V Vernacular

03/10/2007 (6:37 pm)

“Already in Midseason Form”

Now it’s officially baseball season (I know I’ve said this about three times so far this year, but for real this time): Skip is back! He called our game against the Blue Jays today with Pete, and I was grinning like an idiot the entire time. Even if he’d done the whole thing pretty dry, starting out slow or something, I would have been thrilled just to hear his voice again, but as he said to Pete at one point, he was “already in midseason form,” going on about Bark in the Park (very excited that we have two this year) and subtly ripping on the sponsors with glee. Just the phrase “Chipper’s exploits” had me laughing for ten minutes. His best comment came pretty early, remarking on the atmosphere at our Disney stadium:

“The music and sound effects here are unrelenting — they just beat you to death.”

When Bobby retires, it will be very strange, and I’ll probably be upset and thrown off for awhile. But when Skip retires, I will be an absolute wreck. Skip is the only reason I survived our 2006 season (that and the ability to mute Torborg). I have so heavily associated my whole life as a Braves fan with his voice, I can’t even imagine the team going on without him. For now, I’m just really happy that he’s shown up to do the radio broadcasts with Pete. He was trying to have Pete explain the internet broadcasts to him, and that was comedy gold in itself.

Our pitching was excellent today. Well, the new guy hit two batters, but he only allowed one run. Soriano and McBride were solid, and Cormier was surprisingly good for four whole innings. He seems more consistent this year, but it’s still early. I do have more hope for him than Davies at this point, but even he hasn’t been terrible. So I’m feeling a little more hopeful despite Hampton’s injury (Bobby is now saying “at least two months”), but I guess I should hold off getting too excited until after Davies’ start tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with a great AP picture from the game today:

If there was a “Best Overall Use of Teeth in Expressing Emotion” award for ballclubs, the Braves would win it every year. Chipper, Diaz and Heap (who hit his first home run of the spring today!) are all experts at this. Keep up the good work, Chip!

03/02/2007 (6:41 pm)

Let the Jokes About Chipper’s Sex Life Begin

Chipper’s beard was a hot topic of conversation among the ESPN announcers today, during the first televised Braves spring training game (also the first game ESPN has televised this season). Apparently, the beard is Chipper’s way of “rebelling against his wife,” who hates it. Chipper was interviewed by the dudes after he was taken out of the game, and they asked him if he was more afraid of drawing the wrath of Bobby (who presumably has issues with the beard himself) or his wife. Chipper of course answered that he was more afraid of his wife, and after he left Kruk said, “Bobby can bench him, but his wife can really bench him.”

Jokes about players’ wives withholding sex? Now it’s officially spring! Hooray!

The game today was the first one I’ve seen since my husband and I got a huge new television and HD cable as a Christmas present to ourselves, so it was a religious experience for me. I did find myself getting distracted by the detail that I can now see in the crowd: I was mesmerized by a kid eating an ice cream bar at one point.

Notes from the game:

–LaRoche forgot his jersey. LaRoche. Forgot? His JERSEY. He wore an impromptu number 96. At this point I’m just really impressed that his wife was able to see that their children survived past infancy. It must have been a challenge, just making sure he didn’t burn the house down every time he tried to make toast. I thought nothing could beat going to play golf with Tiger Woods and forgetting your clubs, but LaRoche certainly has a way of topping himself.

–Smoltz looked excellent; his breaking stuff was just embarrassingly good. He tried to throw a knuckleball to Rochy. They uh, had a laugh about it. He needed only 12 pitches in his first inning.

–Diaz got a hit, and tried to overcompensate for his reputation in left by tumbling into a concrete wall in an attempt to catch a foul that was well into the bullpen:

Thankfully he was okay. Someone please tell him that he’s on the goddamn roster before he kills himself. I swear most of his problem in left is nerves.

–Heap grounded out twice and missed a chance to throw out a runner, but he did make important tag at the plate after a great assist from Andruw:

Now if nobody could get near Heap again until April 1st, that would be great. Collisions at the plate are so not happening in spring training games, ya hear me?

–Frenchy homered, and even looked at the first two pitches in his first at bat! They were both balls, but the ump called the third pitch he looked at a strike, so Frenchy swung wildly at the next one. But anyway, he homered. He looked a little asleep out there in right, but it was a half-game golf day, so I guess I won’t be too bothered.

–Chipper and Andruw both looked like goofballs at the plate. Chipper especially looked like he wasn’t having any of this practice shit. It’s to be expected, I suppose. Andruw was certainly awake in the field.

–Gonzalez gave up a two run homer and Wicky’s inning ran a little long, but I’m not really worried about either of them.

–McBride, on the other hand, looked a little weak. Moylan was surprisingly good. The Vulch gave up a home run.

–Apparently Chipper flew to Japan during the offseason to have his new cleats fitted. The idea of Chipper in Japan will never stop being funny. I’m sure he went right to KFC like Andruw did while he was there.

–I don’t care for Andruw’s new spiderweb tattoo.

Peter Gammons is in love with the Braves, by the way. I’ve heard or read about a thousand positive things from him since spring training started, and hopefully the rest of the mainstream media will follow his respected lead. They sure hated our asses last year, seemed like.

Miscellaneous:

Orr almost killed KJ this morning. Orr just needs to go home before someone loses an eye, I swear.

–Dave O’Brien mentions the cover of the new media guide in his blog today. It features — what else? — Heap and Frenchy. Dave calls it the “dawn of a new era” for the Braves, and this is certainly true of their marketing department, if nothing else. I think it’s brilliant, and it may seem like Heap and Frenchy were just handed to them, but this has happened before in major league baseball, and while those childhood friends weren’t touted as equally as Heap and Frenchy (whatever happened to Munson, anyway?), I think the shameless flaunting of their history is a great approach here. Get them on the cover of everything and keep them there as long as you can.

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.

02/27/2007 (6:16 pm)

“Whatever. We’ve Got Yoga.”

I’m starting to feel the pangs of real discouragement for the first time this preseason: Hampton says he’s a no go, despite Bobby’s optimism. I don’t know what scares me more, the idea that Hampton might flake out this season, or the possibility that Bobby’s ability to judge who is capable and who isn’t is fading. Last season sure made it look that way, with the Jordan platoon at first, keeping Pratt around when he might have tried Pena a little earlier, and the Reitsma Reign of Terror that Bobby staunchly supported well into June. If Hampton was an irresponsible jackass like Reitsma and wanted to hide an injury (or discomfort, in this case), we might have been in real trouble until the assassination attempts began around the All-Star break.

Maybe I’m taking Bobby’s ra-ra quotes to the press too literally, but I did notice his willingness to give eighth, tenth, thousandth chances significantly hurting the team last year. At any rate, good for Hampton for admitting when things are not right — I guess. I know pitchers have a tendency to be delicate flowers and sometimes wilt more readily than they need to. There’s really no telling, but either way, this leaves us with only three starting pitchers. Shit. No wonder everyone keeps talking about the bullpen nonstop . . .

Again, I need pictures to calm me down

I miss Maddux. This exchange from his recent interview with the AJC had me crying laughing:

Q: What are you thinking today?

A: I’m thinking today, whatever. We’ve got yoga today. So I’m going to go in there and do a little yoga, get all stretched out, then work on the fundamentals and figure out what to do until it gets dark.

Just the idea of Maddog doing the Downward Facing Dog pose makes me feel better about everything. And I can’t wait to hear about how Harrison does in his start against Tech tomorrow. Fun with rookies! Too bad I can’t watch on TV or even listen on the radio . . . around 1:00 I’m going to be going crazy just knowing there is Braves baseball going on somewhere without me.

02/26/2007 (6:17 pm)

“You Want Me to Throw a Changeup With a Pepper?”

Still not a lot of news out of camp, save that Harrison will pitch against Tech on Wednesday, and Davies will start against the Dodgers on Thursday, meaning Smoltzie will start against the Pirates for the first televised game on Friday! I’m very excited to see that, and to hear about how Harrison and Davies perform.

Dave O’Brien did a little around-camp perspective on his blog today, which sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is. To surmise: Thor is a power hitter (who’d have thought), Gonzo is looking good so far, Soriano still doesn’t want to be friends with Dave, and Diaz is still hitting impressively. Dave mentions that some of his ingenious readers have already accused Diaz of using steroids based on what they’ve heard from camp, which is a real “I wish there was some way I could physically harm you via the internet” moment for me, not just because I personally like and respect Matt Diaz and don’t understand what the big deal is — he hit well last year, too, for power and otherwise, Bobby just never played him — but mostly because it just astounds me that someone can show up looking exactly like he did the year before and still get accused of using something after the first mention of hitting for power. Incredible. It also amazes me that Dave thinks he even needs to acknowledge such idiocy.

To lighten the mood, enjoy some pictures from AJC and Yahoo

One more for the road:

Barry Zito, ladies and gentlemen.

Rookie hazing is so cringe inducing for me. I’ve never been one to find men in drag hilarious as a rule. Check out what the Mets are making their rookies do – yikes! Oh wait, they all have to do that. Damn, that’s rough.

02/23/2007 (9:15 am)

The Official Cole Slaw of the Atlanta Braves

From yesterday’s Braves Notes, this is the best thing I’ve heard since they reported:

If Matt Diaz continues to punish the baseball the same way that he’s done the first two days in camp, his defensive woes may not be a hindrance in his attempt to beat out Ryan Langerhans and Craig Wilson for playing time in left field.

I hope to God they’re serious about this. Overusing platoons really contributed to the slaughter last year, and I want Diaz to get that job so badly. I really feel like he could improve defensively if they just expressed some confidence in him.

Speaking of confidence, Soriano has finally arrived at camp and he informs us that the rumors of his post-traumatic stress syndrome have been greatly exaggerated:

“I’m not scared, I’m not a little kid.”

I have to say, I kind of appreciate Soriano’s “how dare you” attitude about the whole thing. Bohn, who played with him in Seattle, describes him as “cocky” in those Braves Notes. After suffering through a certain Canadian openly crying on the mound last year and then returning to the dugout to eat towels (this really happened in Chicago, he took a bite out of a towel and chewed it, then the camera cut away, so I’m not sure if he swallowed), I’m all for somebody cocky out there.

The Braves Notes also mention Hampton having “significant discomfort,” which is terrifying and kind of shoved down at the bottom of the page like nobody wants to think about it much, but I guess there’s no need to panic yet. There is also talk of maybe making McBride a starter, because he’s improved a lot. I could actually see this; I don’t think he works too well in the pressure of late innings, but he’s definitely got the stuff when he’s not having a panic attack out there. So, interesting.

Pictures: Get Ready for Cheesy Team Portraits!

Sports Gone South, via Deadspin, brought my attention to a rap about the Braves that is featured on the ChopTalk website. Just scroll down, it’s on the left. I got through three whole seconds of it before I turned it off, so, enjoy!

I was more interested in the “Bonus ChopTalk Recipes!” featured on the website, but they’re just normal recipes, not “Nicole Jones’ Turkey Chili” or “Heap’s Girlfriend’s Homemade Donuts” or anything cool like that, so that was kind of a letdown as well.

02/21/2007 (4:32 pm)

“What’s Wrong With My Hair?”

I actually thought the beginning of this Dave O’Brien blog was kinda funny. I’m scared for my sanity, naturally. But there are also some good quotes there for those of you who aren’t losing your minds, including some from Wilson about his hair (“what’s wrong with it?”) and Gonzalez’s girlfriend (“hot”). Also, apparently Rent has arrived, though I’ve yet to see a picture of him. His conversation with Dave about Shakira is rather great.

Pictures from Yahoo and AJC

I’ll leave you guys with this:

We may have our problems — nervous second basemen, no fifth starter, indifferent owners — but at least we’re not Yankee fans. It looks really painful.

02/19/2007 (10:41 pm)

So, Is Our Bullpen Good?

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.

The Monday pictures from AJC are pretty excellent

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:

Yankee fans have their first crucial Jeter/A-Rod relationship status article.

A-Rod on Jeter:

“Do we go to dinner every night like we used to? No.”

:*(

02/17/2007 (9:46 pm)

Spring Training Day Two

So, I just spent the past fifteen minutes checking up on Braves news and pictures, and I was laughing almost the entire time. But in a good way!

More pictures from AJC

Today’s articles include:

Yet another feature on Chuckie and his offseason career. At this point, he could make it into the Hall of Fame and his plaque would simply read: HE INSTALLED WINDOWS. This article is as delightful as anything where Chuckie is quoted necessarily is. He mentions that the Braves have “shower shoes,” which is hilarious to me, and talks about the atmosphere with his buddies at work, offering pretty much the greatest quote of all time:

“We screw around a lot,” he said. “If there’s pine cones, we’re smoking each other with ‘em. I like it.”

The “I like it” at the end really makes it for me. Chuckie is the best.

There’s also the first attempt to get Smoltz to talk about his divorce, which he handles brilliantly. Last year he was a bit of a PR disaster, freaking out anytime someone printed an unflattering article about him – and sometimes having his loyal catcher freak out on his behalf (I know I won’t soon forget Heap’s indignant “When he pitches a good game does that mean he’s too YOUNG?!”), but he was obviously under a lot of stress last year, and sounds very collected and professional now.

We also have some goofball thing about pitchers and catchers from Mark Bradley, which I found insulting to catchers even though he’s trying to defend them, but I guess he’s joking. It doesn’t occur to him to mention once that catchers have to learn the way each pitcher works so they can carefully evaluate every hitter and situation based the pitcher they’re working with? Eh. I should probably just avoid the “fun” AJC blogs.

Finally, I adore Chipper’s attitude in this article from the official site. You fuckin tell ‘em, Chip. Just shave first, or no one will take you seriously.

The above Braves Notes also mention that someone hit our golden youth Matt Harrison in his pitching arm with a batted ball. He’s okay, but – what do you want to bet it was Orr?

02/02/2007 (10:17 am)

Offseason Antics

There’s always plenty of coverage about whatever douchebag things the Yankees get up to in the offseason, such as running their perfume empires and, well . . . whatever is going on here. But what about our Braves, who are more “openly reviled” by the mainstream sports media than actually “covered?” What have they been up to since October?

Marriage, Babies, and Ugly Sweaters

So there you have it: while the Yankees are running around lighting cigars with embarrassing flourish and naming fragrances after themselves, our guys are representing Atlanta well with their handyman jobs and relatively normal lives, getting dragged around to look at wedding invitations with their fiancees and such. Keep up the good work, boys.

The Braves Fan Fest is happening tomorrow at Tuner Field, so if you’re into waiting in line for autographs, head on over there. I think I’m going to pass, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting any pictures from the event, which will allow me to keep tabs on the changing hairstyles and ridiculous sweaters of my Atlanta Braves.

« Previous Page