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Friday, October 11, 2019

Braves loss vs. Dodgers loss: which was worse?

The Braves got shellacked in the first inning last night and lost. The Dodgers took a lead late into the game only to see their manager’s choices and their relief pitchers woof it, sending them to defeat as well.

Which was worse?

Both modes of defeat bring with it a certain form of misery.

For my part I sat, as a Braves fan, and watched my team cough up ten runs in the first inning, secure in the dreadful knowledge that the game was already lost. Most people could just turn it off, I suppose, but I felt it necessary both out of professional obligation and out of a certain sense of, I dunno, mourning, that I had to keep the game on for the next three hours. Because I’m also perpetually online it led to a rather extreme sort of nastiness on Twitter and in comment sections with recriminations, complaining and all other manner of ugliness being hurled about. It was a pretty dreadful experience.

 

 

QLE Posted: October 11, 2019 at 12:24 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, dodgers, the agony of defeat

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Misery Index: Play-by-Play Breakdown of Braves’ Brutal First Inning in NLDS Game 5

Every baseball disaster has its own particular terroir. But, generally, they fall into one of two genres. There is the sudden individual moment: the walk-off, the disastrous error, the grand slam. This draws a clear line in a game of before and after; it is one instance of sensational pain, so that the entire endeavor implodes, and then it is over. There is no space for bargaining or strategizing or rationalizing. It is one play that remakes the game in its likeness. And then there is the slow decline: the frame that holds a thousand deaths, and so, too, a thousand missed chances to live. This one unravels gradually and then suddenly and, always, painfully. This one is the first inning of Game 5 between the Braves and the Cardinals.

It was historic (10 runs, the most ever scored in the first inning in the postseason), a little bizarre (10 runs without one home run!) and, ultimately, the foundation for a contest that was totally anticlimactic (St. Louis went on to win, 13-1). There was no one moment when this got out of hand. There was, maybe, only the moment when it transitioned from ordinary disaster to full-on caricature. So here are all of those moments, presented in chronological order by batter, rated by their misery.

No. 1, Dexter Fowler: Walk

This, on its face, is not so bad. This was but one base-runner. It was unremarkable, neither a four-pitch disaster nor an extended battle. Yet—it was a leadoff walk, in an elimination game, and, well, there’s inherent misery to that. Just a little! It’s irrational, concerned more with the shifty pressure of a bad omen than the particular realities of run expectancy, but, all the same, in however small a sense, it’s miserable.

Misery Rating: 3

Anatomy of a Disaster

 

QLE Posted: October 10, 2019 at 12:51 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, cardinals, nlds

Braves’ [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs, either

The Athletics have been something of a punching bag over the years because executive vice president and president of baseball operations Billy Beane was famously quoted in Moneyball saying, “My [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is […] luck.”

Since 2000, the A’s have reached the playoffs 10 times. They have advanced into the ALCS just once, in 2006, when they were swept out by the Tigers. They’re 1-6 in the Division Series and 0-3 in the AL Wild Card game, accounting for their last three playoff losses (2014, ’18-19). To call their performance in the playoffs disappointing would be an understatement.

The A’s, however, are not the only team whose [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. The Twins, who were just swept out of the ALDS by the Yankees, haven’t reached the ALCS since 2002. They have failed in their last six appearances in the ALDS — mostly against the Yankees — and lost the AL Wild Card game in 2017 as well (to the Yankees).

A consideration of losing streaks in the playoffs, albeit one that has gone out of date since between when I found it and when I posted it…..

QLE Posted: October 10, 2019 at 12:44 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, braves, nationals, playoff streak, playoffs, the agony of defeat, twins

Friday, October 04, 2019

Two Playoff Teams, Two New Stadiums and One Great Divide

Two maps tell the story.

First, John Schuerholz stared into a camera and stunned a city. Unflinching, the Braves’ GM turned president, whose teams had won 14 straight division titles, explained to Atlanta baseball fans on Nov. 11, 2013, that the club was abandoning the area just south of downtown, its home since 1966. No longer would the Braves play at Turner Field, where skyscrapers looming over left center made it feel as if the entire city was watching. Instead, the franchise would build a stadium 14 miles north, in Cobb County. “This new ballpark,” Schuerholz said of what would come to be called SunTrust Park, “will be in the heart of Braves Country.”

Accompanying the announcement, the team released a map showing where, precisely, Braves Country was—and, notably, where it wasn’t. That view of the greater Atlanta area was speckled with red dots, each one indicating the home of a 2012 ticket buyer, including season-ticket holders. Only a smattering of red appeared to the east, west and south of Turner Field, while thousands of dots congealed into a ribbon above downtown that expanded into a wide swath in the half-dozen suburban and exurban counties to the north. The new stadium would be closer to the middle of that mass, which happened to embody an older, whiter and more conservative population than the city proper. Those northern suburbs were fast diversifying, yet many in Atlanta—particularly in its black population—felt slighted by the decision, their perspectives colored by decades of racial and political tension between city and sprawl.

Five months later MLS commissioner Don Garber, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and then-mayor Kasim Reed proclaimed in their own press conference that downtown Atlanta would be home to MLS’s 22nd franchise, and the new club, Atlanta United, would take the pitch in 2017, the same year the Braves headed to Cobb. The soccer team would play in the same new $1.6 billion stadium the Falcons would soon call home, but United would be no afterthought. The facility would be designed to accommodate the beautiful game from the start. Pushing back against skepticism and pointing to an influx of young professionals near Atlanta’s urban core, Blank assured MLS’s leaders he could fill the massive venue, even in a market known for lukewarm enthusiasm toward pro sports. Reed boasted that his city’s foreign-born (and, seemingly implied, soccer-loving) population was growing at the second-fastest rate in the U.S. Garber himself insisted these factors combined to make downtown an ideal MLS incubator. The city “embodies what we call a ‘new America,’” he said, “an America that’s blossoming with ethnic diversity.”

A consideration of sport and space- of interest for those who wish for a long-form read.

 

 

QLE Posted: October 04, 2019 at 12:21 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, soccer, stadiums, suntrust park

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Braves Have What It Takes for a Surprising World Series Run

The Braves were the National League’s premier franchise in the 1990s, ripping off 14 consecutive NL East titles from 1991-2005. Are we at the doorstep of a new golden age of baseball in Atlanta? It may be a bit premature to even raise such a question, though after winning the NL East in 2018 and 2019, the infrastructure for sustained success is in place. So allow us to hopscotch ahead to a bigger question: Could the Braves win it all ... this year?

There’s a case to be made, and we’re here to lay out the blueprint.

Dominant Top Four

It’s hard to find a NL team with a better top four in the lineup than Atlanta. The Braves scored a run in 35.7% of first innings this season, second in all of baseball. Their leadoff hitter is largely to thank. Ronald Acuna Jr. enters the season’s final week leading the NL in runs and stolen bases, three steals away from becoming the fifth 40-40 club member in MLB history. He’s one of three players to hit 40 homers in a season before turning 22. Only seven players under 22 have scored more runs in a single season. Acuna is perhaps the most valuable asset in the National League. One hot month could swing the postseason.

Mind you, with baseball being baseball and playoffs being the playoffs, it could end like five of their last six NL East titles did in that streak….

 

QLE Posted: September 25, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, playoffs, world series

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Braves’ postseason goals grow after another division title

ATLANTA (AP) — One year ago, just winning the NL East was enough for the rebuilding Atlanta Braves.

Now manager Brian Snitiker and general manager Alex Anthopoulos expect more.

Even as players celebrated their second straight division title with beer and bubbly on Friday night, focus shifted.

“Our first goal was to win the East and we did, and I think now that’s not good enough,” Snitker said Saturday. “I think our guys know they’re capable of a lot more than that. The goal now is the big prize. We feel like we have a team that can do that. We are deep enough, strong enough. I think that is a realistic goal, not just to want to get in but to win the whole thing.”

Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz probably would have something to say about that expectation being realistic….

 

QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:39 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, playoffs

Friday, September 20, 2019

Random notes: Dansby Swanson, so-so shortstop

We say yet again: He’s 25, and he has been unlucky with injuries. Swanson has proved he can hold a job as the shortstop – a key position – on a first-place team. He’s not the worst thing about the Braves. He’s not the best, either. He’s just OK.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 20, 2019 at 09:45 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, dansby swanson, the athletic

LEADING OFF: Braves set to clinch, Red Sox near elimination

POPPIN’

Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Braves are poised to break out the bubbly, with a magic number of one to clinch their second straight NL East title. They can celebrate when Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 4.80 ERA) starts at SunTrust Park against San Francisco. A win by Atlanta or a loss by second-place Washington at Miami will seal it.

At 21, Acuña will be able to take part in a champagne toast. The star outfielder with 40 home runs wasn’t yet of legal age when the Braves won the division a year ago.

“They wouldn’t let me drink because I was a minor,” Acuña recalled, breaking into a big smile. “This year, it’s going to be different. I’m looking forward to it.”

 

QLE Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:25 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, jose ramirez, lorenzo cain, pennant race, red sox

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Braves clinch playoff spot behind Acuña Jr.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Atlanta Braves celebrated another playoff berth with heavy hearts.

Ronald Acuña Jr. ignited the decisive four-run rally with the go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning, as the NL East leading Braves wrapped up a playoff berth with a 10-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday. The victory also eliminated the Phillies from winning the NL East.

But there was no celebrating in the postgame clubhouse, as the team remained concerned about utility man Charlie Culberson, who was struck directly on the right cheekbone by a 91 mph fastball in the seventh on the first pitch by Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney.

“He was good when he went to the hospital. I mean, he was alert and all of that stuff,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said of Culberson, who was pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz with two on and no out in the seventh of a 1-1 game.

 

 

QLE Posted: September 15, 2019 at 12:16 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, charlie culberson, pennant race

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

LEADING OFF: Astros romping, Trout out, long games

CLOCKED

Big league bullpens are full this month, boosted by September call-ups, and a plethora of pitching changes is contributing to longer and longer games.

The Brewers beat Miami 8-3 Monday night in a matchup that took 4 hours, 8 minutes. The game featured 15 pitchers who combined for 14 walks.

On Sunday, the Phillies topped the Mets 10-7 in 4:29 — one minute from matching the longest nine-inning NL game. Each team used eight pitchers and the clubs used up all 16 dozen baseballs that were prepped pregame, forcing another couple dozen to be rubbed up and put in play.

On the one hand, this is the last season for the traditional system of September call-ups- on the other hand, given the general trajectory with both pace-of-play and pitcher usage, I’m not sure that will solve anything…..

QLE Posted: September 10, 2019 at 01:57 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, braves, mike trout, pace of play

Sunday, September 08, 2019

LEADING OFF: Braves streaking, Harper hurting, Arizona rolls

HOME OF THE BRAVES

Josh Donaldson and the Atlanta Braves have won nine in a row, their best string since 2014. The NL East leaders also have taken 13 straight at SunTrust Park.

Donaldson hit his 36th home run in a 5-4 win over Washington on Saturday night. He has 28 homers since June 11. The Nationals have lost four in a row and lead the NL wild-card race by two games over the Cubs.

Nationals ace Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.60 ERA) tries to end Atlanta’s streaks. He makes his fourth straight start since returning from back trouble — the three-time Cy Young Award winner has no decisions and a 4.66 ERA in his last four outings.

Well, here’s as good a place as any to discuss the current shape of the playoff hunt- how do we expect it will shake out?

QLE Posted: September 08, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, bryce harper, diamondbacks, gerrit cole, rays, streaks, yadier molina

Friday, September 06, 2019

Big Air is coming to the home of the Braves

ATLANTA (AP) — Big Air is coming to the home of the Braves.

The high-flying ski and snowboarding event will be held Dec. 20-21 at SunTrust Park, bringing some of the top athletes from the United States and around the world to compete off a 15-story-tall tower that will be built in the center of the 41,000-seat baseball stadium.

The Braves joined the U.S. Ski & Snowboard federation in making the announcement Thursday from the plaza beyond the center-field seats, shortly before the start of Atlanta’s game against the Washington Nationals.

It was hardly a winter-like day.

Do you suppose Cobb County would have wasted all that money on the stadium if they were told this would be typical of the events available for it other than the Braves?

 

QLE Posted: September 06, 2019 at 07:17 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, suntrust park

Thursday, September 05, 2019

LEADING OFF: Strasburg vs Braves, Lorenzen does it all

DOING IT ALL

Michael Lorenzen is making himself valuable wherever the Reds need him. In his latest performance, he did something no major leaguer has done since Babe Ruth in 1921.

On Wednesday, Lorenzen earned the win as a pitcher, hit a home run and played the field as Cincinnati beat the Phillies 8-5. Lorenzen pitched two innings, connected for a two-run drive and finished up in center field.

There’s something to be said concerning versatility….

 

 


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Atlanta comfort Hurricane Dorian evacuees with free services

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta is welcoming Hurricane Dorian evacuees with open arms, camping spaces and America’s favorite pastime.

News outlets say Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Atlanta Braves are offering free services to residents from mandatory evacuation areas throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

 

QLE Posted: September 04, 2019 at 12:57 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, hurricane

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Mets pitchers strike out 26 Braves batters in 14 innings

New York Mets pitchers struck out 26 Braves batters last night. That ties a major league record for strikeouts in a game. Four other teams have performed the feat. The Mets joined the the then-Anaheim Angels, however, as the only two teams to strike out 26 batters and lose. Those Angels fell to the Brewers 1-0 in 17 innings in 2004. The Mets fell to the Braves last night, 2-1.

Jacob deGrom led the charge with 13 Ks in seven innings of work, with his only blemish being an RBI single surrendered to Freddie Freeman in the sixth inning. deGrom atoned for that himself, however, hitting a home run off of Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up at one. That’s how things would remain when both starters left the game and it moved on to extra innings.

The people who have been singing the praises of the TTO have a lot to answer for….

 

QLE Posted: August 25, 2019 at 02:56 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, mets, three true outcomes

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Grudge continues to fester between Braves, Marlins

The Braves and Marlins have some bad blood, especially concerning Ronald Acuña Jr. Around this time last year, José Ureña intentionally threw at Acuña in the first at-bat of a game, leading to a benches-clearing incident. Acuña was hit on the elbow and exited the game but was ultimately fine. Acuña’s crime? Just being good at baseball. At the time, he had homered in five consecutive games, including three games against the Marlins.

In 2019, the first-place Braves and last-place Marlins have mostly minded their own business. The Marlins, however, can certainly keep a grudge it appears. With his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night in Atlanta, Marlins starter Elieser Hernández hit Acuña in the hip.

I’m not sure what is more embarrassing- having a grudge match with the Marlins, or not being able to win it decisively.

 

QLE Posted: August 21, 2019 at 03:49 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, grudge match, marlins

Monday, August 12, 2019

Fire extinguisher set off by Newcomb’s meltdown

MIAMI—The mess in the Atlanta Braves’ clubhouse made by a punctured fire extinguisher has been cleaned up before Sunday’s series finale at Miami.

The damage occurred when Braves reliever Sean Newcomb kicked a garbage can in anger after giving up the winning run in the 10th inning of Saturday night’s ugly 7-6 loss to the Marlins.

To make matters worse, now they’ll be utterly unprepared if there actually is a fire….

QLE Posted: August 12, 2019 at 08:18 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, clubhouse, fire extinguisher, sean newcomb

Friday, August 09, 2019

Braves lose standout rookie to knee injury after weight room mishap

The Atlanta Braves have been holding strong atop the National League East despite injuries to key hitters Nick Markakis and Dansby Swanson.

Now their injured list is adding a standout rookie after slugging outfielder Austin Riley suffered a right knee injury Tuesday as the result of a weight room mishap.

...

According to Braves manager Brian Snitker, Riley was warming up in the visitor’s weight room at Target Field before Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins when he felt something unusual in his knee.

Riley did not appear in Tuesday’s 12-7 win against Minnesota, but was considered available because there seemed to be no lingering effects. That changed Wednesday when the knee stiffened up overnight.

You know, there might be a good reason why, traditionally, players were reluctant to lift weights….

 

QLE Posted: August 09, 2019 at 07:44 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: austin riley, braves, knee, weight lifting

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Three winners and three losers from the trade deadline

The 2019 trade deadline has passed. Unlike in past years, there is no non-waiver trade deadline, so this was it for major trades for teams wanting to recoup value on soon-to-depart players and for teams looking to make upgrades for the stretch run. With that in mind, here are three winners and three losers from the trade deadline.

As far as can be told, none of them are rolling down a mountainside.

 

QLE Posted: August 01, 2019 at 03:19 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, braves, dodgers, indians, red sox, yankees

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

How Does Mike Soroka Do It? | FanGraphs Baseball

How does command fit into projecting pitcher performance? It has to fit in there somewhere. The existing metrics, however, just don’t fit.

When you’re forced to look at a pitcher’s sequencing to figure out why he’s effective, it’s a good bet that the obvious culprits (whiffs and strikeouts) don’t explain the production, and that’s definitely the case with Soroka. Watching one of his starts isn’t like seeing Chris Sale, a whirling mass of limbs that produces impossibly-angled sliders and swinging strikes galore. It’s more like watching Kyle Hendricks, sinkers and changeups just eluding the fat part of the bat as groundballs end at-bat after at-bat. Still, though, whoever he resembles, Mike Soroka has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 11, 2019 at 09:33 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, mike soroka

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Braves, Dallas Keuchel agree to deal, per report | CBS Sports

 

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 06, 2019 at 10:02 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, dallas keuchel, free agency

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fan runs onto field in Atlanta and gets destroyed

This has turned into a lively little discussion on Twitter, so let’s share it here. Bonus: it involves one of what I am well aware is one of my more unpopular opinions, so it gives a good many of you a chance to yell at me about it. Yell all ya want.

Last night, at the Cardinals-Braves game in Atlanta a fan who, I’m gonna guess anyway, was either over-served or under-brained, decided to run out onto the field like a moron. It happens.

As also happens, especially these days, he was utterly creamed by the SunTrust Park security team. Watch as he’s slammed into the wall and then dog-piled. Bonus: I am about 85% sure that the guard who did the slamming is the one who fell down just before, which shows that he has some serious recovery skills and closing speed:

Not gonna lie: there’s humor in this sort of thing, at least assuming the fan rushing onto the field has no more than mischief on his mind and assuming everyone is OK in the end, which seems to be the case here.

A consideration of folk who invade the field, and the levels of force used against them.

QLE Posted: May 17, 2019 at 03:49 AM | 70 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, fans, pitch invasions

Monday, April 29, 2019

Donaldson’s 3-run homer lifts Braves over Rockies

Third baseman Josh Donaldson slammed a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning to lift the host Atlanta Braves to an 8-7 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

Tyler Flowers and Ozzie Albies reached on singles against Seunghwan Oh and Donaldson hammered a 1-1 pitch deep in the right-field stands for his fifth home run.

The victory allowed the Braves to salvage one game in the weekend series and end Colorado’s eight-game winning streak in games played in Atlanta.

Are Donaldson’s last 42 games Small Sample Size Theatre at play, a sign of recovery from injury- or both?

 

QLE Posted: April 29, 2019 at 04:30 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, josh donaldson

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Moore: Age is just a number for Niekro and Moyer

Phil Niekro: The sparks is still there!

“Oh, yeah. I threw my last [Major League] pitch when I was 48, but I could have gone another year or two,” Niekro said, recalling his final season in 1987. It began with the Cleveland Indians, but he was traded near the end of the season to the pennant-hopeful Toronto Blue Jays.

After two rough starts, then-Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick released Niekro and told Toronto reporters that he thought Niekro’s career was over.

“Since I have total respect for [Gillick], and also out of fairness to myself, I just took his word and decided that maybe he knew more about myself than I did, and that maybe he sees something that I don’t see, so I went by his words,” said Niekro, who made one final start with Atlanta that season. “After I retired, the next Spring Training, I got the fever. Then the next Spring Training after that, I got the fever.”

In fact, Niekro still has the fever.

Said Niekro, chuckling, but only a little, “I still feel like I can get guys out in the big leagues right now. My arm feels as good now as it did when I retired.”

...“I’ll throw some BP down there, so my arm is no problem,” Niekro said. “To stick around a long time, it’s a discipline thing for a player, where you have to stay healthy. You also have to be fortunate, just to spend any time in the big leagues. I’ve got no squabbles about anything. I just kick myself in the butt for not hanging around for another year or two.”

Repoz Posted: January 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, history

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Bartolo Colon Agrees to Sign With Unknown Team

Bartolo Colon has agreed to a deal with an unknown club reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). The right-hander wouldn’t divulge the team because he has not yet passed his physical.

Pretty sure it’s either the All-Stars or the Champs.


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