I think it’s fair to say that in 1966 Hank Aaron was everyone’s favorite Brave. So the way you differentiated yourself from your friends is by specifying who your second favorite Brave was. I was torn between Felipe Alou and Rico Carty. Eventually, Carty became my second favorite Brave, but not in 1966. In 1966, I wanted to be Felipe Alou. (No one thought they had any chance to be Hank Aaron.)
Sports biographies are generally abominable. Indeed, they are so routinely abominable that when Ball Four or The Bullpen Gospels rise to the level of readable it is noteworthy. I’m not going to claim that Felipe Alou’s magnum opus, My Life and Baseball, published in 1967, was the best sports biography ever written, but it was the best I ever bought, at least until Instant Replay was published the next year. I kid, of course. My willingness to fork over hard-earned allowance money to buy Felipe Alou’s ruminations on a poor childhood in the Dominican Republic and his devout Christianity shows the degree to which a ten year old can be in the thrall of another human.
By 1966, Felipe Alou, 31 (he would play until he was 39) mostly played first base and led off for the Braves. He led the league in at-bats, hits, total bases and runs scored. On August 31st the Braves were in Busch taking on Bob Gibson. He only lasted 3 2/3. Alou singled and tripled off Gibson, and went 4 for 5 on the night, scoring two, driving in 1, raising his OPS to 0.889. Eddie Mathews hit two doubles, Joe Torre, Rico Carty and Mack Jones homered, and the Hammer drove in his 103rd run with a sacrifice fly. The Braves won 8-5 (coincidentally, tonight’s score, but reversed) and ended August with a 63-68 record.
Alou was one of three future managers on the 1966 team, best known for his long tenure with the Expos. The others were Torre and Mathews. Judging managers is so path-dependent, so tied up with the happenstance of pennants, that I am incapable of saying Alou was a worse manager than Torre. (Even Mathews’ brief tenure in Atlanta had its moments.)
There were years (and they were as recent as last year) when three runs by the opposition in the top of the first was the harbinger of evening watching whatever was on TCM (and tonight is The Big Sleep, which I kept running while silently watching the game on the computer.) But in 2018, the bottom of the first can find an equalizer, in this case hits by Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis and a home run from Johan Camargo. Refreshing, ain’t it?
But it was not to last. Newk followed up a bad first inning with a shaky second inning and solo gopherball third inning and a two-run gopherball fourth inning. Apparently you have to pitch over 90 pitches whether you are effective or not, so Snit let Newk finish out the fourth. A potential rally in the bottom of the fourth fizzled when Adam Duvall‘s imitation of Brad Komminsk continued.
Removing Newk didn’t help. Luke Jackson ceded two more in the fifth. By this point, Bogart and Bacall have solved the murder of Sean Regan (and lied to the police about it) so I was able to give the game my full attention on the big screen.
At this point we got a not Mike Hargrove rain delay. I suspect most of you gave up. I know I would have given up had this not been my obligation as one of the best-paid recappers on this site. The Rays had already gone to bed, allowing Sam Freeman to retire 6 straight with 5 Ks. And then a rally began: four singles brought home another two runs and brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, but no more.
Needing three in the bottom of the ninth, we got none. Game ended at 12:30, and I have a 10:20 tee time tomorrow. G’night all.