The last game of the season today, number 162. Luckily the Braves will have more baseball to play in the coming weeks. Kevin McAlpin tweeted this great pic of Turner Field this morning:
Last night… well, last night the Braves got another taste of how every single play in close games can be huge. We should honestly thank the Phillies for giving the Braves such a good warm up for the competition they’ll face next week.
That slide: I didn’t watch the game last night (thanks DISH!), but there seems to be a mix of opinions as to what got Terry Pendleton so angry that he grabbed Chris Johnson by the jersey in the dugout after the game. Deadspin seemed to think it was because Johnson slid into first base… a stupid move that may have actually cost him the bag, and the Braves the game. Beat writer Mark Bowman reported that the scuffle was because Johnson threw his helmet and it hit Pendleton. Whatever it was Chris is at fault in both cases.
Why do they slide into first: The best explanation I’ve heard as to why players slide into first base is that they think it will trick the umpire into calling them safe because of all the dirt flying everywhere. Of course, that doesn’t work because umpires are trained to watch the ball into the first baseman’s glove and listen for the runner’s foot hitting the bag. When the runner slides into first instead of running through the base the sound the umpire is listening for isn’t there, the ump gets confused, and usually errs on the site of the fielders calling the batter out. Sliding also slows a runner down, so they’re probably costing themselves the bag anyway. It’s a bad play, and hopefully that is what Pendleton was trying to get across.
Angry Chris: I’ve tweeted and written about it some, and the Braves announcers have commented on it, but Chris Johnson’s anger is going to get someone hurt. I appreciate the intensity he plays with, but he’s got to find another way to deal with his frustration rather than throwing equipment. That goes for the whole Braves team, which has been very equipment throwy this year. I’ve actually noticed it a lot less lately, so I wonder if Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves coaches have been trying to put a stop to it. They would also explain Pendleton’s anger after the game.
Need some help Chicago: The Braves are one game behind the Cardinals for home field advantage. If the Cubs can beat their rival the Cardinals today, and the Braves can best the Phillies, then Atlanta will win home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. It actually isn’t as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be, since it really only affects the Braves if they play the Cardinals in the NLCS. If the standings stay the way they are now, the Braves will have home field advantage against the Dodgers in the first round, starting this Thursday at Turner Field. If the Cards lose and the Braves win today, then Atlanta will play the Wild Card winner on Thursday at the Ted. Over in the American League I’m rooting for the three-way.