Archive for April, 2008

40: Greg Maddux: Best Postseason Starter Ever In His Prime?

Comments and articles herein are the intellectual property and opinions of the writers and may not be copied without permission of the writers.

by williamwallace

ATHENS, GA – John Smoltz is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest postseason pitchers in the history of the game. Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, on the other hand, are generally considered postseason disappointments. Overall, for their careers, Smoltz has been superior to Glavine and Maddux in the postseason. Below are their career postseason records:

W

L

ERA

IP

Glavine

14

16

3.42

218

Smoltz

15

4

2.65

207

Maddux

11

14

3.34

194

Maddux and Glavine, however, were actually better postseason starters than Smoltz during the six postseasons in which they were members of the same starting rotation. The applicable period is from 1993 until 1999. Below is a grid with their performance and the average run support they received during those postseasons:

W

L

SV

ERA

WHIP

GS

IP

RS

Glavine

8

5

0

2.48

1.16

18

119.7

4.67

Smoltz

7

4

1

3.12

1.14

17

118.3

4.82

Maddux

10

9

1

2.39

1.11

21

150.7

3.86

Combined

25

18

2

2.64

1.13

56

388.7

4.41

Overall, the Braves were 32-24 when Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine started for the Braves during the postseasons from 1993 until 1999. Below is the overall team record when each started:

W

L

ERA

RS

Glavine

12

6

2.48

4.67

Smoltz

9

8

3.12

4.82

Maddux

11

10

2.39

3.86

Overall

32

24

2.64

4.41

Below is a table of the performance of Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine and the run support given to them in the games the Braves won when they started during those postseasons between 1993 and 1999:

G

IP

ERA

RS

Glavine

12

82.7

1.63

5.92

Smoltz

9

68.6

2.63

7.00

Maddux

11

84.7

1.60

5.36

Overall

32

236

1.91

6.03

Below is their performance and the average performance of the offense during the games the Braves lost when they started during those postseasons:

G

IP

ERA

RS

Glavine

6

37.0

4.38

2.17

Smoltz

8

49.7

3.80

2.38

Maddux

10

66.0

3.41

2.20

Overall

24

152.7

3.77

2.25

Maddux was not only the best postseason pitcher on the Braves during the era of The Big Three but, from the 1995 NLCS until the 1999 World Series, Maddux put together the best consecutive string of 120 or more innings of any postseason pitcher in the history of the game. Below are the postseason pitchers I could find that had the best consecutive string of 120 or more innings in the postseason and the average offensive run support provided them in their postseason starts:

Pitcher

Start

End

G

GS

W

L

IP

ERA

OOPS

RS

Greg Maddux

95NLCS

99WS

19

17

8

8

124

1.89

0.562

2.88

John Smoltz

91NLCSG7

97NLDS

18

18

9

2

125.3

2.01

0.573

4.78

Whitey Ford

50WS

62WSG4

18

18

10

4

124

2.03

0.586

4.50

Tom Glavine

92WS

99NLCS

19

19

9

6

129.7

2.22

0.590

4.37

Curt Schilling

93WS

2007WS

19

19

11

2

133.3

2.23

0.586

4.95

Dave Stewart

81WS

93ALCS

18

16

10

3

120.3

2.24

0.569

4.63

Orel Hershiser

85NLCS

97WSG1

18

17

8

2

121

2.38

0.575

4.35

Jim Palmer

66WS

83WS

17

15

8

3

124.3

2.61

0.640

4.67

Roger Clemens

86ALCSG7

03ALCSG3

22

22

8

5

130

3.05

0.562

3.82

Catfish Hunter

72ALCS

78WS

21

18

9

5

124.3

3.11

0.687

3.50

David Wells

89ALCS

05ALDS

26

16

10

4

120

3.15

0.647

5.44

Mike Mussina

97ALDS

06ALDS

20

19

7

7

121.3

3.19

0.660

3.26

Andy Pettitte

98ALDS

03WS

22

22

11

5

136

3.44

0.736

4.45

Randy Johnson

95ALDS

06ALDS

19

16

7

9

121

3.50

0.664

3.50

Mariano Rivera is currently at 117.3 innings and will jump to the top of this list once he surpasses 120 innings pitched in the postseason. Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson and a few others had excellent runs that did not amount to 120 innings pitched prior to the dawn of ALCS, NLCS, ALDS and NLDS play. Greg Maddux, however, had the best string of 120 or more consecutive innings ever from a starting pitcher in the postseason.

~WilliamWallace~

39:Patience, Practice and the Past

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by Berigan

JONESBORO, GA – Patience is a virtue we are all told…seems to be a provable fact. And it’s always in style. Just like the bell bottoms I am wearing now.

Patience is a virtue in Baseball as well. Fielders learn to not charge every single ground ball. They learn that sometimes, you should let the ball come to them, instead of getting it on the in-between hop. Some teams appear to have a system wide policy of teaching patience at the plate. Teaching players that they don’t need to try to win the game on every pitch thrown near the strike zone. That not swinging against pitchers that walk a lot, might just get you that fat pitch you desire…if you are patient. AL teams in particular get that today, more than ever, teams that don’t swing at the first pitch, that work deep counts, wear down a starting pitcher, and can get to the weak underbelly of most teams, their middle relief.

Practice is also a virtue. The best musicians in the world practice for hours a day. Frank Sinatra saw a gray haired Benny Goodman practicing before a concert and said to him, “Benny, why do you practice so much? After all, you’ve been playing for decades!!!” Benny’s answer was “Because when I am not great, I am just good.”

Another example is WC Fields. Fields was a world class juggler before he was a world class comedian. He said this about the early days: “I still carry scars on my legs from these early attempts at juggling. I’d balance a stick on my toe, toss it into the air, and try to catch it again on my toe. Hour after hour the damned thing would bang against my shinbones. I’d work until tears were streaming down my face. But I kept on practicing, and bleeding, until I perfected the trick.”

Gil in Mechanicsville said on the 2nd of April on the B&S. “Practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.”

I don’t believe players need to leave blood on the grass at Turner Field, but…do Braves players drill as much as the best defensive teams like the Rockies or Red Sox do??? It can’t just be dumb luck or the drafting good fielders that allowed the Rockies tied the NL record for fewest errors (68), right?

Does everyone on the team spend 5-10 minutes a day in the indoor batting cages working on bunting???

Since the Braves made a lot of errors in spring training, is it wrong to spend more time working on the fundamentals after a bad game once the season starts??? Surely you can say it nicely to the players, that right now they look more than rusty, lets spend an extra hour before a game working on hitting cut the cut off man, or practicing making deep throws deep in the hole, or digging balls out of the dirt at first. Isn’t a reason we have so many coaches, is to you know….coach???

I know, everyone is expected to be a professional at this level. They should know how to do the little things, like bunt and move runners over…but…when your team has had a nearly 2 decade long problem scoring runs in big games…don’t you work extra hard on bunting, base-running, trying to move runners over, outside of the month of March???

The Past has it’s virtues as well. Nothing wrong with the past. This team has a great past! But, a team should look closely at it’s past, to see what worked, and what doesn’t work anymore. Does everyone from the GM on down look to find ways to improve the way this particular team plays between the lines??? Are we playing “modern” baseball?? Or do we chalk up the problems getting deep in the playoffs to just bad luck???

As I mentioned before, teams like the Red Sox (2 WC sweeps in the past 4 years) and Yankees (13th straight playoff berths) today take a lot of pitches, yet you don’t seem to see their players take a lot of called strike 3’s. Haven’t heard, but I do wonder if they have meetings before games and run down a few basic stats with their players. Pitcher X, 72% of the time will start with a breaking pitch away. 59% are out of the zone. They are doing something this Braves team isn’t doing.

Sure, these teams have a lot of money, more than anyone else. But, that alone won’t win the World Series for you. All I know is, when we played teams like the Red Sox or Tigers last year, we didn’t look like we belonged on the same field with them. Was that only our starting pitching????

I bet teams like the Red Sox, that seem to have a forward look in their approach to bringing up young pitchers (and how to handle older ones like Shilling) are better at finding new ways of getting an advantage over their opponents than other teams in baseball.

The Braves of 2008 are a vastly improved team over the 2007 model, at least from a pure talent perspective. If the Braves don’t win it all this year, or don’t even get into the playoffs, it won’t be because of a lack of talent.

~Berigan~

38: Nobody’s Family is Going to Change

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by JB in ATL

KENNESAW, GA I’m a little new here at Braves and Stuff and this will mark my first lead post here. But I already feel I’ve carved out a little place for myself in this serendipitous sanctuary tucked away in a lovely little corner of the Braves blogosphere.

With that said, let’s get real honest with one another, shall we?

Who of us true baseball fans can admit to never, ever, not even once, trying with some sort of desperation to effect the outcome of a Braves game? I think you’ll be hard pressed to find many of us that have become involved in this sport and this team that we adore and have not at one time or another done anything we could think of at any moment to give our team a little edge in times of need.

I myself have been known to cast magic spells, pray without ceasing, sit motionless on the couch until an inning has come to an end, tap two fingers on my forearm repeatedly during a 2-2 count with 2 outs, or even flip my cap inside out and upside down when we really need a rally.

Why do I do these things? Why do I shout until I’m hoarse with men on base and our hopes on the line? Why do I rise to my feet with 2 outs in the ninth and a thin one-run lead clapping until my hands are lobster red hoping to inspire a strikeout, a save, and a win? Either I’m hoping to invoke change in the outcome of the game or I’ve become so involved with my team and each game my team plays in that I believe I’m somehow on the field.

Maybe it’s faith. Maybe my belief, rituals, and invocations have some impact on the game or maybe they don’t. I’m not entirely sure. Maybe the moves Schuerholz used to make and now Wren makes are some sort of predestination that will inevitably run its course and we the onlookers will revel in success or mourn in defeat. Or maybe it’s just baseball and we’re just fans.

However, when I wake up the next morning after a playoff loss I feel like I’ve let the Braves and the city of Atlanta down somehow. It’s not just a game. Maybe I didn’t support them enough. Maybe I should’ve gone to the game. Maybe I should NOT have gone to the game because they seem to lose each time I show up. Maybe I didn’t say the right prayer at the right time. Maybe God’s not a Braves fan this year or maybe God doesn’t even care about baseball and my prayers are in vain.

Point is, I often somehow feel responsible for not doing the right things to make the Braves win and I’ve got to do better next time.

Yet I’ve realized one thing in my nearly 25 years of following baseball. I will love the Braves whether they win or lose. Whether I’ve been able to “change” the outcome of the game or whether the Braves and I have failed together.

Now I’ll get personal on you.

I’ve spent years trying to change my family without really knowing it. I would refuse to accept the differences between us. Differences in our beliefs, viewpoints, attitudes were insurmountable. I also wanted to change all the many imperfections of my family members. I hoped I could inspire them to be better people. I hoped I could influence or even lead them onward to change. Yet when I realized I could not change them, I decided to love my family not in spite of their shortcomings (or ask that they love me in spite of mine) but simply for who they are. I then understood a little more about what it really means to love someone.

Now back to the Braves. You see, I’m a lot like Mr. Raisins, I don’t love them because they win. I love them because I always have. Since 1982 when I was a toddler attending my first game at the Launching Pad, I began to my love the Braves. I will continue to love them whether they are in first place en route to a World Series title or in last place wondering how to rebuild for next year.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate when the Braves lose and I love when the win. But I will not hate my team just like I will never hate my family. And whether my in-game séances and superstitions make any kind of change on the games and the players or not, I have learned to love them even if I can’t change them.

The Braves have been a part of my family for as long as I can remember.

…and you just can’t change who your family is.

~JB in ATL~

37: The Joy of the Game

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By Voice of Reason Raisins

JEFFERSON, GA – I am a sports fan. Period. What is fan short for? Fan is short for fanatic. I am a sports fanatic. I’ll watch ’em all on TV: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, tennis… You name it, I’ll watch it. (Except bowling. I can’t watch bowling on TV.) As the years have gathered behind me, and a wife and two kids have gathered around me, I have had to learn to balance what I want to watch with what the family wants to watch. What? College wrestling on ESPNU? Awesome! Oh, wait… the kids are watching Spongebob. That’s OK, though. Life is essentially about balance, and the more you invest in family, the less you invest in other things. It seems, though, that there is still one area where I manipulate the scales of balance in my favor. Your Atlanta Braves! Mrs. Raisins and the young’uns all know that at 7:10pm, I’m looking for the Braves on the dial.

When I was a mere pup, my family moved to the suburbs of the big city of Atlanta from rural south Georgia. My Dad’s friend hooked him up with a night job selling tickets at Atlanta Stadium (as it was known before 1976) during the Braves seasons. For a couple of years, every time the Braves had a promotion, I got stuff. Cool stuff. Trading cards, miniature bats, helmets, caps… I got ’em all. I can still picture Marty Perez, Sonny Jackson, Davey Johnson and others staring back at me as I marveled at the cool stuff I got. I had a Ralph Garr bike license plate that said “Beep, beep” on it with a picture of the Roadrunner wearing Garr’s baseball jersey. Totally cool. I got to go to some games, too. I loved it. I loved the Braves. That was a happy time.

Growing up, I watched alot of baseball on TV with my folks. Of course, you only had the CBS games on Saturday and Monday Night Baseball. Then came Ted Turner and his little cable station. Before long, The good Lord above had graced us with the Atlanta Braves all during the week. And you can bet that if the Braves were on the TV, my Dad had the game on. It was simply a given. We watched alot of Braves baseball on that old 21” set. Those are happy memories.

When I’d get home from school every day, I’d slide my old worn out mitt over my bike handlebar and bolt down the street to my buddy’s house. We’d go out in his back yard and toss the ball around for a while. I could imitate every pitcher’s throwing motion! I could look just like Carl Morton. I could look just like Knucksie, too. (I could even toss a knuckler; just couldn’t do it consistently.) Then I’d take my old yellowed wood bat, with the tape wrapped around the handle, and settle in to the batter’s box. I could stand and swing like every one of my beloved Braves. From the right side, I could look just like Jerry Royster. From the left side, I was Willie Montanez. That’s how I became a switch-hitter! I emulated every nuance of my favorite players that I had learned from watching them almost every night on WTBS. I can’t tell you one score from any one game, but I can still see Willie slap that mitt down when taking Jerry’s throw from third. That was so much fun!

After I left the nest, my Braves watching habits followed closely behind. Every time Joe Torre, Eddie Haas, Bobby Wine, Russ Nixon, Chuck Tanner or Bobby Cox led their charges to the field, I was watching when I could. And I still do. Every pitch that I can witness, every hit that I can see, every throw that I’m around for, every double-play that I can tune in… they all take me back to gripping that taped bat. They remind me of toeing the rubber and floating my knuckler to my pal. They remind me of slapping my mitt down at first base like Willie. They remind me of all the cool stuff my Dad would remember to bring home to me, even after a long day and a long night. They remind me of why I love the Braves. They remind me of why I love the game.

So at 7:10, make room. I still watch every time that I can. And I hurt just like everybody else when our boys stumbled to 2 straight losses to open this season. But that didn’t really change anything. You see, I still can’t tell you any of the scores from any of the games, but I can tell you that Yunel keeps that shoulder dug in low! Diaz bends his back, then really get his hands through the zone. KJ taps his toe just like Chipper. And Moylan can throw some heat from down under! I watch the games to see MY players on MY team that I love play MY game that I grew up playing. I don’t watch to revel in the wins or to fret over the losses. I watch for baseball. I watch for my Braves. I watch for the joy of the game.

~Raisins~

36: Staying the course…

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by Gil

One of the hazards of being a fan of any team in any sport is the realization that the more you put into something the more you stand to lose. While the stock market as well as the black jack tables has been known to lighten one’s wallet with considerable rapidity, it is sports that take something even more dearly to us than money. It is the feeling of despair at watching your team lose games it should win, that exacts a huge toll on our well-being.

Now, I wish to put forth a theory that comes from many years of observation as well as my own personal experience with the matter. Those beings that people try to isolate themselves from the feelings of woe by one of several methods.

The first is apathy. The idea that if they don’t get involved, they won’t get hurt. This is often demonstrated by the abundance of empty seats often associated with losing teams. Despite the pleas of owners, players and erstwhile fanatics, venues go empty because people just don’t want to feel bad at the prospect of another loss.

The next is abandonment, many people will simply cut their losses and walk away despite the investment of time and energy thinking is no sense in riding a sinking ship to the bottom. Best to jump to the lifeboats while there is still time to save themselves.

A favorite approach by many is the front-runner syndrome. These are the shallowest of fair weather fans. They constantly will check to see which way the wind is blowing and quickly jump to whichever team is winning, claiming to be a lifelong fan and true supporter. This method assures them of the greatest amount of euphoria with the least amount of emotional involvement.

Of course, adapting these traits rob a person of the truest of highs which only comes with experiencing the lows as well as the highs. Supporting a team though it’s darkest times allows a person to savor the sweetness of victory. A bit of caution however in that one can find themselves resentful when the fair weather fans try to jump on the bandwagon to share the feeling of good times.

Therefore, I urge those good fans of the Braves to exercise patience. Do not despair with the short-term aberration of defeat but know the good times are coming!

~Gil~

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35: I was in a poker game….

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by Berigan

JONESBORO, GA – Big news everyone! I was in a poker game with the head of Liberty Media – whoever that is. And guess what???? He was out of money, so put the deed to the team on the table. He’s not a very good card player apparently, since I am now the owner of your Atlanta Braves!!!!!! 😆

There are big changes ahead:

1. Going to bring back the shorts the White Sox wore back in the late 70’s. Should make the players more angry and focused. I told them if they get in the playoffs, no more shorts! Win the WS and no more pink uniforms either!

2. I will be the 2nd lefty out of the bullpen. (Sorry, Ohman, but people didn’t laugh earlier when I said Oh man, Will – so out ya go!) I can give up a lot of walks just like the rest of the pen. Plus, I have a pretty good curve. At least I used to. I am sure I still do. We will soon find out!

3. No ticket will be above $10!!! We will sell out every single game since a family of 5 will be able to once again come to a game without having to get a loan or selling a kidney. Plus, no one will boo me if I have an off night on the mound!

4. Hot dogs and beer will only be $2 each! There will only be 400% profit on these staples of the ballpark, but I think we will be able to get by.

5. Plastic tubes will be attached under each seat, so men can relieve themselves without having to get up from their chairs! No more missing home runs because of a full bladder! (Women have bigger bladders then men and can wait ’til after the game.) Of course, there will be a modesty curtain you can bring up if one so desires.

6. Chief Nakahoma is back!

7. Half of all home games will be day games! (Don’t care what MLB has to say about this, it’s my team!) Too many kids can’t stay up late to watch games the games as it is. Plus, kids today have never experienced the pure joy of skipping school to see a baseball game!

8. Ted Simmons is the new GM! (Didn’t think I wouldn’t mention him at least once, did ya?) Sure, Frank Wren has done a good job, but Simmons was the GM of the Pirates in the early 90’s. Wren can do all the heavy lifting, but Simmons gets the title, and the chance to cut ribbons for new bridges and new Methadone clinics.

9. ESPN won’t be able to broadcast Braves games if Jon Miller and Clueless Joe are the broadcasters! (My team, my rules!)

10. No extra inning games at the Ted Berigan that end in the 12th inning! Unless we have the lead of course.

And finally….

11. Free season tickets too all members of the B&S blog!!! Even for the foreigners who live outside of Georgia.

But, that’s only the starting point! What changes do you all want to see?? The voice of Harry Carey singing “Take me out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch? (Skip or Chip can dub in ‘go Braves’ over ‘go Cubbies’) Black grass??? Disco demolition night??? AC for the bleachers?? You name it, it WILL happen!

Happy April Fools Day! 😆

~Berigan~



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