V Vernacular

08/29/2007 (11:07 am)

A List Of Things I’m Mad About, Followed By A Hiatus

Filed under: Frenchy,Heap,Smoltz

I’m going on a little mini-vacation starting tomorrow and won’t be back online until Labor Day evening at the earliest. We’re actually going to be downtown all weekend, and we’re going to the Mets games on Friday and Saturday, but we’re staying in a hotel that charges like twenty bucks a day for internet access, and I don’t really feel like crawling around the Peachtree Center food court with my laptop at any point this weekend, so screw it, I need a break from the many hours I spent online every day anyway.

But before I go?

Things I’m Mad About!

1. Smoltz barking at Heap last night, on the field, in the most bitchtastic manner possible, after a botched play on first that Heap had nothing to do with. You kidding me? If you’re going to be That Guy when we’re losing, Smoltz, please direct your anger at someone with an ego at least somewhat proportional to yours, so at the very least we can have another media blowout to entertain us as the season draws to an underwhelming close. When Heap threw that ball into centerfield shortly afterward, I had to cringe and hide my face. That’s what happens when you pick on him, Smoltz! Everything Heap does wrong can be traced directly back to other people’s faults, but readers of this blog of course know that by now.

2. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but this here blog features an exclusive “fuck it, I’m going after the owners” quote from Andruw today, so I read it. I got as far as “sartorial tastes” before I regretted eating breakfast beforehand.

3. Finally, you know what has really been making me mad lately? Frenchy. I’ve felt irrationally angry whenever I’ve seen him for the past few weeks. I keep telling myself to lay off a little bit, because he’s improved a lot this season — or at least it looked that way for awhile. Recently, it’s like he just dumped everything and went back to vintage April 2006 Frenchy, because that’s exactly what this team needs right now. His flailing, bent-at-the-waist strikeouts last night were just unbelievable, and the fact that he got himself thrown out really pissed me off. He’s been sniping at umpires constantly for the past week or so, cause it’s got to be SOMEBODY ELSE’S FAULT, right, Frenchy? Sometimes tirades are well deserved, such as Teixeira’s a week or so ago, when the game ended on a strike call though the pitch was a foot off the plate. But when Frenchy is swinging at stuff that is three feet off the plate without a moment’s hesitation, does he really expect a lot of leeway from umpires? Oh, and I’m so sick of the elbow knock. I blame Frenchy for it entirely.

I also blame him for this:

I don’t blame hapless Orr for trying to get out of the way, or Andruw for trying to overcompensate, but still. Next to “Pete Orr” in the baseball encyclopedia? This picture, yes?

05/10/2007 (9:52 am)

I’ll Drink To That

Filed under: Non-Braves,Smoltz

Who are these guys? Last year, if we were down by one in the fifth I would completely write the game off as a loss, and I was almost always right to do so. Now we can have two outs and an 0-2 count on Woodward in the bottom of the 9th, and I’ll still feel like we’ve got a chance. Last night’s Smoltz vs. Maddux game wasn’t exactly the nail-biting pitcher’s duel one might have expected, but they both looked good, and I loved seeing Smoltzie get the win. I wonder what his “surprise” for Maddux would have been, had Maddog not gotten a hit off of the first pitch he offered? I think the gag was pretty much canceled after that — maybe Smoltz later arranged to have Maddux’s hotel room bed short-sheeted to make up for it.

Browsing through baseball articles this morning, I came across this one, about the clubs’ alcohol policies following Josh Hancock’s death. It offers some cool insight into how much the various teams trust their players, and what kind of clubhouse atmosphere they have. Some of the more interesting listings:

Dry clubhouses:

–Yankees and Mets (Probably because ballplayers can’t do anything anywhere ever in New York without getting taken to task in the press — and yet, somehow David Wells played there for four years. They must have banned alcohol after he left — possibly because of him. His story about pitching a perfect game while extremely hungover has always been an inspiration to me.)

–Baltimore (The Orioles don’t even deserve beer.)

–Florida (Half their players are underage anyway.)

–Washington (Drinking and severe depression really don’t mix well.)

Beer available on tap:

–Colorado (Of course — isn’t “Tap the Rockies” printed somewhere on their jerseys?)

–Philadelphia (The team psychologist actually recommended a tap to help them deal with their fans.)

“Beer and wine available in the clubhouse”:

–Chicago White Sox (This was the only team that specifically mentioned wine. I’m having a hard time picturing A.J. Pierzynski sitting in front of his locker sipping chardonnay from a wine glass.)

So how about Atlanta? We’re listed as “beer available.” I’m sure David Wells is extremely relieved. Hopefully he’ll need quite a few of them after we’re done with him today.

05/09/2007 (8:02 am)

The Big Game!

Filed under: Ex-Braves,Smoltz

Every time the media makes a big deal out of a particular match-up, I’m reminded of my sixth grade drama class. At one point during the school year we had to write and perform plays, and one group in my class titled theirs “The Big Game.” On the day of the performances, this weird, skinny kid who was in “The Big Game” group — who may or may not have had some sort of undiagnosed condition — ran around the room for about an hour saying nothing but “THE BIG GAME! THE BIG GAME!” over and over again, until the teacher completely lost it on him and told him to shut up.

This is pretty much how the press treats any especially exciting sporting event: they go into hyperactive, bug-eyed kid mode and make a lot of content-free, repetitive noise until people get annoyed. I’ve actually always been fond of hype — I know a lot of people hate it, and think that it sets you up for inevitable disappointment, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fact that looking forward to big games is usually more fun than actually watching them. Fun in anticipation counts, too.

All of the pre-game stuff last night was centered on Smoltz vs. Maddux, which may have been good for Lerew, because he looked pretty calm out there and did a great job, despite the two homers. Since then, the AJC offers:

An article where Maddux reminds us that he and Smoltz are “not 5 years old anymore.”

Dave O’Brien recounting the snot story for the 190th time since it was first mentioned yesterday — I personally liked the version that was shown on the pre-game show last night best, with Chipper asking if he had to tell a “G-rated” story, and implying that most involving Maddux aren’t. What I wouldn’t give to hear the others — I’m sure he and Chip raised plenty of hell together during the Hooters years.

A feature on the official site that is accompanied by a priceless picture of Maddux’s old hair.

So bring it on! The Big Game! I have to say, as cool as the first match-up between these two since Maddux left is (I can’t believe it’s only been four years) . . . I’m most looking forward to Smoltz’s prank. Which probably means it’ll be an extremely subtle, inside joke letdown, but hey. That’s part of the fun.

My notes from last night:

–I can’t believe, after such solid play all month, that Kelly booted a ball hit by Gilly! How embarrassing! Poor Scooter; at least we ended up winning, and he scored the tying run. And boy was he scooting around those bases on Rent’s triple.

–Salty is a hugger. It kind of cracks me up when he hugs Soriano, I guess because Raffy’s supposed to be such a hard ass.

–What was that little book Frenchy and Andruw were reading in the dugout? I turned on the TV audio and heard Joe talking about scouting reports, but it looked like a homemade birthday card with a toddler’s scrawlings across the front. I thought maybe it was a fake Padres media guide sent over by Maddux — because if anyone fell for a handwritten media guide, it would probably be Andruw and Frenchy. Well, it would probably be Frenchy. Maybe Andruw was in on the joke.

04/27/2007 (1:07 pm)

Smoltzy’s Here to Stay

Filed under: Frenchy,Marketing,Smoltz,Videos

The news that Smoltz signed a contract extension is not exactly surprising, but it’s definitely a comfort. I really admire him for staying with one team throughout his entire career, and I admire the Braves for being the type of organization that makes players want to stay. I hope it starts happening more often. Smoltzy’s final contract makes me wonder why he stayed while Maddux and Glavine didn’t. Did the move to the bullpen have something to do with it? Was it just a money thing for Glavine, just a Cubs thing for Maddux? Why don’t more players stay loyal to teams who treat them well? Money, obviously, but is there anything major league baseball could do to change that, and should they even want to?

There was a post about this in Alyssa Milano’s baseball blog recently (shut up, it was linked from Fire Joe Morgan). She talks specifically about how losing a free agent to another team can hurt a team’s female fan base. Are women that much more player-oriented? I hate to make a blanket statement, but a lot of the female fans I’ve encountered do seem to get more attached to specific players than male fans do. I personally became a baseball fan by watching my brother’s little league games, and grew up caring more about those games than major league baseball, though I followed that, too. I learned about and came to love the game while watching people I cared about playing it, so I’ve always needed to be invested in players’ personal struggles and victories in order to really care about a team.

Seeing free agents leave teams has affected my interest in the past. Maddux was the one who really killed me. I didn’t watch much baseball in 2004 or most of 2005, but it wasn’t some conscious decision I made out of anger, I just lost that obsessive interest I’d once had. I continued to follow the Braves casually, and didn’t really get back into it until the end of 2005 when the Heap and Frenchy era began. My loyalty has really always been to teams first, though I do get wistful when I hear the names of guys who’ve left the Braves mentioned. And there are some players I’ve always liked regardless of team; I still love Moises Alou, even as a Met, though I can’t really root for him anymore. It’s complicated.

Milano wonders if less free agent team-jumping would bring in more female fans. I’m not sure, but I do think women approach the game differently as fans. If something (God forbid) happened to Heap (GOD FORBID) and Salty came up in his place and was amazing . . . I’d still be heartbroken as all hell. Guys might feel bad for him, but would it really bother them to see a favorite player replaced by someone who ends up being just as good?

The difference with losing someone I liked to free agency would be that I’d initially be a little pissed. I think both male and female fans would eventually say “to hell with him” if a player abandoned their team for more money. If Andruw leaves, he will basically become what Maddux has become for me now: someone I once really liked (though I never liked Andruw as well as Maddux, sorry, Druwski) who I will still be glad to see doing well if I hear his name on Sportscenter, but I won’t search for news about him or really care all that much. I won’t be hateful — it’s fine, it’s part of the business — but I won’t respect him as much as Smoltz, who stayed. I expect male and female fans would have identical reactions to a free agent leaving: brief annoyance followed by hopes that we can find someone good to replace him.

Anyway, just in case your Friday afternoon hasn’t been weird enough, please enjoy a video of Frenchy speaking to a church group (thanks to Leah for the link). Doesn’t sound all that weird? Well, he’s also pacing furiously and talking fast enough to be almost incomprehensible, though he does talk about the dangers of looking at “pictures that aren’t right” at one point. Also, the stage he’s on is taken like, directly from the set of Saved!, and I was so waiting for him to pick up one of the many guitars lying around and start rocking out. Maybe next time.

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.

04/02/2007 (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.

03/07/2007 (8:05 pm)

The Death-Defying Atlanta Braves

Filed under: Bobby,Preseason,Smoltz

First, our new bench coach had his SUV flip on the way to the park. Thankfully, he came away with just bruises. Then, Orr nearly offed Kelly with a line drive to his throat. And today, Smoltzie took a line drive to the chest while he was on the mound. He’s okay, very luckily. A major injury to Smoltz in spring training is just . . . really unthinkable.

What do all these close calls mean? Hopefully things like this come in threes and we’ve seen the last of them. I’m glad I wasn’t able to listen to the first half of the game today; I can only imagine how scary it was to see Smoltz take a liner to the chest. Yikes.

My two favorite managers, together at last! If they coached a team together, they would be unstoppable. Dave O’Brien, who worked for the Marlins while Leyland managed there, got some pretty good quotes from him in his blog:

“I can tell you this. Hands down, take it to the bank, John Smoltz is the best postseason pitcher I’ve ever seen — by far. Such a competitor. I don’t know him very well, but I’ve always had the utmost respect for what he’s accomplished. But he’s the best I’ve ever seen in the postseason.”

Then I said Smoltz wasn’t bad in the regular season, either.

And Leyland said, “Slam dunk Hall of Famer. He’s a special guy. One of those freaks who….” He stopped to re-phrase. “There are certain players and pitchers who, when they come on the field, people — fans, other players — stare at them a little longer and say, ‘What is it about this guy?’ There’s something special, an air about them.

“Even as an opponent, I enjoyed competing against John Smoltz. That’s what this business is all about.”

Then Leyland turned to go do his group press conference with Detroit writers. But he stopped and said again, “But without question, best postseason pitcher I’ve ever seen.”

Repeating himself for emphasis is classic Leyland. There’s a great anecdote in Dave Rosenbaum’s The Year the Marlins Bought the World Series (one of my all-time favorite books for the Leyland quotes alone) about Leyland saying over and over again, in astonishment: “It only took Elton John an hour to write Candle in the Wind.”

Oh, and apparently Moylan doesn’t want to be friends with Dave O’Brien, either. He’s not having much luck with the relief pitchers.

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.

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.

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