Archive for the ‘Braves / MLB’ Category

I’ve moved — let me show you my new neighborhood…

Roddy White, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan are seeking a little redemption. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Roddy White, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan hope to be doing this Sunday. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Roddy White, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan are so excited because the the AJC has a new digital platform!

OK, not really. But we have moved. You can still find my old blogs on this site. But for the new ones, please go to ajc.com/weblogs/jeff-schultz.

Hopefully we can get through this transition period with a minimal number of hiccups. Also, please note that readers commenting on blogs now need to register first. Just go to my latest blog (about the Falcons) for all of the info.

Thanks for reading, Jeff

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Time to put Hall of Fame vote on shelf, overhaul system

Chipper Jones will be in Hall of Fame one day. But how does Fred McGriff get only 118 votes while Craig Biggio gets 388? (AJC photo)

Chipper Jones will be in Hall of Fame one day. But how does Fred McGriff get only 118 votes while Craig Biggio gets 388? (AJC photo)

Junk it. Fix it. At the very least, put all of this on a shelf for a while and let it breathe.

Maybe the whole system needs to be blown up. Maybe the voting populace needs to be redefined, or at least shrunk to a more workable size (enough to fit into small boardroom).

Maybe the powers of baseball and the Hall of Fame can issue some sort of declaration like, “This is what qualifies as cheating. That is what doesn’t.”

Or, “Frankly, we don’t care who did what.”

But right now the system stinks. It’s broken. When Craig Biggio gets more than three times as many votes as Fred McGriff, it’s totally broken. Something needs to change or everything needs to change. The only certainty is that whatever needs to be fixed won’t be done before 2014 ballots being mailed out.

So take a year off from elections. Maybe two years. Let it breathe — not like a fine …

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Murphy: Steroid users don’t belong in Hall (but he does)

Dale Murphy's best chance to get into the Hall of Fame after this year will be via the Veteran's Committee.

Dale Murphy's best chance to get into the Hall of Fame after this year will be via the Veteran's Committee.

Dale Murphy gets a ballot in the mail every year. Well, not a real ballot, just a sample one, although somebody with a more devious mind than his probably would’ve orchestrated a ballot-box-stuffing or “dirty tricks” campaign by now. Where’s Charles Colson when you need him?

This is year No. 15 for Murphy on the Hall of Fame ballot. He will fall off after this season because 15 is the ceiling. The chance of leaping from 14.5 percent of the vote (which he received last season) to 75 percent (which is required for induction) is infinitesimal.

I don’t know if it’s sad irony or a cruel joke that Murphy’s final year of eligibility coincides with the first appearance on the ballot for three cover boys from baseball’s steroid era: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. But it would be nice to see a player who never consumed anything stronger than a “Dodger Dog” on game day …

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Braves dump a pitcher (Hanson) they once viewed as gold

Tommy Hanson, once a touted prospect, leaves Atlanta without meeting expectations.

Once a touted prospect, Tommy Hanson leaves Braves with unrealized expectations. (Curtis Compton)

Three years ago, Tommy Hanson was viewed as a precious commodity. The Braves would tell other teams, “Don’t even bother asking about him.” When the San Diego Padres asked about him anyway, as the key to a potential Jake Peavy trade, the Braves laughed. Not Tommy, he’s our guy.

On June 3, 2009, Braves general manager Frank Wren unceremoniously cut Tom Glavine, a future Hall of Famer who was expecting a call-up following a rehabilitation assignment. Why? Because they needed the spot in the pitching rotation for Hanson, who was called up on the same day. The younger Tommy now was their guy.

He was the Braves’ future. He was young and personable, a towering power pitcher who would be a staple of the team’s pitching staff for years.

Now Hanson is gone. Funny how quickly an athlete can go from being untouchable to, “Please, just take him.”

The Braves traded Hanson to the Los Angeles …

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Braves need this free agent splurge on Upton to pay off

Frank Wren believes B.J. Upton will live up to the contract Braves just gave him. (AP photo)

Frank Wren hopes and believes B.J. Upton will live up to his $75.25 million contract. (AP photo)

This probably isn’t fair to B.J. Upton, an immensely talented player with power, speed and the motivation that generally accompanies an athlete looking for a fresh start with a new team. It might not even be fair to Frank Wren, who was staring at significant holes in his lineup this winter and had relatively few options in how to fill them.

But that’s a lot of money.

It’s a lot of money for a young player who may have wowed the baseball world in 2008, but, statistically at least, really hasn’t blown anybody away since. It’s a lot of money for a franchise that just cleared a ton of payroll space and can’t afford to take a wrong turn and clog the financial ledger with a big mistake again. It’s a lot of money for a general manager who too often has taken that wrong turn and smacked into a wall.

Derek Lowe. Kenshin Kawakami. Dan Uggla. We’re not talking the Apple-Home Depot-Coca Cola …

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Fan revolts out of control, one wanted to fight UGA player

Braves fans littered the field with beer bottles and garbage, endangering others. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Braves fans littered Turner Field with beer bottles after bad call. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fan as: 1) an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator; 2): an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit).

As with anything, definitions can often be broadened. The boundaries of this definition just seemingly shouldn’t stretch to home fans cheering when their quarterback crumbles to the ground with a concussion. Or throwing bottles and garbage on a baseball field, endangering other fans and players, in protest of an umpire’s call. Or egging and toilet-papering a home known to be rented by five college players out of disgust, merely because the team lost a football game. Or effectively challenging one student-athlete to a fight on Twitter.

Yes. One “fan” actually did that last week to Georgia’s Christian Robinson.

“There were all these people saying stuff about me on Twitter, it got …

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Braves’ Frank Wren needs to fix good, but not great, team

Michael Bourn may have played his last game for the Braves, who have some big decisions to make this offseason. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Center fielder Michael Bourn may have played his last game for the Braves, who have some big decisions to make this offseason. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Once you get past the fact that the Braves waited until game No. 163 to resemble baseball’s all-thumbs team, and that a major league umpiring crew just made the NFL’s replacement referees look fit to be air traffic controllers, this is what the 2012 season really comes down to: The Braves’ margin for error this season was just too narrow.

They won 94 games. That’s impressive. They went 20-9 down the stretch after it looked again like they were circling the drain. That’s really impressive. But what really pushed this team into the postseason were two unexpected occurrences: 1) A 40-year-old (Chipper Jones) unexpectedly hit .300 for most of this season, had two walk-off homers against Philadelphia (the second when the club looked comatose on Sept. 2), and finished second in game-winning RBIs (12) and third in go-ahead RBIs (18) …

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Chipper Jones on loss in his finale: ‘Ultimately I’m to blame’

Chipper Jones. (AP photo)

Chipper Jones never imagined an error in his final game would cost his team a playoff game. (AP photo)

Bunting hanging from the rafters. Red tomahawks. An actual sellout for a postseason game (but then, it’s new again).

Ted Turner. Jimmy Carter. Bobby Cox (except in the stands, not in cleats).

Also, there was Chipper Jones. He was a 23-year-old rookie in 1995 when the Braves won the World Series. He was a 40-year-old, 19-year veteran when he was making his way from his home to Turner Field Friday for a playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Perfect weather. Perfect backdrop. Perfect emotions.

“I told my dad, ‘This is why I know I’m ready to go. I’m not even nervous,” Jones said earlier Friday.

It wasn’t the perfect ending. No walk-off homer. No catching the final out. No fairly tale.

More like Stephen King.

Of all the endings Larry “Chipper” Jones envisioned for the final game of his career . . .

“This wasn’t one of them,” he said, completing a question.

A broken bat …

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Braves are hoping to change the postseason script

Chipper Jones is the only remaining Brave from the last team to win a playoff round. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Chipper Jones is lone remaining Brave from the last team to win a playoff round. (Brant Sanderlin)

As much as there will be grand proclamations Friday night — because that’s just the way things function in this 24/7, hyperventilating, turbo-Tweeting sports world — let’s start with a little perspective:

If the Braves defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card game — a best-of-one? — it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that they’re absolutely destined to win 11 more postseason games and the World Series and will make people forget the ’27 Yankees, and if they lose to the Cardinals it won’t wouldn’t affirm that the Kenshin Kawakami signing has forever cursed the franchise (although that one might be worth studying for a while).

It’s just one game.

But isn’t it about time for a new script?

We’re all familiar with the mixed-emotions math of the Braves in the 1990s and 2000s: 14 divisions, 5 pennants, 1 World Series. Too small a number at the end for such a big number at the …

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Medlen becomes an unlikely key to Braves’ postseason

Kris Medlen is 9-0 with a 0.97 in 12 starts this season and owns the major league record for the Braves winning 23 straight when he starts. (AP photo)

Kris Medlen is 9-0 with a 0.97 in 12 starts this season and he owns major league record for Braves winning 23 straight in his starts.

The Braves are going back to the playoffs, and as anybody could have predicted back in spring training their two most important players when the postseason opens will be Chipper Jones and . . . Kris Medlen.

OK. Maybe not so predictable.

It’s sort of like if the guys at NASA had a running bet and one predicted that the first two astronauts to walk on the moon would be Neil Armstrong and the kid who brought him coffee every day.

“This has been the ride of my life,” Medlen said Sunday. “I mean, you go through some adversity and you come back with the kind of success that I’ve had, it’s awesome. It’s crazy.”

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez put it another way: “It’s Nintendo-like stuff.”

Medlen did it again Sunday. He started and he won. He started and the Braves won. Like, “Good morning: Oh look, there’s the sun.”

The Braves’ middle …

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