The rapidly expanding wife and I went to the Ted yesterday and were greeted by a exhibition on how not to play baseball by the Braves, who surrendered four in the first despite the fact that none of the Dodgers' hits went for extra bases. LA parlayed a number of singles, many of the seeing-eye variety, and some truly horrendous defense into a significant lead that they never relinquished. Chipper made a big error on a relatively straight-forward throw home that allowed the inning to go from a two-run inning to a four-run inning. That, combined with Adam LaRoche having another awe-inspiring day at the plate (0-4, including two one-pitch at-bats; he also grounded into a double play with runners on the corners to immediately short-circuit the Braves' one rally that had gotten them back to 8-5), have convinced me that he needs to play first and Betemit needs to play third. Betemit is a better third baseman than LaRoche is a first baseman and I would prefer to get Chipper to a position where his lack of range and suddenly erratic arm make less of a negative impact. Then again, Bobby Cox is a Hall of Fame manager and I'm a frustrated sports writer because he doesn't overreact to one game or even two months, so I'll trust his patience on LaRoche.
Speaking of Bobby's long-term sense, he made a classic strategy over tactics move yesterday. With the Braves down 8-1 going into the bottom of the 4th, he let Lance Cormier hit for himself to lead off the inning. Normally, this would be a bad move as it signalled that the Braves were giving up on the game. However, the move made sense because it allowed Bobby to keep from taxing the bullpen too much, which was more important than the marginal lost opportunity of winning the game. Anyway, it wasn't a conventional move, but it was the right one as it allowed Bobby to get another inning out of the last man in the bullpen.
Speaking of bullpens, the Dodgers had a terrible one earlier this year, but they look good now in the department. Their killer B's - Beimel, Broxton, and Baez - combined for four shutout innings and all have ERAs under 2.50. I know I sound like a spoiled child complaining about anything relating to the produce from the Braves farm system, but where is our reservoir of young, flame-throwing relievers? Oh yeah, in Milwaukee having been traded for the worst reliever ever. Or in St. Louis having been traded for one year of J.D. Drew.
Another thought that occurred to me yesterday: if I were Barry Bonds, I would take one look at the "aw, isn't that nice" coverage of Nomar's resurgence and puke. Screw Barry's before and after; how about this guy's:
Given one of the key criteria used to convict Bonds - major body changes - Nomar should be asked a few tough questions as well. Admittedly, Nomar never admitted to using the cream or the clear, nor has there been a carefully-footnoted book setting forth the case that Nomar used steroids, but on the other hand, Bonds has not had the telltale steroid injury: ligament/tendon strains that just don't heal. I've never had any reason to dislike Nomar and we share an ability to marry way above ourselves, but sometimes, I feel bad for Barry that he's become the scapegoat for the fact that lots and lots of baseball players broke federal law to get an advantage on the diamond.