Dan Uggla: From automatic out to record-breaking streaker

This was the hit that stretched the streak to 31 games. Old news now. (AP photo)

This was the hit that stretched the streak to 31 games. Old news now, though. (AP photo)

A man hitting .224 sent a Carlos Zambrano pitch over the fence in left-center, and with that swing, his first of the festive night, the .224 hitter passed Rico Carty to annex the record for hitting in consecutive games by an Atlanta Brave.

It was another in a series of Bobby Cox testimonials at the ballyard — on this night his No. 6 was retired in a pregame ceremony — and Dan Uggla gave us no cause to linger in suspense. First at-bat, second pitch, ball over the wall, streak extended to 32 games. (That the pitcher was Chicago’s Zambrano only figured. Last year the not-so-big Z yielded Jason Heyward’s Opening Day homer.)

And here we pause to note with equal parts wonder and disbelief: The record-setting hit enabled Uggla to push his batting average to .226.

When Rico Carty hit in 31 straight in 1970, his batting average on the night his streak ended was .421.

There have been longer hitting streaks in the history of this sport, though not many. There has been none so improbable. Dan Uggla was hitting .173 on the Fourth of July. He hasn’t gone hitless since. All those outs he was making in April and May and June — and he made a lot of outs — have been turned into soaring homers and infield singles and everything in between.

He’s as hot as he was cold, and he spent more than half a season being Mr. Freeze. Now he’s the hottest male this  side of Brad Pitt. It goes to show … well, something surely. But what?

It goes to show that baseball is a funny game, but we knew, or should have known, that much already. It also goes to show that Uggla, who looked lost for the longest time, had it within him to find himself with all of us watching and carping and wondering why he hadn’t been shipped to Gwinnett if not cut altogether.

Think there’s pressure on Danny Uggs to sustain this run? It’s nothing compared to the pressure of showing up in a new town with a $62 million contract and then turning into the All-American out. Nobody really expected a hitter of such portfolio to keep hitting less than his weight, but May became June and Uggla was hitting .178. Then June became July and he was still at .178. Could anyone do so little for so long and still keep the faith that tomorrow — some tomorrow someday — would be any better?

Dan Uggla did it. We may never know how. He may never know how. But he did it, and now he has hit in 32 consecutive games, which is something Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron and even Ted Williams never did. Uggla has gone from being Nick Esasky without the vertigo to inducing vertigo in everyone who has watched this transformation.

It would be nice to see Uggla keep this up a while longer. (He had two more hits Friday, including a second home run that soon led to Zambrano’s ejection.) Only 13 more games — “only” 13; easy for me to say — and Uggla will have the National League record, ahead of one Peter Edward Rose. Twenty-five more games and he’ll pass the sainted Joseph Paul DiMaggio, and should that happen Uggla might well have raised his average above .250. But even if it ends Saturday night, we’ll be able to say we were witnesses to one of the greatest about-faces sports has even known.

For three months Uggla couldn’t buy a hit. Now everyone in Atlanta wants to buy him a drink. Who’d-a thunk it? And to anyone who says, “Me, me!,” I say this:

You’re a liar.

By Mark Bradley

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[...] Dan Uggla: From automatic out to record-breaking streakerAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)It's nothing compared to the pressure of showing up in a new town with a $62 million contract and then turning into the All-American out. Nobody really expected a hitter of such portfolio to keep hitting less than his weight, but May became June and … [...]

Common Sense

August 12th, 2011
8:56 pm

ldawg

August 12th, 2011
8:56 pm

ldawg

August 12th, 2011
8:57 pm

Chad klinck

August 12th, 2011
8:58 pm

Incredible turnaround! Could I be first?

Football Fan

August 12th, 2011
8:58 pm

Tampa Gator

August 12th, 2011
8:58 pm

How did Jose spend all those years in the minors? Will Jason ever get back on the field on a regular basis? I guess he will return to RF next year if Chipper retires….and that is a big “IF” at the moment. What a great energy Jose has brought to the lineup. Go Braves.

Tpeg88

August 12th, 2011
8:59 pm

First!

As goes Ugg’s goes the Braves!

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2011
9:00 pm

One of the closest races ever. Kudos to Common Sense.

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2011
9:01 pm

Uggla just hit another. Unbelievable. Braves up 8-1.

2BT

August 12th, 2011
9:01 pm

Dan is the MAN! This team needed a storyline as the Phillie’s train left the station weeks ago!

Danlover

August 12th, 2011
9:01 pm

GO DAN GO!!!

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2011
9:06 pm

Carlos Zambrano: Got 13 outs, yielded five homers, got ejected for throwing at Chipper Jones.

Tampa Gator

August 12th, 2011
9:08 pm

I remember many cursing at Uggla not long ago and begging the Braves to trade him…..obviously never having watched him play for the Marlins in previous years. Uggla is a big time 2nd half of the season player….and he will be an impact player in the playoffs as well. TOTAL ENERGY in the man. Great team players. Go Braves.

hackjobs

August 12th, 2011
9:12 pm

I must say, the best thing was the looks on the faces of all the team standing over by the first base line, giving death stares to Zambrano as he left the field. That was classic, and (i’m sure) much appreciated.

Metro Coach

August 12th, 2011
9:20 pm

I know Zambrano has more guts than brains, but looking over at the Braves’s bench would make me think twice about inducing a bench clearing brawl. Hinske, Freeman, Uggla, Heyward are pretty big boys, not to mention Ross, and I bet Constanza and Borun fight dirty, little guys usually do. Chipper probably goes after Zambrano 5 or 6 years ago, his body is just too broken down to risk that now. Smart guy in his old age.

Pull My Finger

August 12th, 2011
9:20 pm

Why did Ramirez NOT wind up on his backside after they threw at Chipper??!!!!!? Somebody throws at your most tenured player, a future Hall-of-Famer TWICE and you do nothing about it!!! GROW A PAIR Minor!!!!!!!!……..take up for your fellow players……or return to the minors!!

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2011
9:25 pm

Both benches were warned after Zambrano’s ejection. Anybody pitching inside from here on stands to get ejected. The Braves wanted Minor to get them through the sixth at least. (He didn’t, but that was their desire.)

Bill Stanfill

August 12th, 2011
9:28 pm

Zambrano has guts? Give me a a break–he’s the most gutless nothing in baseball. And the Cubs will be nothing as long as they’re gutless enough enough to let him wear a uniform.

Pull My Finger

August 12th, 2011
9:36 pm

Mark, maybe next time Minor needs to pitch in a DRESS!!…….little sissy girl…………go play softball……….if I were Chipper, I’d still be pissed….no respect!!

Remarkable

August 12th, 2011
9:38 pm

I think that Mike Minor is here to stay. He pitched a great game. Uggla and Chipper show everyone who doubted them why we need a manager and not fans running the team. Chipper could come back next year if he would take a lesser role. His OBP and his hitting with RISP is excellent.

Don

August 12th, 2011
9:41 pm

2 dingers for Uggla. Awesome turnaround.

Pull My Finger

August 12th, 2011
9:47 pm

Mark, Minor already had the win (assuming we hold the lead)….so what if he gets ejected? At least he earned some respect from the hitters on the team. Minor basically implied,”Hey, go ahead and throw at ANY of our players……heck, even hit them, I don’t care.” If he got ejected, we still have the BEST bullpen in the universe to back him up and shut the Cubs down. Maybe Minor needs to read the “unwritten” rules of the game…..except for the fact that they haven’t been written! :)

Beeeeg Boy

August 12th, 2011
9:47 pm

My record was made to be broken!

Zoli

August 12th, 2011
9:49 pm

Anyone notice Freeman’s dugout celebration after people score? It’s the soft hug, where he puts his chin over the shoulder and hugs with a pat. Pretty darn funny!

Big Al

August 12th, 2011
9:54 pm

RIP Ernie Johnson

BobDawg

August 12th, 2011
9:55 pm

Tampa Gator… I knew a gentleman who played Triple A ball years ago in the Red Sox organization (yes, they had triple A) and he was from Blackshear, Ga… He couldn’t make it to the bigs and eventually had to go back to his Daddy’s farm… The reason, Ted Williams was playing his position for the Red Sox. He said he never batted below .300 in the minors but it didn’t matter… Back then trades did not happen as much as today… I think Costanza just got lost in the shuffle for teams and maybe he is ready to go AND FOR US!

Ken Stallings

August 12th, 2011
9:55 pm

All the headlines that would have been written on Bobby Cox’s jersey retirement and what will be a Braves win over the Cubs, have just been entirely re-written in a most sad way.

Earnie Johnson, Senior has just passed away!

Only Pete van Weiren is alive from the immortal three-man broadcasting team that established new heights of national popularity for baseball. Today would also be Skip Caray’s birthday! Earnie was beyond loved and will be beyond missed!

BobDawg

August 12th, 2011
9:58 pm

also at Tampa Gator….. Uggla owned the braves at Turner Field the last 4-5 years…That is why it was a no brainer to trade for him… He batted like .450 against us here for years… He was playing to justify his contract the first few months and is a warm weather player…(slow starter). Once Fredie took him aside and told him to just quit sweating his average, he started hitting again…

PTC DAWG

August 12th, 2011
9:59 pm

You had to know Uggla would get hot, but nobody could have predicted this. GATA!!

BobDawg

August 12th, 2011
10:00 pm

Ernie, Sr died???? Geez, that is so sad… Ernie Jr. would always call his Dad on HOF day and say “He dad you didn’t make the Baseball HOF but you made your son’s HOF as always..”

BobDawg

August 12th, 2011
10:02 pm

Ken, I can’t stand the Braves radio play by play man that works with Sutton… Reminds me of Johnny Carson on radio…Carson on TV is funny with his facial expressions, but not on radio.. I can’t keep track of the score with him doing play by play…

Beeeeg Boy

August 12th, 2011
10:05 pm

I just felt a bit of my childhood slip away. RIP Ernie!!

Pdt

August 12th, 2011
10:20 pm

From STRUggla to Sluggla. Go Dan!

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2011
10:33 pm

As you’ve heard, Ernie Johnson Sr. died tonight. Here’s a little something from me on that fine human being.

Dr. Phil

August 12th, 2011
10:39 pm

Uggla’s recent success is probably the strangest thing I have seen since the Braves came to Atlanta in 1966. Whatever it is, we love it and hope it continues into October.

Dr. Phil

August 12th, 2011
10:42 pm

Ernie Johnson was a good announcer and a fine man. We will miss him

rittmann

August 12th, 2011
10:44 pm

Ernie- you were awesome, thank you and RIP:)

Regarding Baseball- The Braves Hating ESPN has NO Mention of Uggla’s hit streak in their MLB section- Cnn sports (not mlb) section had it’s #1 line as Uggla extends Hit streak w HR” Espn’s was “Yankees to use five starters”….. Espn, Really?? You are a joke

KB

August 12th, 2011
11:00 pm

Minor didn’t need to retaliate. We did that with the lumber tonight. Five homers and 10 runs…way more damage than plunking a batter.

VeryOld Dawg

August 12th, 2011
11:03 pm

Kudos, Mark, for an excellent article.

Panhandler

August 12th, 2011
11:09 pm

Wouldn’t it have been great if the HP ump warned the Braves’ bench that they could only send one man after Garbanzo? It would’ve been fun seeing tree-stump-armed Uggla escort him to the dugout.

The Dude Abides

August 12th, 2011
11:16 pm

Never once did I hate on Uggla during his slump, if you ever watched him destroy the Braves then you had no reason to panic that he would eventually get hot. You guys need to have patience, it is a 162 game season.

Mark Bradley

August 12th, 2011
11:20 pm

Thanks, VeryOldDawg.

The Dude Abides

August 12th, 2011
11:20 pm

On another note, I absolutely love Heyward but we need to send him down for a week or two to work on his swing.

Brizzle

August 12th, 2011
11:27 pm

Good article Mark. RIP Ernie. rittmann, it is no secret (to anyone with a triple digit IQ) that ESPN is geographically (and financially) biased. They talk about the AL East as though they are the only division that plays real baseball, and they pump up Big East basketball with the same hot air every winter until that balloon finally pops every March and April. (I know uconn won it all, but look at the number of Big East teams that got “upset” last tournament and tell me they weren’t over-rated going into the tournament). That is the geographic side of ESPN’s bias, while the financial favoritism shows its ugly head in their coverage of the Texas A&M to the SEC story. You don’t hear much of these stories on ESPN, and I suspect this is absolutely because of the lucrative contract the University of Texas signed with ESPN last year that put in place this mockery of collegiate athletics called the Longhorn Network. They have a vested interest in UT, and we shouldn’t be surprised by that either – that little university in Austin is the #1 revenue generator in the entire country. And I, like other folks in the Big 12 (10, whatever), suspect that both Texas and ESPN had a Notre Dame/NBC-style contract in mind all along. Anyway, my long-winded point is – if you are finally giving up on ESPN like I did several years ago…good, join the club. Just remember, they don’t necessarily hate the Braves, they just choose to cover whatever sports generate them the most revenue.

Brizzle

August 12th, 2011
11:31 pm

Good article Mark. RIP Ernie. rittmann, it is no secret (to anyone with a triple digit IQ) that ESPN is geographically (and financially) biased. They talk about the AL East as though they are the only division that plays real baseball, and they pump up Big East basketball with the same hot air every winter until that balloon finally pops every March and April. (I know uconn won it all, but look at the number of Big East teams that got “upset” last tournament and tell me they weren’t over-rated going into the dance). That is the geographic side of ESPN’s bias, while the financial favoritism shows its ugly head in their coverage of the Texas A&M to the SEC story. You don’t hear much of these stories on ESPN, and I suspect this is absolutely because of the lucrative contract the University of Texas signed with ESPN last year that put in place this mockery of collegiate athletics called the Longhorn Network. They have a vested interest in UT, and we shouldn’t be surprised by that either – that little university in Austin is the #1 revenue generator in the entire country. And I, like other folks in the Big 12 (10, whatever), suspect that both Texas and ESPN had a Notre Dame/NBC-style contract in mind all along. Anyway, my long-winded point is – if you are finally giving up on ESPN like I did several years ago…good, join the club. Just remember, they don’t necessarily hate the Braves, they just choose to cover whatever sports teams generate them the most revenue.

taxistan

August 13th, 2011
12:12 am

Actually , Mark I thought he would break out of it, and I am not a liar.

Rick

August 13th, 2011
12:28 am

When you make the big bucks…. You gotta perform.

Ugly is a stud.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Macon Braves Fan

August 13th, 2011
1:40 am

Was at the game and had a great time. Was in the stands right behind the cage and watched Heyward take BP. Yes, he put a couple in the seats, but too many swings were easy grounders. The boy needs some help.