The season couldn’t have started much better. Lowe dominates the Phllies in the opener; Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, and rookie Logan…err…Jordan Schafer homered and most importantly the Braves won.
Game 2 was also good. Kelly Johnson led off with a long ball, Chipper joined him with one, and my man-crush Jair Jurrjens pitched great. Once again, Braves win.
That brings us to Wednesday. Sitting in front of my Samsung Plasma TV, Swiffer in-hand (it’s 2009 we don’t still use brooms do we?) watching B-Mac and Schafer crank blasts, Javier Vasquez pitch…err, decent, and the Braves are humiliating the Phillies, BUT then, it started. The bullpen collapsed like the 07-08 Mets. I watched in amazement as one Phillie after another was forced in from home after a bases-loaded walk, finally it ending on a Garret Anderson swing at a Lidge slider in the dirt.
There are still 159 games to go. It was just one game. But blowing a game to a division opponent (one the Braves only beat 4 out of 18 game tries last season) is never good. The Braves did take 2 out of 3 on the road and the starting pitching looks dynamite. Wait….am I saying this just to make myself feel better? Maybe, but it’s true and as Skip Caray might say, “It’s better than the Atlanta traffic system.”
Speaking of Skip Caray—It is insanely weird that John Smoltz is not a Brave but the first opening week without Skip Caray in the booth! I started to adjust last summer to life without his voice calling Braves games, however the enormity is hitting me all over again now that we will have to go all season (and future seasons) without the sarcastic wit that Skip brought to every game.
Skip was a great guy. Every time I saw him walking into the stadium he’d say hello with such an upbeat presence and appreciation that he was coming to the ballpark each and every day. It will always be his voice I imagine when I watch the Braves.
One last thing—It was announced last week that the Braves will retire Greg Maddux’s #31 on July 17th. This news is no surprise since Maddux is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall-of-Famer; regarded as one of the best starting pitchers, if not the best (sorry Clemens!) of his generation, and frankly one of the best ever.
From 1993-2003 Maddux dazzled Braves fans on a regular basis with his artful mastery of pitching. I can recall summer days watching Maddux throw 88-pitch complete game shutouts and not thinking much of it. It was almost expected every time he took the mound. It was, well…Greg being Greg.
At first glance one may think he is a physics professor…maybe a banker…or the guy who would troubleshoot your PC at Best Buy, but in fact Maddux was the best pitcher I have ever seen or probably will see. I don’t think there will ever be another pitcher quite like Maddux.
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