Greg Norton! Whiffing! Will someone make it stop?

OK, I’m done. I’m through rationalizing this Greg Norton thing. At this late date, there can be no rationalizing it.

Greg Norton is hitting .147. He has 10 hits this season, two of them for extra bases, both of them doubles. He has driven in six runs. (If memory serves, it’s possible in baseball to drive in four runs with one swing.) His last RBI came Aug. 12, that on a walk. He’s pretty good at walking, at least when compared to hitting.

Greg Norton, simply put, might be the worst non-pitching hitter in the big leagues, and yet every game seems to come down to Norton standing in the batter’s box waggling his warclub. I’ve made every excuse possible for Bobby Cox — that Norton has a track record, at least in seasons past, as a pinch-hitter; that managers always prefer veterans to pinch-hit as opposed to younger players — but Wednesday’s game tore it for me.

Seventh inning, Braves down a run, one out, runners on first and third: Norton strides to the dish, waggles the warclub and, rather naturally, whiffs. The Braves eventually tie the game but wind up losing in the bottom of the ninth and fall four games back of Colorado. I’m not going to say Norton alone cost the Braves the game — Javier Vazquez wasn’t very good, and Mike Gonzalez yielded the game-winning homer to Wes Helms — but he contributed.

And now I’ve joined the chorus: Why is this man on the roster? Why is he given key at-bats when a mountain of evidence insists the best he can manage is a base on balls? Why does Cox keep deploying Norton to pinch-hit over Kelly Johnson or Brooks Conrad or — heck, I don’t know — Jair Jurrjens?

I have no answers, and on this burning issue I have crossed over to the other side. (Not that I was ever a Norton fan, but up till now I could at least see some logic. Now I see nada.) As Michael Corleone told his dad in the hospital just before Capt. McCluskey slugged him in the jaw: “I’m with you.”

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad image: Watching Greg Norton strike out is like getting punched in the jaw by Sterling Hayden.

(Now available! My slow-burning mind enflamed by this smoldering topic, I decided to expand the discussion. Who’s the biggest dud in local sports? Greg Norton’s name is mentioned, you should know.)

367 comments Add your comment

PMC

September 3rd, 2009
12:09 am

It’s got to be pretty demoralizing when Tom Glavine or Mike Hampton out hit you in a year and that’s your only job. Micah Owens is just flat out Pwning Nort.

roger

September 3rd, 2009
12:13 am

He is the worst excuse for a baseball player since heck i can’t remember one……why Bobby why..???????

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
12:14 am

Since … Corky, maybe?

Crapper John

September 3rd, 2009
12:15 am

Come to the dark side!!

jeffrey d

September 3rd, 2009
12:16 am

Why does Cox keep deploying Norton to pinch-hit over Kelly Johnson or Brooks Conrad

Or in the case of a couple nights ago, Omar Infante too. That says that Bobby Cox sees Norton as his top pinch hitter. The man that can’t catch up to a fast ball, consistently embarrasses himself at the plate, and is about to redefine the Mendoza line, in Bobby Cox’s mind is our best option off the bench.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
12:17 am

I’m there, CJ.

ExecutiveStinger

September 3rd, 2009
12:17 am

Welcome to the reality of the situation Bradley….

Norton is awful and Bobby is crazy. He hasn’t had a meaningful hit all season. Every time he comes to the plate, I change the channel. It’s horrible to watch and we should be embarrassed that Cox and Wren won’t do anything about it.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
12:19 am

I know a doctor — a psychiatrist, actually — who used to leave the room when Mike Stanton was pitching. Now he leaves the room when Acosta comes on.

jeffrey d

September 3rd, 2009
12:20 am

Why does Cox keep deploying Norton to pinch-hit over Kelly Johnson or Brooks Conrad

Or in the case of a couple nights ago, Omar Infante too. That means that Bobby sees Greg Norton as our top pinch hitter. The man that can’t catch up to a fastball, consistently embarrasses himself at the plate, and is about to redefine the Mendoz line, in Bobby Cox’s mind is the Braves’ best option at the plate. It seems like the entire world knows that Norton can’t hit except for Bobby. There’s no rationalizing it anymore.

Josh

September 3rd, 2009
12:22 am

Thank you for finally dedicating a blog to this very important question. Here’s my thing. You have a runner on 3rd base with 1 out, clearly a situation where you’d love to see your pinch hitter contribute a sac fly. Though you say Norton has two doubles I sure as hell don’t remember them. I don’t remember this man hitting a fly ball to the outfield this season which is what we needed at that point, just a fly ball to the outfield. I’m pretty sure Kelly or Brooks could have at least provided that. This guy is worthless and I’m tired of Bobby Cox making excuses after every loss. I’m getting tired of hearing his old. “In any other ballpark that would have been long gone” and “It felt like we won the game.” Boy I’d love to have Wes Helms coming off the bench instead of Norton.

jeffrey d

September 3rd, 2009
12:23 am

Who/what I would rather have at the plate than Greg Norton:

-Kelly Johnson
-Brooks Conrad
-Kenshin Kawakami
-Kenshin Kawakami’s translator
-A scarecrow
-A sack of dirty diapers

Ryan

September 3rd, 2009
12:23 am

I logged in to complain about this as well. I just knew Cox was going to put Norton in and he was going to fail to drive in a runner from third. Only positive is he didn’t hit into a double play, but I imagine Conrad or Johnson or any other number of guys could have driven the Chipper in. While a number of Braves played poorly today I give this loss to Bobby Cox. Anyone other Braves fan in the world would have known not to put Norton in. Cox clearly doesn’t want to make the playoffs.

USMC DAWG

September 3rd, 2009
12:29 am

The only reason I can figure out that Norton is still here is he must have some really good photos of Schuerholz and Paris Hilton or something…

down south braves fan

September 3rd, 2009
12:34 am

AMEN!!!! norton has gota go……or a least become the last resort as a pinch hitter……..for the braves single a team…..we are not talking about barry bonds on the bench,and is just in a slump…reminds me of the Keith lockhart days……

Ryan

September 3rd, 2009
12:35 am

Cox’s game management would fit well in another Major League movie. Imitating Bob Uecker “And Cox is gonna send in Greg Norton to hit. Obviously Cox is thinking….I don’t what the hell he’s thinking”.

Michael

September 3rd, 2009
12:36 am

Well, ES, definitely agree with you, I always expect the worst when Norton comes up to the plate; when he came up tonight I was actually hoping for him to strikeout rather then bounce into a DP and prevent Diaz from hitting.

One correction though, he did have a pretty big hit against LA at Turner Field earlier this year. Him being on the roster is not as much of an issue for me right now because we can have 40 guys, but him being called upon by Bobby Cox as the first hitter off the bench in a big spot, rather than some other guys, is the problem. To be fair, I don’t exactly hold Kelly Johnson much higher in my mind when he comes up to pinch hit because he strikes out a ton as well, and can’t seem to lay off the low slider for strike three.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
12:37 am

I continue to believe Norton is on the roster because he has a lovely voice, perfect for bus ride singalongs.

Crapper John

September 3rd, 2009
12:38 am

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Insanity: “Norton pinch-hitting for …”

mike

September 3rd, 2009
12:48 am

I was at the game, and wow we had the marlins on the ropes after they scored 5 in the last inning and norton just came up and just KILLED the rally. Wow this has been going on all season of norton can’t even execute. Its not like we are ask him to get a big hit, but just put the damn ball in the outfield. Its september with 30 other bats on the bench to call up and but the ball in the outfield and get the run in. Its been all yr and conrad has earned a shot at norton, everything game pitch hit appearance. We NEED norton off the team. Its september, we KNOW he can’t get the job done.

Josh

September 3rd, 2009
12:49 am

If that’s the case the Braves should hire him to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the stretch and spend the rest of the game selling cotton candy.

mike

September 3rd, 2009
12:50 am

I was at the game, and wow we had the marlins on the ropes after they scored 5 in the last inning and norton came up and just KILLED the rally. Wow this has been going on all season of norton can’t even execute. Its not like we are ask him to get a big hit, but just put the damn ball in the outfield. Its september with 30 other bats are on the bench to be called up and put the ball in the outfield and get the run in. Its been all yr and conrad has earned a shot at norton, everything game pitch hit appearance. We NEED norton off the team. Its september, we KNOW he can’t get the job done.

bird

September 3rd, 2009
12:56 am

KK’s translator? Man thats to funny!! Im going to bed on that one. Good night all..

Braves Fan Since "80

September 3rd, 2009
1:00 am

Norton makes Kelly Johnson look great…..And Kelly has not been that good this year…..I would rather lose with Brandon Jones…. at least he could give an outfielder a break…maybe even pinch run for Anderson late…… I refrain from coaching and blaming from a 1000 miles away but Norton is a dud!

Gumby

September 3rd, 2009
1:00 am

I don’t have a comment other than I agree, it’s broken, but that picture and your caption “Michael Corleone dines with Capt. McCluskey and Sollozzo. This didn’t end well, either.”
was pretty funny. Especially in my mind when I inserted Bobby as Michael Corleone and Norton as Sollozzo in the picture.
Thanks for a laugh to end my night.

observor

September 3rd, 2009
1:02 am

I would feel more confident with Dave Dravecky pinch hitting then Norton.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
1:06 am

What’s Rick Camp doing now? (Hint, hint.)

Serge

September 3rd, 2009
1:08 am

Not only Brooks, and KJ, but David Ross (The guy thats been fantastic backing up Mccann)! With Clint Sammons on the roster, i thought Bobby would use David as a pinch hitter. Of Course im wrong. Bobby still uses Norton.

observor

September 3rd, 2009
1:09 am

Perhaps we could resign Nick Esasky to take Norton’s spot.

roger

September 3rd, 2009
1:11 am

Phil Neikro can hit better today, and he’s how old????still remember the hr in San Diego in 1982 that last weekend..what has norton ever done for us….awful

Mitchell

September 3rd, 2009
1:12 am

I’d take a punch from Sterling Hayden any day!

I f***ing love that guy, one of the great film actors. Sterling Heyden always looked like the kind of guy who ate Cheerios with Scotch in the bowl instead of milk. A badass.

…managers always prefer veterans to hit as opposed to youngers players

All I can say about that is Brooks Conrad is 29. That’s not young. It’s young-er, younger than Norton’s 37 years but it’s not “young”.

Now we just have to make sure Bobby Cox reads this and then makes the move.

It’s like the guy won a contest and there’s no expiration date.

observor

September 3rd, 2009
1:13 am

I’d rather have Roger Dorn or Pedro Cerano on our roster then Norton. At least they could occasionally hit.

Supes

September 3rd, 2009
1:21 am

Thank you Mark!

Finally someone on the AJC staff with the guts to call out Bobby Cox’s insanity for repeatedly using the WORST pinch hitter on the team in key at bats that contribute to Braves loses.

Mark, Norton is a bum and he’s been sucking beyond reasoning this year. He’s basically this year’s Corky Miller!

Yet he’s given the “vote of confidence” by Bobby over others who have done better this year.

This falls on Bobby Cox. It’s his repeated stubborness and borderline insane loyalty that is costing the Braves wins.

Thank you for speaking out and being a voice for the fans, many of us have been blogging on this specific issue for months now on the DOB blog.

Crapper John

September 3rd, 2009
1:22 am

Greg Norton’s last extra base hit was in May.

atlwolf

September 3rd, 2009
1:25 am

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! It’s about time someone at the AJC finally brought this issue up.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
1:25 am

May of which year?

Supes

September 3rd, 2009
1:28 am

Also, if I hear or read one more time about Norton being a “veteran” pinch hitter, what the frak does that mean? If a guy is having a horrible year how does being a veteran justify you hitting over someone who has put up much better numbers for the Braves in 2009? How? How does the fraking veteran thing work? It doesn’t. Bobby has never been the one to go with the hot hand, or Brooks Conrad would have never been sent down earlier this year in favor or keeping that bum Norton on the 25 man roster.

Veteran my a&&. It means nothing if you are not getting the job done.

Billy ( Not Martin)

September 3rd, 2009
1:28 am

I’ve been saying it for years. All of those wonderfull 14 division titles could have included at least 2 or 3 more WOrld Series rings if Cox was not at the helm. This man does not have a clue. WHy keep running someone up to the plate with more talent in the bullpen than this man has. Just think about the things he has done over the years.
What about in the 99 WS when he benches Eddie Perez, Bret Boone and Walt Weiss in favor of Kieth Lockhart, Ozzie Guillen and Greg Meyers to try and get a get a spark going in the offense. DOes he know how to manage or what!

Supes

September 3rd, 2009
1:30 am

Bobby Cox’s loyalty to his “guys” will be his end. It has to be. Wren won’t put up with it much longer.

Crapper John

September 3rd, 2009
1:30 am

Norton is a PLAYING like a bum and he’s been sucking beyond reasoning this year

You’re forgetting about his obvious vocal talents.

chemdawg

September 3rd, 2009
1:30 am

.424 OBP since the all-star break. That’s pretty damn good bradley. I bet you wouldn’t have guessed he’s been on base over 40% of his plate appearances since the break. So, leave his warclub out of this! He’ll use it when he’s good and ready.

The A Bomb

September 3rd, 2009
1:31 am

Dr. Seuss had a book never read. . . a sequel to Horton Hears a Who. . .

It’s called. . . Norton Takes a Poo.

chemdawg

September 3rd, 2009
1:32 am

And the bigger question: Would a rookie have the patience to have a ridiculously good OBP like that knowing he’ll only get 100 AB’s?

Supes

September 3rd, 2009
1:34 am

Norton should wear a ski mask when cashing in those checks from the braves b/c he sure hasn’t earned his 800,000 dollar salary!

Norton is making more money than Yunel Escobar. To put it in perspective for everyone!

Sowegadawg

September 3rd, 2009
1:36 am

Norton’s real name is R.K.-short for “RALLY KILLER”.

The A Bomb

September 3rd, 2009
1:37 am

Uh-oh. . . Mark — once you start seeing words like BUM and MORON on your blog. . . he’s not far behind. . . he could be posting anytime now. . .

Crapper John

September 3rd, 2009
1:40 am

I meant what I say and I say what I meant,
I’m behind Norton one hundred percent.

jackets77

September 3rd, 2009
1:41 am

2 Words Mark…”THANK YOU!”

I’ve been asking for a column/article/blog on this subject for a few weeks now (and I’ve not been the only one either). I’m not sure why the other two columnists refuse to write anything about this….

anyway…atleast this blog shows that the voices of the AJC.com readers are heard….and that someone in the media is willing to a stand on this subject…

I really believe putting Norton up there in key pinch hit spots these last few weeks, has atleast cost us ONE game (probably a couple more than that)…but if we end up losing out on the wild card by one or two games, having Greg Norton up there in key pinch hit spots would have directly contributed to us missing the playoffs…

oh yeah…4 more words for this blog….

“BLOG OF THE YEAR”

Yunel's Frosted Tips

September 3rd, 2009
1:41 am

A thousand cocktails to you sir for finally speaking up on what Braves Reservation has been screaming about for weeks.

Coach (2010 or Bust)

September 3rd, 2009
1:42 am

Greg Norton alone is reason enough to NOT RENEW Bobby’s contract after this season.

On a different subject.

We all know what Ozzie said last season: Javier Vazquez is not a big game pitcher and he is correct. Javy has had a great season overall but it’s obvious at this juncture of the season, he will be the odd man out when it comes time to trade one of our six starters.

Fatigue has become an issue in the bullpen. Get ready for a few more blown saves. By the way, our vaunted pitching staff has just one complete game. The connection should be obvious.

Hey Bradley, check this out.

Moylan (75), Gonzalez (68) and O’Flaherty (66) rank 1st, 3rd and 5th in game appearances among all major league pitchers. Soriano is a distant 19th with 61 games. The Braves are the only team with four relief pitchers who have at least 60 game appearances.

Can you say mismanagement real fast, ten times?????

Sowegadawg

September 3rd, 2009
1:43 am

USMC DAWG–or Bobby and a goat.