Friday, October 14, 2005 

SUNDOWN: ARIZONA Returns To Newsarama

With the impending release of issue #2, I went and pimped me out some SUNDOWN a little more. Click here for the press release on ish 2, along with some preview pages from new artist Jason Ossman.

And for those of you who are visiting here for the first time FROM that Newsarama article, welcome. Stay a spell. Grab yourself a beer. Don't cost nothin'.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 

Bits & Pieces

--Finished up a couple solid books lately--Jimmy Buffett's A Salty Piece of Land and Tim Dorsey's Torpedo Juice. More comprehensive reviews on 'em both soon.

--Adebisi's back, and on Lost! Don't know who Adebisi is? Go back and watch the first few seasons of HBO's Oz...he makes Sawyer look like a second-grade bully. So far, Lost hasn't disappointed--it's got whipsaw plot twists and just enough character development to keep things interesting without getting lost in some ponderous wannabe depth. Well worth watching.

--Yeah, the Braves are out of the playoffs, but so are the Red Sox AND the Yankees. Makes me smile through my tears.

Sunday, October 09, 2005 

Braves Vs. Astros: Urk.

So another Braves season ends too soon. Yes, this is getting old; yes, this sucks; yes, something is just...wrong about the way Atlanta can't get it together to win another title. That said, let's just cap off the season with a few points:

--The failure in this series was the bullpen's fault, plain and simple. Cox couldn't have managed any better; the Braves put together clutch hits (for the most part--though leaving 16 men on base today kind of sucked); the starting pitching at least kept them close for every series. But, Jesus--to give up a grand slam AND a game-tying, bottom-of-the-ninth-and-two-outs home run in back-to-back innings? Come on. No excuse at all for that kind of incompetence. And the Braves need to understand that losing this badly, in this foolish a fashion, just makes it that much harder for them to get credibility back in the eyes of many of their fans, who assume they're nothing but a bunch of choking losers.

--I'm not one of those fans, by the way. There are a million ways to lose a baseball game (and Atlanta seems hellbent on figuring out every way possible in October)--but do you think for a second that the fans in Philly and Cleveland (choked their way out of the postseason in the season's final weekend), Baltimore (barely sniffed the playoffs once in the last decade), Wrigley Field (thought Prior-Wood-Maddux was going to lock up titles from 2004-2010), or Pittsburgh (haven't even cracked .500 in a SEASON since before CLINTON was elected!) feel the least bit sorry for Atlanta? Nope. Gotta be in it to win it--and I'll take a hundred division flags if I know going into every single season that my team's going to be playing in October.

--Also, the five-game division series is just bullshit. There's no logical or logistical rationale behind it. In football, the first round of the playoffs isn't a three-quarter game. Basketball is seven-game series from the moment the regular season ends. Give each series time to breathe. I'm certain that plenty of fans in Boston and (God willing) New York feel the same way now.

--Houston isn't a great ballclub, but they're an opportunistic one, and a freakin' lucky one at that. I played a tennis match yesterday where the other guys weren't any more talented than we were; they just happened to get all the lucky bounces--I'd smash an overhead; they'd cower behind their racket; the ball would ding off their frame and dribble onto my side of the net for their point. They kept getting away with these lucky shots over and over until we'd dug ourselves into a hole we couldn't climb out of. Same thing happened too many times with Atlanta; they have to accept that teams are going to put runs on the board, but get a solid enough bullpen that teams don't score in clown-car-loads.

--And by the way, that stupid "Crawford Box" left field fence in Houston is so close that a well-placed bunt could leave the ballpark. Not an excuse, but still--anywhere south of Fenway, and Berkman's grand slam is a harmless fly ball.

--Finally, let's all remember that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Atlanta. No way does any other manager in baseball get 18 rookies to put his team in the postseason. So get off Cox's butt, and if Schuerholz can land a couple solid middle relievers, lay off him too. We need to hang onto Francoeur, Langerhans, and McCann for dear life, send Devine and Farnsworth to Mexico for the winter to mow down cheap competition and get their heads back on straight, and then come back in March ready to--yep, once again--make the run for the postseason.

Now, who's ready for some Hawks basketball?



Friday, October 07, 2005 

NLDS Game 2--That's More Like It

Or maybe "McCann-Do." (I bet that's the ESPN headline.) This might have been the most important non-elimination Braves game in almost a decade, and the Braves came up huge. Everything went right here--starting pitching, relief pitching, clutch hitting--these are the kinds of games that make you think this team might just be something special. Good signs: the rookies all got hits (even Francoeur, who at this point would swing if the pitcher threw over to first), Smoltz didn't throw a whole lot of pitches, and Reitsma kept his head and knocked the 'stros down in the eighth. Key play of the game--Chipper Jones' diving save of a Biggio screamer in the seventh. Sure, Atlanta was up four, but Smoltz was out of gas, and if that gets through, one run's in and the bullpen--shakier than a meth addict three days clean--has to come in to "clean up" the mess. Not a comforting thought. Every year since 1995, that ball gets through and things get ugly. This year...

Okay, enough speculating. On to Houston.


Don't Go Jumping Onto I-285...

...but don't go planning any parades, either. I think I'd qualify as a Braves fanatic. I've followed the team my whole life. Hell, I kind of work for them now, as a regular columnist for the magazine ChopTalk. I don't live and die by my team, but I damn sure have a happier day when they win. And I've spent most of the past 15 Octobers cheering, rooting, praying, and finally taking The Walk. The Walk, through the dark streets of my neighborhood, is my calming time, the thing that stands between me and homicide every year the Braves fail in the postseason. (Back in '92, I punched a bar wall and nearly broke my hand, so I'm improving.) I spend the entire walk dissecting the last game, the playoffs, the season...and by the time I get home, I've gotten all my fury out and I'm ready for basketball season.

Sometimes those Walks take a looooong time.

Anyway, every year I go into the postseason hoping that this won't be the October that ends with a Walk, that this year I can watch the final outs and then head out somewhere for a few dozen celebratory beers.

And every year, the Braves lead off with a godawful crapfest of a game like they played today, getting walloped (as I write this) 10-3 by the Astros. Getting 10 runs scored on you by the Astros is like having Clay Aiken bitch-slap you. There was the usual Braves playoff trademark--batting-practice-style relief pitching--though it was good to see some energy and some power out of the lineup this year.

Thing is, everybody outside of Atlanta loves to giggle about how sorry the Braves fans are for not showing up in the Division Series. Friends, THIS is why. Every year, the Braves say it's going to be different, and every year they make meek little Queen Elizabeth-style waves as a different pitcher--Livan Hernandez, Sterling Hitchcock, Robb Nen, and on and on and on--makes 'em sit like contestants in the Westminster Dog Show. There are only so many times that you'll go to a subpar restaurant, that you'll buy a band's one-good-song CDs, that you'll hit on a chick that doesn't deliver...the Braves wouldn't put up with a player who failed to deliver in the clutch for thirteen years, so why should the fans?

Tomorrow night, the Braves face what might be one of the most important non-elimination games in recent history. If they go down 0-2, if they show that the players change but the culture of close-but-not-quite doesn't, they're going to have a hard time convincing anybody of their championship legitimacy anytime soon.

So kick some Astro ass, willya, Atlanta?


Jay Busbee runs Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR Blog From The Marbles, Atlanta Magazine's Atlanta sports blog Right Down Peachtree, and the Southern sports/humor blog Sports Gone South. He also writes for damn near anybody who'll throw him a buck and a byline, and he's at work on the books The Quiet Dynasty: The History Of The Atlanta Braves' Championship Run (2009, Sports Publishing LLC) and God Is A Bulldog: Georgia, Florida, And The Greatest Play In College Football History (2010, Sports Publishing LLC). Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.
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