I absolutely agree, Curt. Also, The Phillies seem to always go through stretches where they rarely lose for weeks at a time. I bet it’s mostly a case of them beating the teams they should beat. Something the Braves rarely do. Maybe that’s a sign of a veteran team, and the Braves not taking advantage of a weaker schedule is a sign of young, inexperienced team that doesn’t know how to bring it everyday and stay focused throughout a 162 game season. I seem to remember a particularly abysmal stretch last year where we lost consecutive series to the Nats and Pirates. We may have even gotten swept by the Buccos. It was late in the year. After we had already blown the 8 game division lead we had on the Phillies, which I believe we had up until late July.
Another thing they mentioned last night on the broadcast was the fact that Lanaan can never beat the Phils but pretty much owns us. He falls into that Livan Hernandez category of pitchers we cannot beat but I’m sure the Phillies crush. There has to be a correlation there also.
I bring it up twice a year or so, but it’s worth repeating. When the Braves ran through the 90’s on their unprecedented stretch, they beat sub .500 teams at a +.650 rate. The last few years, that number has dropped below .500. It’s ok to drop a series here or there to a lesser opponent, but you have to be able to take care of inferior opponents to get to where you want to be. If you lose to the Nats and the Pirates and the Padres year after year there is something wrong with your motivation. You are playing to an opponent instead of playing to win.
If they just win the series against sub .500s they can accomplish what the 90s teams did. It is so frustrating to watch. They don’t bring it as hard because they know they have a weak team on the schedule, but if it’s the Phillies they get jacked and go up there and win the series beating Hamels and Lee. Then you come home and lose to Marquis and Lanaan?
P.S. We miss Infante… so clutch off the bench. so clutch.
One has to wonder why Jason was playing in Spring Training with shoulder soreness? He is obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I wonder if the front office comes down on him a little for letting Brian Jordan be the first to know he has a sore shoulder. DOB’s investigative piece has me thinking this whole thing is pretty absurd. Either he had the injury and didn’t tell anyone or he is using it as an excuse for his struggles. Either way he doesn’t look good.
“They don’t bring it as hard because they know they have a weak team on the schedule”
This is hard for me to buy. Baseball is the most individual sport, and these guys make their paychecks off building their statistics up. It seems more likely the struggle against the Nationals is in the same department as the Braves’s post season struggles: it developed naturally enough (bad luck, among other things) and then got in their heads. Player interviews bear this out; once a negative trend is established, no matter how arbitrarily it was established to begin with, it’s hard to shake it mentally.
By the way, if you subtract the Nats’ games against the Phillies, a team the Nats similarly can’t shake (even above the expected talent difference), the Nats would be 17-13 right now.
I’m as ready as anyone to jump on the team for lack of focus and fire, but in this case, I think it’s just back to back screwy games.
The Royals beat the Yankees
The Blue Jays beat the Red Sox
The White Sox beat the Angels
The Astros beat the Reds
and the Cubs beat the Cardinals
I know this doesn’t negate the Braves playing .500 ball against poor teams in recent history, but I would hesitate to assign this team, which is still finding itself, and has several new impact players from last year, the same mojo as previous ones.
Bub – I agree that the head games play a part of it, but there’s got to some component of “energy” involved, in my opinion. The team must, collectively, be more jazzed up to play the Phillies or a sexy franchise like the Dodgers than the Phillies or the Marlins.
In last night’s game, did you think the following plays lacked energy, focus, or drive?
Prado’s arm twirling around to wave Chipper in on McCann’s 1st inning double?
The fist pumps and high fives in the dugout on this same play?
McCann’s screaming F-Bomb (#500) on a stolen base throw?
Hinske’s full tilt sprint for the right CF catch in the 5th?
Gonzalez’s slammed bat on the strike out in the 6th?
Tommy Hanson’s obvious displeasure at being relieved in the 6th?
Gearrin’s fist pump at striking out the last batter of the 6th?
McCann’s ear-to-ear smile after throwing out the runner at 3rd?
The dugout celebration after Hinske’s late homer?
Chipper Jones screaming F-Bomb after striking out in the 8th?
McCann repeatedly punching Linebrink in the face after the game?
Okay, I made the last one up.
I just think it’s too easy to chalk up losses to personality-based traits. I’m the world’s worst at it. But I didn’t see a lack of effort in these two losses. I saw jumping, diving, hard running, cussing, smiling, fist pumping, and frustration. It would be different if there were a bunch of absent minded baserunning blunders or lack of hustle.
If I went into the first game of the series, I’d start by talking about Freeman’s and Uggla’s great defensive plays, in spite of the costly errors. Etc, etc.
I think the team is trying pretty hard to win these games.
Heyward got cortisone shot today, could be back in a few days. Could pinch-run tonight, but probably won’t swing for 2-3 days while medication takes effect.
GM Frank Wren said, “It’s not serious.”
It’s inflammation in his non-throwing shoulder. It’s been a little sore since he took an awkward swing in spring training, Wren said, but nothing that would keep him out of lineup until a couple of days ago when he probably took a swing that aggravated it. Again, it’s not serious.
Other players on the current roster have similar conditions, be it a shoulder or knee or whatever, on their rundowns on the daily trainer’s report, but Heyward’s got a little worse two days ago.
I’m assuming Nate is referring to the news that Kendrys Morales is going to miss the entire season to have more surgery on the ankle he broke jumping on to home plate after hitting the walk off grand slam early last season. Bub, I think you had some choice words for that idiotic celebration at the time.