Live from the ballpark: The mighty Bako and my U-turn

I’m headed to the ballpark for Game 3 of Braves-Phils. Actually, I headed for the ballpark at 8:55 p.m. last night but never made it. Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of my fateful trip …

Last night I endeavored to do absolutely nothing, and I was successfully negotiating my mission — hadn’t looked at the computer in three hours — when I happened to pick up MY NEW IPHONE. And I noticed, via the ESPN scoreboard app, the Braves were leading the Phillies 9-1. Then I noticed the Phillies didn’t have a hit through 5 2/3 innings. I waited until the third out in the top of the sixth was made, and I called the office and said, “If Jurrjens throws a no-hitter, can we take a column for print?”

Yes, came the answer. And I swung, as it were, into action. Put on blue jeans, sandals and the same Led Zeppelin T-shirt from Wolfgang’s Vault — it has an iPhone app, too — I was wearing when I drove to the ballyard at 9:15 on a Friday night in September 2007 because the office called and said My Favorite Pitcher had a no-hitter through six.

That time I nearly made it to the McDaniel Street exit on I-20 before the no-no went bye-bye. Last night I didn’t get out of the neighborhood. Jurrjens got two quick outs — via XM, I was listening to the vocal stylings of Don Sutton — and the erstwhile Brave Paul Bako came to the plate. And I thought, “No way Bako breaks this thing up. He made Corky Miller seem like Ernie Lombardi.”

On cue, Bako singled. I turned around and went home.

Tonight I’m going no matter what, and even the mighty Bako won’t stop me. Stay tuned and I’ll offer pertinent updates and impertinent commentary. I thank you in advance.

Update (already!): Yunel Escobar is in tonight’s starting lineup. Batting fifth.

Mood of the team, et cetera: After the 1-0 loss to Boston on Saturday, the Braves’ clubhouse was as quiet as it ever gets after a regular-season game. But they haven’t lost since, and when I went in after batting practice I heard actual laughter.

I said to Jeff Francoeur, “And it’s a happy ballclub.” And he said, “We’ve got reason to be.”

And they do. They’re playing well. They’ve won three in a row. They’ve got a chance to sweep the World Series champs tonight. Which only goes to show: In baseball, everything can change in a week. Less than a week, actually.

Hair update: Since I made mention of Escobar’s blond highlights earlier today, it’s only fair that I report this: Francoeur got a haircut.

I did not inquire about his choice of foundation garments for tonight’s tilt. Some things are a little too personal, if you know what I’m saying.

54 comments Add your comment

The Dude

July 2nd, 2009
3:21 pm

I thought the same thing about Bako. What a funny game baseball is.

NC Braves Fan

July 2nd, 2009
3:29 pm

He might help you save on gas … but if Bako could help you save hundreds on your car insurance, then he’d be a first ballot hall-of-famer!

Yeah, I got nothing.

Carl

July 2nd, 2009
3:30 pm

Wow, what a job you have! If I had only went to journalism school…….

Frank

July 2nd, 2009
3:31 pm

I thought Bako would retire with Maddux.

Benjamin

July 2nd, 2009
3:32 pm

In Bill Simmons’s Now I Can Die In Peace, he has a passage in the account of Pedro’s almost near no-no vs. the Devil Rays — the one where former Brave Gerald Williams inexplicably charged the mound after getting plunked early, then Pedro went nuts on Tampa for 8 innings taking it out on them — that reminded me of last night. It was regarding John Flaherty, who was a “Bako-esque” hitter in his own right, breaking up Pedro’s bid, and basically said that one day, Flaherty would be sitting in a gym class, recounting the story of how he broke up the might Pedro Martinez’s bid for a no-hitter.

Now, Jair is no Pedro, and Bako probably won’t need to teach any gym classes — he’s been around the game long enough to where hopefully he’s been smart with his money to not need much of a career after playing ball — but as soon as he got his hit last night, I thought of Simmons and Flaherty.

McFann ;Ô;

July 2nd, 2009
4:02 pm

VOTE McCANN 2009 ALL-STAR!!!!

Will

July 2nd, 2009
4:05 pm

Don’t look now but if the Braves finish off the sweep they will be only 2 or 2 1/2 back in the NL East. Can this be possible for as poorly as they have played the first half? This team is very streaky and I think they can pull off a 15 out of 20 game run sometime in the second half.

SWAT Native

July 2nd, 2009
4:09 pm

OK, Mark, I’ll bite…I’ve noticed that you have made a number of references to your new IPhone over the past few days. Did you get the 3Gs? Why don’t you post a review?

Dan S.

July 2nd, 2009
4:20 pm

It doesn’t count as seeing a no-hitter if you rush to the stadium for the last 3rd of the game. Just saying.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
4:20 pm

SWAT, back during the NCAA tournament I got so much grief for having antiquated TVs that I got a bit sensitive on the whole technology issue. So I’m just trying to show all my critics that, every decade or so, I do splurge on something. Next year I’m gonna get me one of those garage door opener thingys.

And yes, I did get the 3GS, and I haven’t yet used one-tenth of it, I feel sure. But the GPS is great and the apps are great — got nine of them so far — and I would say, by way of side-by-side comparison, the iPhone beats the heck out of my AJC-issued BlackBerry Storm. (Except for pictures and video, which I believe the Storm does a tad better.)

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
4:24 pm

You’re probably right, Dan. But the only no-hitter I ever saw in its entirety didn’t feel like a no-hitter because three pitchers worked it — Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena — and the official scorer saved it in the ninth. Here’s the play-by-play.

Ted Striker

July 2nd, 2009
4:34 pm

I’ve used my (first generation) iPhone for leveling gutters (the level), finding my way out of an unfamiliar neighborhood on foot in New Orleans (GPS), making my way down precariously steep unlit stairs (flashlight function), conversing in Italian (translator), and recording a conversation with a traffic cop (leading to a ticket being dismissed when the conversation was replayed in court). None of those things were planned. I’d upgrade but this original phone has been so darned good, I’m hesitant to abandon it for a newer model.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
4:37 pm

Since we’re talking about almost-no-hitters, one of the most famous games in Mets’ history happened in the summer of 1969 — a rather important season for that franchise — against the then-division-leading Cubs at Shea. Tom Seaver took a perfect game into the ninth and had it broken up not by Ernie Banks or Billy Williams or Ron Santo or Glenn Beckert or Don Kessinger or Randy Hundley … but by Jim Qualls. In Met lore, it’s still known as the Imperfect Game.

Marty Noble of MLB.com writes aa nice story about it, and you’ll notice he lumps Qualls with all-time Mets villains Chipper Jones, Terry Pendleton and Yadier Molina. The latter hit the homer that won Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. The former killed the Mets, as you’ll remember, in September 1999. And Pendleton? He hit a huge game-tying ninth-inning home run on September 11, 1987 as the Mets were closing on the Cardinals. And who threw the fateful pitch to Pendleton?

The current Braves’ pitching coach. Here’s the boxscore.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
4:41 pm

I feel the same about my TVs, Ted.

Dawn Baker

July 2nd, 2009
4:45 pm

Have you considered the possibility that your Led Zeppelin shirt might be bad luck?

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
4:47 pm

Actually, the thought did cross my mind, Dawn. I’ll wear the Hendrix shirt from Wolfgang’s Vault next time.

Dawn Baker

July 2nd, 2009
4:53 pm

Good choice. Of course, you could wear your partridge-in-a-pear-tree undershorts as well.

Dawn Baker

July 2nd, 2009
4:55 pm

Good choice. Of course, you could wear your partridge-in-a-pear-tree undershorts as well!

Dawn Baker

July 2nd, 2009
4:55 pm

oops, sorry for the repeat

Ted Striker

July 2nd, 2009
4:58 pm

Dawn stutters, Dawn stutters, Dawn stutters.

matt r

July 2nd, 2009
5:12 pm

So the moral of the story is, if you want to break up a no-hitter, call Mark Bradley and tell him to put on his Led Zeppelin t-shirt and get in the car.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
5:20 pm

I believe that would be the overall theme to this, Matt.

StingerSplash

July 2nd, 2009
5:23 pm

Oh yeah? Well, you never thought about driving four hours to see the Braves play because Randy Johnson was pitching that night, got behind on things and opted not to push it and then call the buddy you were going to go to the game with in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and ask “Are you listening to this? Didn’t we talk about going?” just before Eddie Perez, the 27th batter the Braves pushed to the plate, became the 27th out.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
5:25 pm

Actually, I called into the office that night and asked if I should scurry down in the case Randy Johnson did throw a perfect game. But esteemed colleague Steve Hummer was already on site and my services, such as they are, weren’t required.

[...] Original post by Mark Bradley [...]

eastbound and down

July 2nd, 2009
6:05 pm

Wolfgang’s vault rocks! hope u enjoy the shows they have available on streaming audio…

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
6:19 pm

The Wolfgang’s Vault app was the second one I downloaded for the iPhone, Eastbound.

Ted Striker

July 2nd, 2009
6:24 pm

I wouldn’t walk out on my deck to watch Randy Johnson pitch if he was tossing a no hitter in my back yard.

And with that, I’m off to dinner. Enjoy the game, everyone.

Reid Adair

July 2nd, 2009
7:19 pm

It could have been worse, I guess. Bako could have gotten the hit as you were turning into the parking lot at Turner Field.

Nice little three-game stretch for the Braves. It will be even better if they can keep it going.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
7:45 pm

This would be a nice one to win. Standings-wise, psyche-wise, every way.

Biff Pocoroba

July 2nd, 2009
8:14 pm

And if you had gone to Philips last night and gotten a Beyonce shirt instead, Jair would have had the no hitter.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
8:20 pm

If you want to look at it that way … sure.

ASN

July 2nd, 2009
8:30 pm

I didn’t think Cotchamn had that kind of power! Nice home run. I bet Javy is happy…

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
8:34 pm

Set your calendar by it. Once a month, Kotchman goes deep.

arif11

July 2nd, 2009
8:53 pm

Mark,

I’m a big fan of your blog. Keep them coming!

Because you just wrote an article about Yuni, I was wondering what you think about his performance today? He’s played nice defense and has hit the bat well. Think he read your article, too?

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
9:05 pm

Thanks Arif. I never assume anybody reads anything I write. (If I were a player, I wouldn’t.) But Escobar has indeed had a good game. Nice catch on the liner, hit a double in the second.

The Dust

July 2nd, 2009
9:14 pm

Yunel looked really dumb on a 2-1 bunt attempt. Awful!

The Dust

July 2nd, 2009
9:15 pm

The Braves should have traded him in the off season.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2009
9:18 pm

The Dust, you should know, is a tough critic. Don’t get him started on Josh Smith.

arif11

July 2nd, 2009
9:26 pm

Has Frenchy ever gotten to a 3-2 count twice in a game?

arif11

July 2nd, 2009
9:28 pm

And what do you think Snitker was saying to Yuni when he was at third base with the bases loaded and Javy up to bat? I mean, he can’t speak Spanish…right?

the truth...

July 2nd, 2009
9:39 pm

I love it….for the past few weeks, Kotchman has been one of the punching bags on these blogs saying he couldn’t hit, had no power, etc, etc…A few of us have reminded folks of Sid Bream as a similar player…

so for all you dump Kotchman band wagon riders….let’s take a look and see the truth about Sid Bream and the first 3 years of the 14 season run as Division Champ…….remember him? Well he was our 1B from ‘91-’92-’93….So the take is that Kotchman isn’t enough at first..

the Truth for Sid Bream is:

Batting Average: .253-.261-.260
Home Runs: 11-10-9
RBI: 45-61-35

the Truth for Casey Kotchman:2007-2008-2009

Batting Average: .296-.272-.269
Home Runs:11-14-2
RBI:68-74-28

the truth...

July 2nd, 2009
9:41 pm

Oh…those stats for Casey are through last night…so the HR’s are now 3 and the RBI’s are 30…..hmmmmmmmmmm

BravesGrrrl

July 2nd, 2009
10:04 pm

Oh my goodness! That almost caused me to have a heart attack! Gonzo pulled it out though.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 2nd, 2009
10:04 pm

Cotchamn? I hope you don’t call yourself a Braves fan.

The Dust

July 2nd, 2009
10:10 pm

Bring on Soriano. This one is over.

Bat Masterson

July 2nd, 2009
10:14 pm

Who is managing the Braves tonight?

The Dust

July 2nd, 2009
10:26 pm

Braves sweep Phils. 2 games under. 2 games back. 6-4 homestand. Season high 4 game winning streak.

NCBravesFan

July 2nd, 2009
10:29 pm

Nice. The question to be answered in the next few weeks – does this sweep say more about who the Braves are, or who the Phillies are right now?

paulie29233

July 2nd, 2009
10:35 pm

nice game tonight….quite a few big plays the the bravos made. let’s carry this over and take care of those happless nationals….really build a nice streak. Only thing is that Chipper and Mac need to start hitting….been in their slump too long!