Tag:Bobby Cox
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Love Letters: The Colt (not Indy Colts) edition

Waaaay behind in the mailbag department. The problem? Duh: I haven't been able to get to the Post Office to get stamps. ...

FROM: Rochelle:
Re.: Newest Phillie a perfect fit in Pence-ylvania

Great article. I think it's funny you referred to Hunter as a young colt ... because he was. He went to Arlington High School with me and we were the Colts.

I'll bet you were.

FROM: Ben

Hey Scott, guess the Yanks didn't fleece everyone when they gave up Ian Kennedy, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson for Curtis Granderson in that 3-way trade with Detroit and 'Zona. For all the crap the Yankees take about them not being able to raise pitchers, looks like Kennedy is doing great as the No. 1. of the D'Backs staff. So let me get this straight going forward so we're consistent in our analysis. When it is a young pitcher and he is in NY, he has zero time to grow and improve himself, otherwise he is an overrated NY prospect. But if he comes into his own elsewhere, then it is OK? Plus I'm assuming all the other young pitchers in other systems are allowed to be eased into the big leagues with no stupid scrutiny that the media pays to young NY players? I'm convinced that the media, not the Yankees, ruined Joba's chances at having a normal chance of becoming a frontline starter. Anywhere else, he would've been given the chance, but since it is preposterous in the media's eyes to allow the Yankees to grow their own starters, he failed.

Hey Ben, you play in New York, you pay in New York. Your points are accurate. The problem is inherent in the Yankees' $200 million payroll and in who they are: They themselves will tell you their goal every year is not simply to compete, but to win the World Series. By that self-proclaimed definition, no, the young pitchers do not get fair time to grow and develop in the Bronx. It's true.

FROM: David
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Pirates, Indians on the move, fortified by July

Scott,

Are we jumping the gun here? Cleveland is one game over .500 and Pittsburgh is two. The Sox and Yanks are not going to get worse as we head into the home stretch and the Phillies may have the best rotation ever assembled. I realize you have to keep people from all areas of the US interested in your smack, but I have to give you the NFL version of C'mon Man!!!

Fair enough, my man. You bet I was jumping the gun. When it's July and the Pirates are in first place, you jump! We'll have plenty of time in September, October (and November, December, January and beyond) to dissect the Yankees, Red Sox and everyone else.

FROM: Robert W.
Re.: With slump behind Jimenez, why would Rockies deal him?

Well, I can see you are obviously a Yankees and Red Sox hater. Why, when writing a story about a pitcher getting traded, you have to make a comment like that when the Phillies are the team that is buying the pitching? Way to go with an unbiased opinion, jackass!!!

I'm not quite sure to which comment you're referring. Lots of pithy, witty and intelligent comments leave me open to being called "jackass" by those who wish they were as creative as yours truly. My compliments, by the way, to your read of me being both a Yankees AND Red Sox hater. Most of the time, I get one of those sides accusing me of hating their team.

FROM: Doc

I don't think people give the Rockies pitchers enough credit. It's a miserable place to pitch. Curves don't curve, so you end up screwing around with your pitch selection, always fearful of the long ball. Typically N.L.pitchers coming to the A.L see their ERAs go up anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 runs. I'll bet Jimenez injected into a pennant race will see his go down. I wish him good luck!! Seems like a good kid.

He is a good kid and Cleveland can really, really use the help.

FROM: Tony D.

Be honest. Have you seen Sabathia pitch even once this season. And I don't mean on Sports Center.

Several times. Next question?

FROM: Chuck

No-no is a stupid expression. Before ESPN had to rename everything to be cute, the universally accepted term was no-hitter. No-no comes from no hits, no runs. Ervin Santana gave up a run. He pitched a no-hitter. Pass that on to your headline writer.

Done. And good take on ESPN and cute.

Likes: Atlanta's Dan Uggla and the streak. Hope it keeps going, in case you hadn't read. ... The Braves retiring legendary manager Bobby Cox's No. 6 tonight. It was terrific seeing him in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame induction last month. ... What a fun week with the Tigers and Cleveland and the Brewers at Cardinals. Good stuff and a great glimpse of September. ... The turnaround of the Arizona Diamondbacks. ... The Iowa straw poll this weekend. ... My Weber grill. ... Late-summer blueberries. In pancakes, on cereal, in cobbler, topping vanilla ice cream. One of life's greatest treats. ... The new one from Fountains of Wayne, Sky Full of Holes. Good stuff.

Dislikes: Seeing all the back to school sales already. No, no, no! Can't be that time already, can it?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Every day's so caffeinated
"I wish they were Golden Gated
"Fillmore couldn't feel more miles away
"So, wrap me up 'Return to sender'
"Let's forget this five-year bender
"Take me to my city by the Bay
"I never knew all that I had
"Now Alcatraz don't sound so bad
"At least they'd have a hella fine Merlot
"If I could wish upon a star
"I would hitch a cable car
"To the one place that I'll always call my home"

-- Train, Save Me, San Francisco
Posted on: June 2, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Short Hops: Is it the bratwurst in Milwaukee?

Short hops, backhanded stops and quick pops:

-- The Brewers have climbed into second place in the NL Central thanks to ... their own beds? All that bratwurst? Milwaukee is 21-7 at Miller Park, the club's best home record EVER after 28 games. But at 9-19 on the road, the Brewers are the worst in the NL. Manager Ron Roenicke is not yet a believer in the trend, figuring "if we go three months into" the season and things don't change, then it's a problem. One reason the Brewers' road mark could be skewed: They opened with 21 of 34 games on the road, including an 11-game trip and a 10-game trip during a cold and wet spring. Assuming they stay in contention, look out for the Brewers in September: They finish with 14 of 25 games at home.

-- Milwaukee right-hander Shaun Marcum, though stuck with a no-decision in Cincinnati on Wednesday night (and though teammate Zack Greinke has received more pub for fewer starts), has pitched like an All-Star. He's allowed one run or fewer in six of his 12 starts. "He wasn't under my radar," Roenicke says. "He's the same guy I've seen pitch in Toronto. He was in the toughest division in baseball, for me. That league can flat-out hit. If you can pitch in that division, you can pitch anywhere."

-- Maybe if a team can get through the early part of a game without genuflecting to the big, bad, Yankees, it'll have a chance: New York has pummeled opponents 83-44 over the first two innings of games this year, according to STATS LLC. The Yankees are outscoring their opposition 43-16 in the first innings.

-- Clint Hurdle for manager of the year? Pittsburgh winning its 17th road game on Wednesday night ... matching the Pirates' total for all of 2010 (17-64). They're 17-14 away from PNC Park so far in 2011.

-- Kirk Gibson for manager of the year? When Arizona moved into first place in the NL West after being 6 1/2 games back through April 30, the Diamondbacks became the first team in major league history to take sole possession of first place in their league (before 1969) or in their division (since 1969) during May after starting the month at least 6 1/2 back.

-- What's up with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter, an annual Cy Young candidate who is 1-5 with a 4.52 ERA over 12 starts? "I've been up and down all year," he says, pointing to one basic element for a pitcher that he's still battling: Fastball command.

-- Lance Berkman on his experience with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa this year: "Love him. He's great. He's such a players' guy. When you think of Tony La Russa, being a players' manager is not the first thing that jumps through your head. At least, not from watching him from the other side. But he's got a bunch of guys here who will run through a wall for him."

-- One significant difference between this year's Cardinals and last year's: The clubhouse atmosphere is far better in 2011. The stuff with Colby Rasmus has blown over. The presence of Berkman, in addition to that of Matt Holliday, has really helped. "He's unbelievable," Cards GM John Mozeliak says of Berkman. "He's a gentleman and a class act. I've really enjoyed getting to know him."

-- That the Yankees' Russell Martin currently is the AL All-Star leader at catcher is attention-grabbing. But the fact that Martin actually is deserving of consideration speaks more toward the dearth of quality catching than it
does to Martin's prowess.

-- Most productive designated hitters: Red Sox (.315 combined average, 34 runs scored, .565 slugging percentage), Royals (.302, 31, .394 on-base percentage) and Indians (.299, 27 runs, .510 slugging). Least productive? Yankees (.185, 21 runs, .350 slugging), White Sox (.234, 21, .383 slugging) and Mariners (.242, 15, .328 slugging).

-- At 17-37, the Twins are 20 games below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2000 season (69-93).

-- Nate McLouth's strained oblique had better heal quick. The Braves' Jordan Schaffer is opening many eyes with his spectacular play in center field.

-- So what is retired Braves manager Bobby Cox doing? He spent a nice summer's evening last week at the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band's Atlanta show on the Welcome to Finland tour.

Likes: Former big leaguer Darin Erstad taking the job as head baseball coach at his beloved alma mater, Nebraska. ... Ian O'Connor's new book, The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter. ... Also, for you Giants fans, Worth The Wait, written by Brian Murphy and largely photographed by Brad Mangin, is beautifully done. ... The story on how Roger Ailes built the Fox news fear factory in the current issue of Rolling Stone. ... Professor Longhair's Rock and Roll Gumbo.

Dislikes: If it's anything like this, Michigan's "throwback" jersey for the night game against Notre Dame this Sept. 10 might make the game unwatchable.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Good luck had just stung me
"To the race track I did go
"She bet on one horse to win
"And I bet on another to show
"Odds were in my favor
"I had him five to one
"When that nag to win came around the track
"Sure enough he had won
"I took up all of my winnings
"And I gave my little Bessie half
"And she tore it up and blew it in my face
"Just for a laugh
"Now there's one thing in the whole wide world
I sure would like to see
"That's when that little love of mine
"Dips her doughnut in my tea"

-- The Band, Up On Cripple Creek




Posted on: October 13, 2010 3:40 pm
 

Ready, Fredi? Braves make Gonzalez official

Fredi Gonzalez is smart, he's coached under Bobby Cox, the Braves love him (front office and players alike) and he's got a veteran manager's pedigree.

There's only one thing not working in his favor, and it will be no small obstacle for Gonzalez to overcome: That old maxim, you never want to be the man who follows The Man.

Following Cox in Atlanta? It will be like following John Wooden at UCLA (poor Gene Bartow), Don Shula with the Miami Dolphins (Jimmy Johnson couldn't replicate the success), Tommy Lasorda with the Dodgers (hello Bill Russell, sacrificial lamb).

Not only did Cox guide the Braves to those 14 consecutive NL East titles (discounting the strike-shortened 1994 season) and the 1995 World Series title, but his greater legacy while moving to fourth on the all-time managerial wins list might be this: You never heard any player who passed through the Braves clubhouse over the years utter a negative word about Cox. None. Ever.

What a testament to Cox in the immediate aftermath of Game 4 of the NL Division Series: The Turner Field crowd giving him a prolonged standing ovation, and the San Francisco Giants hitting the "pause" button on their on-field celebration long enough to stop, face the Braves dugout and give Cox a standing ovation of their own. What a show of spontaneity and class.

Into this Grand Canyon-sized opening steps Gonzalez, who was unceremoniously dumped by the Marlins last summer when owner Jeffrey Loria's lust for Bobby Valentine apparently got the best of him.

Gonzalez was the Braves' third-base coach from 2003-2006 and, before that, in 2002, he managed their Triple-A Richmond club.

This is a man with intimate knowledge of the Braves' system -- the players, the way they do things, the culture. Even after leaving to manage the Marlins in 2007, Gonzalez lived in the Atlanta area in the winters and several times a week would meet Cox and other Braves coaches for breakfast.

So, the transition from Cox and Gonzalez should be seamless. Part of that will be because the Braves, as you would expect, handled the entire transition with class. From Cox's retirement to refusing to discuss Gonzalez until after one last, final Cox news conference on Wednesday, the Braves hit all the right notes.

Now, it's up to Gonzalez. We don't know whether Chipper Jones will make it back next year from his knee injury, but we do know the cupboard is fairly well stocked for the new manager, from pitchers Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Tommy Hanson to everyday players such as Martin Prado, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann.

In Atlanta, the prima donnas are at a minimum. Presumably, Gonzalez will not have a petulant Hanley Ramirez problem on his hands. And if he does, we know how he'll respond: In one of his finest moments as Marlins manager, he benched Ramirez when the shortstop resorted to dogging it.

In two of Gonzalez's three full seasons in Florida -- 2008 and 2009 -- he got more out of the Marlins than they had a right to expect. He'll have more resources in Atlanta -- bigger payroll, more tradition and established veteran players.

Replacing Cox will be no easy task, but in so many ways, Gonzalez is inheriting an ideal situation. Let's see what the man can do.

Posted on: October 9, 2010 2:23 am
 

Glaus sets up Ankiel, Braves and baseball win

One small step for the Atlanta Braves, one giant leap for major league baseball.

Oh, and a belated Merry Christmas to the Braves as well.

Yessir. When the Braves agreed to terms with Troy Glaus last Christmas Eve, they did not exactly envision him playing third base with the season on the line in the 10th inning of the NL divisional playoffs.

Fact is, they did not envision Glaus playing third. Period, end of sentence.

So what was he doing, all brittle and lumbering, starting the Braves' most crucial 5-4-3 double play in years as they seized another game with their last licks and evened their series with the Giants at one game apiece with a 5-4, 11-inning, Rick Ankiel Special on Friday night?

Excellent question.

Short answer is, quite simply, it's the beauty of the game. Sometimes the best-laid plans are forcibly scrapped at the most inopportune times, and the game reverts back to the schoolyard. You play here, you play there, and we'll see what happens.

Long answer? Desperate for offense and with a hole to plug at first base, Braves general manager Frank Wren gambled that Glaus could learn a new position and add the bat Atlanta needed. It was a sizable gamble, too, in that the shoulder surgery Glaus underwent in January, 2009, allowed him to play in only 14 games for St. Louis that summer.

It worked fine for a time, especially in May, when Glaus collected 28 RBI in 27 games. But his production diminished as the summer wore on and then, on Aug. 12, came a season-changer: Chipper Jones was lost for the rest of the year to a knee injury.

So what happens? Wren acquires first baseman Derrek Lee from the Cubs ... and Glaus is such a team guy, such a Bobby Cox devotee, that he's all for bringing Lee aboard and volunteers to play third base while he's at it.

Not that the Braves took him up on it. Are you kidding? He's 33, he's 6-6 and 250 pounds, and Glaus had reached the part of his career where, if he did play third, the odds were far greater that he would hurt himself (and the team) than much good would happen.

Until Friday night became just late and crazy enough that the Braves were left without many options. And Glaus entered the game as an, ahem, defensive replacement in the 10th.

It figured that the first batter in the 10th, Edgar Renteria, immediately dropped a bunt in Glaus' direction. Do you know how many total chances Glaus has had at third in the past two seasons? Nine, that's how many. And just one this year, in the one appearance (two total innings) he had made there.

Renteria reached base, of course. And so did two other Giants.

And there in the bottom of the 10th, with one out and the largest crowd ever to gather at AT&T Park roaring, what should Buster Posey do but roll a 'tweener grounder -- it wasn't hit hard, but it wasn't a soft grounder, either -- in Glaus' direction.

And the big guy came up with it, wheeled and threw to second to start the 5-4-3, and the relay to first barely beat Posey. Said later throwing home for the force out was never an option.

One false move in the play, and Renteria scores and the Giants win.

Instead, Glaus was perfect, in both the plan and the execution.

And next inning, Ankiel blasts a fastball into the water. And somehow, Kyle Farnsworth keeps the Giants off the board in the bottom of the 11th.

Not only did it complete a rousing comeback for a down-and-out team that had seen Cox ejected nine innings earlier, it also breathed life back into a postseason in dire need of mouth-to-mouth.

Six outs from a fourth series going 2-0 when bearded Giants closer Brian Wilson was summoned by manager Bruce Bochy, baseball was edging close to four sweeps, a first round ending by Sunday evening, the next round not slated to begin until next Friday.

So what were we all supposed to do if the game went dark Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday?

Convene a national convention to bitch about the umpires?

But enough about a downer of a first round, something that has become an all-too-familiar event and might warrant baseball reviewing the playoff format.

Right now, all the Braves care about is that, somehow, they live.

And bleak as it may look with Jones and Martin Prado (oblique) done for the year -- and, quite possibly, closer Billy Wagner (oblique) to follow after he hurt himself in the 10th inning Friday -- Tim Hudson getting the ball for Game 3 in Atlanta on Sunday looks pretty darned good.

After they scored zero runs in their first 14 innings against the Giants, the Braves finished Friday with five in the last six innings.

They get a couple more Sunday, Hudson steps up and the Turner Field magic kicks in (the Braves' 56 home victories led the majors), who knows? The Giants -- and baseball -- might have a fight on their hands yet.

Posted on: August 12, 2010 5:47 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 8:21 pm
 

The Jones-Cox Show comes to premature end

It is one of the great modern manager-player runs going, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox, together in Atlanta, 17 seasons strong.

Now, with news that Jones has blown out his left knee and is finished for the season, the Braves' last gasp under the retiring Cox is guaranteed to have a bittersweet ending no matter how it finishes.

Jones' wrecked knee wrecks Atlanta's playoff hopes? Awww.

Braves overcome Jones injury to make the playoffs while Jones forced to watch? Awww.

Braves win World Series to send Cox out with another ring while Jones helpless to help? Awww.

Sentimental as some stories become, the game has a way of stripping sentiment in favor of cold reality, and that's what the Braves are dealing with now. Fighting for their lives to fend off two-time NL champion Philadelphia -- dealing with a significant injury of its own with Chase Utley sidelined -- life now becomes much more difficult for the Braves.

Jones, 38, was hitting .265 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in 95 games with the Braves this season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Struggling so badly earlier this year that he spoke of retiring at season's end, Jones over his past 11 games was hitting .368 with three homers, five RBI and eight runs scored.

Short-term, Jones' loss vastly increases the degree of difficulty for the Braves, who now will plug Omar Infante and Brooks Conrad into third base in place of Jones while searching the waiver wires for a spare-part match.

Long-term, this injury means we very well might have seen the last of Jones. If he does decide to retire -- a very real possibility, given the normal six-month recovery from this type of injury and his advanced age -- the next time Jones' name comes up in earnest in baseball circles very well might be in Hall of Fame discussions.

He's not a slam-dunk first-ballot guy, but his 436 career homers (37th all-time), 1,491 RBI (52nd all-time) and .941 OPS (30th all-time) certainly put the six-time All-Star -- and 1999 NL MVP -- onto the front porch of Cooperstown.

It's just a shame that if the Braves do make the playoffs this fall, Jones won't be at Cox's side as a couple of Atlanta icons swinging for one more shot at glory.

Likes: Tell you what, glad there were no serious injuries in the Cardinals-Reds brawl, and this might not be the most mature or politically correct reaction, but I love the emotions that were injected into that rivalry this week. Baseball, in the free agent era, has gone corporate and too many players are way too friendly with each other. The result is, it takes the edge off of too many rivalries. No worry about that down the stretch in St. Louis and Cincinnati now. ... The Kids Are All Right. Great cast, great acting. Next up: The Other Guys. Gotta see Derek Jeter's acting debut. And I hear WIll Ferrell is actually funny again. ... Finally catching up with Pat Conroy's Beach Music, a long ago best seller, and man Conroy can write. Enjoying the book, but the plot goes a little too far in the back half of the book in some areas. ... Wrote off Mad Men a couple of years ago, decided to give it another chance this year and I'm glad I did. Finally, belatedly, enjoying it. ... Hard to go wrong with any Apple products in my book. My iTouch went bad after just a year-and-a-half, turned out the battery malfunctioned and they replaced the entire unit with a new one. ... Look, the former drummer for the Greg Kihn Band now ... cleans carpet? It's true. But don't ask him about pet hair in the carpet.

Dislikes: The fact that Manny Ramirez is earning $20 million and can't be bothered to rehab his calf strain, or whatever he's calling it, with the Dodgers is a joke. Of course, nobody's surprised, are they, that Manny's off on his own? And the Dodgers were the suckers who gambled with him.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You could lie on a riverbank
"Or paint your name on a water tank
"Miscount all the beers you drank
"Back where I come from
"Back where I come from
"Where I'll be when it's said and done
"Well I'm proud as anyone
"That's where I come from
"We learned in a Sunday school
"Who made the sun shine through.
"I know who made the moonshine, too
"Back where I come from.
"Blue eyes on a Saturday night
"Ttan legs in the broad daylight
"TV’s, they were black and white
"Back where I come from"

-- Mac McAnally, Back Where I Come From

Posted on: June 4, 2010 11:11 pm
 

Braves' Venters a real vulture

LOS ANGELES -- Red-hot Atlanta and streaking Los Angeles got back to business here Friday night. And Jonny Venters, the Braves' one-pitch wonder, figured life would get back to normal after he unexpectedly scooped up his first career save Thursday by throwing, yes, one pitch.

While the Braves hooted and hollered and kidded him into Friday, the circumstances weren't funny.

Takashi Saito suffered a pulled left hamstring that would knock him onto the 15-day disabled list when he threw strike two to Russell Martin with two out in the ninth inning of Thursday night's game.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox summoned Venters, a 25-year-old rookie whom the Braves picked in the 30th round of the 2003 draft, to finish off Martin. Billy Wagner, the Braves' closer, was unavailable because he had worked four games in the preceding four-day span.

One slider later, job done.

And Venters still hasn't heard the end of it.

"When we were walking in, Bobby was screaming at me, calling me a vulture," Venters said Friday, grinning. "And [closer] Billy Wagner has been ragging me all day. Every time he comes around, he tells me he has to win his job back.

"He calls me 'The Closer.'"

Though Venters has finished five games this season, Thursday's was his first save opportunity. He's appeared in 17 games as a situational lefty and compiled a 1.27 ERA and a .181 opponents' batting average in 21 1/3 innings.

When he reached the mound after Saito limped off Thursday with the Braves clinging to the one-run lead, Cox had just one piece of advice for him.

"He told me, 'If you're going to throw a slider, throw it down," said Venters, who proved to be a good listener just a few seconds later.

Aside from the Braves' teasing and, yes, warm congratulations, Venters received several other messages.

"Quite a few," he said. "I had a bunch of texts last night when I came in. Mostly from family and friends."

As for the ball, it was safely tucked away on a shelf in his locker.

"That's probably going into a case," he said. "I never thought it would be like that -- if I even ever got a save."

Likes: Beautiful drawing of retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox on the cover of the Braves media guide. Nice angle, from behind Cox in the dugout as he's looking out onto the field at Turner Field. ... Really nice moment during batting practice Friday -- several moments, actually -- when Dodgers manager Joe Torre walked over to visit with Cox and the two future Hall of Fame managers spent 20 or so minutes sitting on the bench in the visitors' dugout, chatting. ... Got a chuckle earlier this week when, in the Mets' clubhouse, the song American Pie was blaring from an iPad in Alex Cora's locker. ... Henry Schulman, Giants beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, says Pittsburgh is a far better city than generally given credit for. I could not agree more. And the picture of this Primanti Bros. salami sandwich in his San Francisco Ball Scribe Blog made me wish I was sitting through that Pirates-Giants rain delay Friday night with one of those bad boys on a plate in front of me. ...

Dislikes: John Wooden, sleep well. Sad, sad day. If the world had more John Woodens, I guarantee you there would be far fewer problems. What a sweet and tear-jerking sentiment from former UCLA player Jamaal Wilkes, who said he was in the room with Wooden's son, James, when Wooden asked to be shaved, and noted that "his son made the comment that when he got shaved he was getting ready to see Nellie." Nell is Wooden's late and beloved wife, who died of cancer in 1975.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Don't give up on your dreams
"Or your dreams will give up on you"

-- John Wooden

Posted on: June 3, 2010 8:26 pm
 

A few final thoughts on the travesty in Detroit

Let's start with this: If you have not heard umpire Jim Joyce's agony in the aftermath of his blown call to rob Detroit's Armando Galarraga of a perfect game Wednesday night, you owe it to yourself to listen. Especially if you're hopping mad, looking for somebody to slug and your blood pressure is through the roof:

Listen to Jim Joyce here.

And if some of your hardness doesn't begin to melt just a little after listening, then I imagine you've never made a mistake in your life. It's darn tough not to feel for the man.

Meantime, with the wreckage still smoldering in Detroit, the important thing now is to figure out what lessons can be learned.

Me, I see several (besides baseball needing to look seriously at implementing more replay and better umpires).

I see Galarraga offering an incredible example of class and sportsmanship. "Nobody's perfect," he said Wednesday night. Imagine! This from a 28-year-old man immediately after he <em>was</em> perfect. From a man who is fighting for a permanent spot on Detroit's roster -- he was recently recalled from Triple-A Toledo.

I see Joyce, heartsick and temporarily broken, offering a gut-wrenching apology and exemplifying courage at its finest. Awful day at the office, yes. We all have those. But not all of us are strong enough to shoulder a colossal mistake. Not only did he seek Galarraga out to apologize after he viewed the replay on Wednesday night, he worked the plate for Thursday's series finale, shrugging off baseball's offer to take a sabbatical. And Cleveland manager Manny Acta afterward said Joyce had a great game.

I see class from the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland, who said before the game, "This is not a day to boo a bad call. This is a day to cheer integrity." And: "This is a day for Detroit to shine."

I saw Detroit shine when some of the 28,169 fans in Comerica Park applauded the umpires when they took the field, causing Joyce, a jangle of raw emotions, to cry.

It's terrible the way this all went down. But I'll tell you this: If not for the class of Galarraga, Joyce, Leyland and others, this could have been a whole lot uglier. In a bad situation, they all took the high road and, maybe, made us all think a little bit and re-examine a little bit of ourselves.

For that, baseball owes all of them a debt of gratitude.

Likes: June and San Diego, Texas, Cincinnati and Atlanta are in first place with Oakland lurking nearby. Can never get enough Cinderella stories. ... The Braves are making Bobby Cox proud. ... Glad to hear Ken Griffey Jr. is going to be working for the Mariners sometime soon. The only thing worse than when a superstar's career ends is when he disappears completely. Good for the game when they stay around and remain visible. ... Radical changes to Friday Night Lights as the fourth season is underway (for those of us who don't have DirecTV), and the show continues to crackle with great writing and superb acting.

Dislikes: Too bad Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement was overshadowed by the non-perfect game fallout. I mean, the Commissioner's Office wound up releasing a statement on the Detroit brouhaha Thursday before it issued a statement congratulating Griffey for a great career. ... Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow lobbying Thursday for baseball to reverse umpire Jim Joyce's blown call and award Armando Galarraga the perfect game he lost. How about you two politicians concentrate on Michigan's future and lowering that unemployment rate?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Yesterday's over my shoulder
"So I can't look back for too long
"There's just too much to see waiting in front of me
"And I know that I just can't go wrong"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

 

Posted on: February 25, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2010 2:23 pm
 

Braves only hope to contain Heyward (and cars)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- OK, the legend of Atlanta phenom Jason Heyward is growing to crazy -- and wildly fun -- proportions.

The latest?

"I think we're going to put up some nets over the cars in the parking lot," Braves manager Bobby Cox said following Wednesday's workout. "I'm serious. He's smashing too many.

"He's hitting them off of fenders, bumpers. He hit 'em over the cars today."

Heyward drilled a Coke truck the other day with a liner over the right-field fence. That's the area in which the Braves park their cars as well, and the Coke hit wasn't even close to the most damaging. Heyward also sent a screamer over the fence the other day that smashed the sunroof in the car of Bruce Manno, Atlanta's assistant general manager.

"Cost $3,400 to fix it," Cox said. "It also bent the sunroof frame. We thought it was going to be around $900."

The frame, though, jacked up that bill. And the deductible on the Braves' company car was $2,500.

Oops.

Cox joked that the club should fine Heyward. But in truth, the Braves could not be more thrilled with what they're seeing from their top-round pick in 2007. Heyward, 20, probably is the best position-player prospect in the game and has a very good chance at cracking the Braves' opening-day lineup.

"You know when he's taking batting practice," Cox said.

You sure do. The buzz is electric.

Sunblock Day: Yes, but also a jacket day. The car temp read 42 degrees at 7:30 this morning and the wind chill was in the 30s. Cox wore a jacket during the entire workout. And it's supposed to get worse Friday.

Likes: Braves starter Tim Hudson, back from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery two Augusts ago, says this is the best his arm has felt in eight years. "I feel like I'm 24 again," Hudson says. Catcher Brian McCann says Hudson has impressive bite again on his two-seam fastball. ... Bobby Cox changing uniform pants four times before Wednesday's workout had even begun. The Braves had a lot going on -- yearbook photos, in-house television stuff -- that resulted in different uniforms. Cox ambled onto the field for the workout wearing white pants while the other 50, 60 players and coaches were wearing gray. So after starting with white, changing to gray for photos and then going back to white, he went back inside to change to gray. More costume changes than Cameron Diaz for the decorated skipper. ... Ozzie Guillen on Twitter might be the greatest thing of the spring. Tweet of the day from Ozzie (at least, in my book): "I love what I'm doing now. Followers, don't worry. I will be here for all of you."

Dislikes: Don't get me started on Avatar. Yes, the special effects were groovy. But I cannot begin to tell you how much I absolutely hated the movie. You watch the special effects for 15 minutes, then you've still got two and a half hours to go. Pedestrian plot, way more violent than I thought and the "battle" scenes were endless. Ugh.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train
"And I'm feeling nearly as faded as my jeans
"Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained
"It rode us all the way to New Orleans
"I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna
"I was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues
"Windshield wipers slapping time, I was holding Bobby's hand in mine
"We sang every song that driver knew"

-- Janis Joplin (Kris Kristofferson), Me and Bobby McGee

 
 
 
 
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