Archive for September, 2011

Braves reverse field, make right call firing Larry Parrish

Larry Parrish

Larry Parrish

(UPDATED: 5 p.m.)

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had said Thursday that his entire coaching staff would be back, including hitting coach Larry Parrish. Either he changed his mind or somebody changed it for him.

The Braves announced Friday that Parrish will not be back after one horrible season. Who ever made the decision — Gonzalez or general manager Frank Wren — it was the correct one.

Fredi Gonzalez

Fredi Gonzalez

Wren’s name, but not Gonzalez’, is on the news release, which was emailed at 3:40 p.m.

According to our David O’Brien, Wren met with Parrish Thursday afternoon and made the decision to fire him after no being satisfied with Parrish’s answers.

Parrish’s biography was immediately removed from the team’s website.

Somebody needed to be held accountable for the Braves’ going 10-20 down the stretch of the season and missing the playoffs.

There was no excuse for the Braves’ offensive woes for much of this season. It can be debated just how much blame or credit a hitting …

Continue reading Braves reverse field, make right call firing Larry Parrish »

Falcons, Dogs, Jackets dance better than Nancy Graceless

board 003

It has been a difficult week, and I’m not just talking about the Braves’ exit or the fact that Nancy Graceless apparently had some sort of wardrobe malfunction on Dancing with the Mutants, which brought the world to a standstill, wiped out half the planet’s vegetation and destroyed the good and the innocence that exists inside all of us.

But the really difficult week has been in Flowery Branch, where everybody has been looking at game film and coming to the realization: “Wow. We really stink. Has Nancy ever played left tackle? Because really, she can’t be any worse than Sam Baker, although he might look better in sequins.”

Could Nancy at left tackle be an improvement?

Could Nancy at left tackle be an improvement?

The Falcons are 1-2 so, yeah, they’ve still got 13 games left. But they’ve got problems. When the quarterback seems to call plays better than the offensive coordinator, and too many guys on defense still look at each other with that Scooby Doo, rut-roh gaze in their eyeballs, and linemen aren’t even stopping …

Continue reading Falcons, Dogs, Jackets dance better than Nancy Graceless »

Braves collapse, and the shine just came off Fredi Gonzalez

Fredi Gonzalez watched as the Braves blew an 8 1/2 game lead in 23 days. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Fredi Gonzalez watched as the Braves blew an 8½-game wild-card lead in 23 days. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Fredi Gonzalez was quietly handed the Braves’ managerial job before Bobby Cox ever stepped out the door in a wink-wink, nudge-nudge deal, and nobody really had a problem with it.

He had the resume and the personality. Everybody liked and respected him. He knew the players, the organization and the city. The Braves weren’t making over the manager’s office as much as they were changing a light bulb.

Something went wrong.

This is not a “Fire Fredi Gonzalez” column. But we’ve just witnessed one of the worst collapses in sports history, and the Braves can’t just assume that a few roster tweaks are going to fix the problem. When a team goes 10-20 down the stretch — including 0-9 against their two biggest competitors (Philadelphia and St. Louis) — and loses three consecutive series to the division’s flotsam (Mets, Marlins, Nationals), this isn’t about just injuries or a …

Continue reading Braves collapse, and the shine just came off Fredi Gonzalez »

Poll: Who should get most blame for Braves’ collapse?

Here's two of your biggest targets: Derek Lowe and Fredi Gonzalez. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Here's two of your biggest targets: Derek Lowe and Fredi Gonzalez. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I write this knowing that there’s still a very good chance the Braves (with Tim Hudson on the mound) will win tonight’s game against Philadelphia (which starts Joe Blanton) and at least force a one-game playoff for the wild card spot Thursday in St. Louis.

I write this knowing that if the Braves get into the playoffs, strange things have been known to happen in postseasons. And, seriously, it’s not like either potential divisional opponent, Milwaukee or Arizona, is some indestructible force.

Who should get most blame for Braves’ collapse?

  • Frank Wren
  • Fredi Gonzalez
  • Larry Parrish
  • Derek Lowe
  • Dan Uggla
  • Jason Heyward
  • Martin Prado
  • Brian McCann

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

But as the Braves drag a four-game losing streak and 10-19 record over the past five weeks into the Phillies game, here’s the question: Who’s to blame for this collapse?

I’ve got my own …

Continue reading Poll: Who should get most blame for Braves’ collapse? »

Braves, Derek Lowe blow up again (but somehow still live)

Derek Lowe might've done better if he closed his eyes while he was pitching. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Derek Lowe might've done better if he closed his eyes while he pitched Tuesday. Or maybe he did. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(UPDATED: 11:45 p.m.)

So there’s this scene in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” when all of those who have been condemned to death and are hanging from crosses suddenly break into the cheer tune, “Always look on the bright side of life …”

And that pretty much sums up the Braves right now. They are a team of “Brians.” Every ounce of their corpses screams – a blood-curdling scream – that they are condemned for a season without a playoff game, or at the very least without another win.

And yet, they live. They sing!

For a short while, Braves fans actually cheered Tuesday night when their team trailed the Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 in the seventh inning. Why? Because team officials – desperate for something to spark a cheer, or at least prevent throwing objects – showed highlights on the video board of Houston taking a 5-0 lead over St. …

Continue reading Braves, Derek Lowe blow up again (but somehow still live) »

LIVE: Braves can clinch tonight (and it starts with Lowe)

The Braves will do more scoreboard watching, and hope to have another banner to raise.

The Braves will do more scoreboard watching tonight, and hope to have another banner to raise.

Amid all of the angst of the Braves’ collapse (10-18), the injured starters (Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson), the slumping hitters (Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, Brian McCann) and the overused bullpen, guess what? The Braves can actually clinch the wild card tonight.

OK, for that to happen, the Braves need to hit a long-odds parlay: 1) The maligned starter, Derek Lowe, needs a strong outing to defeat the Phillies at Turner Field; 2) The St. Louis Cardinals need to lose for a second straight game in Houston. Those two developments would give the Braves the National League wild card spot for the second straight year, and render Wednesday’s regular-season finale against Philadelphia meaningless.

Few expected the Cards to lose to the Astros Monday night. It happened (5-4 in 10 innings). But the Braves’ postseason chances mostly hinge on Lowe. If he and the Braves win tonight, at worst the …

Continue reading LIVE: Braves can clinch tonight (and it starts with Lowe) »

Braves need at least 2 wins (and don’t expect Phillies to fold)

If the Braves don't want to turn this Phillies fan into a prophet, they'll have to show it on the field. (AP photo)

If the Braves don't want to turn this Phillies fan into a prophet, they'll have to show it on the field. (AP photo)

It would be beneficial for the Braves if the Philadelphia Phillies came to town with all of their starters wrapped in bubble wrap and treated the next three games as spring training. But don’t expect it.

Realistically, the fizzling Braves need to win at least two out of three against the Phillies — and maybe sweep – to advance to the postseason. St. Louis, which trails them in the wild card race by only one game, ends the season against the 104-loss Houston Astros.

The Phillies may have everything wrapped up, but they shouldn’t be lacking in motivation. They lost eight straight games until defeating the New York Mets on Sunday and they don’t want to head into the divisional playoffs on a downturn. Eliminating an East Division rival also could be motivating. So while Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn’t going to do anything to endanger his team’s …

Continue reading Braves need at least 2 wins (and don’t expect Phillies to fold) »

Braves: Playoff teams don’t lose series to Nats, Marlins, Mets

Original Caption:  	Atlanta BravesAn eighth-inning strikeout and bat-flip by the struggling Martin Prado sums up the Braves' problems over the past month. (AP photo)

This strikeout and bat-flip by the struggling Martin Prado sums up the Braves' struggles and mood over the past month.

On statistics-driven websites like CoolStandings.com, the Braves are still given a 65.7 percent chance of winning the National League wild card spot, almost twice the percentage of the St. Louis Cardinals (34.3).

But if this is about odds, what are we still doing here?

The Braves’ wild card lead is down to one game after a 3-0 loss to Washington and the Cardinals’ 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. So as the team no doubt dreaded (but probably wouldn’t admit), its playoff lifeline will come down to the season-ending, three-game series against Philadelphia, beginning Monday night at Turner Field.

Math is one thing. Reality is another. Consider the pitching match-ups for the Phillies’ series. In game one, the Braves will start a rookie, Randall Delgado, against Cliff Lee. In game two, it’s the struggling Derek Lowe against Roy Oswalt. In the series finale, it’s Tim …

Continue reading Braves: Playoff teams don’t lose series to Nats, Marlins, Mets »

Georgia gets needed win but leaves room for improvement

Isaiah Crowell rushed for 147 yards but felt Georgia should've capitalized on more scoring chances. (AP photo)

Isaiah Crowell rushed for 147 yards but felt Georgia should've scored more touchdowns.

OXFORD, Miss. – Since the first two games of the season adjusted everybody’s expectations, let’s start with this: Georgia won a game on Saturday. Over an SEC opponent. On the road. These things aren’t taken for granted any more, not after a 2-6 stretch in the conference on non-hedged fields.

So in that sense, the Bulldogs’ 27-13 win over Mississippi was a step forward. It just wasn’t quite the sledgehammer maybe some had hoped for.

This was Ole Miss, one of the worst teams in the nation. It lost to Vanderbilt 30-7 last week. One group among the program’s normally relatively staid fan base, whose greatest focus generally is on picnicking in The Grove, even was moved to purchase full-page advertisements in five area newspapers. In so many words, they asked the school’s administration to strap coach Houston Nutt to a catapult and fire him into the gulf. Even angry Georgia fans …

Continue reading Georgia gets needed win but leaves room for improvement »

LIVE: Dogs, Richt have chance to start roll, cool ‘hot seat’

Welcome to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, site of today's "Hot Seat Bowl."

Welcome to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, site of today's "Hot Seat Bowl."

OXFORD, Miss. — Welcome to one of the coolest spots on the college football landscape.

Seriously, for anybody who never has witnessed a football game at Mississippi, it’s worth a visit. It’s a pretty campus, cozy stadium and one of the best tailgating scenes in the nation (”The Grove”).

Football — that’s another story. Georgia plays Mississippi today, and nobody knows what we’re going to get. Both Mark Richt and Houston Nutt are feeling pressure. The Bulldogs rebounded from opening losses to Boise State and South Carolina last week to bury Coastal Carolina 59-0. But really, wins over Coastal Carolina generally don’t win over a fan base. SEC victories do.

The scene in, "The Grove," the tailgating site outside the stadium.

The scene in, "The Grove," the tailgating site outside the stadium.

And what really turns off a fan base are losses to Vanderbilt, which is why Nutt is catching even more flak than Richt. The Rebels are coming off a 30-7 loss to Vandy. The reaction has been …

Continue reading LIVE: Dogs, Richt have chance to start roll, cool ‘hot seat’ »