Monday, August 06, 2007

The Official Braves & Birds Communique on Tom Glavine

While I was not rooting for the Mets by any means last night because the Braves winning the East would be an expected treat, I'm happy for Glavine that he won his 300th game. Moreover, I don't like fans who boo Glavine when he pitches against the Braves. Glavine threw a one-hitter in Game Six of the World Series and thus prevented the Braves from becoming the Buffalo Bills of baseball. After that victory, Glavine could have pitched for the Mets for the next decade while summering as a hitman for the Khymer Rouge and I still would have been grateful towards him. After 16 years and 242 wins for the Braves, Glavine had earned the right to do whatever he wanted for the rest of his career. The fact that he made a decision to accept a four-year, $42M contract as opposed to a three-year, $30M deal only strengthens his argument. There are very few people out there who would eschew a guaranteed $12M (or 40% of the value of the deal offered by the Braves) to stay in the same place.

The fans who boo Glavine when he comes back with the Mets strike me as behaving a little bit too much like New Yorkers, which is what we're trying to avoid to begin with. We're supposed to be a little more realistic and a little less demanding in Atlanta, which is part of why players like to play here. The fans who boo also strike me as the sort of people who didn't go to games in July and August in the 80s to watch one of the worst teams in baseball play in a cookie-cutter stadium with no amenities and seats in a different zip code from the field. Call me crazy, but the people who suffered through the Braves' years in the wilderness are likely to be appreciative of a guy who arguably did more to lift the Braves out of those doldrums than any other player. But maybe that's just me.

A couple other random thoughts on the Braves:

1. Francoeur had a fantastic at-bat in the 10th yesterday that led to a double. It was the type of at-bat - fighting back from 0-2 to 3-2 and forcing the pitcher to give in and throw a fat pitch that could be laced to left - that Frenchy never would have pulled off last year. It learns!

2. Maybe Octavio Dotel's 1.52 WHIP in Kansas City was a concern after all.

3. This weekend was the reverse of the previous weekend in Arizona: the Braves won two close games and lost a blow-out. In the end, they took two of three while being out-scored 18-14. It is mildly concerning that the Braves allowed six runs per game despite starting their three best pitchers in the series. Speaking of which, Chuck James is 5th in the NL in most homers allowed. The gopher ball has always been his bugaboo and he has not solved that problem. It worries me that he will be the best Braves hurler throwing next weekend in Philadelphia. The games Wednesday and Thursday against the Mets are going to be critical, as they are the only starts from the Braves' big two in a very important stretch of six games.

4. I might be the only person bugged by this, but the list of audio clips that play at the outset of Budweiser's Hardball on 790 (which is otherwise an excellent show to listen to on the way to a game:

Willie Mays's catch for the New York Giants in the '54 Series
Lou Gehrig's farewell speech
Joe Dimaggio getting a big hit in a World Series
The final out of Don Larsen's perfect game

Notice anything in common with the locale in common for those four events?

5. I hope that fans elsewhere in baseball are aware of the season that Tim Hudson is putting in for the Braves this year. His ERA+ puts him close to his two-year apex in Oakland in 2002-3 and among the top five pitchers in the National League. He's allowed four homers and 37 walks in 158 innings, which isn't quite Greg Maddux in his prime, but he's in the neighborhood. On the one hand, you can say that he's been keeping the Braves afloat and we ought to be eternally appreciative. On the other hand, you can rue the fact that the Braves' pitching depth has been so negligible this year and with decent fourth and fifth starters, the team would have the best record in the NL.

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