Friday, March 30, 2018

Braves Win - Markakis Walk Off Homer

In the season opener, when things looked their bleakest, the Atlanta Braves were down 5-0 to the Phillies and Aaron Nola was cruising. Then, thanks for analytics or just sheer stupidity, the Phillies decided to pull Nola in the 6th inning, and the comeback was on.

The Braves Freddie Freeman 2-run homered in the 6th off of reliever Milner, followed by Ozzie Albies solo shot in the 8th off of Morgan. After walking Freeman and the Braves still down 5-3, the Phillies went to Ramos out of the pen, who promptly walked Suzuki and then threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to 2nd and 3rd. However, in trying to get Freeman at third, the Phillies threw the ball into left field, scoring Freeman and moving Suzuki to third. Bare in mind, the Braves have now scored the 4th run in the game without a hit. And to cap things off Preston Tucker laced one to center to score Suzuki and tie the game.

The stage was set for a comeback. And you could basically pull every name out of the Braves hat for a hero and still no have me pick Nick Markakis as the walk-off-wonder. Nick Markakis hadn't had a walk-off homer run in his CAREER. Let me remind you that Nicky has been playing in the majors since 2006. You may remember those as the heady days before the sub-prime mortgage crisis tanked the economy.

Yet, with 2 outs and 2 on, Nick Markakis blasted a home run to right center, and won the game 8-5 over a stunned Phillies team. It was the biggest comeback on opening day in Braves history, dating back to 1900. That's amazing, and what made it more amazing was that it was the first walk-off win on opening day since 1998. That's 20 years ago folks. Do you now how the Braves finished in 1998? They won 106 games, finished 1st in the NL East, swept the Cubs in the NLDS and went on to lose 4-2 to the Padres in the NLCS.

Hell, I'd take all of what I just said there after the kinds of seasons we've had leading up to this. Get me to the playoffs in any fashion this season and I'll consider it pouring a pile of gold on rubies. And yes, I realize one game doesn't mean anything in the playoff scenario but we're above .500 for the first time since 2015 so I'm running with this for all it's worth.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Braves Season Opener 2018

Hello there Braves fans! Who is excited about another season of Braves baseball?

Well I for one am cautiously optimistic we might see some decent offense out of the young club this year. Do you realize how many guys we have on the team that are 31 or older? Only seven on the club and about half of those are catchers. It's a YOUNG team which means any real predictions about what will happen are probably useless. As such I'm not going to be doing any bold predictions this year.


Here we go:

  1. The Braves will score over 750 runs this year. They score 732 last year which was 21st in baseball. Increasing an extra 18+ would put them in the top half of the league in scoring, which is where I think they will go this year.
  2. The Braves will hit 200+ Home Runs. I see this as a team that's going to run into some homers. Granted that's a HUGE increase over their 165 homers last year, but remember that Freddie Freeman was essentially out of commission for a month and he lost a ton of momentum that would have put him over 40+ homers alone. I think with him at full strength, and with Acuna coming up and Ender getting his pops in? You'll see a middle of the pack home run team this season.
  3. Ronald Acuna wins Rookie of the Year. I don't care that he's going to be held up for 12 games. That won't matter. This kid's a hero and he's going to rake when he gets up to the show.
  4. Julio Teheran will be amazing. Julio has a trend going of good year, bad year. He had a bad year last year by his standards. I expect him to rebound with an amazing year in 2018.
  5. The rest of the rotation outside of Julio will be a disaster. I don't trust anybody in the rotation, and I'm not really sure who is supposed to be the 5th starter. I do know that Brandon McCarthy, Mike Foltynewicz, and Sean Newcomb don't inspire a ton of confidence.
  6. The bullpen wont' be a complete disaster this year. The bullpen has been the worst part of the team for a long time, going on almost 3 years at this point. Now? I think with the young guys coming up and the pure talent we'll see getting shots at relief work, the bullpen will actually become a strength late in games.
  7. A Brave will throw a no-hitter. I predict this every year. Every year I get seriously close, and have it fall apart in the 9th. This year they get one.
  8. Nick Markakis won't be traded. As much as people want him gone and think that he's got value? He has no value and we're stuck with him for the duration of his deal. So don't think he's suddenly getting dealt at the break.
  9. Dansby Swanson will have a come-back year. I think Dansby will have a huge rebound this year now that the pressure is off the kid. He came up too soon, and it affected his play when things started to spiral downward for him. Now that he's seen some AAA time, and been shown that the show is for guys that can deal with the day to day rollercoaster of emotions? I think he's ready to become a true major-leaguer.
  10. The Braves win 75 games. I see people predicting 80+. I 'd love to believe you, but this rotation tells me we're going to have massive issues keeping opponents off the basepaths this year. I think they lose plenty of games with scores of 5+ on the books simply because the starter flares out before the 5th inning. But then again, this season is about getting young guys time more than wins and losses supposedly.
My biggest hope is that this team is interesting to watch. Last year it got to the point in the late summer I had to turn them off because the defense was so bad, and the pitching was so bad, that it become a painful slog to watch 9 innings of baseball. I don't want that this year. I want a team that's remaining competitive night to night well into August. If they can give me that, and maybe some more, this year will be a success in my book as the young guys cut their teeth.