V Vernacular

06/08/2007 (3:14 pm)

The Ushers Should Be Robots

Filed under: Field Trips,Langerhans

So I figured out who keeps starting the wave at Turner Field. It’s this one old guy, and wouldn’t you know it, he works there. Sort of.

Before I begin this rant, I’ll acknowledge that many people like old people who are “characters.” You know the old people I’m talking about. Around or over eighty years old, always trying to make cornball jokes and flirt with young girls — I’m aware that many people are charmed by this. Many people also like young children. Don’t get me wrong — some young children are adorable, and some old guys who make the occasional cheesy joke are great (I tend to like really cynical, cantankerous, reformed boozer old guys who tell cartoon ducks to shut up, and of course sweet old guys like Pete are wonderful). I’m even aware that some of you might know this usher and really like him. Some people in our section certainly did, and I’m sure he’s been there forever. I’m not calling for his resignation. I’m just saying . . .

GIVE IT A REST WITH THE DAMN WAVE.

I hate the wave. I had other issues with this guy (I can’t stand service people who feel like they need to add to your experience by sharing their personality with you. I know some people love this, but I personally just want my waiters to shut the hell up, bring me my food and get lost), but when he came down the aisles yelling “WE’RE GON-NA TRY AND START THE WAVE NOW!!” I wanted to physically harm him, I’m sorry. I was trying to watch the game, and yes we were losing, but only by three runs. It wasn’t a blowout that needed added entertainment for the fans, and as much as I love little video clips of Heap on the Jumbotron, telling us what his favorite kind of pizza is, part of me really agrees with Skip, that the parks like Wrigley who don’t need any of that crap to draw fans are heaven and every place else is just tolerable. I do understand that plenty of fans who pack into Wrigley and Fenway do it because they want to get trashed just as much as they want to see live baseball, but now I’m just getting off topic. I hate the wave.

I hate distractions, I hate cutesy crap, I hate those cotton candy vendors relentlessly prowling the aisles and blocking my view of the field every five minutes, and this is all coming from someone who adores the TBS Xtra broadcasts and reads Chop Talk magazine mostly for the gossip section and the pictures of players’ living rooms (if you’re wondering — they all have pretty bad taste. It’s delightful). I love goofy nonsense, goofy nonsense and sports go hand and hand, as far as I’m concerned, but goofy nonsense should be there when you want it and should be avoidable when you’re actually, you know, watching sports. When I go to a game, I don’t need a whole section of people standing up and screaming like idiots during a tense at-bat, for no reason, just to hear themselves make noise. It’s not fun, it’s not encouraging to the players (in fact I assume it would annoy them), it’s just ridiculous.

I was going to go on and do a whole post about Atlanta baseball fans and how we could possibly stop being considered huge douchebags as a whole, but this has already turned into a long-winded rant, so I’ll save that for another time. Suffice it to say: when I get a young, completely disinterested usher, I’m always so relieved. I’ve recently had a slew of older ones who want to chit chat, and that is not what I go to the park for. Unfortunately, these old veteran ushers have all the good sections, so if you shell out money for a good seat, you’ll probably have to deal with them. It is very likely that this doesn’t bother anyone but me, and that it’s just a sign that I’m turning into my parents more every day, becoming the type of person who can never go anywhere because someone somewhere might do something annoying at some point, but anyway. My solution is of course to have robots as ushers. If we’re gonna do the biggest screen in the world thing, what else could be the logical next step? I’m sure Langerhans has some relatives who need work. Heck, Langerhans might need work pretty soon.

05/03/2007 (7:45 am)

Lucky Salty and Hapless Langerhans

Filed under: Heap,Langerhans

Well, if that doesn’t lend credence to my theory that Salty does voodoo on our catchers, I don’t know what will. Heap and Pena are injured in the same game, and then Salty comes up on his birthday? There was some chicken blood involved, I’ll bet.

I love how the AP photographer got Depressed Heap in the background there. No one does depressed like Heap. Did anyone else see his interview on the pre-game show? It was dark, man.

Salty looked quite smart at the plate, and I was impressed when he threw Werth out at second. I hope we’ll be able to trade him for some young pitching this season, though it will be kind of sad to see him doing well for another team. But if we could pull off some kind of Scott Kazmir-esque steal of a trade (my favorite trade of all time — eat it, Mets fans!), he’ll have done his part for us.

Pretty funny when he tried to be That Guy by hitting one out in his first at-bat. Close, but not quite — sorry pal, we’ve already got a Frenchy.

I thought it was funny that Salty was wearing Langerhans’ old number, until I heard that Langy was traded again, this time to the Nationals — ouch! Maybe that was another aspect of Salty’s voodoo curse, who knows. Rookie hot shot stole your number and you’re headed for the worst team in baseball — sounds like a country song.

04/30/2007 (7:55 am)

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Filed under: Langerhans

Last night, Bobby and the crew left Colorado with a mission:

Selling some robots.

I imagine it went a little something . . . like this:

Bob Geren: Huston! Huston!!

Huston Street: Yah, coach?

Bob Geren: Tell Billy that if he gets a centerfielder to be sure it speaks Stoner.

Huston Street: It looks like we don’t have much of a choice, but I’ll remind him.

(Huston walks over to Billy, who is examining a motley crew of our expendable players, lined up in front of our sandcrawler private jet.)

Billy Beane: (Glances at Langerhans) I have no need for an outfielder who can’t hit.

Langerhans: Sir — not in an environment such as this — that’s why I’ve also been programmed for over thirty defensive functions that . . .

Billy Beane: What I really need is a centerfielder who understands the language of the stoners I’ve got in my outfield.

Langerhans: Sir, my first major league job was working alongside Andruw Jones!

Billy Beane: And that relates how?

Langerhans: Why do you think he’s smiling all the time?

Billy Beane: Maybe he’s just happy.

Langerhans: He’s also afraid of frogs.

Billy Beane: I see. (turns to Bobby) I’ll take this one. And that one, too (points to Woodward). Huston, take these two down to the clubhouse. I want both of them greasy and unshaven before Tuesday’s game.

Huston: But I was going to drive down to San Francisco to go to yoga class with Zito!!

Billy Beane: You can waste time with the other hippies when your chores are done! Now come on, get to it!

(Bobby and Billy begin to negotiate. Billy takes a few bucks out of his pocket, and Huston walks toward the homestead Coliseum with Langerhans and Woodward. Smoke starts pouring out of Woodward.)

Huston: Billy!! This utility infielder . . . sucks!! Look!

Billy Beane: (To Bobby) Hey, what are you trying to push on me??

Bobby: (Incomprehensible fussing)

Langerhans: (Points to Orr) Excuse me, sir, but that utility infielder is in prime condition! A real bargain.

Orr: (Whistles and beeps in excitement)

Billy Beane: Uh. No thanks.

And so Langerhans heads off into the night, toward his new home:

Who knew Langerhans could ride a camel? I guess that’s how it works out in California. Don’t worry, Langy, your new home looks a lot more hospitable in the light of day:

Well, sort of. Enjoy starting in centerfield and trying to figure out American League pitching — should be interesting! I think a change of atmosphere can only do him good.

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.

04/18/2007 (8:28 am)

Soriano Saves the Day (And Possibly Smoltzy’s Life)

Filed under: Frenchy,Langerhans,Smoltz,Soriano

Last night’s game felt about eight hours long, especially during those last two outs in the eighth inning. Soriano may just be the great love of my 2007 baseball season. His composure is amazing, and he even gave Rent a little pat on the back in the dugout last night, surely to raise his spirits after Error Fest ’07, so who says he’s such a hard ass? Not wanting to pal around with Dave O’Brien is hardly jerk qualification.


NO, RENT, THAT’S YOUR HAT! THE BALL’S ALREADY IN YOUR HAND! AHHHH!

That is the most emotion I’ve ever seen Langerhans display. I guess I can’t knock Bobby for playing him last night, because he did make a game-saving catch in the 8th, and made a couple of nice catches for Wicky in the 9th. He was the same ole sinkhole at the plate, though, striking out looking like the confused automaton that he is. The Former House Mates took care of most of the offense, with Kelly going 4-5, Heap 2-4 with an RBI and a walk, and Frenchy with a hit, a couple of RBIs and yes, even a walk of his own! What is going on here? Maybe he really did learn something from watching Heap Tapes during the offseason (and David Wright Tapes, too, which is almost as funny). I had hopes in spring training that were starting to falter a bit, but lately he’s got me feeling optimistic again.

Smoltz looked good for the most part, but had himself a little Maddux vs. Watercooler-style meltdown when he came out in the seventh. His quotes were kind of disturbing, too:

“I’m glad we won because I’m fearful of what I would have done to myself if we’d lost,” said Smoltz.

Oh really? Can someone take Smoltzy out for a beer or something? He seems a little tense lately, even for him.

04/16/2007 (11:15 am)

Playing Favorites (Literally)

Filed under: Aybar,Diaz,Langerhans,Orr

Try to guess which sentence from this article about Aybar’s suspension infuriated me.

That’s right, it’s this one:

Even if he reaches a point where he’s healthy enough to play, the Braves may have a hard time placing him on the roster in favor of Pete Orr, who is a clubhouse favorite, beloved by teammates, coaches and manager Bobby Cox.

And no, it’s not because I hate Orr (though I don’t usually relish seeing him the lineup) or because I don’t think Aybar’s inability to show up for work is probably a sign that he’s a lazy asshole. If he can’t be professional, he has no place in this organization, and that attitude is one of the reasons I love the Braves. But one of the things that drives me insane about the Braves is the attitude displayed in the above statement (from the official site). If you’re one of the cool kids, in with the gang, then you have a better chance of starting games. Why is Orr is still around? They like him. How did Reitsma get so many opportunities to destroy our season last year? He was well-liked in the clubhouse, a great guy, etc.

If Aybar apologizes and starts actually showing up to the park, I would rather see him at the plate than Orr any day. I understand that not following team policy will hurt him — it should. But being “beloved” really shouldn’t help Orr that much. Playing favorites has hurt the team in the past, and it’s already made an impact this season, with Langerhans getting to play instead of Diaz because of his “intangibles,” I guess. I think this is going to change soon — Joe and Chip were making some noise about it during one of the weekend broadcasts, and there is a defense of Diaz’s fielding in these recent Braves notes on the official site.

I’m more worried about seeing Diaz get a real chance in left than whatever will happen with Aybar and Orr off our bench, but I hope the better player — providing he also abides by club rules — will get the job, not the guy who makes everyone laugh and remembers to send birthday cards. Aybar’s attendance matters, but his friendliness in the clubhouse (or lack thereof) shouldn’t count for anything. I’m sure it’s nicer to play with guys who get along well with everyone, and team chemistry is important, but it should never eclipse actual performance.

That said, Diaz seems like one of the nicest guys on the team — maybe Langerhans gets preferential treatment just because he’s cooler. After all, look at what Diaz says when someone comments on how well he played at first the other day:

“I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none,” said Diaz, who entered Saturday, hitting .350 (7-for-20).

Dammit, Matt, learn how to sell yourself! Apparently it’s important.

04/13/2007 (7:19 am)

Bizarro World

Filed under: Diaz,Frenchy,Langerhans

Losing to the Nationals with Smoltz on the mound wasn’t even the strangest thing about last night, nor was being shut out by the infamous Nationals pitching staff. The strangest part about last night was Heap striking out and Frenchy following with a two-out walk. What is going on here. The worst thing about this is that I’m sure it’s convinced Frenchy that walking=bad, and that we won’t see him taking a free ride again for awhile.

I really can’t believe that we’re suffering through Langerhans starting more often than Diaz again this year. What in God’s name could be the possible reason for this? Stick Diaz in there for awhile, and if he makes errors and costs us runs with his less-spectacular defense, keep the platoon. But I think he’s at least earned the chance to lose that position. Starting Langerhans is like an act of submission to the other team’s pitcher. He senses weakness and becomes dominant, even when he’s some no-name, double-digit ERA bastard from the Nationals.

Maybe last night was just part of the Braves’ charity work for the year. Along with low-income inner city families and terminally ill children, we’re also lending a hand to emotionally distraught major league ballclubs. Or maybe the Nats won because of Manny Acta’s much-talked-about team meeting after Wednesday’s game. I wonder what it takes to inspire the Nationals to shut-out victory — did Acta promise to buy them all hookers after the win? Probably not — the Nationals can’t afford hookers. Ice cream sandwiches? Either way, this is the difference an encouraging manager can make — Frank Robinson would just have promised that he wouldn’t personally punch all of them in the face after the game.

Heap’s explanation is simpler:

“That’s the way baseball goes, I guess.”

04/03/2007 (5:20 pm)

The Langerhans Primer

Filed under: Langerhans

Since the Braves have a much needed off day after one exhausting day of regular season play, now seems like a good time to bring my new readers up to speed on my theory about Langerhans. Readers of my previous semi-Braves blog will remember this one. Ready? Okay: he’s a robot. How else to explain his flawless defense in left (and even center!), inhuman speed in the outfield, and complete inability to even begin to approach batting, most days? Sure, sometimes he gets lucky, but one key part of hitting is anticipating what the pitcher will offer based on the count and the situation. As a robot, Langerhans is unable to fathom the subtleties of human logic, so most days he’ll just stand there, armed only with some idea about how to hold a bat, watching pitches go by.

This also explains his complete inability to celebrate victories with his teammates. Every time Langerhans has an opportunity to give someone a high five, he fails miserably, and looks quite confused. Have you never noticed this? Observe:

Here’s the first instance that I noticed, back in June of 2006. The Langerhans bot seems to have confused Frenchy and Andruw’s celebratory high five with the “hug” he’s also seen humans give each other.

He gets a little closer here, later in the month, but still seems confused and can’t quite make contact.

Later in the season, he somehow got the high five confused with “hitchhiking.”

Then he scared Betemit pretty badly with one of his attempts. Betemit demanded to be traded immediately.

I thought maybe Langerhans would take some classes in the offseason, but these pictures from one of the spring training games seem to suggest he’s still pretty mixed up about this thing his human teammates do when one of them wants to congratulate another:

He’s still practicing, it seems.

Just can’t seem to get out of “first position.”

I think this picture, with Langerhans reaching toward the humans clumsily from off camera, pretty poignantly captures his struggle.

Poor Langerhans. Generally, I prefer to see Diaz start. He needlessly runs into his share of walls, but he can hit, and he doesn’t creep me out like the Langerhans bot. Though it is nice to have our trusty robot around when we need to pull a home run back into the park.

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.

03/04/2007 (7:25 pm)

Preseason Frenchy Drama?

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 Enthusiastic:
Brayan Pena

Most Depressingly Resigned:
Pete Orr

Most Likely to Pass for a Mugshot:
Ryan Langerhans

Too Cool to Wear His Uniform for his Roster Portrait:
Andruw Jones

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