May 13 is the feast day of Julian of Norwich. A contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer, her “Revelations of Divine Love” is the first book known to be written by a woman in the English Language. Her theology is remarkably hopeful and generous in spirit; her vision of all-encompassing love resonates above doctrinal differences, dogmas, or artificial divisions in articulating a vision of God in which everyone is welcome. Her most famous quote is “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
I often use this space to remind everyone that the season is still young, that our Braves are a talented team, that the current run of mediocrity and downright poor play will not last. There is every reason to believe that, ultimately, the team has a good chance to play meaningful baseball in September and October. “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
The most recent game (Friday the 13th of May) offered yet another reason to cast doubt on my faith. In a see/saw game, the Friars topped our Braves 11-6. After taking a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the 6th on a dramatic 3 run homer by Swanson (the ball was crushed, and the sold out house was rocking), the bullpen proceeded to give up 7 runs. Three scored on a home run off Will “Hancock” Smith in the 7th (can I call him that again?) and 4 more scored in the 9th off Strider and O’Day.
Believe it or not, the game for a while was a pitching duel between our own Pontifex Maximus and the Padres’ Yu Darvish. Through four innings, the score was 1-1; each team scored once in the third (the Braves’ run was a solo homer by William Contreras—what a revelation he’s been!). In the 5th, the Padres plated 2 more in a 2 out rally that featured a bloop double that was barely fair and a 2 run ground ball single by Hosmer that found a hole. That pitch was a slider that looked like a pretty good pitch to me. The Braves climbed back within a run on an rbi single by Swanson in the bottom of the 5th,. They wasted a chance to tie the game, however, when Olson struck out with a runner on third and one out, followed by a Riley flyout.
Varsity gave up one more in the 6th, a solo home run by Myers, but escaped further damage by the skin of his teeth. Max wasn’t as sharp as in his previous starts, but to my eyes he didn’t pitch badly at all. Overall, Fried went 6 innings and gave up 4 runs. Most importantly, he was in a position to get the Win, since the Braves rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the 6th. (Since Chip wasn’t announcing this game, someone had to bring that up.)
As noted, however, the Padres promptly retook the lead in the 7th and poured it on in the 9th. Meanwhile, the Braves failed to scratch in their final 3 turns at bat.
It’s hard to fault the offense when you get 6 runs on 12 hits and 4 walks. Although Acuña rested for another day with his sore hamstring, Travis Demeritte was outstanding in the leadoff spot, reaching base 5 times on 3 singles and 2 walks. The bottom of the order (Albies, Duvall, Contreras, and Swanson) once again did its job, as spots 6-9 in the order each had 2 hits, including the dingers by Contreras and Swanson. Unfortunately, spots 2-5 (Olson, Riley, Ozuna, and d’Arnaud) went a combined 1-18. Riley in particular is struggling mightily. He sent 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and left 8 (!!) runners on base.
In any event, you’re not going to win many games when the bullpen gives up 7 runs.
So where does this leave us? I could remind everyone once more that the season is still young and there is a long way yet to go. But perhaps I should turn to another great wordsmith of the English language. On May 13, 1940, in his first speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill said: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering….You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be.”
Dame Julian and Sir Winston would probably remind me that this is just a game. The fate of our immortal souls, or even the survival of democracy and human rights, are not at stake. Nonetheless, I have faith that “All shall be well, All shall be well, and All manner of thing shall be well.” The team can start to vindicate my faith by winning this afternoon behind Charlie Morton against Sean Manaea.