Live from the ballpark: Braves put Bradley mojo to test!

I’m here at the ballyard to conduct a grand experiment. I’m here to see if the El Marko mojo still works. (”El Marko” was what Max Baker, who was so addled he nominated me for president of our senior class at Maysville High, occasionally called me.) And my mojo is mighty. From the AJC of Oct. 22, 1996:

“That the Braves are going to win this World Series is apparent. It is also, in the grand scheme, secondary. No longer is this team playing against the overmatched Yankees. The Braves are playing against history … This is the greatest team of the post-free agency era, among the best ever. You can trot out any of baseball’s storied assemblages – the 1927 Yankees, the Gas House Gang, the Big Red Machine – and wonder how these Braves would have fared, but that sword cuts two ways: Would those clubs have seemed so majestic if they’d had to hit against the Braves?”

That was, alas, the zenith — or the nadir — of El Marko’s so-called career. The Braves led that World Series 2-nil. They would lose it 4-2. The team I likened to the 1927 Yankees lost four straight to the 1996 Yankees. Talk radio in New York (and there’s a lot of it up there) had great fun with me for months.

I mention this because I just posted a little something about how I’m thinking the 2009 Braves will be playing in October. The 2009 Braves have won six of seven since the All-Star break and have closed within three games of the wild-card lead. They’re playing well. And I’m here today to watch them lose 15-2 and make me look silly for, oh, the 797th time this calendar year.

I’ll be happy to entertain any and all questions as we put my powers of hexation to the test, and I’ll begin with a couple of notes: The Braves announced today they’ll be moving to 680 The Fan and its FM affiliate Rock 100.5 next season, which affects me not one whit. (I’ve got Sirius XM.)

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And according to esteemed colleague David O’Brien, the Braves have recalled Kelly Johnson and sent Brooks Conrad to Gwinnett. And Bobby Cox has named Johnson his starting second baseman for every game the rest of this century. (Kidding about that last part.)

Oh, and one thing more: In the moments before we get going here — it’s overcast, by the way — you might take a look at another El Marko post from this morning, this one posing the musical question: Is Tommy Hanson the best Braves’ rookie pitcher ever? As ever, I thank you for your patronage.

509 comments Add your comment

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 23rd, 2009
12:29 pm

Listen, MB, I posed a question to you in an earlier blog and I’m hurt that you haven’t answered.

Steak Shapiro

July 23rd, 2009
12:31 pm

Listen to me Bradley, I am way more important to the sporting scene that you are.

UcantCLA

July 23rd, 2009
12:33 pm

Just wanted to point out the Ken Griffey Jr. is DHing in Seattle and he’s batting .211 with 10 HR’s while Garret Anderson is batting .287 with 7 HRs and Diaz hitting at .304 with 4 HR’s. The braves got better by not getting Jr. Who is missing Smoltz and Glavin now?

Also I think Soriano is a free agent after this season, someone want to tell Frank Wren to sign him ASAP. Pay that man his money cause I like Gonzalez but I dont trust him like I Soriano. Is there any talk of us re-signing him????

Panties in a wad

July 23rd, 2009
12:37 pm

The only reason to bring back KJ is to shop him. Conrad deserves to stay.

coach joe

July 23rd, 2009
12:39 pm

Hey – its great you put yourself out there .I remember 1996, we steam-rolled the yankees the first tow games and then Whollers gave up the home run and we have been scrambling ever since. But we aere looking good right now, so I’m excited.

coach joe

July 23rd, 2009
12:39 pm

Hey – its great you put yourself out there .I remember 1996, we steam-rolled the yankees the first two games and then Whollers gave up the home run and we have been scrambling ever since. But we aere looking good right now, so I’m excited.

OptimisticInTexas

July 23rd, 2009
12:42 pm

El Marko,
Tu sabes espanol? I am wondering if you think it is a good idea to have a personal interpreter for Escobar that helps him translate for English media interviews, helps him get assimilated to U.S. baseball culture, helps him learn English and helps seek stories within the Spanish speaking media to market him the Hispanic community? If so, I’d be interested…

Ron Martin

July 23rd, 2009
12:44 pm

So Conrad goes and Greg Norton stays?
How do Wren & Cox justify that????

T-Bone

July 23rd, 2009
12:44 pm

Though it is certainly hard to argue with the offensive output of July, I still wish we had a big bopper in the line-up. We’re a team full of doubles hitters–which ain’t bad–but there’s nobody in the line-up that makes opposing pitchers take notice, nobody that they have to pitch around (except maybe Chipper).

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 23rd, 2009
12:45 pm

Curse you MB, curse you

"Chef" Tim Dix

July 23rd, 2009
12:45 pm

Mark, when ever I feel I’m getting too big for my britches, I read that ‘96 column and reel myself in. Hey, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 23rd, 2009
12:46 pm

By the way hated to hear KJ was promoted, really hurts the Gwinnett hitting. Also, that is great new about 680. I love listening to the Braves during daylight hours.

Jorge

July 23rd, 2009
12:48 pm

Why not release Norton and keep Conrad???????

Bring back Belliard

July 23rd, 2009
12:50 pm

Hey Mark/Anyone,

What’s the latest on Infante’s injury? I think he went out in late May and it was supposed to only be 5-6 weeks. Any news?

I’m interested to see where he fits in when he gets back. He was so hot when he went down, but unfortunately we don’t have an opening right now.

Mark Bradley

July 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

Actually, Mrs. CB — and forgive me for my tardiness, but between driving and writing and eating breakfast, I’m a tad behind — I don’t think they’ll keep both Gonzalez and Soriano. I think they’ll keep the latter. And you know who might become a set-up man? (This is me guessing, OK?) Kenshin Kawakami.

JEZ

July 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

I agree, Conrad is a stud on the field! Guy can hit and his defense is pretty sharp, Norton has become a wash out

Juan

July 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

how do they justify keeping a guy that’s batting .111 and can’t play the field and sending back a guy that’s contributing a .344 average and 8 RBI. Norton’s had like 4 all year? Why do we need more automatic outs from the bench?

Mark Bradley

July 23rd, 2009
12:52 pm

The Braves have been saying all along Infante is expected back in August, if I’m not mistaken.

And why keep Norton on the roster? Well, you’ve stumped the band. Perhaps because of his lovely singing voice.

Homer

July 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

FIRE BRADLEY!!!

JEZ

July 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

MB, I like KK in the set up role..although it’s an awful lot to pay a guy for setting up, but he could certainly be effective. How do you think he would react to that?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

Steak & Beau Bock are douche bags.

joshdmac

July 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

I’m curious about the question Ron Martin asked too, Mark, and i’m sure there are plenty others wondering the same things. have we not gotten to this point — playing competitive baseball, that is — by having the best guys on the field? have Norton and KJ not made it abundantly clear that they’re not capable of contributing to a contending team right now?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 23rd, 2009
12:54 pm

Norton stays because he is the only plumber on the roster

Marc

July 23rd, 2009
12:54 pm

I predict the Braves will go to the post-season this year! There, now we’re both to blame if they don’t make it…

No but seriously, if they don’t win the wild card I’m egging your house.

JEZ

July 23rd, 2009
12:55 pm

I love Gonzo’s heart and passion, but he needs some mechanics adjusting..especially with all of that rocking he does. He is just inconsistent, but very effective when on his game..and a few too many pitches that get up in the SZ.

Juan

July 23rd, 2009
12:55 pm

Norton can sing?

Tim Brown

July 23rd, 2009
12:56 pm

Conrad will get to play daily and remain sharp. We may need him later this summer. Johnson will either produce or be shown the door. We must give Norton a chance he may be odd man out when Infente returns. Cox and crew make great decisions, keeping veterans around that know how to play the game is not a terrible idea. Cox is not to stubborn to win but does realize the season is long and a proven player is generally more reliable than an unproven player.

Juan

July 23rd, 2009
12:58 pm

Tim — are we talking about the same Cox who left KJ and JF in the line-up two months longer than they should have been?

Got to play the people that are contributing, get rid of the one’s who are not.

Honolulu Braves

July 23rd, 2009
12:58 pm

MB – Several thousand miles b/w me and the team doesn’t mean anything! Is KJ going to join the platoon in the OF now with the other corner guys?

Jorge

July 23rd, 2009
1:02 pm

Funny how all the Esobar trade rumors suddenly stopped.

JL Burke

July 23rd, 2009
1:03 pm

Norton has had plenty of chances. When you are hitting .111, 45 at-bats is more than enough. I doubt there’s another team in the majors that would take Norton on its roster right now.

DHD

July 23rd, 2009
1:05 pm

Conrad goes back because he can play everyday at Gwinnett rather than sit the bench in ATL. Conrad is 30 miles away if you need him. hopefully, Norton gets some PH appearances and some AL team would trade for him. Maybe he gets thrown in a deal. People who question these moves DO NOT know what is going on behind the scenes. AND it’s the same Bobby Cox that put Escobar in the 6 hole when most of you were crying for him to be traded. Shows what you know.

JL Burke

July 23rd, 2009
1:07 pm

DHD — An AL team is going to trade for Norton? You’re dreaming.

SanFranFan

July 23rd, 2009
1:08 pm

EL MARKO keep me posted on the butt kicking that SF is going to administer to the braves today.

mike

July 23rd, 2009
1:08 pm

I hope Greg Norton gets another chance to pinch hit with the bases loaded again. It could really boost his ego, and his .116 avg.

joshdmac

July 23rd, 2009
1:09 pm

Come on DHD, no matter what’s going on behind the scenes, Norton is completely inept at this level — and that’s out there for everyone to see. At some point you gotta stop throwing away his ABs.

Jorge

July 23rd, 2009
1:10 pm

For the record, I never cried that Escobar should be traded. I’ve been pro-Escobar all along. But Norton is hardly a proven player. Sure he’s had decent success off the bench the past several years, but it’s not happening this year. Time to give it up and move his .250 career average on.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 23rd, 2009
1:10 pm

I think it’s good KJ is back up because we can showcase him and (contnue to) shop him around. MB, I’ll forgive you — but only this once. I was actually thinking it would be more along the lines of Huddy (a la Smoltz) in the set-up position. I still haven’t completely given up on KK as a starter — when the dude’s on, he’s on.

Juan

July 23rd, 2009
1:11 pm

Yeah, when Norton came up with the bases loaded on Saturday, it was like Bobby waving the white flag of surrender.

JEZ

July 23rd, 2009
1:11 pm

dmac, I agree, Norton needs to join the field crew and help put the tarp on the field when it rains..hey he can sing while he’s laying the tarp!

The_Superhoo

July 23rd, 2009
1:12 pm

MB,

You’re quoted in the blog on ESPN.com

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 23rd, 2009
1:13 pm

Norton instead Andersen on Sat., BC looked like a genuis

Mark Bradley

July 23rd, 2009
1:13 pm

And, in my defense, the Braves had outscored the opposition — the Cardinals and the Yankees — 48-2 over the past five playoff games when I wrote the infamous paragraph. They were playing as well as any team I’d ever seen in postseason.

Underway now. Sun’s shining. Kawakami gets Randy Winn to ground to the mound.

Jeremiah

July 23rd, 2009
1:14 pm

I think Norton is still here because of his overall success as a PH last year…he was one of the best, if the the best PH in the majors…In a world of “what have you done for me lately”, this is hard for so many to understand…He also has not gotten a lot of opptys this year, and in one of his first opptys after coming off the DL, he did deliver…When he had ab’s everyday in AAA, he was very solid, I think that the braves liek his bat, but realize that he has not yet had the opptys this year to prove it…It is too early to just release him, if we did that watch a competitor pick him up to help their bench…Brooks has been hot, and I do like him, but I think there is still time to try to get Norton going, and if he doesn’t produce by the stretch run, then Brooks will have his chance again…Same for KJ…If he does get hot late like he consistently has in years past, he will be great off the bench and in platoon…

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 23rd, 2009
1:14 pm

I don’t want Greg Norton to go because then I won’t have anyone to hate.

Juan

July 23rd, 2009
1:15 pm

Another walk, eh… why so many walks for K-man in US of A?

Joey

July 23rd, 2009
1:17 pm

I cannot believe Kelly Johnson is back in the major leagues. Cox is clueless. Even Chipper talked about getting rid of the “outs” in the lineup, (outs – as in plural) so he wasn’t just talking about Francouer. Does Cox know anything about chemistry. Brooks Conrad played great on offense and defense and fired the rest of the team over and over. Y’all watch how this great run falls apart now with KJ back in the dugout.

Jorge

July 23rd, 2009
1:17 pm

Norton has had 45 opportunities. He’s delivered in 5 of them. Keeping him around b/c of his success last year (with his .246 average) is like keeping JF b/c he was awesome in 2005.

jay

July 23rd, 2009
1:17 pm

Mark – its not your fault that mark wholers decided to throw a changeup for some inexplicable reason… Nobody could have seen that coming – except Leyritz

Bama Aaron

July 23rd, 2009
1:18 pm

I concur Mrs Bong… I was also thinking Huddy would make a good setup man.