Indeed Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz are together again, but this time they are somewhat looking over Turner Field. The three men so often heard in the same breath, now have their numbers hanging high above left field along side their longtime manager Bobby Cox. Maddux was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2009, followed by Glavine in 2010, and Cox in 2011. Tonight, however was all about John Smoltz, who on the other hand looked at it in reverse. » Continue reading “Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz, Together Again”
Most people don’t hope they get to work on their 40th birthday, unless you are a major league third baseman who has undergone multiple surgeries, and have decided this is the last go around. That is where Chipper Jones stands as he makes his farewell tour around the league. As those of us who have been used to having Larry Wayne around take a look at the tributes in “enemy territory”, it becomes clear that he is kind of a big deal outside of Atlanta too.
Do not get me wrong, Chipper is not beloved around the league for a multitude of reasons, » Continue reading “Well Played Chipper: Love Him or Hate Him, You Have to Respect Him on the Field…”
20 years after the Atlanta Braves made their worst to first run, I was able to get some insight from the guys who lived it. They may not be in quite as good of shape as they once were, but we will just blame that on the August Georgia heat. (That goes for my hair as well. Thank goodness you do not have smellevision!)
Some days it is hard for me to call what I do work, and this ballpark brat had a weekend full of work that would be once in a lifetime play for a lot of people. With the help of Paul Bodi’s photos, it is show and tell time from Braves Alumni Weekend, the 1991 Worst to First Reunion, and #BravesBash!
Hall of Famer Phil Niekro made it very clear that you cannot not throw a knuckle ball pitching a softball underhanded. As the Knuckleballer explained he was not wearing a pink skirt, and therefore had no desire to play softball. Niekro pulled out the big guns for the Legends vs the 1991 Braves Worst to First team using his glove from his 300th win.
Mark Lemke could not believe it had been 20 years since the legendary run began. As he celebrated his birthday with old friends, you would not know that some of them had only seen each a handful of times since.
One big difference from 1991 for Lemke is he is now Leo Mazzone’s co-worker at 680 the Fan. Uncle Leo as he is so often referred to at the station, happy guy, but be around the old team, he was glowing!
David Justice is still David Justice- a rock star. » Continue reading “I Swear I Really Was Working All Weekend!”
As I tweeted last night, short of someone giving birth in the Suntrust seats, I don’t think much more could have happened in and around the Braves/Cubs game! I stepped away from writing because something felt very irreverent to include that statement in a story that includes the passing of one Braves legend on the night that honors another. Then I thought that Ernie may get a chuckle out of the irony upon irony of this night as he kicks back with a Manhattan and a long lost friend. After all, if ever you want to see a snapshot of the circle of life, August 12, 2011 is a date to look to -MLB style.
Ernie Johnson, Sr was the Braves to many, and although bittersweet, it is fitting that he would pass on the night honoring a man who he admired and supported for so many years. To add to the significance of the day, August 12th would have been his long time partner Skip Carey’s 72nd birthday. Johnson wanted to be at the ceremonies inducting Bobby Cox into the Braves Hall of Fame and the retirement of his number, and from the inexplicable feeling at Turner Field, he was.
The sad news of Ernie’s passing was not known during the retirement ceremony of #6, which is the way Ernie would have wanted it even if the man being honored would have gladly showed the spotlight. Respect was the theme echoed from everyone present. The words of John Smoltz seemed to ring true to many people when he said that a short time with Bobby Cox could change a career, but 20 years with him changed his life. Cox joined Tom Glavine, (47) Greg Maddux (31), Hank Aaron (44), Eddie Mathews (41), Dale Murphy (3), Phil Niekro (35) and Warren Spahn (21) as the only Braves to have their numbers retired.
Now that we have taken a sappy road down memory lane, let’s continue around the circle to the present. Dan Uggla put to rest the “will he/won’t he” drama early by continuing his streak in grand fashion. Uggla hit the first of two home runs in his first at bat. Carlos Zambrano showed he was not impressed with Uggla’s accomplishments and 3 for 3 night by plunking him in the hip. Chipper Jones retaliated in the best possible way- he followed Uggla with a three run shot. This seemed to stir the big man, but Uggla hitting his second home run following a Freddie Freeman shot sent Z over the edge. The first pitch Chipper saw buzzed by nearly hitting him. To add insult to injury, Zambrano once again tried to hit Chipper with the very next pitch, but failed to find his target. As the Atlanta bench cleared, the home plate umpire decided it was time for big Z to take a shower to cool his temper.
Zambrano took his ejection a step further by cleaning out his locker, taking his name plate, and telling the trainer he was retired. No word yet on how Zambrano got back to the hotel. If you have ever been in Turner Field traffic on a sell out night, you know cabs are hard to find. Who knows, maybe he took the MARTA shuttle back to the team hotel!
Also responsible for Zambrano’s bad mood was speedster and number 8 hitter Jose “Georgie” Constanza (who seems to be living in bizzaro world). Georgie hit another home run and maintained his .408 batting average.
Yes, it was indeed an unforgettable night at Turner Field, and maybe, just maybe that magic can carry the Braves on through the post season. One thing is for certain, there are two old friends raising their glasses for a job well done, and doing all they can to make sure the party continues!
The Braves honor a legend tonight by retiring Bobby Cox’s #6, and it looks a little like a homecoming weekend. In addition to the retirement ceremony, Atlanta honors the 1991 “Worst to First” team. As nice as all the events surrounding Alumni Weekend, that really was not what I was referring to as homecoming weekend. It seems as if the Braves hand picked one of the worst teams in baseball as their opponent for the festivities. As bad as the Cubs are, my fear is the Braves may overlook them with the commotion. » Continue reading “It’s the Cubs- They Will Find a Way to Screw Up….Right?”
Sometimes you’re the ball.Â Yes, Dire Straits summed up life and the Braves season in one line.Â AtlantaÂ entered the 2011 with great expectations of big bats and an abundance of pitching, but for much the first month of the season, the Braves were the ball!
Louisville Slugger: Julio Tehran makes his major league debut in a spot start against the Phillies.Â He is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA at Class AAA Gwinnett with 25 strikeouts and eight walks in 30 innings this season.Â Teheran is Baseball America’s No. 5 overall prospect in the minors.Â He was also the International League’s Pitcher of the Week after posting a pair of wins and striking out 14.
Ball: Teheran’s stay with the big club is set to be short lived, and he is scheduled to go back to Gwinnett after the appearance.
Louisville Slugger: Nate McLouth has hit .357 (20-for-56) with an OBP of .471, OPS of 1.025 in 15 games.Â These stats include 11-for-22 with 2 home runs, 7 walks,and an OBP of .621 OBP in 7 games.
Ball: Although, even before this hot streak McLouth was fourth in batting average, he was berated by fans for lack of production.Â The truth is, nobody was producing, and Nate was an easy target because of his 2010 season.
Louisville Slugger:Â The Braves pitching staff has complete games from Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrgens.Â Brandon Beachy, who many “experts” scoffed at being Fredi Gonzalez’s choice, is pitching like a seasoned veteran.Â Derek Lowe pitched a no hitter through 7 innings against Philadelphia before having to leave with a blister on his foot.Â Johnny Venters stepped in with two runners on base and struck out three straight batters.Â Tommy Hanson has learned to settle in and battle back when hit early.Â To sum it up, the pitching is coming together.
Ball: Roger McDowell has been suspended for two weeks for inflammatory remarks made toward fans in San Francisco.Â Derek Lowe was arrested for racing and DUI.Â Peter Moylan has been on the disabled list and will likely require surgery leaving a gaping hole in the pen.Â Jair Jurrgens also spent time on the DL already.Â AAA pitcher Stephen Marek, who was expected to be to be called up at some point this season, now requires Tommy John surgery.
Louisville Slugger: Fredi Gonzalez has his team on a hot streak having won every game in May.Â He has made adjustments, and has played the hand he has been dealt with a cool head.
Ball:Â Every move Fredi makes is compared to Bobby Cox- often times by people who complained Cox stuck around the game too long in the first place.Â Some fans going so far to call for his job in April.
Louisville Slugger: Jason Heyward started off 2011 the same way he started 2010, with a home run in his first at bat.Â He now has 7 for the season.
Ball: Heyward is batting .239, and has the critics rumbling of sophomore slump.
Louisville Slugger: Tim Hudson has been the glue that has held the Braves together through the rocky start. and he seems to be getting better with age, if that is possible.
Ball: Hudson has yet to get a hit in 2011.
Louisville Slugger: Chipper Jones has not played like someone on his way out.Â This 39 year old has reached 2500 hits, 1500 RBI, and pased Micky Mantle for all time RBI by a switch hitter.Â Chipper still strikes fear in pitchers across the league.
Ball: Even as the slugger, I am sure most mornings he fells like the ball!
There are good days and bad days, and as much as we love this game, it can be all too cruel at times.Â The Braves are on fire right now, and let’s hope that continues.Â Rest assured, in a season this long, there will be more days that they are the ball.Â Buckle in for a wild ride!
In a sports week that has us talking more about the court proceedings of the NFL than of Thursday’s draft, a once beloved college coach dodging responsibility for NCAA violations, and Major League Baseball taking over one of its most storied franchises, it would be easy to forget why we care in the first place.Â I keep my reminder on the right hand side of the page in the form of a thank you note to my grandfathers.Â Sometimes, we all need to be reminded there is more to sports than wins and losses, dollars and cents, and courtrooms and violations.Â We all have our own reasons why and stories of how we came to love our teams.Â Hopefully, Paul’s story will remind you of yours.
On Saturday, August 13th the Atlanta Braves will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1991 team that went worst to first. That 1991 season has a special place in my heart as I started my first season as an Atlanta Braves bat boy. My bat boy career started in 1991 and ended after the 1997 season. As a baseball fan growing up it was a dream come true to be a part of a Major League Baseball team. My day would start early in the afternoon before any of the players would arrive at the stadium. Myself and the other bat boys would make sure they players had a clean uniform hanging in their lockers along with clean shoes and other game equipment was ready for the players when they arrived at their lockers in the clubhouse.
Early afternoon was my favorite time because I was able to be on the field during the Braves batting practice. This was a great experience for me, as a young kid growing up and playing in little league games and those backyard catches with my dad, now I was on a major league field with major league baseball players. Just being on the same field with some of my childhood heroes was amazing, and then having the opportunity to play catch with them along with catching balls in the outfield during batting practice was awesome.
After batting practice was over, myself and the other bat boys would get the dugout ready for the game. We made sure all the batting helmets were in the right place, the bats were in the racks in batting lineup order, and all the catching gear was in the right spot.Â One of the highlights of my day was being able to put on a major league uniform and then walking onto the field for a major league baseball game. There is no better feeling in the world as a kid growing up and loving the great game of baseball.
Early in the 1991 season myself and the other two bat boys would rotate positions on the field. One night I would pick up foul balls behind home plate and run balls to the umpire when he would run out. The next night I picked up the bats after the players hit the ball. I was able to sit in the dugout while the visiting team batted. Just to listen to all the strategy going on during the games while in the dugout was just priceless. The third spot in the rotation was sitting down the right field line. This spot had two duties, catching foul balls hit down the line, and standing in front of the catcher and protecting him while a relief pitcher warmed up. This spot soon became my favorite spot on the field. Midway through the season myself and the other two bat boys agreed to make our positions permanent on the field. I was now the right field ball boy by the Braves bullpen in old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. I really enjoyed this spot, I could sit on the field and watch the game, and also the relief pitchers sat in the bullpen right where I sat. They really made me feel part of the team early on and that continued all the way to the end of my career.
I was fortunate enough to experience 4 World Series (1991,1992,1995,1996) and 6 years of playoff baseball (1991,1992,1993,1995,1996,1997). The 1995 World Championship was the ultimate highlight, being able to run on the field after Marquis Grissom caught the last out in game 6. During the 1995 Braves World Series Parade I was fortunate enough to be able to ride on the fire truck with Javy Lopez and Eddie Perez through the streets of downtown Atlanta while all of the fans cheered and did the tomahawk chop. Some of the other highlights of my bat boy career included being on the field the night Francisco Cabrera got that game winning hit in the 1992 NLCS Game 7. After Sid Bream slid safely into home, it was a sprint from the right field line to home plate where the rest of the team had gathered in celebration. That game was recently voted the 4th best game in baseball history over the last 50 years on the MLB Network. To cap off my career I was able to work the first year of Turner Field in 1997, there is nothing better than being a part of the first game in a new stadium.
I have many lifetime memories of my time with the Atlanta Braves that I will never forget. Truly one of the greatest experiences in my lifetime.
My name is Paul Bodi and I was an Atlanta Braves bat boy from 1991-1997. I can be followed on twitter @PAULBB21