Friday, June 20, 2008

And That Happened

Twins 9, Nationals 3: For complicated reasons that involve a well-worn yet really superficial Scholastic biography of Harmon Killebrew that I owned as a child, I am probably the only person under the age of 65 who still thinks of the Twins as some upstart offshoot of the Senators, and for that reason I viewed this as something of a natural rivalry series.

Rangers 5, Braves 4: I got into a baseball conversation with someone at the office yesterday. This person doesn't know me very well, so a lot of it involved me explaining how I came to be a Braves fan. I've had this conversation a hundred times before, and almost every time it has ended with the other person saying something along the lines of "well, at least it's been a lot of fun to root for Atlanta over the past few years!" Yesterday, for the first time in my adult life the conversation ended with "man, it's gotta be hard to root for those guys, huh?" I obviously could not disagree with him when he said this, but I almost felt like a deep dark family secret had gotten out. Sure, there have been several times over the past three years where people in the know have accurately pointed out the challenges facing the Braves, but this truly is the first time that some casual, almost non-fan has identified the Braves as something other than a class organization and perpetual contender. The brand has been diluted; the public perception changed.

As for this game, Chipper went 0-4, the Braves use seven pitchers -- a couple of which I had never heard of -- to give up five runs and just like that, the quest for .400 seems to be as over as the Braves' season is.

Yankees 2, Padres 1: Joba still needs to work on the efficiency thing -- 100 pitches in 5.2 ain't gonna cut it all season, and at this rate he's never going to get a win as a starter -- but New York will take the nine strikeouts and one earned run. The Yankees have won seven straight to pull within five games of Boston and 2.5 of Tampa Bay. During that run, A-Rod is 12-25 with four homers and nine RBI. Last week I opined that there really isn't a favorite for the MVP in the American League right now. If the Yankees surge continues, how can it be anyone but A-Rod?

Dodgers 7, Reds 4: You know, of all of the things Reds fans thought they had to worry about before the season started, Aaron Harang was not one of them. After yet another flaming stink pickle of a performance (5 IP, 10 H, 5 ER) one has to wonder if he's healthy, because big strikeout throwin' hosses like him don't tend to lose it like he has this year without a medical reason.

Brewers 8, Blue Jays 7: The next time Dave Bush goes out to the bars with his Brewer buddies, he has carte blanche to drunkenly tell the ladies that his teammates all have wives or herpes or something because they almost ruined everything for him last night. Bush had a no hitter into the eighth inning, and still left the game with a 8-1 lead, only to watch his bullpen give up six in the ninth to make it way more interesting than it needed to be. Oh, and to all of you old ladies in Wisconsin picking up broken knickknacks from your parlor floor: that wasn't an earthquake. Prince Fielder just hit another inside the park home run.

Royals 4, Cardinals 1: Five straight wins. Break up the Royals! After a couple of pretty bad starts Zach Greinke has returned to the form he flashed in April, and has now given up a single run in his last 14 innings.

White Sox 13, Pirates 8: How do two teams combine for 21 runs, 25 hits and still complete the game in under three hours? This one was 2:55. And only about 16 minutes of it involved decent pitching.

Rays 8, Cubs 3: Chicago is swept for the first time this year, and they lost Zambrano for at least a start during the sweeping. I'm no Cubs fan, but I have sort of picked them as my favorite to win the pennant, so I have been following them a bit closer than I normally would this year. Last night I even went so far as to wade into the game threads over at the estimable Bleed Cubbie Blue. Just to lurk, mind you. The takeaway: Cubs fans are a little scary. Great fans, mind you. Knowledgeable as all get-out. But scary in the lets-analyze-a-groundout-from-15-directions kind of way. I have had some people ask me why I don't link to more team-specific blogs. Nothing personal or particular to BCB, but I think that live-or-die on every pitch dynamic has something to do with it. I'm pretty obsessed, but I just can't get that passionate or involved in the moment-by-moment like those guys do.

Orioles 7, Astros 5: The Astros have lost 17 of 20. Now that McLaren is gone, is Cooper next?

Diamondbacks 2, A's 1: The A's outscored the Dbacks 17-14 in this series, but dropped two of three. Bow before the great Pythagoras!

Rockies 6, Indians 3: The Rockies sweep Cleveland. Someone must have forgotten to tell Colorado that they were in the National League.


Ryan said...

About Cubs blogs, specifically the one you mentioned "Bleed Cubbie Blue". BCB is a joke in Cub blogdom. They are a bunch of idiots and anyone who is the least bit knowledgable about the game that starts posting over there eventually leaves because they can't stand the idiocy.

If you even so much as have a slight dissagreement with another poster Al will literally ban you. Its for people who like to be nostalgic about Wrigley and sit in the bleachers.

Anyway, its a joke of a blog. I'm sick of BCB being representative of Cubs fans becuase it isn't. There are a lot of other great Cub blogs like A league of her own (LOHO), Another Cubs Blog, Desipio, Wrigleville23 and a few others.

There, end of rant.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Thanks for the input, Ryan.

I have had a pretty hard time getting my arms around a lot of team blogs. There are so many, and the depth of knowledge required to be up on the conversations going on is pretty significant. My Braves blog of choice is Mac Thomason's Braves Journal, which I've gone to almost every day for several years now. I'm sure that there are memes, conventions, and inside-info over there which baffles newbies and outsiders the way I was baffled by BCB.

I suppose what you descibe is an example of both the good and the bad of team blogs. Given the sheer number of comments on BCB, I'm guessing it appeals to an awful lot of people. Given how you describe the flavor over there, I'm sure it turns off an awful lot as well. Thankfully, though, there are other options available to everyone.

Dre said...

what a crazy DBacks/A's series...
15-1 loss, 11-1 win, 2-1 win

Pete Toms said...

Jays - Jeff Blair reports that Ricciardi has the ok from Godfrey to can Gibbons. Evidently Ricciardi will be in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Rays - Longoria @ SS? Is Bartlett banged up or will there be more of this?

Team blogs - I don't read the Jays team blogs, ok I glance at them occassionally, but I agree there is too much analysis and handwringing over every game. A lot ( maybe most ) of games are won & lost because one team's hits fell in and the other's didn't. Baseball is that random. There is a reason that 162 games are required to reveal the best. The Jays bloggers ( and I bet a lot of team bloggers ) also take the path most travelled and blame "their" teams failures on management & coaches. Last season the villian was Mickey Brantley, this season it's Ricciardi & Godfrey. I don't consider a lot of these bloggers real baseball fans. If your interest in a sport is limited to 1 team, are you really a fan? I.E. I'm a Senators fan but not a hockey fan. I haven't a clue what's happening with the other teams.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Those are some good points, Pete. I think one of the reasons I contimue to read Mac's Braves blog is because even though he breaks down each game, he does so in a voice that has some perspective. This happened and then that happened, sure, but he then backs up and talks about larger dynamics like who has been playing well recently, who has been overused in the bullpen on the current road trip, etc. What he doesn't do is spend five paragraphs talking about a bad relay throw or whatever.

themarksmith said...

While I agree that the Braves season seems to be a lost one (not enough pitching, Tex and Frenchy not playing up to standards, overuse of the bullpen, no energy, etc), but why does everyone think that Chipper won't have a slump? Sure, he's not doing well and I doubt he'll hit .400, but people act as though when he goes under .400 that he can't come back. Everyone has slumps.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Mark: I don't think it's about slumps. Yes, everyone has them. The issue is that even if he's not "slumping" in the normal sense of the term, he could easily stay below .400 for good. I mean, he could hit at a .370 clip for the rest of the season which is something that he's never ever done before the past couple of months. That wouldn't be a slump, that would be awesome, MVP-worthy performance.

But it would also keep him below .400 for good.

themarksmith said...

I understand that .400 is a very hard thing to do, but considering that we haven't had a .400 hitter since Ted Williams, doesn't probability state that it has to happen at some point. Why not now? I don't see .400 as something unbreakable. Cy Young's 511 is.

I guess we shall see. Only half the season left.

Richie said...

You're in luck, Shyster. Your Braves get to play three games against the Mariners! That 1-run W/L ratio will certainly improve, unless of course, the Braves manage to score more than 1 run.

Anonymous said...


A few comments posted about the A's/D-backs series remark on the unusual nature of the A's losing 2 while outscoring their opponent for the series.

This year, that series scoring pattern is not unusual for the A's, although this was an extreme example. Because they are a very young starting 9 relatively speaking, they are very inconsistent. But because they mostly came up within the A's system, their approach is similar so when they do hit, they hit well.

In 72 games this year, they have scored double digits 8 times and been held to 0 or 1 run 18 times. So their experience at AZ is propotional to their season experience.

What most of us see is the promise of better days ahead. We sure could use a power bat at 1B, but with 2 rookies in the rotation the beloved A's are # 1 in OPS against and # 2 in WHIP in the AL. That portends very well for the future.