Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Thanks to Mac's family, is back.

17 Apr

Braves 8, Blue Jays 7

Well, THAT was unexpected.

Atlanta went into Toronto and played some late AL style ball to escape with an 8-7 victory in which
they used up a week’s worth of runs and dingers. But, they’re now 7-3 on the year, so I guess
complaining is a sure way to invite bad karma. Or something like that.

Julio Teheran didn’t have it tonight. He spent five innings leaving fat fastballs at belt level, and the
Blue Jays spent five innings hitting them into the stands. Devon Travis led off the game with a solo
shot, followed by Russell Martin hitting the first of his two in the second. In the bottom of the third,
Josh Donaldson hit the first of HIS two homers off Julio, scoring Travis, who had singled to right. In
the fifth, Donaldson victimized Julio again, sending a low breaking ball deep to center for the fourth
Toronto dinger.

However, Toronto’s starter, Steve Hutchinson, wasn’t any better, letting Brave hitters run all around
the bases in an orgy of A-B-C baseball. In the second, the Braves tied it up when Eric Young, Jr.
singled home Andrelton Simmons. Then in the third, they tied it again when A.J. Pierzynski drove in
Nick Markakis. Markakis wound up having quite the night, going 4-4 with a walk. After falling
behind, again, the Braves rallied to take the lead in the top of the 5th when Simba doubled home
Markakis and Chris Johnson, and then scored on Jace Peterson’s triple.

After that, the bullpens settled down for the 6th and 7th, with Luis Avilan getting the Jays in order in
the 6th, and Cody Martin working around 2 out trouble – walking Jose Bautista and allowing a single
to Edwin Encarnacion.

The Braves played some long ball themselves in the 8th, with Jonny Gomes slamming a pinch hit
homer off Brett Cecil, and Freddie Freeman crushing a no-doubter later, driving in Markakis. Jim
Johnson had his first shaky outing of the year in the bottom of the 8th, with Martin’s second tater,
and then allowing two singles. After Fredi snuck into the home dugout and ordered a sacrifice bunt,
Travis grounded to The Defense, who caught Kevin Pillar trying to go to third, and who was called
out in the ensuing rundown for going out of the basepath to try and draw an interference against
Alberto Callaspo.

Anyway, Jason Grilli came on in the bottom of the ninth to protect a 8-7 lead, and got Bautista,
Encarnacion, and Dioner Navarro in order to finally end the game.

So, 7-3, and 0.5 out of first. Alex Wood tomorrow against R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball.

17 Apr

If Mets Hired Frank Wren and They Made a Movie About It Game Thread

Some of my favorite threads are the ones where we talk about who we’d cast in a fake movie. So:

If I were the Wren’s I would try to troll the Braves as hard as I could for the forseeable future. The fact that this story came from a Wren is pretty hilarious. -gaz, April 17th, 2015 at 9:49 am

Imagine a world in which Wren gets the Phillies or Mets GM job. They could’ve just fired him, but no, they had to try to ruin his career… -Adam R, April 17th, 2015 at 10:12 am

So, it’s a classic revenge movie. He won 96 games for them, and they fire him a year later. He’s not getting mad. He’s getting even. He is…


The Clubhouses:
Melvin “B.J.” Upton, Jr.: Derek Luke
Justin Upton: Rob Brown
David Wright: Jeremy Renner
Terry Collins: William Forsythe
Fredi Gonzalez: Miguel Ferrer

The Executive Lounges:
Frank Wren: William Fichtner
John Hart: Ed Harris
John Schuerholz: Michael Gambon
Fred Wilpon: Beau Bridges

Featuring Michael Imperioli as Rob Manfred, and Clint Eastwood as Bud Selig.

Edward suggests Richard Gere for Wren. Any other cast suggestions? We’ve got a whole lot of roster spots to fill!

15 Apr

201415 Barves 2, Marlins 6

Despite the Johns’ attempted purge of all things Frank Wren, his ghost must still be haunting Turner Field, because it is pretty obvious he has put this team under the Imperius Curse. All winter the Braves insisted the new BravesWayTM was getting back to the old-old BravesWayTM, but after back-to-back games where the only Braves offense has come off of solo home runs, the new BravesWayTM has started to look suspiciously like Wren’s old BravesWayTM.

Dan Haren no-hit the Braves until the 5th inning, by which point Eric Stults had already pitched like himself and ensured the Marlins a win on getaway day. Considering his team swept these guys on their home field last week, Stults’s gesture was quite benevolent.

The Braves offense came on home runs by Cameron Maybin and Kelly Johnson, and if you’d like to see the new team looking suspiciously like the old team, you can check them out here and here.

This series will probably prove to be pretty typical for this team—pitching will determine if the Braves are in the game or not. Scoring 2-3 runs a game sounds about right. In what may also prove to be pretty typical, even when the dregs of the rotation are starting, the defensive highlights will be work checking out. The Jace Peterson/Andrelton Simmons double play combo is a pleasure to watch, and they turned a couple of good ones today. Also, in case you weren’t aware, Christian Bethancourt has a cannon.

Even after the first series loss of the season, take heart. Things could always be worse. We could always be the Phillies…who have Jeff Francoeur batting cleanup tonight.

15 Apr

Trevor Cahill: Not Fixed Yet. Game Thread.

Perhaps Tuesday’s aren’t the best night for me to recap, because if the game gets meh, or bleh, or blegh, I’m not against flipping over to ABC and watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Don’t-Call-Me-Mike Stanton is good. It was only so long before he got tired of swinging through hittable pitches and started smacking the crap out of the ball. There’s a reason they’re paying him the gross national product of Micronesia. Dee Gordon is not very good, but he looked pretty good against Trevor Cahill: Not Fixed Yet.

So I flipped over to superhero TV. Because I wasn’t being entertained at all. Maybe this one will be better.

15 Apr

PURE EVIL 8, Braves 2

This was basically a “move along, folks, nothing to see here” kind of game. Trevor Cahill didn’t have it, and other than back-to-back homers by Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierzynski, neither did the offense. It was 3-0 before the Braves came to bat, and the margin literally never got any closer than that.

Cahill’s struggles were not entirely unexpected — he changed his arm slot during the offseason and the Diamondbacks were willing to trade him and $6.5 million for a non-prospect — but there’s still a glimmer of hope that he could be a useful pitcher at some point during the year, as he had a few nice heavy sinkers and touched 93-94 at points during the evening. Something to dream on.

Meanwhile, Sugar Ray Marimon, Julio Teheran’s second cousin, had a very successful major league debut: after Cahill got knocked out in the third, Marimon bailed out the rest of the bullpen by going four innings, allowing two runs, and legging out an infield single during his first major league at-bat. He was throwing 95 and threw 44 strikes to just 15 balls. That’s pretty good.

Tonight, Eric Stults goes against Dan Haren. Haren’s last three years have basically been like a slightly better version of Mike Minor in 2014: good K/BB, but his teams still get killed because he gives up 1.4 homers per nine innings.

(Actual statistical comparison:
Minor in 2014: 6-12, 4.77 ERA, 76 ERA+, 4.39 FIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9
Dan Haren 2012-2014: 35-38, 4.30 ERA, 86 ERA+, 4.14 FIP, 7.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 1.4 HR/9)

And apparently we’ve got this guy:

14 Apr

Rainy Night in Georgia: Braves 3, Fish 2

Lookin’ forward to Monday
Tryin’ to find the time, to watch the Braves.
Heavy rain fallin’.
Leave the broadcast to watch some news,
And Hill’s in shades.

It’s a rainy night in Georgia.
We’re waiting on a game in Georgia.
Lord, I feel that baseball’s all over the world.

Shelby Miller’s pitchin’.
Seems we got a good one there.
Fish score on a ground out
And the good guys are one behind.

Rainy 4th inning in Georgia.
Christian steals a run in Georgia.
So it stops rainin’ on the Braves World.

Eric Young a doublin’,
Callaspo and Cakes follow with hits,
Two runs score, and we take the lead.
Will three runs hold up a lead?

Shelby gives it to Cody Martin
And Cody shows he’s ready for the show.
Johnson and Grilli finish it.
So, the winning way continues,
And we’re all fine.

A rainy night in Georgia.
Such a rainy night in Georgia.
But it’s shinin on Braves world.

13 Apr

Mets 4, IWOTB 3

I actually went to this one, so I’ll just note what I saw. For his second start in a row, Alex Wood threw a ton of pitches in the early going as he struggled to command his fastball, and gave up a fair amount of hard contact, including a two-run homer to Michael Cuddyer. He eventually figured it out and looked much better later in the game, but with this offense, two-run homers by the opposition are awfully hard to overcome, and the Braves pitching staff put the offense behind the 8-ball all game.

Bartolo Colon mystified eight out of the nine Braves hitters for much of the afternoon, but Andrelton just slaughtered him. Through six innings, Simmons’ two-run triple and booming double were two of the only four hits off Colon; the Braves went down in order between the Simmons triple in the second and double in the fifth.

But for all of that, the margin of the game basically came down to two things: in the fourth inning, Wood threw a pitch that Colon was able to flip into right field for an RBI single, and in the 8th, Juan Jaime walked the first two men he faced, one of whom eventually came around to score on a sacrifice fly. Two-run homers happen, but leadoff walks and RBI singles by this guy simply shouldn’t:

This was a winnable game that the Braves lost. At least we’re still in first place.

12 Apr

Don’t Call It A Recap – Braves 5, IWOTM 3 (again)

I’ve been here for years…

Anyway. Doesn’t look like we got an official recapper for Saturday nights yet, or maybe our official recapper is recovering from his or her Saturday night. Either way, let’s do a quick “new thread” for today’s game regardless. The “nut graph” as they say in the journo biz, of last night’s game, was the Braves’ 4 run 5th inning. The PBP:

Bottom 5
1.Alberto Callaspo doubles (1) on a soft fly ball to right fielder Curtis Granderson.
2.Christian Bethancourt doubles (2) on a ground ball to right fielder Curtis Granderson. Alberto Callaspo scores.
3.Andrelton Simmons doubles (2) on a sharp ground ball to right fielder Curtis Granderson. Christian Bethancourt scores.
4.Julio Teheran out on a sacrifice bunt, first baseman Lucas Duda to second baseman Daniel Murphy. Andrelton Simmons to 3rd.
5.Eric Young Jr. triples (1) on a line drive to right fielder Curtis Granderson. Andrelton Simmons scores.
6.Jace Peterson grounds out, second baseman Daniel Murphy to first baseman Lucas Duda.
7.Nick Markakis singles on a line drive to right fielder Curtis Granderson. Eric Young Jr. scores.
8.Freddie Freeman grounds out sharply, shortstop Wilmer Flores to first baseman Lucas Duda.

Now, I don’t want to get too deep into Joe Simpson’s happy zone here, but anyone really want to question whether or not last year’s lineup was going to string together that many hits without book-ending a couple of useless K’s in between them?

Your local squad, which I have taken to calling “Neck Markakis and The Will To Win” in my the back of my head, are 5-0, can open the season with two sweeps by beating Bartolo Colon’s looming diabetes today. They are the sole remaining undefeated team in the NL, with only the Tigers and Royals matching their start in the AL.

No, it’s not “sustainable.” No, you don’t have to remind the rest of us of that. It’s just a 5-0 start out the gate, with a team that is fun to watch and imminently rootable for, unless you’re just so super pissed that your favorite player wasn’t retained this winter that you’re going to hold on to the misery just to spite yourself. Nose, face, so on, if you get my point.

1:35 Sunday start today. Let’s get this thing going again.

11 Apr

Braves 5, IWOTM 3

So, Home Opener, and the first Friday Night game to recap. Let’s do a Running Diary.

7:05 – I tune in to Braves Live late, after watching the live news reporting on the Spieth-caused grass fires in the Augusta region.

7:07 – Jerome Jurenivich pulls a metaphor ligament stretching to compare the looming rain delay to a Mike Hargrove at bat.

7:09 – Jonny Gomes is glad to “have the Braves across my chest, the A on my hat, and the giant fork sticking out of my back.” I only made up one of those.

7:12 – Gomes is interviewed by Paul Byrd about his at bat ritual. He mentions giving his helmet several good tugs before hitting. I thought this was supposed to be a family show.

7:16 – After that Gomes interview, I don’t think I want to try any sort of Blimpie’s sandwich with ‘boomboom’ sauce.

7:19 – Kristina Fitzpatrick interviews Paul Byrd, and mentions there ‘might’ be a rain delay. Meanwhile Lake Lanier is swallowing short left field.

7:24 – Jerome threatens us with Chip and Joe after the commercial break. Quick, get Fox Sports on the line and tell them I will agree with their terms, anything!

7:30 – Apparently, I was too late.

7:31 – “Here comes Bream…he is…Safe! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!” Man, it just got really dusty here at Casa Seat Painter.

7:32 – Hey! It’s ‘The Jeter’ from ‘Rissa’s Magnum Opus!

7:33 – Joe isn’t sure if you can start better than 3-0 after your first three games.

7:38 – Chip and Joe interview John Hart. The interview is marred by Hart’s constant nervous glances over his shoulder to see if a deranged Craig Kimbrel fan is stalking him.

7:40 – Hart: “We’re not a power club. We’re not a speed club…to win we have to bunt…” Joe just started tugging hard on Jonny Gomes’ helmet.

7:41 – Hart gives Fredi a ‘tip of the hat’ for the Braves spring training play, setting a record for the earliest ‘Vote of Confidence’ in MLB history.

7:42 – Joe has decided that in fact you can’t start better than 3-0. Hey it took him just nine minutes.

7:48 – A grounds crew sighting! And Sid Bream! Now we’re getting somewhere.

7:50 – Chip compares AJP, Gomes, and KJ to Pendleton, Bream, and Belliard for the ’91 Braves. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 World Series champion Atlanta Braves! Remember, you heard it here first.

7:52 – Some corporate lackey is interviewed by Jenn Hildreth about WFF. He teases us with a Very Special First Pitch to come. And hints that Jason Grilli might have a cool new entrance video. Meanwhile, frustrated prom dates all over the greater Atlanta metropolitan area are nodding their heads knowingly.

7:56 – Jenn Hildreth has alligator teeth. Eek!

8:03 – And the tarp is off!

8:10 – Chip informs us that tonight’s Special Guest Announcer will be Chipper. I hope we get “Drunk Twitter Chipper.” (TM)

8:12 – Chip just called Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium “beautiful.” If you like sterile concrete bowls then he could be right.

8:13 – Dale Murphy looks like he could still bat third for the Braves.

8:14 – It’s time for the Parade of Legends. Hammering Hank, Knucksie, Murph, Bream, The Crime Dog, Bobby, and Chipper are here. Where the heck are Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz or Darrell Evans???

8:29 – The First Pitch is tossed out by John Schuerholz, who surprisingly tosses Fredi a baseball and not Frank Wren’s head. Bobby stands in with a bat and whiffs on a hanging change-up. Up in the booth, Joe is telling Chip that Bobby needs to try to go to the opposite way more.

8:32 – LET’S GIVE A WARM ATLANTA WELCOME TO…the new york mets. Even the announcer is dissing the mutts.

8:40 – After announcing everyone employed by Liberty Media…err…the Braves, we finally get to our lineup.

8:54 – Dorn hauls in David Wright’s wicked liner. Jake’s threat must be working.

8:58 – MAYBIN!

9:03 – Gomes singles in Markakis, who had reached on an error and moved to second base on a Freeman single. Maybe Maybin didn’t kill the rally?

9:12 – Jenn Hildreth interviews Bill Bartholomy. If I were him, I’d be nervous Ms. Alligator Teeth was getting ready to take a chomp out of my arm.

9:16 – Simmons doubles to lead off the second. Stults drops a sac bunt. Somewhere, Jonny Gomes helmet is getting a workout. Simmons nailed at the plate in a collision with d’Arnaud. No runs scored. Rally officially dead.

9:24 – Fox shows us The Jeter again, since Simmons and d’Arnaud ran into each other last half inning. Can’t ever see that play too many times.

9:25 – THE JETER 2:ELECTRIC BUGALOO! d’Arnaud is getting ready to call in the GBI to arrest Simba for blatant thievery.

9:37 – Pressure on the defense! Bethancourt draws the second error from Wilmer Flores, the non-Simmons schlub the Mets ran out at short, allowing Gomes to score. Meanwhile Eric Stults asks the umpires if his team is allowed to score this many runs. Braves 3, Mets 0.

9:46 – David Wright, 2 run Rally Killer.

9:47 – One pitch later, we’re tied,courtesy of John Mayberry, Jr.

9:53 – Nice scoop by Freeman on a DP. But Stults isn’t fooling anyone this inning. After two more hits, Flores finally makes the last out. Not a good night for Wilmer.

10:03 – Chipper in da house! Stults lets Jonathon Niese single to lead off the 5th.

10:11 – Chipper immediately takes the suspense out of the AFLAC Trivia Question. “I got the first hit in Turner Field.”

10:14 – Chipper admits he has a man crush on David Wright. Get in line Hoss, you ain’t the only one.

10:19 – Simba lines out to leave the bases loaded. He’s proving he’s no Chris Johnson.

10:20 – No, I don’t know what the hell I meant by that either.

10:22 – Cody Martin in to start the 6th for the Braves, continuing a three game string of 5 inning starts. Martin has got a sort-of Teheran hesitation in his wind-up, which he uses to K Murphy and Lagares.

10:35 – So….bored…No one except Wright and Dorn are hitting.

10:51 – Good work by Brandon Cunniff and Luis Avilan in the 7th. As Chips’ grand-dad would say about this time of the game, “Let’s get some runs! Hic!”

10:56 – For the third time in a row, Markakis and Freeman lead off an inning and go down meekly. The first two times, the Braves rallied for a run, and then left the bases loaded. Can we threaten again with two outs???

11:00 – Nope.

11:04 – Filthy pitch from Jim Johnson to K Granderson. Somewhere Iron Eyes Cody is starting to cry.

11:06 – Wright – grrr. Now we know how Mets fans felt about Chipper.

11:08 – Iron Eyes Cody is starting to feel really verklempt after that Johnson pitch to Mayberry.

11:09 – Iron Eyes Cody: Dehydrated.

11:13 – Dorn bloops *his* third hit of the evening to left center off Ruben Montero. Lagares dives for it, and misplays the single into a double when he knocks it away. Jace Peterson in to pinch run.

11:15 – Gomes helmet is finally getting a rest after that bad AB by Bethancourt.

11:19 – That was weird. Simba grounds to Wright, but rather than take the out at first, Wright tries to nab Peterson at third, but can’t make the tag. Simmons alertly takes second when the Mets don’t cover. NOT a good defensive showing by the New York Nine so far.

11:21 – Callaspo intentionally walked to load them up. Setting up Maybin to be the hero, or the goat, with one out. Time for some ABC baseball!

11:25 – It’s goat. Up to Gosselin.

11:28 – After falling behind 1 and 2, Gosselin battles back to a full count.

11:28 – Fouled off! And my nails are bitten away. And not by Jenn Hildreth.

11:29 – YES! 2 run single to center! Gosselin doing his best Folk Hero impression! I actually have to give Maybin some credit. He fought Montero for 10 pitches or so before striking out. And then Gosselin battles through eight pitches, Montero was up to his 37th pitch of the inning when Gosselin singled.

11:33 – Joe Simpson just said the same thing about Maybin. In other news, tomorrow morning I will be checking into Small Ball Rehab Center.

11:36 – “The Grilli is fired up!” Thanks Chip.

11:38 – Although the blue propane flame for Jason Grilli’s entrance video is kind of clever.

11:42 – Daniel Murphy works a ten pitch walk off Grilli. I have to believe that one of those foul balls would have been a swing and a miss against the Kraken. Lagares then barely beats out a double play. One down, two to go.

11:47 – d’Arnaud hits it where Simba isn’t. Unfortunately that is behind home plate, and Bethancourt hauls it in.

11:48 – Lucas Duda vs. Jason Grilli. Does it get any better than this? Don’t answer that.

11:51 – Full count to Duda….

11:52 – Full count to Duda….

11:52:30 – Full count to Duda….

11:53 – 3-2 slider freezes Duda! Braves Win! Braves Win!

Win, win, win. Ho-hum, just another day at the ball yard. And I may recover by the time I have to recap next Friday’s game.

10 Apr

The Jadeite Jewel Final Rankings—Happy Home Opening Day! Game Thread.

Enjoy the home opener!

The Braves’ massive roster overhaul has left only four of the players who started on Opening Day a year ago, and only two of the players who were watching from the bench. That’s pretty astonishing. Fortunately for Braves fans, one of the few who remain is #19, whose defense at “shortstop” (defined as any position in the field he can reach before the ball can) may end up being one of the biggest reasons to keep watching this team this year as the dog days of summer roll around. I mean, the guy is on the cover of the Fielding Bible. We are watching history here.


Before this season moves beyond Opening Week, we must wrap up our winter project. I present you the unveiling of the official Braves Journal Andrelton Simmons’ Highlight Rankings; may you enjoy these extraordinary highlights one last time.

Honorable Mention: The Pop-Up Throw:

Editor’s Pitch: Double plays are one of the prettiest things in baseball, but when Andrelton Simmons is involved their beauty is worthy of masterpiece status. This play is just so smooth, yet it involved running, sliding, getting up, and throwing. He did all of those things so well he killed two Cardinals with one stone. That alone is worthy of accolades and adulation.

Honorable Mention: 180˚ Genius:

Editor’s Pitch: Simmons’s instincts on this play are crazy. After he was forced to change his route, he still wanted to try to get two. The problem was, he had to run back to the bag to get the first out, which put his back squarely toward first. How does he choose to compensate for that? By jumping and spinning 180˚ and throwing mid-air. Seriously, who does that? The throw wasn’t great, but it was certainly catchable. Had Freddie been able to catch it, this would have been one of the coolest double plays I have ever seen.

10: Superman

Editor’s Pitch: Take a screen shot at 0:28 of this clip, throw a cape on the man, and you’ll discover the true identity of Superman. Clark Kent has nothing on Andrelton.

9: Run At Your Own Risk

Editor’s Pitch: When a ball splits the gap and bounces away from even the most accomplished of outfielders, you pretty much concede the runner on first will score and focus on keeping the hitter held to a double. Not Simmons. Michael Cuddyer was over halfway home, but Simmons, well onto the outfield grass, threw a perfect strike to the plate to nail him. The ball could not have landed in a better place for Brian McCann had Simmons walked it in and handed it to him. Just wow.

8: Glove: Optional

Editor’s Pitch: In Minnesota this year, that will be a hit against Ervin Santana. Last year in Atlanta it was top of the 5th, one down. The catch itself is insane enough, with Simmons making the call to barehand it to give himself a chance to throw the runner out. Then, when the ball bounced slightly differently than he seemed to be anticipating, he stayed with it and nailed the runner with a perfect throw. Perfection on a diamond.

7: The Video Game

Editor’s pitch: The video is worth a thousand words of commentary, so just watch it again. Okay, now watch it one more time. Can a mere mortal even bend like that? He’s covering the bag, bends against his momentum to catch the ball, and then flips back to tag the base. The baserunner was already running and was nearly on top of him…and he got the out. This play defies the laws of physics and it made his pitcher laugh in disbelief. The cherry on top is he tried to turn the double play and was disgusted with himself that he couldn’t. Unbelievable.

6: The Jeter

Editor’s Pitch: With the Braves clinging to a 3-2 lead with 2 outs and a runner on 3rd in the bottom of the 8th, Jordan Walden got Travis d’Arnaud to hit a ground ball. Unfortunately for the Braves, it was headed toward the hole and looked destined to tie the game for the Mets. Fortunately for the Braves, they have Andrelton Simmons playing shortstop, and he ranged to his right, snagged the ball, leaped, and threw the runner out with nanoseconds to spare. ESPN will tell you this type of play was patented by Derek Jeter, but there are some notable differences between Jeter making the play and Simmons making the play. Jeter would leap because, unlike Simmons, he did not have a strong enough arm to take the time to plant himself and get the throw off in time. Simmons leaped because he had ranged so far to his right that he was able to get to a ball Jeter never would have even thought to try to get to, and, with as far as he had to run, had he tried to stop his momentum to plant himself and fire across the diamond, he probably would have fallen over. Although he made this look easy, it was anything but.

5: You Shall Not Pass

Editor’s Pitch: I’m really not sure how Simmons got to this ball. He had to dive, obviously, but then he had to reach up to actually catch it. I wouldn’t have guessed his arms were long enough to make this play, but the one lesson I have learned from watching Andrelton for three years is to always expect the impossible. And this certainly looks impossible.

4: Slip ‘n Slide

Editor’s Pitch: Simmons not only kept up with the path of the ball when his feet slipped out from under him, he caught it and threw it from his knee without any hesitation, as if he had planned to do it that way all along. His arm is strong enough that he got the out. From his knees. On the outfield grass. With a throw that was chest high when Freddie Freeman reached out to catch it. Chip Caray’s “Are you kidding me?” was spot on.

3: Taggin’ Fool

Editor’s Pitch: This astounding tag has gotten a lot of well-deserved publicity. Freeman’s throw was awful on what should have been an easy pick-off play, but through an instinct unique only to him, Simmons was able to apply the tag where he caught the ball–between his legs. I can’t find a clip of it, but I remember later on in that broadcast they showed an angle from centerfield that clearly showed Simmons got the tag down. How he was able to do that will remain one of life’s great unsolved mysteries.

2: Shortstop…or Left Fielder?

Editor’s Pitch: No one saw this coming. All eyes were on Justin Upton, wondering if he would get to the ball in time, since the left fielder is really the only person who has a chance at that ball. The only problem is, Simmons does not think like the rest of the world, and he seems to be out to prove he could man the entire left side of a baseball field without any assistance if he needed to. He not only ran at full speed with his back to the infield toward a fence, he dove toward that same fence to make the catch without thought to personal safety. As if the effort itself wasn’t incredible enough, he actually made the catch and hung on for the out. That just doesn’t happen.

The Jadeite Jewel: A League of His Own

Editor’s Pitch: Simmons was moving toward third base with the pitch, so he had to reverse his direction to get to the ball. He somehow caught the ball anyway, managed to beat the runner to second, then threw to first while his entire body was still heading toward right field, and somehow got enough on the throw to turn a double play. In a tie game. In the bottom of the 14th inning. He’s not fair. He’s really just not fair.

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