V Vernacular

02/23/2008 (11:12 am)

Spring Has Officially Arrived

Filed under: Kelly,Preseason

The AJC pictures from spring training haven’t really captivated me so far, but this is an instant classic:

Porter is totally giving them the talk. An annual tradition, I’m sure. Note that none of the big stars were required to attend.

Kelly looks completely offended.

06/27/2007 (11:30 am)

The Scooter Situation

Filed under: Frenchy,Kelly,Salty,Thor

Scooter has entered platoon land, and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Dave O’Brien assumes this means he’s pissed. I of course came to the same conclusion, but I kind of hate to see Scooter called out for his dissatisfaction with the situation, since he’s already on Bobby’s bad/platoon side. I think it’s interesting that guys like Scooter get yelled at openly in the dugout and then promptly platooned while Frenchy is scot free to do whatever the hell he wants without consequences. Really interesting.

I like Escobar, and I enjoy seeing him play up here, but it still seems like Scoot got the shaft. He’s been slumping along with everyone else (Frenchy, anyone?!), but he had such a great start to the season after working so hard to get ready, I don’t think he should be slapped with a platoon death sentence so quickly. Maybe it’s not a death sentence — some platoons work. I used to harp on Bobby for having the nerve to platoon Diaz with dead on his feet Langerhans, but when Diaz got a (very short) chance to play more regularly, he wasn’t spectacular, and the platoon with Willie works beautifully. But I personally would have liked to see Scoot get a real chance to authoritatively reclaim second base before Bobby handed half his playing time over to Escobar.

Still, Escobar is a valuable addition to the club, and Bobby has to play him somewhere, he’s too good to just ride the bench with the likes of Orr and Woody. But I don’t blame Scoot for feeling like he got his playing time docked a bit prematurely.

In the meantime, Salty on first base is an absolute delight, but I feel bad for Thor, who just can’t seem to get anything going consistently. I always feel more optimistic when I see Salty over there, and he’s still at that developmental defensive stage where his errors are just like comic relief.

We just have too many likable fellas on the team right now. And as likable as Frenchy is, it’s really starting to piss me off that his slumps don’t yield the same consequences that the others’ do. I’d be all for playing Willie in right once in awhile, but hell, I’m ready for Willie to play center . . .

05/23/2007 (8:53 am)

Break Out the Free Agent Jokes: Scooter’s Gettin’ Hitched!

I have actual stuff to do at work today, since I’m blowing this popsicle stand next week and heading home to Atlanta after three long years in Athens (it may be the birthplace of Heap, but this town is not for me), but I’m still going to take time out of my workday to post, because oh my God, that game! That was another, “Gee, if I’m ever actually getting murdered in here, I guess my neighbors won’t call the cops,” classic. It had me screaming pretty loud, especially for Davies’ home run. And there were plenty of other developments yesterday, too.

Obviously, Heap and Frenchy freaking out over Davies’ home run made my night, and Davies trying to act all cool about it just made Those Two hopping around him even better. Sometimes I forget that these hulking major league ballplayers are actually a year younger than me, and then they break out the antics. I love it.

But boy are they growing up fast: Scooter has joined the engagement party! I commend Scoot for waiting until the right time, and always thought it was a little — unromantic? — that the other Baby Braves got engaged within about five minutes of Frenchy popping the question to his girlfriend. I always imagined it going a little something like this . . .

Frenchy: Hey Heap, she said yes!!
Heap: Yay!
Frenchy: So, let’s go celebrate!
Heap: ‘K, just one sec.
Heap: /dials phone
Heap’s girlfriend: Hey, what’s up!
Heap: Hey babe. Just wanted to let you know — we’re getting married.
Heap’s girlfriend: Wha–what?
Heap: Yeah, Frenchy just got engaged, so, looks like it’s about that time! Just wanted to give you the heads up.
Heap’s girlfriend: Uh . . . wha . . .
Heap: Maybe we could do a double wedding!
Heap’s girlfriend: /bursts into tears

Aw, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it’s still funny that Frenchy set the whole thing off. Now that Scooter has jumped on the bandwagon, do we have any single Braves left? Who’s going to be our eligible heartthrob?

Wait, wait, what’s this? Redman is gone, and we’re bringing up Dreamboat Devy, in all his emotionally fragile number one draft pick glory! Hopefully he’s recovered from everything we put him through in 2005 — he’s been leading the Southern AA League in saves, and looked a lot more comfortable coming out of the pen when we brought him up for the roster expansion last September. Supposedly he’s only up for a short time, until we figure out who our fifth starter is, but if I know this team, he’ll be up for good if he shows any promise out of the pen. Salty was supposed to be temporary, too, but who can resist keeping another pretty face on the roster?

05/21/2007 (3:39 pm)

Youk’s Revenge

Not much to say about that road trip except “wow, it sucked.” I mean, sucked like I didn’t even think we were capable of sucking. Not yet, not when I was just getting used to the idea of actually staying on pace with the Mets this season. I really wanted to go into this series at home on a high note, but I guess we’re just going to have to turn things around starting tomorrow.

Things I did like about this series:

–Smoltzy looked great, despite the pinky. That little collision with Kearns could have gone so much worse.

–Frenchy went through a little stupid spell in Washington, but he remembered whatever he learned from his Heap Tapes in Boston, and looked so smart up there. Unfortunately, as Mac suggests over at Braves Journal, Andruw seems to somehow have gotten ahold of Frenchy’s old brain. Didn’t Bobby tell Frenchy not to leave that thing lying around? Doesn’t he know Andruw’s at that age when he gets into everything?! But speaking of smart, how brilliant was Salty pinch hitting, looking at eleven pitches before walking in a run (after he missed a grand slam by about ten feet)? We really, really need another starter, but I want to keep him. Could we get a starter for Thor? I’ve always liked him, but he’s pretty much dead to me after grounding into that double play yesterday — at least for a week or so.

–I haven’t seen them all stupid-happy like they were during that monsoon win on Saturday night in awhile. The Former House Mates in particular: did anyone else notice the shot of Frenchy giving Kelly a pep talk before he went out there to try for a single to complete the cycle? And Heap pulling Kelly out of the high-five lineup to hug him just killed me. Classic Those Two — Frenchy being all, “EVEN IF YOU HIT IT TO THE WALL, STOP AT FIRST, OK?!?” and then Heap with the sympathetic encouragement when he couldn’t do it. Winning is always good, but they’re also so much funnier when they’re winning.

Though Heap can be pretty funny when we’re losing, too. Check out the latest pupil in the Chipper Jones School of Stink Eye:

Here he is all thrilled that he’s tagged out Youks at home, biting his tongue and trying not to grin. But then:

Youks hits a cheap, foul-ish homer, and BOY has Heap got the stink eye working. Nice. Chipper would be proud.

We’re up against our old friend Jorge Sosa tomorrow night. I wish I could be at the game to boo the living hell out of him. One of my greatest memories of last year was Bobby putting Sosa in late when we had a significant lead, and Sosa immediately giving up a walk. Before the batter had even made it down to first, Bobby stormed out to the mound (and we all know that Bobby isn’t normally very quick on his feet) to flagrantly chew Sosa out (this was well into the long season of bullpen mediocrity, plenty of it from Sosa himself), and poor Rent had to stand there and translate. The best part was Heap standing in the middle of all of this and looking terrified, his eyes bouncing back and forth between Sosa, Bobby and Rent like one of those cat clocks.

But anyway, we’d better absolutely annihilate Sosa tomorrow. I wonder if he and Rent still have their matching purses?

04/26/2007 (7:35 am)

Wait . . . What?

Filed under: Heap,Huddy,Kelly,Langerhans,Smoltz

I’m so frustrated over that game last night, I’m sitting here having to tell myself to calm down. I was already in an overemotional baseball place after coming across a documentary about Cubs fans during lunch yesterday, which somehow had me in near tears for an hour. And now this happens, with no baseball tonight to erase it.

First of all, why in the fucking hell was Wilson taking up space in the lineup last night? Bobby’s really that much of a slave to lefty-righty, when Thor finally gets going and has some momentum, he sits him just in case Wilson has the slightest chance of doing anything, ever? Which he does not? Have? At all? And why did Matty come out of the game when he finally started hitting, including a homer? Why is Langerhans anywhere near the batter’s box, even when it looks like we have the game in the bag? I know these two things might not have made a difference, but we had a better chance with Thor and Matty than with Guaranteed Outs Number One and Two, and I’m just so tired of lefty-righty every night, I’m going to start blaming it for everything, even losses like this.

Not really, but God, that game was infuriating. Scooter homered in his first at-bat, which had me laughing out loud with delight — that is so Scooter, it’s like his signature move — then Chipper, and Huddy was amazing, and Cabrera was limping around uselessly, and if Huddy couldn’t do the complete game, we had three guys who could save it, no problem. Even when Bobby left Huddy in to finish it, no alarm bells really went off for me — he looked fine in the eighth. He should have come out after giving up back to back hits, but what the hell are you gonna do. That one just really hurt.

To make us all feel better, here’s the picture of Smoltz with little Heap (and his brother, on the far left), with thanks to Dave for sending it to me:

Alright, even that didn’t really cheer me up. We’d better sweep the mother ‘effin Rockies this weekend. And if I even catch sight of Wilson or Langerhans during any of the games (and, let’s face it, I definitely will: ending rallies, hitting into double plays — they’ll be around, doing their thing, no matter what), well, I’ll . . . rant at my TV. Sigh.

04/23/2007 (8:06 am)

The Sucker Can Hit

Filed under: Kelly,Rent

We had our windows open yesterday afternoon, which was probably not a great idea, because that game had me screaming and jumping around the room. I’m surprised our neighbors didn’t call the cops. And the best part, as pictured in the background here:

The pissed off Mets fans! Ah, whenever I hear “and the fans start streaming toward the exits” in the 8th, I always feel so proud of our guys (and glad Reitsma isn’t around to reliably make it interesting). I’m so glad that they’re leaving that godawful stadium with another series victory, and in first place. After the clowns tried to blind us and all, it only seems fair. And how obnoxious were their loudspeaker announcements? I tried to listen to the TBS broadcast yesterday, because I was in a Joe kind of mood (he was going off on Langerhans pretty good, even though he didn’t start in left), but after Chip said Reyes was the “most exciting player in the game!” for the eighteenth time, I switched over to his dad on the radio. It was a good choice, as usual. At one point Skip said that if we had to play a four game series in Shea Stadium he would “jump out of the booth and be done with it.”

There is really nothing better than being surprised by a player you don’t have the highest expectations for, and I just love the hell out of Kelly right now, as I’m sure everyone does. And I’ve loved Rent since his Marlins days, so it’s always great to see him be the hero. What a fun game . . . Bobby getting tossed just made it perfect. The only thing that worries me is poor Heap’s hand. As Chipper said, don’t be broke, Heap. Chipper also had a memorable quote about Kelly’s great performance:

I told you that sucker was gonna hit,” third baseman Chipper Jones said of Johnson, whose .423 on-base percentage ranks near the top among major-league leadoff men. “He’s got all the fundamentals and the mental side of it down.”

That mental side bit seems right — Kelly always looks almost eerily calm. It’s quite a contrast to old Gilly, and I appreciate it — keep up the good work, Scooter.

04/20/2007 (8:26 am)

“Strike After Strike”

Filed under: Kelly,Non-Braves

It’s too bad that Redman’s first quality start as a Brave was wasted on a night when we were completely shut down by a dominant opposing pitcher. I should probably disclose that, last night, I, um. Kind of fell in love with Rich Hill.

I’m sure I wouldn’t look twice if I just passed him on the street, but when he was pitching, dude had me in a two hour swoon. This is an issue that occasionally arises for the straight female baseball fan. As adorable and impressive as my Braves are, they have a sort of brotherly familiarity that prevents them from having the same effect on me. Frenchy is probably the best looking guy in baseball, but I’ve seen him happily picking his nose in the dugout too often to have a proper crush on him. Opposing team’s players have a certain mystery that makes them more exciting. I haven’t spent large chunks of my life yelling at the television while they continue to stubbornly swing at the high ones. Hill’s quotes were pretty great, too:

“I was a fan of the Braves growing up because they were always on TBS and I watched them in the World Series,” said Hill, who lowered his ERA at Turner Field to 0.66 (one earned run in 13 2/3 innings). “The fans are great, it’s a great city, a great organization. To come in here, it’s a lot of fun.”

Oh, Richie, you say the nicest things! I also appreciated Kelly’s “all game long, strike after strike is all it was,” and the title of this AJC article.

On a much more serious note, I think it has been decided: Kelly’s new nickname is Scooter.

Now onward to New York, in a near tie with the Mets. This should be a great series, and I’m pretty excited about it. The game tonight is a TBS Xtra broadcast, or a “Super Duper” broadcast, as Skip called it last night. Apparently Julio Franco will be miked, so whatever happens, at least we’ll have that.

04/02/2007 (3:57 pm)

Look Who Has A Bullpen

What a great start to the season, a really exciting first game — I was up off my sofa jumping around when Rent hit that first homer to tie it up. It was such a perfect go-fuck-yourself for Slappy McWifebeater, knocking him out of the game with his tail between his legs. Skip had just been making some apologist-type comments about how he’d turned his life around (boo), and nothing burns me up more than losing to Myers, so when that happened — man. I bounced around the room until my ponytail holder fell out. And of course Rent’s SECOND HOMER (what day is this?? what is the year??) had me off the couch again.

And Heap, my God, this world does not even deserve your awesomeness. He’s hitting .750 for the season so far, ha. And I loved how he gave the ump a little hell for that one bad call during his third at-bat.

Other parts of the game I enjoyed:

–Chipper coming over to tell Gonzo how to get Utley for the third out. Whatever he told him worked!

–Skip saying “Welcome to Philadelphia” after a couple of stupid scoring decisions on errors.

–Smoltzie brushing Rollins back off the plate a few times. Heh heh.

–The pictures on the “up next” graphic that gets shown just before the commercial breaks were all messed up. Who were those guys??

–I didn’t necessarily like this, but I thought it was funny when Utley bitched to Heap after Smoltz backed him up off the plate. Shut up, Utley.

This bullpen thing feels like a nice dream after last year. Gonzo’s wildness was a little scary at first, and Wicky always has to give up that one heart-stopping hit, but I can hardly complain. And of course Smoltz was great, with seven strikeouts. Frenchy was disappointing, and I think I cursed poor Kelly by picking him to have a good game in Talking Chop’s Noc-A-Homa Win-A-Lotta contest. I thought I’d pick a dark horse, too easy to go with Chipper or Heap — and now I know never to go with them, because, man, did Kelly have a bad game. Totally my fault, sorry KJ.

Tony Pena Jr. just hit a triple off of Schilling in his first at-bat as a Royal! I don’t know why that just made me so happy, I guess the Braves have put me in a good mood.

Finally: you know who I really didn’t miss this offseason? Marc Fein.

03/09/2007 (6:34 pm)

Braves Dig the Long Ball

We beat the Pirates today, 8-5. Aybar hit one out in the first, Kelly somehow pulled off a broken bat home run in the sixth, and Langerhans hit one in the seventh. Our strategy seems to be “overwhelm with scattered home runs,” as it was last year (after the All-Star break, at least). Hopefully this year the pitching will be able to hold these homer-fied leads. We picked up a cheap lefty, Mark Redman, recently of Royals All-Star fame. It’s kind of mean that they even send a Royal to the All-Star game, just to make him sit on the bench and feel inadequate. Redman does pretty well against lefties, but right handed batters kill him. So he’ll come in handy when we play those all-lefty teams.

Ah, but to hell with these concerns. It’s the weekend, let’s enjoy some amusing off-the-field pictures of the Braves:

In case any of you were wondering what Heap looks like holding a huge rifle. I believe this was taken at Chipper’s ranch. The guy on the left is Matt Duff.

Frenchy pulls off the “curious farm animal stares at the camera in confusion” look pretty well. He was golfing with Smoltz, Tanyon Sturtze (I forgot he existed for awhile there) and a reporter for the AJC.

Here’s a bunch of Braves (and one ex-Brave) with country singer Luke Bryan. I’ve seen a few pictures like this before, all of them out together, and Langerhans always looks like he’s about eight beers up on everybody else. I love it; who’d have thought?

And finally:

Maddux does completely insane the classy way. Maybe he’ll teach Giles a thing or two this season.

03/01/2007 (5:16 pm)

The Rise of the Silver Catcher

It’s promotion schedule time! This year it’s mostly the old standards — a night where you can win the game worn jerseys (tastefully abbreviated as JOOB on the schedule), t-shirt giveaways, bat nights, hat nights, and plenty of kids running the bases all summer long. They also offer a sneak preview of the Heap statue they’ll be giving out on July 19:

I guess it’s silver because he got the Silver Slugger last year? Either way, the likeness is astounding.

More than any of these other giveaways and special events, everyone must make sure to mark their calendars for the September 9th game against the Nationals, when the Braves will have Bark in the Park (one of TWO Barks scheduled in the Park this season!), Pet Calendar Night (if you don’t have the 06-07 calender that features Rent staring lovingly at his goldfish, “Little Edgar,” you’re really missing the hell out) AND Girl Scout Night. I know, you’re thinking, Girl Scout Night? What’s the big deal? Well, last year we happened to show up on one of the Girl Scout days, and they had five hundred little girls parading around the field with their mothers before the game, and who had to walk out into right field to practice throwing with the starting pitcher while all of this was going on? Why, Heap, of course! He looked like he was afraid he was hallucinating. Then a rogue mom broke away from the crowd and ran to him before the security people could stop her, got his autograph and ran back, dragging her poor daughter with her. It was fantastic.

I listened to most of the game against the Dodgers on MLB radio today. All good news: we won 7-2, Davies had a good mini-start. Brayan Pena and Thor both benefited from really hustling down to first, beating out tags that would have been made easily if they hadn’t. Corky Miller, Escobar, Salty and Frenchy had some of the more memorable hits, and Paronto and Yates were fine to close it out. On the Dodgers side, Betemit was making errors all over the place, and LaRoche’s ridiculously good looking younger brother played a little third base.

A few pictures from the two games played so far

Am I the only person who can’t get enough awkward videos of Heap signing stuff for people? Probably, but do enjoy the above if you’re so inclined. I particularly like the part where Heap picks up that guy’s used tissue and inspects it curiously, and I love how the kid immediately sniffs the card after Heap signs it (for authenticity purposes?), then accuses him of signing it with glue.

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