Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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30 Sep

What Miserable Braves Playoff Loss are YOU? #3: The Clincher, Open Thread (by W.C.G.)

Ed. note: This is the third in a series of posts by W.C.G. that is predicated on something Mac used to say: “I’ve mentioned before that I have a low opinion of hope, which normally plays you false.” Or, as W.C.G. noted in his introductory post: “Braves fandom has mostly been a series of pleasant, sometimes even inspiring, regular seasons spoiled by some giant turd of a playoff series. As the data set is fairly rich at this point, I have attempted to organize the turds into five different subcategories, which I have named and ranked. The series will begin with the least aggravating type of Miserable Braves Playoff Loss and work its way up to the most aggravating. I’ve also set odds for the likelihood of the 2013 Braves to join each category.”


#3: The Clincher

This was a very specific malady of Braves teams from 2002-2004; they would win the NL East, play some Western or Central schlump in the Division Series, split the first four, and then honk the do-or-die Game 5.

The 2002 Braves were finished off by the Giants’ Russ Ortiz, who would go on to redeem himself with a couple of pretty good years with the Braves. But the series had only come to that because effing Livan Hernandez, who probably deserves his own classification in this taxonomy, had of course held the Braves down for eight-plus innings in Game 4, another missed Clincher opportunity. Livan continued to kill the Braves for years by being unnaturally good against them until the Braves gave up and signed him in 2012, at which point he worked to kill them by being unnaturally bad for them. But anyway, Game 5 was Ortiz’s, and he and a bunch of crappy relievers held the Braves to one run and that was that.

In 2003, Ortiz had been traded to Atlanta and made up for his prior misdeeds by keeping the Cubs from clinching the NLDS in Game 4. But the Cubs scratched a run here and a run there off of Mike Hampton in Game 5, the offense shut down, and the season ended.

By 2004, the Braves’ organization had convinced itself that it could still win by shedding payroll and trusting Leo Mazzone to fix some questionable arms. And it almost worked, until Game 5, in which Jaret Wright, Kevin Gryboski, Chris Reitsma, Tom Martin, Juan Cruz, and Paul Byrd all pitched in to give up 12 runs. Carlos Beltran hit two of his like 49 postseason home runs that year in that game alone.

I actually won a $5 bet with my friend Craig on Game 5 of the 2004 NLDS. He thought the Braves would pull it off. “We’re going to lose Game 5 because it’s what we do,” I said. I had graduated from college by then. I was getting wiser to the world.

Chance of the 2013 Braves doing this: 10%. I see it as possible, but less likely than an Ambush because of how hot and cold the offense runs.

77 Responses to “What Miserable Braves Playoff Loss are YOU? #3: The Clincher, Open Thread (by W.C.G.)”

  1. 1
    Nick Says:

    Still pissed off about 2002. That team could’ve won the World Series, and absolutely would have at least made it there, had it only been able to get a freaking clutch hit against Russ Ortiz. Not a series of clutch hits. One clutch hit… . Excuse me, DeRosa had one to get us our run. Two clutch hits.

    Other than 1996, this is still the postseason loss that pisses me off the most, though I was in third grade when Jeff Reardon blew Game 2 of the ’92 Series (and obviously in second grade for ’91), so YMMV.

  2. 2
    MikeM Says:

    Having Russ Ortiz, Mike Hampton and Jaret Wright as starters in the playoffs. There’s your problem right there.

  3. 3
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Freddy Garcia’s in some very good company!

  4. 4
    MikeM Says:

    That made me laugh and cry and the same time, alex.

  5. 5
    Dusty Says:

    I actually see this scenario as most likely. Back and forth series and getting shut down in the clincher.

  6. 6
    Hap Says:

    It always seems (to me at least), no matter how good (or bad) a pitcher is, there is always one team that just seems to own him (or team he owns in the case of bad pitchers). Since Kershaw has been so lights out this year and no team has stepped forward to be the team that owns him even though he is good, and since the Braves have not faced him this year, I nominate the Braves to be that team that unnaturally owns Kershaw. It has been that way all season but no one knew it because we never faced him.

  7. 7
    D.N. Nation Says:

    Ahh, 2002 and 2003, when Gary Sheffield was about 0-37 in October with 33 pop ups to 3B.

  8. 8
    Dusty Says:

    Here is some umpiring news:

    ATL/LAD series crew

    John Hirschbeck -cc
    Laz Diaz
    Marvin Hudson
    Bill Miller
    Hunter Wendelstedt

    (not sure why only 5 are listed there will be a 6th and Wendlestedt will be the Game 1 HP ump)

    Also of note Holbrook’s crew (with Nauert who sucks) gets the STL NLDS and somehow CB Bucknor is going to be allowed in the postseason in the Det/Oak series.

    Notably absent is Angel Hernandez (though I don’t think that means he’ll miss the entire postseason).

    Also I didn’t realize that Bill Hahn (fist bumper) last managed in 2010. He sat out 2011 with back/neck issues and then “retired.” I just completely missed that somehow.

  9. 9
    nongnong Says:

    I don’t understand how the PIT/CIN result would change the broadcast schedule. Neither is a major TV market. STL/ATL seems like a wash, in terms of television market size. In my mind, LA trump any other NL market that’s still in the mix.

  10. 10
    Mr.Swings@Everything Says:

    That 2003 game against the Cubs hurt. We went early in the day to tailgate, then watch the Falcons lose to the Vikings. We MARTA’d on over to the Ted and got in early to watch BP. I think of this as the “Mr. Hodges game” because some young kid hounded Trey Hodges incessantly for a souvenir ball while the Braves pitchers were shagging fly balls in the outfield. The kid just yelled
    “Mr. Hodges…Mr.Hodges…Mr.Hodges” without taking a break or missing a beat for around 30-45min. Maddux gave his traditional pretend to throw a ball into the stands performance which just encouraged the little bastard. Other highlights were being called down by some Cubs fans for being “too rowdy”. I’m sure it seemed like a reasonable request for them, but to two liquored up dudes who had already watched the Falcons lose and were currently watching the Braves crash out yet again, it was anything but reasonable. We whooped it up in spite of the Braves doing very little. I had read something in the lead up to the game about Atlanta having lead baseball in innings of 5 or more runs for the season, so we were conviced that the Braves were coming back all the way to the bitter end. Braves fans were throwing stuff on the field towards the end of the game. I’ll never forget watching a paper plane fashioned out of a game flyer/program sail down from the upper deck to land near Kenny Lofton in the bottom of the 9th.

  11. 11
    nongnong Says:

    The Cardinals are looking scary, but if anybody is going to knock them off, it’s a division foe. Hopefully between the Atlanta offense being hot, the Dodgers being flat footed, home field advantage, and the nobody believes in us thing, the Braves can knock off the Dodgers and face Pittsburgh or Cinci in the NLCS!

  12. 12
    Smitty Says:


    But they can’t release the game times?

  13. 13
    ralphdibny Says:

    Gah, the 2003 Cubs. I was a grad student in Illinois at the time, and that year really taught me to loathe Cubs fans. Up until then, I had fond feelings for the Cubs, due to the usual suspects (Harry Caray, lovable losers, on WGN every afternoon after school). But man, give a Cubs fan a little taste of success, and he becomes an utter douchebag. My students gave me such grief about that NLDS series–I have never seen a cockier bunch of fans. Which, of course, made the events of their next series all the sweeter.

  14. 14
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Diaz is a horrendous ump, too.

  15. 15
    John R. Says:

    @11, Yeah man. Cubs fans are awful, almost as bad as Mets fans.

  16. 16
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I actually prefer Mets fans. They’re not all mooks. And they’re the real lovable losers. Absolutely tormented by how awful their teams are — because almost all Mets fans are also Jets fans, just as Yankees fans are Giants fans. (I don’t understand why; maybe Ububba can explain.)

  17. 17
    slugworth Says:

    AP is reporting that Matt Kemp is done for the season and won’t appear in the playoffs.

  18. 18
    Spiral Stairs Says:

    That Cubs series was a civic embarrassment the way we let the Cubs fans take over our stadium. And it’s the only time I’ve seen Turner Field run out of beer (in the upper deck, anyhow).

  19. 19
    Rusty S. Says:

    lol Jets.

  20. 20
    JonathanF Says:

    The Mets/Jets and Yankees/Giants connection is geographical and cultural. Geographically, the Mets and Jets were Long Island’s teams and played at Shea Stadium (almost in Long Island), while the Giants and Yankees were Manhattan’s teams and played at Yankee Stadium (almost in Manhattan). Culturally, the Giants and Yankees represented old money, old-line success and the Mets and Jets represented upstart moxie.

  21. 21
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Ah, that makes sense. So what do they represent now? The failure of the American dream? Man’s inhumanity to man? The human comedy?

  22. 22
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    Hey guys, I’m going to be in Boston all week (till Sunday) Do you guys know of a place near the waterfront where a guy can catch a game? I’m assuming that the sox will be everything during and after their games, but surely there must be a place with a screen for an NL game, no?

  23. 23
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I don’t honestly know of a lot of bars in Boston that have a satellite TV baseball package — they pretty much all just put the Sox on, in my experience. I don’t know the waterfront as well as I know Cambridge, though. Good luck!

  24. 24
    DougM66 Says:

    When are they going to release game times? I assume that, since the Braves are playing the Dodgers, they’d like to put it in prime time on Thursday. But, the Red Sox are playing on Friday, so that might change the preferences of TBS for that game. I’m coming in from Chicago for the games and still don’t know what time to reserve the flights (or even which day for the return).

  25. 25
    D.N. Nation Says:

    DOB just tweeted that Game 1 will be the night game on Thursday.

  26. 26
    JonathanF Says:

    The Yankees represent arrogance.
    The Mets represent postcrash malaise.
    The Giants represent old fashioned values.
    The Jets represent incompetence.

    All four represent interminable meandering conversations in bars…

    At least nobody talks about the Knicks.

  27. 27
    csg Says:

    @mlbbowman: #Braves-#Dodgers NLDS start times: Game 1 Thursday at 8:37 p.m. ET. Game 2 Friday at 6:07 p.m. ET.

  28. 28
    MikeM Says:

    Yankees – Billy Cristal.
    Mets – Jerry Seinfeld
    Giants – Bruce Springsteen
    Jets – ???

    Does anybody claim the title of most visible Jets fan?

  29. 29
    Smitty Says:

    Mike Greenberg

  30. 30
    spike Says:

    Tim Tebow.

    oh this is amusing –

  31. 31
    ububba Says:

    Jets — John Gotti, Jr.

    Modern Jets fans are Long Island sheet-rock guys, Knights of Columbus Poobahs or basically any guy who grew up loving Joe Namath.

    (BTW, Springsteen is a Yankee fan, as is Steve Earle.)

    That about sums it up. The modern version of Yanks/Giants vs. Mets/Jets fandom has a lot to do with recent success, as in one side has a lot & the other doesn’t have much. If you’re a Gen Y kid who grew up in the NYC area, that seems to be the overriding theme. Mets/Jets fans have an extreme case of Little Brother Syndrome.

    And if you’ve ever attended a Jet or Giant game, especially in the pre-PSL-era Meadowlands, you’d notice that the Giant fanbase was much older, much less tanked than the Jets crew.

    Many thanks. Now I can book my flight.

    Spike, Fox Bros lunch Friday?

  32. 32
    Brian J. Says:

    The Rays and Rangers are pleased to present Bad Baserunning Theater.

  33. 33
    spike Says:

    @29, Don’t see why not

  34. 34
    Tomas Says:

    Oh wow, what a miserable strike three call.

  35. 35
    Rusty S. Says:

    @20 – I’ll be in Boston Sunday night.

  36. 36
    Spiral Stairs Says:

    @26: Jets- Kevin Arnold

  37. 37
    W.C.G. Says:

    Can we just put all the “outfield umpires” on the You Had One Job blog yet?

  38. 38
    Rusty S. Says:

    @35, yes please.

  39. 39
    Brian White Says:

    @20 – I’ve lived up here for a dozen years and can’t think of a good sports bar anywhere downtown. Games 1 and 3 shouldn’t be a problem, at least, since there’s no competing Sox game.

    Are there enough Boston-based Braves journalers to get together somewhere for the NLDS?

  40. 40
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    @33 I’m on a plane at 6pm so not sure that will work.

    @37 I’m game if i can find the place.

  41. 41
    Smitty Says:

    The last time the government shutdown, the Braves won it all.

  42. 42
    kc Says:

    David Price is one hell of a pitcher. He would look so good in the braves uniform.

    Yunel is still a pretty good shortstop.

  43. 43
    cliff Says:

    Smitty at 39,

    Thank you for our omen.

  44. 44
    spike Says:

    and lest we forget, from the No S*** Sherlock society…

  45. 45
    Seat Painter Says:


    Vote for Gridlock, Go Braves!

  46. 46
    Big D Says:

    I thought the most visible Jets’ fan was ESPN.

  47. 47
    PAULV Says:

    @42 Few NFL/NBA teams that win less than 60% of their games win championships.

  48. 48
    JonathanF Says:

    @45: But that’s because few NFL/NBA teams that win less than 60 percent of their games make the playoffs. 9-7 teams often miss the wild card. If every 9-7 team had gotten in, they’d have a lot more Super Bowls.

    The Harvard study has the obvious problem that the top half of baseball teams, however much better they are than the bottom half, aren’t that much better than each other. The correct metric for what these guys wanted to do is to compare the difference between the top and bottom teams in the playoffs, not the difference between the teams in the playoffs compared to the average team in the league, which is what they did.

  49. 49
    ububba Says:

    Seems odd to consider, but I’m just so glad that we’ll be playing a real series this time. Last “post-season” felt like a bad short story, like we were standing on a hair-trigger trap door.

  50. 50
    csg Says:

    It will be interesting to hear/see reactions if Pittsburgh doesn’t get in.

  51. 51
    Game, Blauser Says:

    @48 Personally, I’m rooting for a PIT/ATL NLCS, mostly because I think the Braves match up best vs. the Pirates, but also some nostalgia for the 1991/1992 postseasons.

  52. 52
    W.C.G. Says:

    @48, I hope they are as impassioned as the reactions of people who planned their Monday night around “The Big Bang Theory” reruns and got surprise baseball instead:

    That’s one salutary effect of the existence of the second wild card, I admit.

  53. 53
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @46, I haven’t gone over the data, but my assumption was always that the biggest reason for the randomness is the ever-increasing number of rounds of the playoffs. There are now four playoff rounds. With each additional round, the best team in the playoffs becomes exponentially less likely to win it all.

  54. 54
    Dan Says:

    Big Bang Theory is awful.

  55. 55
    PAULV Says:

    @52 Awful works.

  56. 56
    Trace Says:

    Don’t know if this has been discussed but MLB finally got its shit together and posted a lot of “classic games” on YouTube. 1992 NLCS Game 7 and 1995 World Series Game 6 for example. Fun watch, especially for those who weren’t old enough to experience them at the time.

  57. 57
    ububba Says:

    From the Braves-fan perspective, the ’92 NLCS Game 7 was 8+ super-bummer innings that, in the space of 2 quick ABs—TP’s corner double & Lind’s inexplicable error—morphed into blinding hope.

    The rest of that bottom of the 9th was as tense & dramatic as any game you’ll ever see.

  58. 58
    JonathanF Says:

    @51: Quite right… there are two effects: playoff expansion both lets in less qualified teams who now have a chance to succeed and raises the number of series you have to win. In the old World Series-only days, either the best or second-best team always won. (That’s not really true, of course, but given no interleague play it’s hard to prove otherwise.) As the number of teams (and rounds) expands, the gap between the nth best team and the best team grows somewhat, but not nearly fast enough to counter the effect of needing to win extra rounds.

  59. 59
    Dusty Says:

    Bowman says Uggla was told he won’t be on the NLDS roster, pending some health concerns of others (Walden, etc.)

    Not sure how I feel about that.

    Actually I don’t like it.

  60. 60
    csg Says:

    Bowman is speculating that Uggla has been informed that he will be left off the NLDS roster. Someone ends to remind them that EJ isn’t very good.

    @mlbbowman: Uggla could be left off the Braves NLDS roster

  61. 61
    W.C.G. Says:

    EJ had a credible September, though: .277/.342/.369. Given that he’s rangier on defense and better as a baserunner too, he’s earned the gig. And it makes no sense to carry Uggla as a PR/defensive specialist, so…

    I’ve tried all season to be an Uggla-optimist, but this makes an unfortunate amount of sense.

  62. 62
    Smitty Says:

    Elliot Johnson isn’t good, but he is hitting better than Uggla. He is hitting like .099 since his eye surgery.

  63. 63
    JonathanF Says:

    W.C.G. — even if you want to start EJ, didn’t you leave off the role PH in your list of Uggla possibilities?

  64. 64
    ububba Says:

    Uggla’s best-case scenario might be better, but the Braves obviously have no confidence in him at this point. Let’s just hope Elliot can help scratch out a run to win a game or two.

    Since returning from LASIK, Uggla is 8/60 with 15 BB, 2 HBPs & exactly one XBH: 133/325/183.

    At this point, I’m not going to get bent out of shape over the NLDS fate of Dan Uggla.

  65. 65
    W.C.G. Says:

    @61 – Intentionally.

  66. 66
    Smitty Says:

    Has Uggla played his last game in a Braves uniform?

  67. 67
    braves14 Says:

    I agree Smitty, this makes it sound like they’re going to try eating some salary and basically give him to someone else this offseason.

    Leaving Uggla off will mean there will only be one backup infielder though. Who takes Uggla’s spot? Terdoslavich? Constanza?

  68. 68
    braves14 Says:

    This guy thinks the Rangers are going to go after McCann.

  69. 69
    csg Says:

    This decision really makes me wonder why LaStella wasn’t given a look in September. It really sounds like Dan is done in Atl.

  70. 70
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    In response to @65 — Smitty, are you still in game shape?

  71. 71
    csg Says:

    I think BMAc will have a lot more teams than just Atlanta and Texas after him. He may get 6/$100+ from someone.

    If the Braves truly make him an offer is expect it to be around 5/$75 at the max.

  72. 72
    sdp Says:

    Dan Kawakami.

  73. 73
    Remy Says:

    I have to remind myself that, if you strike out, you never put the ball in play, much less reach base, so, yeah, I’m okay with Uggla being left off the NLDS roster.

    I know Uggla walks, but even his walk rate is down from last year.

  74. 74
    braves14 Says:

    His walk rate is about the same as last year, but his K rate went from about 26% to 31%. His BABIP was only .225, making one think he could be unlucky, but then you see his LD % is at a career low 13%. All of these are huge red flags that say Uggla’s old player skills are toast.

  75. 75
    csg Says:

    He’s going to be a disgruntled bench player moving forward

  76. 76
    braves14 Says:

    Only 3 of these “experts” have us beating the Dodgers. I guess these are all the same guys who picked the Nationals to win the division.

  77. 77
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    New thread.

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