Greetings from…well New York, I am home…for now. After two road trips in two weeks, it will be nice to watch the Braves from home instead of a laptop in a hotel room. By the way— I hope I don’t have to go back to Pennsylvania anytime soon, though the Braves do travel to Philly next weekend…
Big Week in NL East—The next two weeks (10 games against division rivals) are vital for the Braves to contend in the NL East. Last season the Braves were horrendous against their division, posting a dismal 31-41 record. They NEED to get some wins against division opponents, especially the Phillies, who are favorites for the division title. Don’t get me wrong…the Marlins scare me, and the Mets can’t be counted-out until they have a 5-game lead in September.
Last season, the Braves were just 4-14 against Philadelphia. That HAS TO improve to stay competitive. They also NEED to redeem themselves for the last game played in Philly, which started the bullpen fiasco. Nothing would put an end to that terrible feeling after that game then to hammer Philly out of the gate.
The Return of Mike Hampton—Mike Hampton was greeted by deafening BOOS as he took the mound for the first time since leaving the Braves as a free agent, to play for the Houston Astros. Hampton spent 6 years in a Braves uniform (figuratively of course), battling through a plethora of injuries ranging from a torn pectoral muscle (warming up in the bullpen), to a torn flexor tendon, to a torn oblique to Tommy John Surgery. After considering his litany of injures as a Brave, I need to ask…how is Mike Hampton able to pitch this season???
Hampton started the year in the Astros starting rotation and has been a part of their (shaky) staff the entire first month of the year! I just don’t get it! The man got hurt throwing in the bullpen…throwing in the Mexican Winter League…he’d get hurt throwing dice! How is he still pitching?!?
In 2008, after missing half of ‘05, all of ‘06-‘07 and half of ‘08, I heard that he actually was going to pitch in the majors and I had to see it! I took a drive to Philly to watch the Braves and Hampton at Citizen’s Bank Park last July. To my surprise, Hampton did throw a baseball off of a mound – to a catcher – and did compete in a game that counted. I even took a picture of Hampton on the mound to capture the fleeting moment.
Now that he’s left Atlanta, it seems he’s no longer the delicate, antique of a pitcher who was acquired from Colorado. I don’t care if he’s made it through the first month of 2009 seemingly healthy, there’s no way he can make it the entire year…He can’t…He just can’t!
One More Thing—After being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, RHP Blaine Boyer has made four appearances (3.2 IP) while lowering his ERA from 40.50 to 14.40 – still not great, but I guess it couldn’t get much worse unless A-Rod were tipping pitches to the hitters…
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Until nest time…Go Braves!