Almost everybody dances at weddings. Kids, couples, singles, old folks, everybody. The DJ spins “Dancing Queen” and the floor gets movin’. Put the “Electric Slide” on and even the most sedentary people get out there and dance. Safety in numbers, I guess. But as you’re having a good time, dancing, drinking and getting your fill of Shrimp Cocktail…you look around and see THAT group. There’s always one ultra grumpy table that just sits there. Doesn’t interact, doesn’t go dance, let loose or even raise Cain at their table. They just sit there. When it comes to aggression on the base path, the Atlanta Braves are the curmudgeons at the wedding.
Why don’t the Braves aggressively run the bases? I’ve been wondering for a while now. I see highlights of stolen bases and runners sliding home and I think, “What is this they’re doing? You mean you can try to get extra bases after a hit and EVEN go to second when the pitcher’s not looking? We need to let the Braves know. This could be BIG for us.” Other teams seem to steal bases and get themselves in scoring position a bunch, Atlanta simply waits, like the least attractive/kinda heavy bridesmaid at the wedding, waiting for someone to say, “No, No…it’s cool. Go ahead and cut a rug. Oh yea…you can TOTALLY take that chicken leg with you”. The Braves just stand at their station, hoping for that BIG 3 run homer to put them ahead. I know the Braves fancy themselves as a clean cut organization, but you don’t actually get charged with “Theft by Taking” when you steal bases. I kinda figured it was Bobby Cox calling the shots, managing in the “Steroid” era, knowing that eventually someone would go deep and put the Bravos in front. But Fredi’s doing it as well. Not ONE brave cracks the top 100 in stolen bases in 2011. Conversely, here are some players in the top 100 so far in 2011. Maybe you remember these guys.
Elvis Andrus – 4
Rick Ankiel – 4
Jeff Francoeur – 3
Wilson Betemit – 3
The Braves have a whopping 5 stolen bases this year (5 guys with one each) and have been caught 8 times (that’s 13 total for you Phillies fans). Sam Fuld of the Tampa Bay Rays has 13 attempts BY HIMSELF and leads the league with 10 stolen bases. But it’s not just stealing bases, it’s being aggressive in their base running. Brian Snitker (Braves 3rd base coach) may be one of the most conservative coaches in the league when sending runners home. I swear I saw him trying to hold up Heyward at third after he hit his homer against the Giants over the weekend. Snitker is way too conservative and I was hoping he’d go away when Gonzalez came to Atlanta. Snitker’s fear of running the Braves out of scoring chances actually makes Atlanta a much less dangerous team. MLB players are great, but not perfect. The Braves need to put pressure on the competition by making them BE perfect. Force them to make the perfect throw, hit the cutoff man accurately, make a split second decision on what base to throw the ball. Make pitchers THINK more when a Brave is on the base paths. Halladay isn’t going to be bothered by it, but make “Sam Slappy, 5th in the rotation” really focus on the runner at 1st. I want that pitcher thinking, “Is that guy going? Hit and run? And who’s up next? That guy’s going to be aggressive too, right? Geez..we’re only up 1 run. I gotta make the perfect pitch”. Then BAM! 2 run homer because he makes a bad pitch. Sounds good to me.
So Braves, do all of us a huge solid and start running more. Go get a drink and loosen up. Let the music flow over you. Let go of your inhibitions. Put down that chicken leg and get on the dance floor. We won’t judge.
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