102: As sure as hayfever, spring has finally arrived!


Mechanicsville, VA – Today marks the real start of spring for us baseball fans, not the artificial one that in marked by the spring solstice and listed on our “no longer free” calenders. No, it is not March 21st but the day when the first official game of what is known as Spring Training.

The day that all who’s team did not win the World Series title in October have been anxiously waiting for since the last out. The start of do-overs. When rookies and prospects vie for a chance to make it to the promised land of green fields and wily old veterans try to hang on for one more season of glory.

Spring training games mean zip in the broad scheme of things and the win-loss record means little in reality – but don’t tell that to the trolls who will jump on every opportunity to somehow diminish or inflate the importance of the final numbers.  Sadly, the real truth is the baseball owners have figured yet another way to extract another bit of coin from our pockets for the privileged of watching a lot of guys get ready for the real season.

Still, it is important to keep score, why else would we play? I am also pretty sure it will be important for some of these kids to have a opportunity to brag to their grand kids they hit a three run homer off  the likes of Roy Halliday or Tim Hudson, even if was at a time when neither was working on anything but locating a fastball over the plate.

No matter, it is spring and all hope is renewed. Every team – well except maybe the Pirates and the Indians – have a chance. Come on, it can happen!  Just ask the ’91 Braves.  Did anyone pick them to finish out of the cellar in the NL West that season?

So spring begins today.  For Braves fans it will be against the suddenly cash strapped Mets in Port St. Lucie. The line up will bear little resemblance to the one that will take the field against the Washington Nationals on March 31st, but who cares?!

It will be the first opportunity for us to get a sense of how far  Jordan Schafer has come from the brink of being a footnote in Braves lore. The first glimpse of Nate McLouth and his new found resolve to once again be a major league center fielder. To answer questions about Jair and his attempt to return to form that had so many Braves fan giddy with anticipation.

So come on fans… Spring has finally sprung, time for renewed hope, almost real baseball and evaluation of the next crop of seedlings called prospects.

~Gil~

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46 Responses to “102: As sure as hayfever, spring has finally arrived!”


  1. 1 Carolina Lady February 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    You’ve done it again, Mr Mayor!! Kudos!

    Like

  2. 2 Voice of Raisins February 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    It is about stinkin’ time, ain’t it? :D

    Like

  3. 3 Gil in Mechanicsville February 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks folks, all kudos graciously appreciated. Yes Ber, they played the mutts to a 5-5 tie but the best story is Freddie Freeman with 3 doubles…

    And CL, thanks for putting the final flourishes on the blog… :-)

    Like

  4. 4 Carolina Lady February 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    My pleasure, sir! :-D

    Like

  5. 5 berigan2electricboogaloo February 27, 2011 at 11:27 am

    EXXXXCEEEELLLLLEEENNNTTTT! (Mr Burns from the Simpsons, in case some didn’t know!)

    Like

  6. 6 Bay Area Steve February 28, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Folks,

    I miss your stuff. I truly do. Y’all could be like an oasis in the Mojave. A post a day is a shame, and a disservice to all of us who enjoy your contributions.

    I promised myself I’d ask y’all, once a year, to come back. I’m not sure it’s wanted. I quite suspect it isn’t. But, I’m selfish and I’m askin’. I must say: I hope. I hope for others like me. I stumbled upon a blog many years ago. I don’t even think I knew then it was called a blog, or what a blog was. But, I read the comments. And, I was astounded at those comments. Talk about extreme… Idiocy and intellect. Stupid and sublime. All in the same space. You folks represented the good. Still do.

    Good needs reading. There are scores of people who want it, who would love it, who don’t know where to find it, or who think good needs a little bad to shine. I suspect y’all are perfectly happy with the B&S. No reason not to be, really. I just wish y’all had a bit more ego, a bit more desire to be seen.

    Blame Gil. I see his stuff, and I think what could be. If that don’t fly, blame Berigan; Ted Simmons is overrated. Or FBG, I never got my cake. Or Salty, for the salt. Or VOR, for the confusion over whether he was ‘THE’ VOR. Nah, just blame CL. She never forgave me for goin’ generic on the Diet Coke.

    Good exists because of bad; right for wrong; friends for enemies. Come join the fight. I’ll post how much of a sarcastic, self-involved ass DOB is, everyday, if that’ll help…

    Like

  7. 7 Gil in Mechanicsville February 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Thanks Steve, I post across the street every so often, just too many drama queens most of the time.

    Yes, we (well most) miss our mentor and inspiration JJJ but even he became too over the top for his own good. I see him in another of his many personalities posting as Sonny Clusters on Jeff Schults blog. Not nearly as funny as he was as Jimmy Smith or Miss Roselan. You can wear a mask if you want but when you have a name tag on your pocket, it is pretty hard to disguise your real identity. Like the old pro wrestlers who would take gigs in different markets as two different people, but different… :-)

    Often we have to appreciate what we have while we have it because all too often it is gone before you know it. However, there are always your memories… Uh, that is until you get ‘Oldtimers’ like me….

    And besides, we can talk politics a religion over here on this little blog and not get too personal. Unless maybe you are Lew, or Savanna Guy or uh… maybe we can’t, but we try…

    And as for DOB, so many post now folks get lost. Still, it is a good place to get insight.

    Like

  8. 8 Gil in Mechanicsville February 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    While I am loath to add any link to the Washington Post, this is a relatively nice piece on old Roachie for anyone interested.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/27/AR2011022703431_2.html?sid=ST2011022703544

    Like

  9. 9 Gil in Mechanicsville February 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Trying to follow the Braves’ game on Gameday and via Carroll Rogers. Could not find a free radio feed today… Anyway, Nate appears promising. Hitting better, and throwing better. Leads me to believe Nate had some type of injury he or the team was hiding/did not know about last season. I suspect it was a shoulder. No proof of this what so ever, just a gut feeling given the evidence.

    Hey, it the internet, who needs proof? Right?

    Like

  10. 10 Voice of Raisins February 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    From our friend Carroll Rogers:

    This little tidbit for you…..today’s game will be Chipper’s second Grapefruit League game of the spring. That’s one more than Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who is sitting out his second straight game today with knee tendinitis. They’re calling it precautionary.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha :lol:

    Like

  11. 11 Hillbilly February 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Good post BAS. I don’t post much over here, because about 9 times out of ten, it freezes up and I have to CRTL+ALT+DLT my way out of here. So don’t think I’ve gone snobby on y’all. I think it has something to do with our filter at the workplace.

    It’s great to be alive.

    Like

  12. 12 Carolina Lady February 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Steve and Hillbilly, you have made my face happy!!! What a wonderful, delicious treat! Please come more often!!! We don’t bite. And Steve, you can even bring your (choke) generic whatever-it-is!

    Hillbilly, hope those gorgeous kids and your wife are doing well! Checking our birthday calendar, I see that the Littlest Hillbilly has a birthday coming up soon!

    Like

  13. 13 Gil in Mechanicsville February 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    While it is always nice to see the Braves put up 13 runs, I must temper my enthusiasm. Way too early to be excited. Now, if the Braves are still hitting at such a torrid pace the last week of spring training, I am going to be all over it…

    Like

  14. 15 Hillbilly March 1, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Yeah, CL, he’ll be 3 in May. So that means I haven’t slept in 3 years. And the third (and last) little one is due at the end of June. If she’s half as bull-headed as her big brother, we’re in for a treat.

    Like

  15. 16 Gil in Mechanicsville March 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

    HB… Sometimes it takes a while to grow out of the “terrible twos”… My first wife never did…

    Good to see you back by the way and congratulations on the expectancy of number three… :-) If you haven’t slept for the past three years, no use breaking up that pattern now, you can sleep when they finally put you in the nursing home. :-)

    Like

  16. 17 Voice of Raisins March 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Congrats HB, that is awesome news!

    And as Gil said, it’s great to hear from you over here. I read you over there occasionally, I just rarely post. Usually I scan, read, blow past ALOT, read a few, blow past ALOT… you get the picture. You have to chip away at alot of dirt to find a gem here and there.

    Like

  17. 18 Voice of Raisins March 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

    According to Jeff Schultz over at the ajc, Buster Olney is “leaning toward” picking the Braves to win the NL East.

    Olney via Schultz:

    “The [Phillies'] injuries and the lack of balance [in the heavily left-handed] lineup are real concerns. They won’t see right-handed pitching after the fifth or sixth inning this year. The starting pitching is obviously unbelievable, but I think these guys [Braves] are deeper than what they’re given credit for and if Derek Lowe can pitch like he did down the stretch, their pitching certainly is good enough to match up. If [Craig] Kimbrel and [Jonny] Venters can fill the back end of the bullpen, this is a real good team. The every day lineup is certainly better than what the Phillies have because of the concerns they have. Right now, they’re talking about [outfielder] Ben Francisco being the No. 5 hitter in that lineup [to replace the departed Jayson Werth] and that’s probably a tall order for him. They had 170 games lost to injuries last year in the infield. Jimmy Rollins’ OPS has gone down the last three years, since he won the MVP. [Chase] Utley’s OPS has dropped each of the last two years. [Ryan] Howard last year, because of the lack of depth in their lineup, saw a lot off-speed stuff away and it really seemed to affect them. [Placido] Polanco is 37 years old now and he had elbow trouble last year. They’re an older team. The question is, how do those injuries manifest themselves and do they have the depth to make up for it?”

    Sounds somewhat familiar, I think…

    Like

  18. 19 Voice of Raisins March 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Mark Wohlers, his wife and their three young children escaped an early-morning fire that destroyed their Milton home Tuesday.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/north-fulton/mark-wohlers-family-escape-857205.html

    “Just let whoever cares about us know that my wife [Kimberly] was the hero,” Wohlers told the AJC. “She got everybody up and out of the house quicker than I can blink an eye.”

    Kimberly Wohlers woke up her husband, then ran upstairs to get the children, 7- and 3-year-old boys and a 5-year-old girl, Wohlers said.

    The 5 most important saves of Mark’s life! 8O

    Like

  19. 20 Hillbilly March 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Gil,
    I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    VOR,
    Is Buster’s middle name “Lew?”

    Like

  20. 21 Voice of Raisins March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    :lol:

    Like

  21. 22 berigan2electricboogaloo March 2, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Wow, a BAS AND HB sighting in the same day??? Will wonders never cease??? 8O Hello there!
    HB, I don’t know if you saw me mention before, but are you trying to come here via Internet explorer, or Mozilla?? Just curious…IE is better than it used to be, but I’ll never check out the AJC baseball blog with it again, it just forever froze up my computer….

    Like

  22. 23 Voice of Raisins March 2, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Google Chrome, bro’s, Google Chrome…

    Like

  23. 24 Hillbilly March 2, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Remember, I’m on a work computer, so I have to use what they give me. Now downloads allowed. Internet Explorer it is. So far, it seems to be working on this new blog so I’ll drive it ’til the wheels fall off.

    Like

  24. 25 Gil in Mechanicsville March 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Good morning folks, another excellent pitching performance by the Braves’ staff yesterday. Still early however. And the Nats pound the Mutts for the second day in a row. I think those guys (Nats) are going to be a pretty decent hitting team this year. Their chore is going to be much like the 2007 edition of the Braves in trying to have a bullpen ERA under 12.00…

    The Cardinals’ woes remind me of another season the Braves had when they lost 3/5th of the starting staff and had to rely on guys like Carlyle and Castillio. The Braves had some bashers then too. Just could not manage to score 10 runs per game needed to win consistently.

    We all.. well, most of us have 20-20 hindsight and I suspect if JS had it all over to do again he would not have traded for Mark Texieria. Some times you just have to gut out a down year or two like everyone else.

    Like

  25. 26 Gil in Mechanicsville March 2, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Sigh, will miss the game today, Josie’s bowling day today… I can’t bowl anymore but I can still keep score and cheer… Want to witness something both ugly and inspiring at the same time? Watch a senior bowling league… Talk about having to alter your mechanics.. :-) The good thing, it is a lot more fellowship and good sportsmanship than any other league I have ever been around. Perhaps age does make you realize that winning is not the only thing… Sometimes still being able to show up is a reward in itself.

    Like

  26. 27 berigan2electricboogaloo March 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    V, I don’t know if it’s still the same, but when I last tried google chrome, it wouldn’t work for with a political chat site I go to…message came us saying it was the browser….
    anyone watching baseball tonight??? Amazing rotations some teams have…teams you don’t think of really as contenders even. Dodgers have 5 legit starters and Padilla is having some supposedly minor elbow surgery and will be available later in the season…honestly, there was no one for him to replace.
    Cubs are not considered strong contenders, and yet they have…
    Carlos Zambrano (BSOHL) 3.33 ERA(Seems to have anger issues under control, and was great last few months of 2010)
    Ryan Dempster 3.85 ERA
    Matt Garza 15-10 3.91 ERA (ERA sure to drop out of the AL East)
    Andrew Cashner-never heard of him, even though he was a reliever for them last year-from ESPN…One of the spots in the Cubs’ rotation is Cashner’s to lose, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “We think he’s our future,” pitching coach Mark Riggins said.
    heard he has the best stuff next to Carlos Marmol
    Meaning these two will fight for #5
    Carlos Silva 4.22 ERA
    Randy Wells 4.26 ERA

    Just seems like there is some really strong rotations…on paper, out there.

    Like

  27. 28 berigan2electricboogaloo March 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Gil, if it makes you feel better, the last time I went bowling a few years ago, I felt it, really felt it throughout my body…sigh…
    Sounds like a good time is had by all, and what more can you ask for? :)

    Like

  28. 29 Gil in Mechanicsville March 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I was reading Mark Bowman’s piece on KK and I was thinking, if he has the guts to try to impress somebody this spring rather than give up then I am impressed with his character. What the heck, after all, the money the Braves are paying him is not coming out of my pocket… Well, indirectly because I have DirecTV but it would just be going into someone else’s pocket anyway. Not like they are offering customers a rebate or anything.

    It is not what you do when you get knocked down, it is what you do after you have been knocked down that shows one’s true character. For sure, we’ll see how he reacts under pressure because right now, it’s all on him….

    Like

  29. 30 Gil in Mechanicsville March 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Even better, if he actually impresses someone enough to take his contract off the Braves hands, win-win… Or, he blows out a (name a body part) and the Braves simply collect the insurance… win-win-win… except for those mean old insurance companies who our government keeps telling us are evil anyway so who cares what happens to them? right? :-)

    Speaking of body parts, Heyward “tweaked” a groin… OUCH… I pulled a groin and a hamstring once in the same game… It was hell trying to drive home after the game with a straight shift. Did not hurt at all if I stood perfectly still. Was a real chore trying to navigate anything other than level ground and even that was torture.

    Like

  30. 31 Gil in Mechanicsville March 3, 2011 at 5:51 am

    And a final thought as I await Miss Josie to finish getting ready for out next “great adventure”…

    If I had know that vacations were so much fun, I would have taken more of them when I was younger when I truly needed one. I sometimes reflect on what a miserable person I must have been to be around because I was a workaholic… Depression manifest itself in many different ways, unfortunately, none of them good.

    So anyway, we are off at 6 AM and stay in Kingsland, GA tonight. I still can’t understand why I use to be in such a hurry to get places? For what, to stand in line longer? No, ours will be a leisurely drive.

    Only problem is the cat knows we are up to something, when we get back, she will be paranoid for about 2 weeks and whine whenever one of us leaves the house. I think she has “issues”…

    I will be taking notes on the game Friday and will pass along my observations this weekend.

    Like

  31. 32 Gil in Mechanicsville March 3, 2011 at 5:54 am

    PS… The Braves game is on ESPN today at 1PM.

    Like

  32. 33 Carolina Lady March 3, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I know you are far down the road by this time, but I pray for your safety, my friend!

    Like

  33. 34 Voice of Raisins March 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Game on TV?!!?!??!?!

    Awesome! :D

    Like

  34. 35 Voice of Raisins March 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    … and 10 innings to boot!

    Like

  35. 36 Voice of Raisins March 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Oops… only 9… but who’s counting? (Obviously, not me.)

    Like

  36. 37 berigan2electricboogaloo March 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Have a good time Gil! You picked the right time, it’s starting to cool off, at least for a few days…

    Like

  37. 38 Gil in Mechanicsville March 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Greetings from (mostly) sunny Florida. Josie and I attended today’s contest between the Braves’ split squad and the Nationals at Viera. It was a very enjoyable experience al in all with the Braves emerging victorious. That said, the ease at attending the game was much better than when we went to Champions Stadium at Disney last year. We were able to park 20 feet away from the ticket office and the cost of the reserve bleachers was only $10 each.

    Disney charges $15 just to watch practice…. Plus Josie caught a foul ball… Yes folks, a fan from Mechanicsville just came away with that souvenir… :-)

    I will give a more detailed report later but a couple of things stood out for me today. First, Nate McLouth… This guys looks nothing like the kid I saw last spring. Confident, cocky, a spring in his step and if body language means anything, he is going to be a big difference this year. Today he was 2 for 2 in three at bats with a single, a double and a walk. Made the right plays when throwing the ball back to the infield and just all and all was a plus guy.

    Second, Brian McCann has lost a lot of weight. I did not even recognize him. He still can’t run a lick but he looks very lean.

    Brandon Beachy gets my vote for the fifth starter spot. This kid has mound presence and a super change up. He went toe to toe with the best the Nationals had to offer and he gave up one hit to the ninth man he face. The Nats were taking some really funny swings at his off speed pitches.

    One final note before I sign out for the night… Ryan Zimmerman is to the Braves as Chipper Jones is to the Mets. That guy just loves Braves’ pitching.

    Okay, a full story and photos to follow later.

    Like

  38. 39 Gil in Mechanicsville March 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Oh, one more thing, Schafer survive the attack of the killer bees too…. A swarm flew across the outfield, stopping play as outfielders ran for cover and Schafer ended up lying face down against the outfield wall as they flew directly over him. Every pitcher in the Nationals’ bullpen cleared out too. I’ve seen streakers, skunks, the occasional squirrel and cats and dogs but this is the first time for a swarm….

    Like

  39. 40 Voice of Raisins March 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Now THAT is funny, I don’t care who you are…
    :lol:

    Like

  40. 41 Gil in Mechanicsville March 5, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Hey Ber, an any of you other folks lucky enough to have the MLB network…. Game between the Braves and the Nationals will be televised Sunday, 1PM…

    Like

  41. 42 berigan2electricboogaloo March 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Thanks for the Report Gil! :) If McLouth hit like he did for the Pirates, we would be so much better….we may need to pound the ball if we want to have a chance against the Phils.
    Thanks for the four one one on the game….I saw a clip on ESPN of Matt Young getting a hit, and he looked real good…

    Like

  42. 43 Voice of Raisins March 5, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Looks like the old men on our young team showed out today. I harbor no illusions that Chipper is going to win any MVP awards, but all those who are writing him off will be surprised. When I watched (really, I listened more than I watched) the game on ESPN on Thursday, those goobs already had Chipper in a rocking chair. They misquoted him as saying he needed a day off every four – absolute untruth – and forecast that Prado would play more 3B than LF. I’ll take that bet. I can see Chipper take 1 day a week, like Mac. I see nothing wrong there… that’s just smart.

    And watch out for DLowe. He found the wrinkle late last season. He’s gonna have a great season in ATL.

    Like

  43. 44 Carolina Lady March 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Just terrific, Gil! I think we have a lot to look forward to this season! Here’s hoping, anyway.

    Way to go, Miss Josie!!!! Gil, you are one lucky guy! :-)

    Like

  44. 45 berigan2electricboogaloo March 6, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    V, I sure hope so, it would be great if the “old Timers” lead us in the fall!
    I wonder if Nate feels less pressure, and like he has a new start, under Freddie???
    Hear the Phils rookie Dominic Brown, has a hand injury, and has to have surgery. Hate to see that happen to a any young guy, don’t care what team he is on. IF we can beat the Phils, I want it to be fair and square, not because they had an injury plagued yet like the Red Sox had last season….

    Gil, you really are lucky about the time ST started. I don’t know what the temp. is in your normal neck of the woods, but we are only 43 at 6 PM! 8O

    Like

  45. 46 Carolina Lady March 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks to our intrepid Mayor His-own-self, NEW BLOG IS UP

    Like


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