It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I’m left wondering if it was all Chuckie’s idea (quite possible), or if he just walked into the clubhouse one day and some PR girl came up to him and said, “GUESS WHAT?!”
It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I’m left wondering if it was all Chuckie’s idea (quite possible), or if he just walked into the clubhouse one day and some PR girl came up to him and said, “GUESS WHAT?!”
Looks like this series against the Padres going to be a pretty exciting one for the Braves: Lerew will have his first major league start today, and Maddux goes up against Smoltz tomorrow. Last night’s game was exciting in its own way, though our offense was sleepwalking and Chuckie’s pitch-count crisis continued. But anytime there’s the chance of a fight between Paronto and an eight foot tall pitcher, you know you’re getting your money’s worth.
Naturally, this was all an extension of Heap and Frenchy drama: Heap got lucky on a pick-off call, and pretty hilariously snuck his foot against the base after he’d already been tagged, but the ump must have missed that. Young proceeded to hit Frenchy with a pitch, and Heap of course called for a beaning during Young’s next at-bat, setting up the potential Fight of the Century. Paronto actually looked kind of scared, or maybe just regretful. Young ended up just taking his base — he’s a Princeton graduate, and I suppose he’d had enough of our immature tomfoolery for one evening.
Speaking of immature tomfoolery, the official site has an anecdote about Maddux’s snot up this morning, and apparently Smoltz is planning something special for Wednesday’s game. My favorite Maddux-related quote of all time was Cubs reliever Ryan Dempster saying he would miss farting on Maddux when he left the Cubs. Apparently a clubhouse presence like that is hard to find.
For some reason, we bring out the competent side of goofy ass (that jumping thing? I wanted to trip him pretty badly by the seventh), walk-happy Oliver Perez. Still, he wasn’t that spectacular, and we wasted a lot of scoring opportunities (so did the Mets, strangely, even though they well outscored us. Bases loaded situations seem to bring out the best in Chuckie, even when he’s having an off day). Personally I think the Braves all went out and got drunk Friday night. I wouldn’t blame them — they had a great game, they’re in the big city, why not. I was joking that they would be hungover on Saturday, but was hoping Chuckie would be exempt. Certainly pitchers don’t get trashed the night before they pitch? But that may have been a factor — this is “broke both my wrists jumping off the roof of a pool house the day before a scout came out to see me pitch” Chuckie, after all. Hopefully they were repentantly sober last night, and we can take the series with Smoltzy on the mound.
The Aybar situation has gone from bad to worse, meanwhile. For some reason the bit about Vlad trying in vain to get involved broke my heart more than the image of his mother crying. This is starting to sound like it might end badly; I hope someone can reach him soon.
Hey, you know what, Jimmy Rollins was right. The Phillies are the team to best in the National League East. The Braves enjoyed besting them so much, they did it three times in a row! Let’s hope many more teams get to best the Phillies as the season goes on. It was quite fun, what with the hateful fans turning on everybody (even Ryan Howard got booed! Ryan Howard! Twice! Do you think Braves fans would have booed Heap if he got off to a slow start at home? I kind of doubt it!), and in general just being as miserable as possible. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of people!
Admittedly, the end of that game was embarrassing, but then Soriano came in there and took care of business, so all is well. I can’t figure McBride out. I thought he had confidence problems in high-pressure situations, but getting Howard out last night in a tense moment was no problem, and with a six run lead he fell apart. Maybe he was affected by the cold? That was probably the case with Paronto, who didn’t have much time to get re-warmed up. But I just don’t know what to say about McBride. He definitely gets frazzled out there, but the moments that stress him out don’t make any sense (last year he often cruised through the first two outs, and would then be completely unable to get the third).
My notes from today:
–Could there have possibly been any more trash on the field? Oh wait, MYERS COULD HAVE BEEN PITCHING! Haaaaa.
–At one point, I swear, Skip joined in on the Burrell booing.
–I had to switch to the television audio when Chip and Joe did a little segment on Heap’s dugout hair. They even zoomed in on it and drew lines on it to represent “gel.” It was excellent.
–Batman Jones’ slide at home was pretty excellent as well: in true Andruw style, he basically laid down, and wouldn’t get up until Thor came over to give him a hand.
–I guess they only let people who liked Frenchy into the right field stands today: some guy shook his hand when he went over to chase a foul into the seats. Quite a change from yesterday.
Please tell me you guys heard the story about Heap and the cookies? There is a little kid in Philly who is obsessed with Heap (who isn’t, right? Even Dave O’Brien admits he wants to be Heap), and he waits for him when they get off the bus at the park every day. According to Pete, the kid had two boxes full of cookies waiting for Heap yesterday. Heap, in true Heap form, “passed them out to everybody on the bus.” Oh man. The Heap folk legends have begun: yesterday Skip was talking about Heap taking optional batting practice at the park on Tuesday, in a total “while the rest of those bums were sleeping in, Heap was walking to the park, ten miles, uphill, in the snow, and he helped an old lady across the street on the way there!” tone.
I love that Heap is getting shamelessly marketed as perfect this season, because, by all accounts, he is: nicest guy ever, etc. It’s fun, in a “Heap’s tears could cure cancer, too bad he’s never cried” sort of way. It’ll be interesting to see how they treat Frenchy, in the meantime. He was supposed to be this marketing dream come true, originally. At the moment, they’re still a charming little matching set, but Frenchy needs to match Heap on the ballfield a little bit better if the franchise wants to keep singing that song.
Every now and then, the Braves play a game that comes off looking like an episode of the Wacky Races. A Wacky Races game necessarily involves extra innings, some combination of weird errors and amazing plays, and fans acting like morons. Usually, it also involves the Cubs. Like that game last year, where we hit nine homers in twelve innings, Reitsma gave up about eighty runs at some point, a crazed Cubs fan ran onto the field and got tackled, and we ended up winning because of a Cubs error that involved a ball bouncing off an infielder’s head. This was also the game where Reitsma ate part of a towel in the dugout.
So anyway, that game, last night? I can’t believe we’re pulling out the Wacky Races shit this early in the season, I love it! Not only was game play weird, there was a ton of crazy crap going on all night.
At first, it was just a great pitching duel. I hate Cole Hamels, but I have to admit he looked good, and Huddy! Where have you been all my life? But there were little pockets of weirdness even early on. I was listening to the audio from the radio, so I didn’t hear the explanation for this if there was one, but just WHAT was Chuckie doing with those cups of coffee?? Cause he certainly wasn’t drinking them, though he looked like he might have had about eight cups before the game. He was pretty constantly jumping, when he wasn’t mysteriously pouring coffee back and forth between two cups. And Heap calling time for his eyedrops was pretty bizarre, too, though I sympathize with him. My contacts drive me crazy on a regular basis, and I don’t go to work in a huge bowl of dust and dirt every day.
Is is just me, or is Chipper stepping up to coach our relief staff while McDowell naps in the dugout? He again came over to give Gonzo advice during that crazy ass 8th inning. I was starting to think Heap and Gonzo were intentionally acting like they were out of their minds to scare the hitters (it didn’t work, but the runners may have been affected). Heap chucked the ball into center while trying to throw out a runner, and Gonzo was pacing all over the field, muttering to himself. But of course, the inning ended pretty memorably, cause he wouldn’t be Heap if he didn’t instantly redeem himself, and the Frenchy-Kelly-Heap tag at the plate was just lovely.
And speaking of Pitching Coach Chipper Jones, when Chipper snuck up behind Wicky and scared the shit out of him??! Yeah, I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile, though I was also laughing hysterically after Heap’s ninth inning home run. I don’t know, there was just no way Heap was going to hit a two-run homer off of Gordon on the first pitch, but then he did, it was funny.
Of course, the Philly fans, in their typical classy fashion, immediately began throwing “debris” onto the field after Heap’s homer. And the Sports South broadcast replayed the little dip thing that Heap does with Andruw now (you’ll know if/when you’ve seen it, it’s dorky) almost as many times as they replayed him tagging Howard out at the plate.
The Philly fans were really giving Frenchy hell over there in the corner, and I hope I’m not the only one who caught the psycho-killer grins he gave them. Only Frenchy punching a drunken Philly fan in the face could have made this game more wacky. If only they let ballplayers get away with that kind of thing, I’m pretty sure he would have been up for it.
Anyway, it was a really fun, satisfying win, with Thor as the 11th inning hero. If this is the way the games are going to go this season, bring it the hell on. I’m starting to think the whole season is going to be one long Wacky Race.
On a slightly different note, thanks to reader Daniel for directing my attention to this amusing video of Andruw drinking whynatte (coffee and Jagermeister). And speaking of coffee, seriously, someone explain what was up with Chuckie and that coffee. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Jagermeister was involved somehow.
First of all, sorry I was a punk and didn’t realize I had comments to moderate on a post I made a few days ago. Incidentally, both comments asked the same question: Why is McCann called Heap?
As this little interview explains, Heap’s minor league teammates jokingly called him a “heap of crap” because he “slept a lot.” Actually, that particular interview leaves the “of crap” part out; I read about that part of the nickname in a chat transcript with Heap on Scout.com. I would link to it, but I don’t have a Scout.com account anymore (and in fact only had it for three days for the free trial, because I wanted to read that transcript), so you’ll have to take my word for it.
I actually have no idea where I first heard him called Heap, but I know it was before I saw the above AJC interview or read the chat transcript. I expect it was on a Braves message board somewhere? Anyway, I tried to resist calling him that, I really did, but as soon as I gave in, it really stuck. I can’t type or say “McCann” for the life of me (“Francoeur” instead of Frenchy is equally weird, and I once saw a couple of girls in the outfield bleachers with a “WE LOVE JEFF” sign and was all, who the hell is Jeff?? I thought it said “Jeter” at first).
We beat the poor Nationals into the ground today, 14-5. I was listening at work, and it was pretty sad, but I kept catching myself with a wicked smile on my face. Beating the Nationals is like convincing your friend’s really dumb younger sibling that your bedroom closet is haunted. You hide your friend in there, have him make scratching noises, try not to laugh, and it’s all fun and games until somebody starts crying. Cormier pitched well for three innings, and our regular lineup finally started hitting, admittedly against the Nats. Poor Nats. And we’re playing them again tomorrow, too.
Frenchy and boobs at high noon. I think I know how this showdown’s gonna go.
I’m actually starting to feel guilty for all the jokes about Orr, but I couldn’t resist. No comment required, anyway.
This article about Chuckie made my day. They get a little bit from everybody:
Eddie Perez on Chuckie:
“He comes to the ballpark just because everybody comes to the ballpark. He’s out there stretching just because he follows people. He doesn’t know what time we need to be out there or anything.”
Kelly on Chuckie:
“He has no clue who he is facing. He doesn’t know a name. He doesn’t know anything. He just throws it. … To him, everybody is just a batter.”
Heap on Chuckie:
“He attacks you early in the count and his stuff is good enough to challenge the top hitters in the game. He keeps his changeup so far down that it keeps him off his fastball. That lets him elevate his fastball, and they can’t catch up to it.”
I love how Heap describes Chuckie’s brilliant strategy, and everyone else is all “Yeah, he can barely tie his shoes. Ha, what a fun guy!” Maybe Heap is actually doing all the thinking and only assuming Chuckie understands his careful planning, or maybe he’s just giving Chuckie the credit he deserves. Either way, this is what I mean about Chuckie and Heap being inseparable as a battery. I like Chuckie’s approach, his quickness on the mound and his disinterest in other players’ egos, but hooray for Heap for sticking up for him and making him sound at least a little complex.
It cracked me up that Chuckie asked of Todd Helton, “is he a good hitter or something?” Not because I think it’s that amazing that Chuckie hasn’t heard of Helton, but because the idea of a major leaguer saying “good hitter” is just funny. I think more players could benefit from viewing the game like a casually interested nine year old, but someone on a Braves forum I was checking out today made a good point: his carefree attitude could come back to bite him in the ass if things stop going his way for awhile. Think “Manny being Manny.”
The AJC revealed last night that Frenchy turned down the original salary the Braves offered him, and was then bitch-slapped with an even smaller salary in return. It seems strange to me that a player with less than two years of service would think that he could negotiate for more money when the team could easily just give him the league minimum and tell him to shut up, but maybe it happens more than I’d realized? The whole thing is bizarre, but I’m not sure if it warrants much attention.
Is Frenchy really stirring up some salary melodrama, or is the AJC just having another “ANDRUW IS ON WAIVERS AND THE SKY IS FALLING” moment? Either way, I really enjoyed the picture they selected to accompany the story, which showed up on the front page of their website this morning:
Dude — what? Where is he? Was there some sort of “Frenchy Frolics in the Ocean!” AJC photoshoot that I was not aware of? Or did someone just find his old vacation pictures lying around? And in what universe is this picture appropriate for this story? Were they going for the “How could you play hardball with this face!” angle?
There was a game against the Dodgers today, and we won 4-1. Nothing too exciting, though Pete mentioned that Skip will be down to call a few games this coming weekend, so I’m pretty excited about that. Speaking of the radio broadcasts, I hope they’re just waiting to premiere their new commercials for the 2007 season when the actual games begin. If I have to hear how to ask for a hotdog in Hindi one more time, people are gonna die.
Chuckie gave up a few hits in his first inning today, but I’m not too worried — I think it was the lack of Heap behind the plate that threw him off. Nothing against Pena, I just get the impression that Chuckie and Heap have a particularly symbiotic relationship as a battery.
This morning, a friend of mine let me know that the 2007 roster pictures are up on the website. A few highlights:
Most Depressingly Resigned:
Most Likely to Pass for a Mugshot:
Too Cool to Wear His Uniform for his Roster Portrait:
First of all: I have the 2007 portraits in my possession, and they are magnificent. I’ll post them on Sunday night; we’re going away for the weekend so this will probably be my last post until then. I’ve got a ton of normal pictures to post for now, and ALSO:
The first Heap and Frenchy article of the season! Alright, now spring has officially begun. And let me tell you guys, this one really sets the bar high. Bowman like, recreates their couch time in front of the TV and everything. He’s officially a fangirl and I’m so pleased, even though he totally stole my observation about Frenchy saying “neat” all the time, which was so original and insightful.
This cracked me up:
It’s Francoeur’s youthful exuberance that has always been so appealing to the mild-mannered McCann. From the time they began playing on youth All-Star teams together, their Type A and Type B personalities have created a perfect match.
“I was always so upbeat and in his face,” Francoeur said. “And he was just always so calm and like, ‘This guy is crazy.’ But we got along so well. He’s always done a great job of complementing the other side of me.”
They are a marketing department’s dream and I can’t wait to see what they do with them this year on the new Sports South. Hopefully the discrepancy in their performances won’t be so noticeable and the PR girls can really go wild. Though they probably will anyway.
If you liked this, you may also enjoy:
-An article in which Frenchy is referred to as “a polite, enthusiastic child of a man.”
-An article in which Chuckie is referred to as “a wisp of a pitcher.” It also includes a full recounting of the night Chuckie broke both of his wrists jumping off a shed into a pool the week before the draft.
-And finally: Looks like somebody hurt O’Brien’s feelings this morning! But he doesn’t care. He doesn’t! Totally not important! I mean why would he care? Sheesh! Let’s devote the entire AJC Braves page to Soriano’s cockiness and get over it, people!
Andruw has arrived at camp, amid lots of questions and speculation about what he’ll do next season. I’m sure it’s on his nerves, and it’s damn well started to get on mine. It’s unlikely that he knows what he’s going to do at this point, and even if he did, he’s not going to talk about it. Not now, not after the All-Star break, probably not until the offseason.
I’m much more interested in talk of his weight loss, personally. Apparently he gained an extra twenty pounds in Japan because the guys ate KFC and McDonald’s every day while they were over there for their All-Star game. Geez, he could have at least tried Kobe steak or some shrimp tempura. But anyway, the story is that he bet his wife he could lose weight faster than her, and she won because he was “partying.” Nicole Jones is my favorite Braves wife by far, and I appreciate her scheme to get Andruw at least relatively back in shape. Smoltz claims Andruw looks like he did in 2005, a career year for him, so hopefully he’ll give us a season to remember him by, just in case he does leave.
Can you take it, can you take the ten thousandth article about how great our bullpen is going to be in 2007? I can’t. I mean, I’m as optimistic as anyone about the great acquisitions, and Wicky, and, hell, maybe even Joey Devine will work some miracle in spring training. I’m open to it! I’m just starting to get a bad feeling about all the great press and constant trumpeting. We should treat any good developments in the bullpen with quiet fragility, I think, after all we’ve been through. It’s mostly just strange to go from Reitsma to near BEST IN THE LEAGUE! proclamations in less than a year.
Speaking of repetitious articles from the official site (imagine that), here’s another one about how Davies is planning on not “overthinking” this season. Cause talking constantly about how you’re not going to think about something really works out, in most cases.
Around the League:
This article about that “Odd Couple” Maddux and Wells is so great I actually wrote on my hand at work to remind myself to post about it when I got home. I haven’t written on my hand since sixth grade! It’s that awesome. Behold:
One could be an accountant or Sunday school teacher, remarkably average in height and build, soft-spoken, introspective, right-handed.
They’re talking about our Maddog, who I learned most of my major curses from when I was in elementary school. You couldn’t hear him cursing wildly on the mound (most of the time) with every ball or less-than-perfect strike, but man you could see it.
There’s also this:
Maddux is happy to slip off into the shadows, grinning slyly as if he has a secret he intends to keep to himself.
Oh, he does, innocent Padres beat writer. He does.
That Other League:
A-Rod on Jeter:
“Do we go to dinner every night like we used to? No.”