I was about to reply to a relative’s email asking if I could make any sense of the Atlanta Braves off-season moves. I have been asked that a lot lately so I thought it was time to revive my baseball blog.
Concerning the Braves…
I have been understanding, confused, excited, and angry at some of the moves the Braves have made this off-season. What we Braves fans have to keep telling ourselves that it is all for the greater good and it will all make sense in 2017, just in time for the new stadium. Now that they are on the verge of trading Evan Gattis the “building for the future” scenario is even more plausible. The trades of Jason Heyward and Justin Upton netted a lot of young talent, both position players and pitching but pitching seems to be the focus of the Braves front office right now. Who knows what they will get in return for Gattis but I am sure it will be more top prospects who are primed to see action within the next few seasons.
Now here is a die-hard fan’s over optimistic outlook for 2015. With no big bat in the lineup other than Freddie Freeman, the Braves are not seen as a threat. So what? They had what should have been a potent offense last season but look where it got them, a losing record and tied for second place with the lousy New York Mets in the National League East. The Braves have added a reliable on-base guy with RBI potential in Nick Markakis and a good utility infielder and pinch hitter in Alberto Callaspo. Now if they can add another contact hitter to play left field it might be these small additions that give them the magic that could never capture in 2014.
The pitching staff departures of Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro, Kris Medlen, and Brandon Beachy were made easier with the addition of Shelby Miller, Manny Banuelos, and the too many to name young arms replenishing the Braves farm system. The veteran presence of newly acquired Jim Johnson, James Russell, and Jason Grilli in the bullpen should also help a solid pitching rotation.
They aren’t getting as much attention for their additions as they are their subtractions but all in all I think the Braves look pretty good. The Nationals are still favored, the Marlins have gotten much better, and even if the Phillies and Mets suck they still put up a good fight so the Braves should enjoy their position as an underdog in their division for now. Once they have warmed up and worked out the kinks during Spring Training the Atlanta Braves might prove to be more than just a team building for the future but a real contender for 2015.
What else can I say when I really don’t know what the #!@*! the Braves are doing.
Obviously you need to score runs to win a ballgame, at least one. Hits with runners in scoring position, home runs, manufactured runs, there are many ways to cross home plate and put a number on the scoreboard. You can keep runs off of the board with good defense but first and foremost you need great pitching.
The beginning of the 2014 MLB season has seen plenty of good pitching, especially in the National League. The Braves, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Cardinals all pitched shutouts this past Sunday. That is very impressive! Five different teams were unable to generate a single run during the course of nine innings, actually the Reds lost to the Braves in 10 innings. The last time such a feat occurred was 2006 when there were seven shutouts thrown in one day.
I am particularly interested in this phenomenon because the Braves were involved and they have produced one of the best overall team pitching performances this season. Even more impressive is that their pitching staff was supposed to be one of the weakest aspects of their game coming out of Spring Training. Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen both underwent Tommy John surgery so their season was lost. Enter Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana to take their spots in the rotation. Not only have these two veterans been an unexpected surprise but they are about to make things very difficult when Mike Minor returns to the rotation this weekend from Minor League rehabilitation.
Who does management replace?
Yes it is Tax Day, the last day to file your Federal and State taxes here in The United States. I waited much later than usual to file this year. I finished mine this past Saturday and finished Joey’s on Sunday. I know some people that file the day they receive their W2’s because they know they are going to receive a nice refund and usually already have the money spent within days of receiving it. I guess I am more of the delayed gratification type. If existent, my refund is typically so small that spending it on a tank of gas and a sandwich is about as much gratification as I get.
More importantly and much more interestingly, April 15th also signifies the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. It was April 15th 1967 and I am sure Jackie was more worried to worry about whether or not his taxes were properly filed. Racial tensions in the U.S. were still so strong that it would have been hard for anyone back then to imagine that the first day a black man first stepped onto the field as a Major League Baseball Player would now be commemorated with every player on every team wearing that man’s number 42 on their jersey. Jackie Robinson’s number 42 was retired across all of baseball in 1997, meaning no one will ever wear that number again in professional baseball except on this day, the 15th of April.
Atlanta is celebrating their 2014 Season Home Opener tonight. They are also paying honor and celebrating the 40 year anniversary of when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record by hitting the 715th home run of his Hall of Fame career.
Hank Aaron ended his career with 755 home runs and 2,297 RBI’s in 1976. He still holds the record for the most RBI’s in baseball history and although his home run record was broken in 2007 by the controversial Barry Bonds, many people still consider Hank the All-Time Home Run King.
Turner Field is sold out and many great baseball dignitaries are on hand to honor Hank. Many of the players that were on the 1974 Braves as well as Al Downing, the Dodgers pitcher who served up the historic home run. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig took time out of his busy schedule to attend and help introduce the 80 year old baseball legend. Mr. Aaron was using a walker but he didn’t appear in the least feeble and his energy, spirit, and appreciation for the game of baseball, the city of Atlanta, and all of the fans was as strong as ever.
The first full week of baseball is in the books! No team is undefeated and no team is without a win. During this time of the young season any team has a shot to win their division or even make it all of the way. At least that is how a lot of fans feel during these blissful first few weeks. Whether your team is favored to win their division or finish dead last enjoy the level playing field while you can.
I am watching the MLB Network right now and they are showing all of the highlights from the week. Home runs, diving catches, amazing throws, and walk off hits. There is no way to see all of these games so what better way to catch up and also keep an eye on the competition. I have to be careful about how much of these recap/highlight shows I watch because I don’t want to frustrate my partner so early in the season. Since I rarely miss a televised Braves game, watching additional baseball coverage has to be in moderation or at least done in a more stealthy manner. I think I finally have it down to a science.
Lets get week two underway!
Ahhhhhh! Great to feel the warm sun and hear the neighborhood lawnmowers hard at work. Well, I actually haven’t heard any mowers today but I did a few days ago. It is a little cool and windy at the moment but the forecast for the week is sunny and high 70’s…perfect weather for the beginning of baseball season!
Yes, the 2014 Major League Baseball season starts in earnest tomorrow, March 31st. Technically the season started in Australia last weekend when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks had a two game series. Ok another technicality is that the Padres are hosting the Dodgers tonight for their season and home opener in San Diego. The free spending and greedy Dodgers have found another way to get more attention by attempting to win their first three games before the rest of the league has even seen their first pitch. Yes, the games in Australia and the game tonight on the West Coast do count in the standings but 25 other teams begin their 162 game regular season journey tomorrow. The Yankees and Astros start the day after tomorrow and since the Diamondbacks have already played those 2 games Down Under…when you look at the overall schedule, tomorrow truly marks the beginning of baseball!
I am of the opinion that Opening Day for MLB should be a National Holiday if it falls on a weekday, especially a Monday. Games start at 1:00 pm and go until the last game starts on the West Coast at 10:00 pm. How great would it be to have the day off to just veg on the couch and watch as many of these games as possible or better yet, go to the ballpark and catch one live! I know the “all day in front of the TV” scenario does not appeal to everyone, especially the significant others of an avid baseball fan (you know who you are), but what if you have to work and your team plays an afternoon game? My Braves are playing the Brewers tomorrow in Milwaukee at 2:00pm so I am out of luck. I can record the game but it isn’t the same plus I will have already heard the outcome before I get home regardless of how hard I try not to. I have tried before, it rarely works out.
I, like many other fans, will need to be patient for the first night game to be televised in the coming week. Thankfully we only have to wait until Tuesday.
The Atlanta Braves are NL East division champions again. It has been eight years since they celebrated this feat and they seemed to be enjoying every moment even though they were not on their home field.
The 100 year old plus awkward facilities at Wrigley Field in Chicago were the celebratory scene for the Braves today but it did not seem to matter because the players, coaches, and fans have been waiting for this moment all season. The Braves have been in first place all season long except for one day early in the season so it seemed inevitable that the season would conclude with the Braves on top.