Momentum and Football: Braves 13, the Less Athletics 2

My vacation / convention disconnect began on last Thursday and ended around 2:30 yesterday. Hmm? So, Braves won for me last Wednesday, then have won every game played since.

The score is a true possible football score. This is like a late 60’s SEC clash between a pretty good team and a not too good (but not awful) team. A touchdown, extra point, and 2 field goals. Then, running the punter out of bounds in the end zone with a minute left to give the defense some depth (because almost no SEC team could score without running the ball and churning clock).

What about what ACTUALLY happened? the first 3 innings were some combination of good pitching, good defense, bad hitting, and bad baserunning. One Brave caught stealing and one Unathletic. How often in the “modern game” do we see that? Even see 2 attempts in a game? But it was zero to zero.

Well, Cousin Ian wobbled in the 4th. Gave up some well hit balls, made a run scoring wild pitch. Two total runs scored. BUT, he got out of that and got through 6 with no more scoring and in fairly good order. When he finished he had given up 6 hits and 2 walks (WHIP 1.33) and got 5 strikeouts (K / 9: 7.5). So a workmanlike number 3 or 4 start for a division contending club. One run better than a “minimal quality start.” That will do except when the offense is in the pits.

Well, the offense got out of the pit in the 4th inning with an eventual Ozzie sacrifice fly getting one back.

Then, in inning 5, it continued. When you start out “walk, double, triple” that is usually good, and it was. The triple was by our “gift from Grissom” otherwise known as Michael Harris, II and it put the Braves on top 3 to 2. From above, you can count and tell that that was in the old vernacular “the game winning rbi.” Before the end of the inning, Riley did that thing he does where he hits the ball a long way in fair territory and gets people excited. 5 to 2 Braves.

In inning 6, Contreras did that thing he does that is kind of like that Riley thing. 6 o 2. Chavez got a perfect inning in 7.

In inning 7, the Braves, to quote Bum Phillips, “kicked the g d door in.” Also, they scored the touchdown and kicked the extra point. I think at that point win probability was 99.9%.

Jim West gave up 1 hit and no runs in inning 8 and Jesus Cruz gave up one hit but got a K in inning 9. I didn’t remember we HAD a “Jesus Cruz.” And, on ESPN”s site, I couldn’t find how he landed in ATL. The mlb .com showed he was cut by Cardinals at end of spring training, was signed as a minor league FA by ATL and sent t0 the Stripers, then called up. If the question was “Who knew?” the answer was “not Cliff.”

Thanks, Ryan for keeping the site going. You have a servant’s heart and it shows. Some of us technical semi – literates can’t really make the bit and byte stuff work, but we will try to help in other ways.

Mets’ lead down to 7 games with their loss last night. I can’t help but visualize a cartoon by Sam C. Rawls, byline Scrawls, in the AJC about September 1, 1993 which showed a side view of a driver in a car. The driver appeared to be Barry Bonds. The earring was a question mark. The side mirror had a caption “Objects in mirror could be closer than they appear.” And, a tomahawk was split into the top of that mirror. Maybe we will get to see that again. Only time will say.

24 thoughts on “Momentum and Football: Braves 13, the Less Athletics 2”

  1. Nice.

    So apparently Soroka is already down at the spring training site. So I would think you’d start pitching in games in the next couple weeks and then who knows from there. But… it’s still happening. Exciting.

  2. A lot is being said about Michael Harris’ personality and makeup, and yeah, I think this guy is going to be a star. You don’t get that good tracking line drives off the bat without having a huge passion for defense. Chicks dig the long ball, and everybody wants to be an elite hitter, but it’s obvious to me that Michael Harris has put in some serious work on that extremely valuable skill.

    When I played, I had a passion for taking flyball fungos. That was extra conditioning, and I loved learning how to read the ball off the bat like it was second nature. Probably because it was one of the few skills I had as a ball player, but I loved it. I have a feeling that Harris is that way.

  3. Jim West is Weird Al Yankovic’s guitarist, I think.

    Also, great recap, Cliff!

  4. The Padres were our friends this week — let’s hope the Halos wake from their Rip Van Winkle routine by the weekend. Would love to pick up some more ground by close of business Sunday night. For now, just wanna make the Flushing Faithful stew a bit. It usually doesn’t take much before they think they see the sky falling. Gotta beat up on the Bucs, though…

    Cliff,
    Re: SEC football from the ’60s

    My high-school coach, who played OT for Bama in the mid-’60s, used to proudly call such primitive offensive strategies: “Here-we-damn-come football…”

    To him, the game was a grinding test of will & masculinity, and the forward pass was for emergency use only.

    So, yeah, that’s exactly how you get 13-2 football games.

  5. Ryan does have a servant’s heart. Great compliment, Cliff, as well as a great recap.

    I have that cartoon somewhere. Thanks to you, Cliff, I now must find it, a categorical imperative. Thanks.

    Keep streaking, Braves.

  6. My favorite example of grind it out football was the 1st college game I ever attended as a grade schooler in 1974. Bama was supposed to kill Florida State (pre Bobby Bowden) but their starting qb, Richard Todd, was hurt and they struggled big time on offense. FSU was winning the entire game but intentionally took the safety to keep from punting in their endzone to make the score 7 to 5 with about 90 seconds on the clock. Bama got a good kick return and kicked a field goal with 30 seconds left to win 8 to 7. Fortunately the safety didn’t hurt Atlanta last night.

  7. @6

    With today’s offenses, the chance of seeing anyone take a safety in a similar situation today is precisely zero.

  8. Fried, Strider & Wright to start out this series… I’ll remain optimistic.

    Some stats going into the Pirates series:

    ERA in NL:
    Braves #5: 3.78 (just ahead of the Mets)
    Pirates #11: 4.39

    Most HRs Given Up in NL:
    Braves #15: 44 (i.e., fewest)
    Pirates #10: 53

    Avg in NL:
    Braves #8: .244
    Pirates #14: .224

    HRs in NL:
    Braves #1: 76
    Pirates #14: 47

    Runs in NL:
    Braves #6: 259
    Pirates #15: 189

    OBP in NL:
    Braves #11: .310
    Pirates #15: .296 (ahem)

    OPS in NL:
    Braves #3: .737
    Pirates #15: .653 (ouch)

    So, 35% of the season in, the Braves have hit the most HRs (76) & have given up the least (44), and looking at how we match up w/ offensively challenged Pittsburgh… we should really win this series.

    #7
    Right, it would have to be the very last play of the game… just have the punter take the snap, run to the corner of the end zone & stand there as the clock runs down.

    #6
    It wasn’t on TV, but I actually remember my Pop Warner coaches talking about that weird game. Somewhat similar to now, if Bama (btw ’71-’81, say) ever even had a close regular-season game, it was news.

  9. Here is my best memory of 1960’s SEC football. The first college game I ever attended was the UT Vols visiting Grant Field to play the Yellow Jackets. Both teams were ranked in the top 10 nationally. I believe it was on national TV, something of a rarity then. This was legendary Coach Dodd’s last season, and the Jackets were undefeated. The Jackets came out on top 6-3, on two field goals by Bunky Henry. Ga Tech remained undefeated until they played UGA in the final game.
    It was such a different game back then. Coach Dodd loved a defensive struggle; he was famous for punting on third down. Of course, strict segregation meant that the actual talent level was not nearly as high as it should have been.
    A few names that a handful of you will remember from the game: For GA Tech–at QB, the young lefthander, Kim King; top running back Lenny Snow; and receiver Craig Baynham. For the Vols I remember Dewey Swam Rat Warren; Richmond Flowers, Jr.; and punter Ron Widby.

  10. By the way, Ga Tech had left the SEC by 1966 and played as an independent. But the rivalry between the Jackets and the Vols continued; they played each other regularly into the 80’s.

  11. Of course, even in that era there were outliers. I was too young to remember, but a lot of people talked about the 1969 game between Alabama and Ole Miss. Alabama won 33 to 32. For Alabama Scott Hunter completed 22 of 29 passes for 300 yards, while Archie Manning was 33 of 52 for 436 yards and ran for 104 more.

  12. Oh, Tech retained some serious rivalries after they left the SEC… Bama, Auburn, UT and, of course, UGA. And Tech would always play Bama in B’ham, never Tuscaloosa…

    And there was a time when Bama played in Grant Field in the mid-’60s when Bryant had to wear a helmet going onto the field b/c Tech fans would throw empty booze bottles at him.

    My first college game was in 1974 at the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (aka the Div. III championship game) in Phenix City, Ala… Central of Iowa beat Ithaca, 10-8… and yes, there was a safety, IIRC.

    First SEC game: Jr. year in HS for me, 1979 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn beat Florida, 19-13. All I remember was Auburn intercepting a pass at the end to hang onto the win. (The Charley Pell-led Gators, btw, were winless that year.)

    Went back to The Plains the very next week & saw Auburn beat Miss. St. 14-3. I just remember a close defensive struggle that got broken open in the end by a super-long TD run by James Brooks… and then we went to some frat parties, looking for kegs, pretending to be Columbus College students.

  13. @5 I did a quick Google search and couldn’t find that comic, but I remember it vividly!

    I was born in PGH, but my loyalty is clear this weekend. I still hold out hope that MLB returns to Pittsburgh some day. Go Braves!

  14. @2,

    The other thing Harris had was Marquis Grissom as a teacher. I always considered him the most fundamentally sound outfielder I ever saw. He said he was not good when he got to major league camp. I know a great old timer drilled him on getting to the ball quickly and settling under it (etc.). For some reason I think it was Lee May. But, it always showed.

  15. At the game tonight, and I’ve seen my first Tyler Neslony jersey. It’s gonna be a good night.

  16. Brubaker has settled down for Pittsburgh. Going to need Fried to keep throwing zeroes up.

  17. Angel Hernandez evidently lives in a different reality or universe where he is actually a good umpire.

    Will Smith is our worst reliever and of course he’s going to be pitching in a high leverage spot next inning.

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