Even with loss, Braves show they’re not going away

The scoreboard tells the story as Roy Halladay tamed the Braves' lineup the night after Tuesday's comeback. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The scoreboard tells the story as Philadelphia's Roy Halladay tamed the Braves' lineup the night after Tuesday's comeback win by Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

We’ve seen in sports how one athlete can seem to plug an entire franchise into a light socket.

One such occurrence came in 1979. The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Magic Johnson. There’s a great story about Johnson’s first game that set the tone for his career and that first season. The Lakers won their opening game on a hook shot by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the buzzer. They beat the San Diego Clippers, which generally doesn’t arouse thoughts of a postgame parade. But Magic was so taken by the moment that he ran and jumped into the arms of a stunned Abdul-Jabbar.

The story goes that Abdul-Jabbar — not the most excitable player in league history — then told Johnson, “You do realize we have 81 more games, don’t you?” But that moment set the tone for the Lakers’ season. They won the NBA title that year.

The Braves are only two weeks into the season. But what we’ve seen in recent days — notwithstanding Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the occasionally mortal Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies — says something about what may lie ahead.

If Jason Heyward doesn’t have the career resume of Magic Johnson, he at least has accomplished something out of the box: He has plugged the Braves into a light socket. When a team wins games like Tuesday’s come-from-behind, 4-3 win over the Phillies (punctuated by a three-run rally in the ninth that included a game-tying blast by Heyward) and Sunday’s 4-3 win over Colorado (similarly punctuated by Heyward’s two-run hit in the ninth) it becomes infectious. Everybody starts believing.

“Oh, we can hang with them, there’s no doubt about that,” Chipper Jones said Wednesday night after the loss to Philadelphia, the National League’s best team over the past three seasons. “We know we can play with them on a day-in, day-out basis. We just have to play as consistently as they do against teams that, on paper, we should beat.

“Even though we got beat, there was a lot of intensity. There was no quit in anybody. We were always in the game. We had our chances. We just got beat by a pretty good pitcher.”

It was set up for another comeback. They trailed 2-0 in the seventh and had only two hits through six innings when it appeared they would finally get to Halladay (4-0, 0.82). Jones and Brian McCann started with singles. Glaus, who had a two-run homer Tuesday night, struck out. (Back to normal.)

That brought up Heyward. Everybody in the stadium seemed to collectively inhale. Alas, he only walked to load the bases. Remember when a walk to load the bases used to be enough?

Yunel Escobar then drove a pitch off the mound and up the middle that appeared ticketed for a game-tying, two-run single. But Chase Utley dove to his right and flipped the ball to Juan Castro at second to start an inning-ending double play.

Still, the Braves are proving something early. Even with their early offensive deficiencies, they’re not going away. They don’t view this season as a mere chase for the wild card.

“We know we’re a good team,” Brian McCann said. “We left spring training thinking we can win a World Series. A series this early in the season isn’t going to determine whether we’re going to go deep in the playoffs or even if we’re going make the playoffs. But we can play good baseball and see where we are when it’s over.”

Is it possible a team with so many holes in the lineup can make a race of it?

Philadelphia has won three consecutive division titles, two consecutive pennants and a World Series in 2008. The Braves have missed the postseason four consecutive years and last won a playoff series in 2001. Over the past three seasons, the Phillies are 274-212, the Braves 242-244.

“The fact is,” Bobby Cox said, “you don’t worry about the other teams. You worry about your own house. You play the schedule and find out where you stand in October.”

And what of projections that this is the Phillies’ division to lose?

“I think we’re competitive,” Cox said. “… All we’re doing is going out and playing as good as we can every night. That’s it. That’s been my philosophy forever.”

Early reviews: This could be a race.

Earlier posts

Live blog: Braves go for two over Phillies (and maybe a sign)

Goodell had no choice but to suspend Roethlisberger

When Josh Smith is on, the Hawks can’t be stopped

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

99 comments Add your comment

DamYankee

April 21st, 2010
10:09 pm

Swore I’d never do this – first?

JSS

April 21st, 2010
10:13 pm

Couldn’t beat Cliff Lee and can’t touch Roy Halladay!

HANGMAN

April 21st, 2010
10:17 pm

why? WHY? Why don’t the braves give the coach that taught J-Hey how to hit a job as their hitting coach? Also how about considering Leo Mazzone as the next head coach?

Eric C.

April 21st, 2010
10:19 pm

How is Glaus still in the middle of the lineup? I mean, he must be getting some decent pitches to hit with Heyward batting behind him, but he still can’t hit with RISP. Glaus hits about like Bruce Bennedict…he should be in the 8 hole if at all… a poor singles hitter who occasionally will pop a long one.

willy

April 21st, 2010
10:23 pm

47 year old Jaime Moyer tomorrow night…….WOOOO HOOOO

Hello

April 21st, 2010
10:32 pm

Braves = .500 team at best. Got lucky last night. Anybody remember at the end of last season when they had a chance ? CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE.

Stratman

April 21st, 2010
10:34 pm

“Compete with the best team in the National League?” The Phillies have all sorts of injury problems right now. But keep on drinking the kool-aid.

Eric C.

April 21st, 2010
10:40 pm

“Hello,” if the Braves finally get some production at the top and 5th spot in the order…they will finish well above .500. Heck, they are above .500 anyway and that is playing SF, Colorado, and Phi…not too shabby.

Mitchell

April 21st, 2010
10:42 pm

But given what we’ve seen, there’s no reason to believe the Braves are going away in this division.

Yes, but were they not just no-hit on Saturday for God’s sake?! If not for Jason Heyward they would have just lost four games in a row to two rather unworthy opponents.

At this point perhaps I suppose we should expect to get no-hit by a team’s ace pitcher at least one or two more times this year?

Why do the AJC columnists give Bobby Cox a free pass every time while people like Paul Hewitt get absolutely eviscerated?

There are problems with the Braves. We shouldn’t have to come back three runs down with two out in the 9th inning. We have three aces and two other pretty good pitchers and the best bullpen I may have ever seen in my life.

They have to score runs. This can’t continue. If we do somehow make it to the playoffs and Terry Pendleton is still wearing a Braves jersey and still getting a paycheck we’ll surely get swept.

And Shirley, it won’t be the first time.

Mitchell

April 21st, 2010
10:44 pm

Hello

April 21st, 2010
10:32 pm
Braves = .500 team at best. Got lucky last night. Anybody remember at the end of last season when they had a chance ? CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE.

Stratman

April 21st, 2010
10:34 pm

“Compete with the best team in the National League?” The Phillies have all sorts of injury problems right now. But keep on drinking the kool-aid.

Thank you. You guys are my new best friends.

Hello

April 21st, 2010
10:58 pm

Eric C , IF,IF,IF That will be story of these Braves ALL YEAR. If all the IF’s happens, Maybe the Braves will still be in the hunt come September. If not you can always say WAIT ‘Til Next YEAR !

kurula

April 21st, 2010
10:59 pm

bottom line is, if the braves get below .200 production from first base and from 2/3 of the outfield…they are not going to win consistently.

GT3O

April 21st, 2010
11:01 pm

Tough loss, but the Braves will take the series tomorrow night and that’s good enough for me. Roy Halladay is a great pitcher and he got the best of the Braves tonight. The Braves got some hits, but just couldn’t do much with them. That’s fine. We’ll tie up the NL East tomorrow night and roll on.

Remember Halladay cannot pitch every game and the Phils have a injury ridden pen making it atrocious. Halladay will not be able to pitch an entire game as the season wears on.

The Braves have the upper hand.

macfleetwood

April 21st, 2010
11:14 pm

Several reasons the Braves Are NOTHING More Than A Mediocre Team:
B. Cox..Worn Out
C. Jones..Too Old..Over The Hill
N. Mclouth..Seen Better Days
T. Glaus..Lost His Stroke
Y.Escobar..Never Has Been Much
M.Cabrera..Who??
T. Hudson..Not Much Of A Starter

I KNOW its early..BUT..you can not carry 4 players on your roster who bat 200 or below!!
You Can NOT carry a bunch of mediocre pitchers..who cant pitch their way out of a paper bag!

GT3O

April 21st, 2010
11:18 pm

“You Can NOT carry a bunch of mediocre pitchers..who cant pitch their way out of a paper bag!”

Yep, just like the Braves bull pen who handled the last half of the game last night against the prolific bats of Philly.

You sir are a fool.

[...] Jeff Schultz on the Braves New Attitude [...]

MacFleetWoodIsAnIdiot

April 21st, 2010
11:37 pm

T. Hudson..Not Much Of A Starter
Y.Escobar..Never Has Been Much

———————————————————-

Are you serious? You must be a Mets fan.

thunderbull56

April 21st, 2010
11:37 pm

Jeff, you stir out the best/worst with your observations.If every team has a couple of Roys, we lose a hundred.I can deal with losing to arguably the best pitcher in MLB.What I can’t is the late call up, fill in fifth starter doing the same to us the last few years.When the Braves start stringing together some consistent offense against great,good,suspect pitching,then maybe.

Eric C.

April 21st, 2010
11:41 pm

“Hello,” don’t lose hope with over week left in April. Once Glaus is removed from the middle of the line-up, things will really take off. M.Cabrera just needs to get going. Heyward will pick up Chipper’s slack.

Hello

April 21st, 2010
11:42 pm

Another reason the Braves will be a .500 + team. DEFENSE. Y’all talk about the Braves pitching(starting & bullben) None of that matters with our mediocore at best defense. Did anyone see the D by Phila. tonight? Last year Y’all were saying Howard was a liability at firstbase. (unlike guys like Chipper, Howard has worked on his D for the last two off-seasons and the result have paid off) Did Y’all see the awsome stab at first to kill any chance for a rally? I guess Chipper was busy with deer,dove, rabbit or any other hunting season. I’ve never heard of Chipper hurting an oblique or pulling a rib while hunting. Gee, Iwonder why that is ? Because he Never has or will NEVER be a leader. Delicate Flower more like it. Hall of Famer? yes. On of the best that would play while hurt to help the team? NEVER!

Tdawg

April 21st, 2010
11:58 pm

14 games, 3 shutouts another shut out the night before for 8 innings and one of the shut outs a no-hitter. You have 3, maybe 4 decent hitters on the whole team, the rest are a joke. I’m looking for that silver lining but all I see is a pathetic bunch of hitters and that is as nice as I can put it. Sorry Bobby but your swan song is going to the crapper with this bunch of losers.

Herschel Talker

April 22nd, 2010
12:10 am

The Phillies have one HUGE advantage…they don’t have Bobby Cox manning their ship. The man is an imbecile, and he displayed more of his idiocy this evening. We should all look forward to 2011 when this idiot is no longer manning the ship.

Hello

April 22nd, 2010
12:10 am

Tdawg, you hit the nail on the head. You know how all Cox’s players say he’s the best to play for?
The reason is he makes NONE of his guys accountable for thier lack of heart or hustle. When was the last time Bobby pulled or sat someone for being lazy? All my friends point out when he pulled Escobar(P.S. one of the most laziest guys I’ve seen in 30+ years as a Braves fan.) after not running out a ground ball last year. The ONLY reason cox did this is because the media called Cox out on this since it was about the 50th time Escargo (snail) had done this. Of course the players LOVE Cox because not having to answer for sloppy and lazy attitudes.

KakNiqueTree

April 22nd, 2010
12:39 am

So if Heyward’s Magic, is Chipper Kareem? :)

Monger

April 22nd, 2010
12:40 am

You guys are exactly right on Bobby Cox’s inability to manage a major league ball club, let alone a pee-wee league team. He routinely leaves the most knowledgable and astute baseball fans, broadcasters, players, and coaches scratching their heads in collective disbelief at the stupidity of his decisions. I am tired as its past midnight, so I dont have the time to list the 674 stupid moves he made last year alone, but I’ll sum it up like this…
1. He overuses his bullpen worse than any manager Ive ever seen in my life, we usually have 3 or 4 guys leading the league in appearances, and its insane numbers. Moylan, O’Flaherty, etc. better get ready for another year of 80-100 relief appearances, so by the end of the year our entire bullpen is worn out and ineffective. Thanks Bobby…
2. His loyalty to ineffective and terrible players never ceases to amaze me, and it cost us time and time again, loss after loss. How many games did we lose last year because Bobby played Kelly and Francouer for half a season, while they were hitting about .200 combined?? How did Bobby continually put Norton at the plate when he clearly could not hit a major league pitch to save his life?? He is doing it all over again this year…Continuing to hit Glaus 5th while he is hitting .200, and he keeps playing Melky, while not even giving Omar and Hinske a fair chance. Terrible, and costing us games.
3. His love affair with Chipper. Similar to point 2, about playing players struggling. How long is Chipper going to be in the 3rd hole hitting .230?? Thanks Bobby, and once again costing us games.
4. His terrible decisions regarding his love affair with lefty/lefty righty/righty. No matter that O’Flaherty has gotten the last 4 men, with 4 straight K’s…a right handed hitter is coming up, so he must come out. Same with the hitters…He doesnt seem to notice Diaz is on a major tear last year, getting hits in 11 of 12 straight at bats…still sits him against righties. Thanks Bobby more losses…

The point is I could go on and on, but Im tired, and most knowledgable fans know he is an idiot and terrible manager, Im really trying to convince these blind homers that are delusional…

Monger

April 22nd, 2010
12:47 am

Oh thanks for reminding me Hello. The laziness and lack of hustle comes from the attitude of the manager. Teams like Tampa Bay and Minnesota have teams that hustle from first pitch to the last, down the line, on routine plays, on and off the field. Colorado shows this hustle. And this is because they have managers that set the rules that this kind of hustle is absolutely demanded of a major league ball player. Cox loves seeing how many lazy guys (Garret Anderson, Melky Cabrera, Chipper Jones), he can trot out there. I dont think he cares that nobody out there (excluding Diaz) hustles….Terrible leadership by a terrible coach…

Legend of Len Barker

April 22nd, 2010
12:49 am

With the exception of Jason Heyward, this team is playing exactly like they were last year. A glimmer of hope sandwiched in between days of being frustrated with their lack of hitting.

A few more days of this and Chipper will decide that he’s hurt again.

The only highlight of this game was Pete Van Wieren’s appearance. He had talked about a book two years ago, but I hadn’t realized he had gone through with it. It should arrive at my doorstep within a few days.

Mitchell

April 22nd, 2010
12:56 am

Monger, I’d love it if you kept posting. You’re hitting it out of the park, unlike every Braves player other than Heyward.

Coach (I Believe)

April 22nd, 2010
1:24 am

Herschel Talker obviously didn’t watch last nights game, or he would have seen Bobby Cox’s intentional walk of Ryan Howard pay dividend’s when the Braves got out of the 3rd inning unscathed.

Cox made the correct call that inning but then contributed to the loss in the seventh inning.

Get the picture. Chipper on 2nd, McCann on 1st with nobody out. Glaus should have at least been told to try and hit the ball behind the runners, advancing both even if Glaus didn’t reach base. but no, Cox always plays for the big inning. Never mind the fact that that it’s Roy Halliday on the mound.

Glaus struck out, Heyward walked and Ecobar rapped right into an inning ending double play because the Phillies were playing back, fully knowing the Braves would never attempt a squeeze play with the bases loaded and one out. The Braves did not score, obviously.

However, Cox did have the brains to stick with Hudson on the mound through six innings despite the fact that Huddy struggled with his control all night and obviously didn’t have his best stuff. But Huddy being the Ace that he is gutted it out through six and kept the game close, while giving up just two runs.

Simply put, we all know and understand the three run bomb mind set of Bobby Cox. He always plays for the big inning regardless of the opposing pitcher and team. Meanwhile this Braves squad is quit possibly the slowest in the N.L and dependent on bunching hits or bashing the ball over the fence. I don’t necessarily disagree with this but it’s an offense handicapped by a lack of fundamentals.

The good news is, Glaus is starting to swing the bat evidenced by last night’s HR and bomb he hit tonight in the 2nd inning that Victorino made a circus catch on. Robbing Troy of what would have been his second HR of the season.

The starting pitching has been steady and the bullpen outstanding, even the defense and bench is improved from last season. But our two lead off guys in McLouth and Cabrera are not getting on base. McCann, Heyward and Prado can’t carry the offense by themselves. The rest of the team has to start hitting or we will be seeing more great pitching going to waste, just like last season.

carlchamblee

April 22nd, 2010
5:00 am

This isn’t a championship team, all the blather from Chipper and McCann notwithstanding. You’d think they wouldn’t talk so big given zero playoff appearances in the last 4 seasons. Ooh wow Chipper you “stayed in the game tonight”. Big whoop. If it weren’t for a couple of miracle rallies and Heyward’s magic this team would have a losing record and be stuck at the bottom of the division w the Mets. They have a very solid pitching staff top to bottom and thus will stay in the hunt more than likely. But the offense is anemic and not put together well by mgmt and the so-called strategist in the dugout. The best hitter is in the bottom part of the order, no leadoff, no 5 spot, an over the hill guy in the 3 hole, and the weakest LF and CF bats in the league. Chipper you stay in games because of the pitching and you will lose too many of those games because of the lousy offense.

BravesFan79

April 22nd, 2010
5:40 am

Good lord, we loose to the Best pitcher in the game and there is nothing but btching on here!?? Ive been telling everyone for years that Holliday was the best pitcher in the AL hands down! When he pitches…. we should probably expect to lose. But good news it, the other 4 starters for the Phillies arent nearly as dominant! This will be a race, Glaus will start hitting more singles like he did in spring training, and Escobar will definitly get it together! Escobar is a pure 330 hitter… players that good dont just fall off 1 year while that young. I do agree tho, dude needs a new hair do.

NCBravesFan

April 22nd, 2010
5:59 am

Good summary, Jeff! We had a crack at the best pitcher in baseball in the seventh and came up a little short. It happens. Back at ‘em tomorrow.

Let’s Go Braves!

DamYankee

April 22nd, 2010
6:39 am

Gee, the Bravo’s are 1 game behind the “dominant” Phillies & ahead of the Marlins & lost to the best pitcher in baseball who still needed a couple of career defensive plays and some luck to hold on. The season’s over, they’re DOOMED!

JacketFan

April 22nd, 2010
6:58 am

Jeez, the sky is falling! The sky is falling! I cannot believe the vitriol on this blog from so-called fans. Folks, where the he!! would we be without Bobby Cox? Get some perspective. I love how everyone here is such an “expert” on game management. Maybe some of you should send in your applications for Cox’s position.

It’s the third week of the season. Braves are keeping up with the best teams in baseball. They’re trading spots with the Phillies in the NL East standings. We lost last night to one of THE best pitchers in baseball today. No team can win them all (ask Philly two nights ago). I’ve been watching this team my entire life and I haven’t felt this good about Braves baseball since the mid-90s. I think we have a good team that is working out some of the bugs. Time will tell.

In the meantime, if you can’t support your team, go pull for the Mets. Atlanta doesn’t need you.

O'Brien

April 22nd, 2010
7:11 am

The good thing is the Braves were able to come from behind on Tuesday. So if we can win today, we will have taken 2 out of 3 from the Phills. And that is the goal of every series. Win 2 out of 3.

However, our offense has been bad, and inconsistent, so as the season continues, hopefully they will get it going, to help our pitchers out.

O'Neill

April 22nd, 2010
7:38 am

The Braves lost to the best pitcher in the game last night. They can hang with the Phils this year! The Phils have no bullpen and the Braves have a great starting staff and bullpen. And if Glaus doesn’t start hitting, put Henskie at First Base. He has been tearing it up!

Saint DAWG>>>

April 22nd, 2010
7:39 am

Are you ppl really braves Fans?? Yall must not be watching the games i am!!!!Troy C. was robbed of a HR by the center fielder,an he has been hitting the ball hard as of late,so have alot of Braves….Hell Esky should have tied the game with the bases loaded,with an up the middle ball that was smoked but hit the side of the pithchers mound..an took a bounce too the 2nd basemen who still had too dive to get the ball!!!!SO GIVE ME BREAK !!! I see no real Braves Fans on here or any of the blogs,,oh yeah when they win you guys come out of the wood works with high fives!!!but if they loose OMG they are the sorriest team in the world!!!get a life you so called fans and stay off the blogs,the Braves don’t need YA!!!! nuff said an have a good day….

GT

April 22nd, 2010
7:44 am

This is the only team in Atlanta pro sports history that has won a world championship. This is really the only pro team that names are mentioned for any hall of frame. Poor Dale Murphy couldn’t be placed in the hall because he played on a loser here, like most of our teams in Atlanta. This town owes Cox and the whole Braves front office. When they retire an old worn out pitcher be it a hall of framer, we howl like we want Hanson to stay in Mississippi so Glavine can pitch. I think that is kind of fun, because we actually are supporting winners, and showing our appreciation. Now show some respect for Cox one of the greatest managers of our times.

oldmike

April 22nd, 2010
7:48 am

Glaus seemed to be getting his stroke back until the at bat in the 7th. He looked like he had shortened his swing and the results were well hit balls. Except for Victorino and Ryan Howard’s checked swing hit to left the game should have been 1-all in the 7th. Even with “the best pitcher in the majors” (what crap) on the mound. They need production out of McLouth and Cabrera or the season is in the toilet. And Bobby does overuse his bullpen; Relies on situational moves; doesn’t steal; etc. But the players do love him. One BIG positive. Watching the J-Hay kid at bat and in the filed. He’s really something special isn’t he…

IN THE KNOW

April 22nd, 2010
7:57 am

Jeff, i don’t understand how you talk this braves team up? Your setting yourself up for failure my friend. The phillies have out pitched, hit and coached the braves in the two games, we got lucky to win tuesday night. The phillies will be up 8-10 games at the all-star break and bust this thing wide open in the second half for one reason… They are the champs!! They braves are not to be confused with the world champs, who have 300 hitters up and down the lineup and tons of power to hit the long ball. The braves lack hr ability and Glaus is a joke. Chipper should retire and the braves will finish behind the marlins and phillies in this division. Top to bottom in our lineup, it’s no match for the champs… and this team is good for about 85-90 wins, and miss the playoffs again by a few. Don’t wet your pants this early jeff over a miracle win tuesday. These braves will show you as time closes in, they are nothing more than a tease. Flashes of good, but will continue to lack the overall offense and timely hitting it takes, to be a real threat or what it takes to even be the wildcard.

OldDog

April 22nd, 2010
8:19 am

Will someone please tell the Braves that Terry Pendleton is a lousy hitting coach…I mean, Andruw Jones was supposedly no good any more and over priced…thru today he’s hitting .323 and least we forget poor Jeff Francoeur who was foolish enough to listen to Pendleton is hitting .302. No wonder Chumper Jones and Brian McCann won’t take any advice from him…neither want their careers shortened by this hitting Guru.

jay

April 22nd, 2010
8:34 am

I thought glaus had some really good hit ball last night he’ll come around he’s starting to get good hits then all you haters will be on here talking about how good he is doing give the man a break its been 2 weeks

Scott Eisenlohr

April 22nd, 2010
8:43 am

It would nake a great story if Heyward were to lead the Braves to the division crown and the playoffs.

But Philly is not going quietly. Although early in the season, their bullpen has been erractic at best, the Phillies traded Cliff Lee and got Roy Halladay in for payroll reasons, but also to get a horse who will pitch on three days rest if needed.

Starting pitching will keep Atlanta in the hunt.

Whern the Philliers got toi be a good team, I though the Mets would challenge them. The Marlins have a good young teram. But if it the Braves, with a phenom like Heyward wee
to challange the Phillies, bring it on.

I respect the Braves 14 consecutive playoff appearbaces. The Phillies are tryng to establish a streak of their own,.

Fair story frion a Braves perspective., Bribg it on!

SRF

April 22nd, 2010
8:44 am

This has to be an April Fool’s column. They were no-hit, won on a few fluke hits and then got shut out AGAIN.

Sorry – do not see any reason to plan for playoff tickets.

meh

April 22nd, 2010
8:51 am

I think Glaus will come around. I just don’t know if McLouth or Melky will ever get it going. Not having a lead off hitter that can hit is going make it a tough road to the top.

Jesse Stone

April 22nd, 2010
8:53 am

Hilarious!! Some a$$clown says that Glaus should’ve hit behind the runners THE NIGHT AFTER HE HIT A 2-RUN BOMB in the 9th inning.

PMC

April 22nd, 2010
9:00 am

This may be the best team they have fielded since 1999.

Smack

April 22nd, 2010
9:09 am

Not bad Jeff. Usually I cringe when you write about baseball (mostly becasue of the hating/doubting). You actually wrote of hope (like you eluded you would probably feel better about the 2010 team then you did the 2009 team) this time around. Cuddos to you and hopefully this will keep a war of words t-wenxt us at bay.

Furman Bitcher

April 22nd, 2010
9:22 am

WTF is going on with this board?? We are 14 games into the season and some of you are already writing off hitters like they are going to hit .200 all year. The only real prolem is how the batting line up is set. Prado needs to lead off with Escobar hitting second. Whovever is playing left needs to hit 8th and rest stay the same. This team will hit just fine to win the division. The Phils have major pitching problems. I am far more worried about the Marlins than the Phils. The Phils are one bad shoulder or elbow to Holliday from 3rd place. They got a bunch of number 4 starters behind him.

Bizzle Mizzle

April 22nd, 2010
9:24 am

Here’s the deal… It’s very early. We have some really positive things going for us and we have some serious areas of opportunity. Heyward us un*******believable. The real deal. He’s a difference maker. He’s not Jeff Francouer, he’s not Jordan Schafer. He is a BASEBALL PLAYER. It’s all he’s ever done. It’s his job and he plays like it is. He will be, in the end, one of the greatest to ever play the game, and I say that, along with a lot of other people right now, for the first time in my life about a player with fewer that 200 at bats above A ball. He will slump too, but not for long. Jason Heywards’ attitude is our teams attitude this year. He hauled a** around the bases Tuesday when he went yard to tie it up… Because the job was not done. There was work to do, and so we did work.

Aside from Heyward and Prado no one else has been consistent. That’s baseball, and when you find yourself 1 game out of division lead when two guys on the team are hitting consistently, that’s a good thing. Every batter in the lineup is capable of coming up big at any time. Every player will have good stints and bad stints, but if we can compete right now WE WILL compete for the division title this year and should win it. Our bullpen is deep, talented and one of the best in the league. Our starting 5, as a whole, is the best in the NL East and most of baseball. They too will have ups and downs… It’s Baseball.

As they say every team will win 54 and lose 54. It’s the 54 in between that make the difference, and we’ve already won a few of those.

Last night was one of the ones you’re going to lose. Not that anyone went out there wanting to or expecting to lose, but the guy is the best pitcher in baseball. He will beat teams 20 – 26 times this year. He will beat us again. He’s a machine and there’s no one like him in baseball right now. Yet off the bat of slumping Yunel Escobar with the bases loaded we were a tiny bounce away from tying or going ahead.

Tonights’ game is one we’re supposed to win, and so we will. It might not he Heyward, it might not be Prado, it might not be Chipper, but it doesn’t have to be. It might f*****’* be bullpen catcher Eddie Perez. It will be somebody. This year is not the same as other years or other teams. The attitude in the clubhouse and the dugout we’ve never seen. These players are winners. All the intangibles are there. The desire to win is there. EVERY player on the roster believes we will win. Every player WANTS to win. They’re having the time of their life, they’re playing like little kids, and when we lose or get shutout, they turn the page. This city (despite poor turnouts the last two days) BELIEVES WE WILL WIN. As everybody and their brother have said, this is early 90’s chemistry. This is aggressive, no excuses, win or die baseball. And so we will win.

The bats will come around, all of them. The pitching staff will be consistently really good, all of them. And in this, Bobby’s last year, maybe Chipper’s, hell maybe anybody’s, we will continue to find ways to win those 54 in the middle that define you as a team.

The naysayers will naysay. They will go on and on when Bobby makes a mistake; they will say people are old. They will say people are washed up. They will talk about the lack of WS titles. They will correct grammar on blogs. They will… HEY. SHUT UP. THE BASEBALL FANS ARE TRYING TO WATCH BASEBALL. SHUT. UP. Live in your negative world, just think it in your small mind, or say it when you’re in your car, by yourself, wondering why no one likes you. Keep that stuff, we don’t want any. Talk trash about the optimists being optimistic. Try to rile us up, try to rile me up. You can’t. Go watch Lifetime or TLC. You’re not baseball fans. You’re miserable. Baseball fans are optimistic. Baseball fans like watching every inning of every loss just like every win. Baseball fans watch players make mistakes and have bad runs and get excited about the breakout they’re inevitably due for. Like Jason Heyward and the other 39 guys on our roster I LOVE BASEBALL. And I love this team. We may win it all and we may not. But it will be really, really fun. If you can’t have fun go home.