three weeks.”

Click on the following at your own risk:  Ray Stevens – “The Streak” (Music Video) – YouTube  One of the strangest songs ever to top the charts, it was one of numerous “comedy” songs from Stevens in his long career. 

Stevens—the self-styled Comedy King of Music City U.S.A–was born and raised in Clarkdale, Ga., in Cobb County, just 15 miles from the site of Truist Park.  I haven’t done exhaustive research on the question, but I’d wager Ray Stevens is the member of the Country Music Hall of Fame (inducted 2019) who was raised in closest proximity to the Braves park.

I was no fan of streaking (the 1974 variety), nor of the Stevens song, and I became very tired of the odd Braves “streak” of mediocrity.

But I’m a big fan of real streaks–I’m all for extending the current Braves winning streak of 2 games.  In Thursday’s game, it’s Toussiant vs. LeBlanc.  Touki will try to put the last ugly start behind him and recapture the magic of his first two starts, while the Cards go with an antique southpaw for the third game in a row.  I like our chances.  Let’s sweep the series tomorrow, win a third consecutive game, and finally breach that elusive .500 barrier. 

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

41 thoughts on “The Streak is Dead! Long Live the Streak! Braves 7, Cards 4”

  1. Break up the Braves!

    Brilliant recap. I had no idea streaking was that prominent here in ’74.

    I agree with AA from the last thread, for about the the first time this season following the team was fun. Now let it continue.

  2. Tonight is the night we overcome the glass ceiling. So much was different last night from the pattern. No hibernation mode. Did not score first but came back to win. Late inning runs. Good relief pitching while both losing and winning (5 innings, 1 run). Duvall was the only new acquisition that hadn’t contributed and he hit the go ahead 2-run HR. A key pinch hit. We scored RISP with less than 2 out.
    Luck was on our side. Everything that had been bad was good last night. It’s a sign.

  3. Kudos.

    April 1, April 11, April 29, May 11, May 26, June 9, July 11. 7 chances to cross the threshold. 7 losses. I’ll do my best.

  4. And it’s such a short step from there to winning the World Series. When Chief believes, we all believe.

  5. One of the endearing things about Braves Journal is how fast we all can go from dooooom! to hooooope!. (also from hooooope! to dooooom!, but that’s less endearing.)

  6. I didn’t know that the 1974 streaking was a thing. Boomers can be some really strange people. (Present company notwithstanding.)

  7. @11, absolutely true. However, between adding Vogt, Pederson, Soler, Rosario, and Rodriguez, and jettisoning Sandoval and Inciarte, I’d bet the team netted an improvement of 2-3 wins over the final 2.5 months of the season. In other words, that’s like the difference between finishing 81-81 and finishing 86-76.

    In this division, that’s pretty much the distance between the ceiling and the cellar. So while I think dooooomed was warranted before, a bit of reevaluation would be within reason now.

  8. Following up on our discussion of Riley’s poor performance in high-leverage situations so far this year, FanGraphs has an article (about Seattle) that includes graphs that show that in low-leverage situations this year, Braves hitters have MLB’s 12th best wRC+, in medium-leverage situations they are 17th, and in high-leverage situations they are 23rd. Guess that tracks with having a +56 run differential and a .500 record.

  9. An interesting thing about the alternating W/L streak is that it’s only temporary due to the San Diego game that will be continued on 9/24 and slotted back into the original date of 7/27. Win or lose, something will happen back to back and the streak will be erased from the record books.

  10. @16, you mean, the streak will be erased from the record books until we invent time travel, travel back before the beginning of the season, and repeal the game suspension rule, meaning that the suspended 7/27 game would no longer be played to completion, keeping the streak unbroken on a future alternate timeline.

  11. Yup, I remember when streaking was indeed a thing, a bawdier version of old-school fads like eating goldfish (’20s) or filling telephone booths (’50s).

    I’m just glad that the 2 guys who ran out onto the field to bother Henry Aaron on his 715th HR were wearing clothes because that event happened right at the height of that phenomenon — naked people were kinda running around everywhere for a short while. Strange, but true.

    And… who knew that we’d be relatively content to be staring at 1 game over .500 on Aug. 5? Again… strange, but true.

    But yeah… might as well win this damn thing… take a shot at the tournament & fly one more flag, if nothing else.

    Hey, maybe the ’21 Braves can be like the ’73 Mets.

  12. The streakless streak will not exist officially, but we’ll know.
    We’ll know who was the most five-hundredy of all.

  13. What could be more fitting for such a streak than to first set and then lose the record in quick succession? Riding that very predictable roller coaster proved to be one of the more entertaining things about the season, at least.

    edit: Awesomely entertaining recap, as so many have been. Way higher quality than the all-time record-setting kings of mediocrity deserve.

  14. Great job tfloyd as always.

    On Ray Stevens, he actually spent roughly his teen years and early 20’s in Albany Georgia. I knew an older man who ahs died that remembers Ray being around his kids ages and coming into his house and hearing Ray play the piano absolutely spectacularly.

    The 1974 UGA Streak was recognized as a Guinness Book of World Records largest number of participants at one time. My law School alma mater was also in the rough period of 1968 to 1985 a frequently recognized best party school by Playboy (and was excluded from rankings a few times because Playboy’s editor thought it unfair to rank professionals with amateurs). Also, a pretty amazing music town that created in effect another “school of rock” and also had good country artists (T. Graham Brown was in town a lot then) and old 60’s acts that featured “beach music” like Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs and The Swingin’ Medallions. Also, I remember the Voltage Brothers (a great Earth, Wind and Fire style band). And Chuck Leavell (in C, or was it Sea, Level) was in town probably every other week. That also was an era led by what may have been the “Greatest Bar Ever” in O’Malley’s which, quite sadly, no longer exists. So, I am sure that some of the bicoastal industry friends of ububba don’t get how he could be so connected to the music scene, but Athens at his time was an awfully interesting place.

    By 1974, however, it was no longer possible to drive a motorcycle over the Coliseum, so that will totally have to be a 60’s experience. When I toured the College Football Hall of Fame in September of 2020, I asked the guide if Jake Scott’s greatest athletic feat was on his electronic “feature page.” The guide said “I’m sure it is.” After he pulled it up I had to explain to him that no, the feat was not in the list, driving over the Coliseum on a motorcycle.

  15. I like the 1973 Mets as a comp. Won only 82 games but came within a game of winning the World Series.

    I like the 2006 Cardinals even better (as a comp, I mean; I’ll never like the Cards as a team). They won just 83 and actually won the Series in five games. And that took an extra round of playoffs than those Mets had.

    See, anything is possible. Not likely, but possible.

  16. Thanks, Cliff, for the memories of incredible years in Athens. I wasn’t there for the Jake Scott years (he was remarkable). But I was working there in the early 80’s for those football glory days. The team only lost two regular season games over a four year stretch.

    As a young father, I wasn’t really into the admittedly great bar/music scene, but I did get to know the guys in and around REM a little. It was great fun to watch their rise from obscurity to biggest band in the USA in a few short years.

  17. @24: The 2006 Cardinals will feature prominently in tonight’s recap. Great minds….

    @19: Those two idiots who ran on the field to congratulate Aaron were sitting next to me. We were on the front row down the first base line. As we were standing and cheering, I suddenly noticed that the two guys next to me were tearing across the field. Given the temperature that night, there was no way they’d be streaking.

  18. Hear hear — or Ububba!

    @26, WAIT WHAT?

    Did you talk to ’em? Were they louts?

  19. #24
    And everybody left after the HR b/c it was so cold, right?

    #22
    Yeah, people forget that there was music in Athens before The B-52’s got started… a lot of it, from what I understand, was beach music played at O’Malley’s, and some of that was going on in my first couple years at UGA. My freshman year in the dorm, I remember lotsa guys in checkered shorts doing those “drink-&-drown” nights at O’Malley’s (pretty sure those promotions are illegal now).

    And T. Graham Brown was still doing his thing when I got to Athens (1981), but he called it T. Graham Brown’s Rack of Spam (a soul band, not country).

    And speaking of worst-best/best-worst teams… in 1985, the Twins only won 85 games & won the WS.

    But any club that wins the NL East this year is gonna look at ’85, ’06 & ’73 as precedents b/c they’ll be big underdogs the entire post-season.

    The ’85 Twins had 2 top-flight starters & upset a very good Tigers team that year. That ’06 Cardinals team knocked off a much-better Mets club in a 7-game NLCS, just like the ’73 Mets (with Seaver) beat a much-much-much better Reds team (3 games to 2).

    What’s really kinda weird is that, of all the LaRussa-era Cardinals, his 2 title teams (2006 & 2011) were really not anywhere near his best post-season clubs. His very best clubs (in Chi, Oak or StL) just never seemed to win their last game. In fact, the best regular-season club he ever had (105 wins in ’04) got swept in the WS.

    So… just get in & see what happens.

    At least (for today anyway), I’m sort of believing that we will be playing meaningful baseball to the last week.

  20. Given the Mets current trajectory, it may be a race between the Braves and Phillies at the end of the year.

  21. I don’t know if it’s dooooooomed to hooooope. It’s “we were an extremely mediocre team” to “we are a slightly above average team that’s capable of winning the worst division in baseball”. Winning this division, to me, means nothing. It’ll be great to watch meaningful baseball into October, but we haven’t won the World Series since 1995, and this isn’t going to be the year to snap the streak. I hope I don’t fall victim to hoooooooope if we, say, get up 2 games to 1 in the Division Series.

  22. @31 so far, every year since the rebuild, the Phillies are supposed to be the most competitive team and they fold like napkins every September.

  23. Braves could be one game over .500 by the end of the day and only 1.5 games out of first. What a world.

  24. Shame about those mets. Just a casual look at standings to see that biggest win streak in division so far has been 7 games (IWOTM, though). I figure an 8-12 game win streak (or corresponding losing streak) will make any team in the division the winner. Hope it’s the Braves (and a win streak)!

  25. Since 1962, the Mets’ creative capacity to find new ways to lose is utterly unsurpassed. Across the generations, ancient memories will fade as the pyramids crumble into sand, and the Mets will remain the great constant in human endeavor, building a bridge that spans across time. Billions of years from now, when we have evolved into beings of pure light, the only thing that will keep us grounded to our terrestrial past will be the Mets, somehow, losing, again.

    Bless them.

  26. J. R. Richard’s four years from 76 through 79 were superb. Bench and Murphy said he was the toughest they faced. Some called hin Jerry Lee, because he was a stone cold killer on the mound. Batters taking hit by pitch with all the armor they wear would regret doing so.
    Are the Metropolitans spitting the bit?
    Gee three in a row would be joyous for many.

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