Posts Tagged ‘New York Mets

03
Mar
10

Braves young guns impress in grapefruit league opener

It’s no secret that Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson are being touted as the future stalwarts of the Atlanta Braves.

In Tuesday’s 4-2 Grapefruit League opening loss to the New York Mets, the young guns lived up to the billing.

Making his spring debut, Major League Baseball’s top prospect made an immediate impact in his 4 1/2 innings of work.

Heyward reached base in all three of his plate appearances and finished the day with a hit, two walks, and a stolen base.

Not too shabby for the 20-year-old whiz kid who hopes to win a starting job in the Braves outfield this season.

Hanson, last season’s rookie sensation, picked up right where he left off. The 23-year-old phenom struck out three batters over two scoreless innings.

Kris Medlen succeeded Hanson and was equally as impressive, throwing up zeros in his two innings of work. Medlen departed with the Braves leading 1-0 after four innings.

The wheels came off when the Mets line-up tagged new Brave Jesse Chavez for three runs in the fifth, which proved too costly for Atlanta to overcome.

Despite the loss, the talk after the game centered around Heyward and Hanson’s performances.

Hanson continues to lend credence to the belief that he will one day anchor Atlanta’s rotation, and be the ace of the staff for years to come.

The hype around Heyward has been astounding, but the 6 foot 5 245 pounder has a lethal combination of skills that make him truly special.

While his power and high on base percentage set him apart from other young hitting prospects, it is the level of poise and maturity he’s already displayed that leaves no doubt that this kid will one day be a bonafide superstar.

It’s just a matter of when.

Offensively, Heyward appears ready. If he can impress Cox with his defense this spring, the Braves’ next “Chosen One” may begin his reign in Atlanta this April.

Stay tuned…

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12
Feb
10

Tom Glavine officially retires to join Braves front office

After 22 iconic years, Atlanta Braves legendary ace Tom Glavine has officially called it a career.

But, while Glavine closed the books on his Hall of Fame worthy playing days, he announced he’s set to embark on a new endeavor with the Braves.

Glavine’s retirement yesterday came at the same time as his introduction as the newest member of the Braves’ broadcast team and a special assistant to team president John Schuerholz.

The 305-game winner’s tasks will include front-office work, some Braves radio and TV broadcasting, and also some on-field coaching at spring training and in the minor leagues.

In his new flexible role with the club, Glavine will assist Schuerholz and GM Frank Wren on various business projects while helping with the development and analysis of Major and Minor League talent.

Glavine’s latest reunion with the Braves seems to cement the end of a storied yet stormy past between the two.

You could relate Tom Glavine’s relationship with the Atlanta Braves to a complicated marriage.

Glavine spent 16 esteemed years with the Braves, where he was a 10-time All-Star and went on to win 12 consecutive division titles, two Cy Young Awards, and one World Championship with World Series MVP honors as the cherry on top.

Then, came the messy split heard ’round the world.

After the 2002 season, much to the shock and chagrin of Braves loyalists and team officials, Glavine departed for the rival New York Mets.

And, it was ugly.

Glavine and then-GM John Schuerholz engaged in a very public war of words. Glavine openly bashed the Braves, which didn’t sit kindly with Atlanta’s very private general manager.

It was a classic case of “he-said/he-said” with Schuerholz even recounting the heated negotiations between the club and Glavine in his book, Built to Win.

On the surface, it appeared the Braves and Glavine would never reconcile.

Then, after five underwhelming years with the Mets, the seemingly impossible happened.

The Braves and Glavine reached out to each other and mended fences.

In Nov. 2007, new GM Frank Wren brought Glavine back to the organization that made him one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.

But, the fairytale reunion was short-lived.

On Apr. 18, 2008, Glavine was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his remarkable career.

Glavine struggled to regain his form and health that season, but worked out a deal to return to the Braves on a one-year contract in 2009.

But, the return was never to be.

The Braves unceremoniously released Glavine on June 3, 2009, while the southpaw was finishing his rehabilitation, just five days before his scheduled June 7 season debut.

Glavine ripped the front office again, and this time it seemed their relationship hadn’t just soured, but that it had been irreparably damaged for good.

The two sides didn’t speak until Thanksgiving when Schuerholz reached out to Glavine to apologize for the way the team handled his release.

Ultimately, the two set aside their differences and realized for all their bickering, they’ve always shared the same common ground—their great love for the Braves.

You could liken Glavine’s past bitterness towards his bosses to that of a partner scorned.

He sometimes felt undervalued and underappreciated by the Braves, lashing out not once but twice.

But, it was not out of hatred, it was out of hurt.

For their part, the Braves knew Glavine’s face was the one associated with the franchise’s success during their dynasty years, but they were the stubborn half of the pair who didn’t want to give in to their often high maintenance star’s demands.

In the end, the two came full circle.

Their relationship wasn’t the prettiest or the smoothest, but it was one that endured.

It was the union that would bend, and bend some more, but never broke.

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17
Jul
09

A tribute to an icon… Greg Maddux to be inducted into Braves Hall of Fame.

Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux

Many people have asked me what was the inspiration or driving force behind my choice to pursue a degree and profession in sports journalism?

It began with my love of writing. Journalism was my craft.

My career path’s journey veered toward sports with my passion for Braves baseball, which was due largely to one man… one man so superhuman, so awe-inspiring, so talented and gifted, that I knew his kind did not come around often.

That man was Greg Maddux. Pitching was his craft.

And tonight, before the Braves take on the division rival New York Mets at Turner Field, Maddux is being so rightfully and deservingly inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame. The team will also retire his jersey number 31.

I’m only 25 years old but today I feel my age.

This is because I remember so vividly the day, December 9, 1992, the Braves shocked the baseball world and announced that they had won the heated pursuit of the free agent reigning National League Cy Young Award Winner.

For the Braves, and former General Manager John Schuerholz, to give a free agent a five-year contract, the significance and magnitude of this signing would resonate for years to come.

Greg Maddux went on to win three more consecutive National League Cy Young Awards with the Braves, becoming the first of only two pitchers, Randy Johnson being the second, in history to ever win the coveted award four years in a row.

I knew I was witnessing history every time Mad Dog stepped on the mound.

One year in the particular is really engrained in my memory.

I was in Philadelphia during the 1995 season, watching Maddux’s pre-game bullpen session, as I always had every time I had seen him pitch live before.

But this time was different.

Maddux had an ungodly ERA and was trying to become one of the select pitchers in history to accomplish the feat of finishing a season with an ERA under the 2.00 mark. (He did, of course, finishing the ’05 season with a 1.63 ERA.)

This moment was significant to me because it was then that it officially clicked in my mind… I was in the presence of greatness.

A greatness that sports fans can only read about in the history books and wish they could have been able to personally witness.

Not only did I get to live in an era that produced arguably the greatest pitcher of our generation in Greg Maddux, but I was afforded the great honor and privilege to see him pitch first-hand every five days for the 11 years he donned an Atlanta Braves uniform.

That’s quite an embarrassment of riches. And, I knew it.

But, I never once took it for granted, which is not something I can say is true of my time as a Braves fan.

During the Braves unprecedented run of fourteen consecutive division titles, I honestly believed it would never end. As sure as the sun would be shining every morning, I was convinced there wouldn’t be an October that didn’t include the Atlanta Braves.

Call it wishful thinking; call it a confident swagger, but playoff baseball and the Braves, to me, were one in the same. Obviously, my thought process was absurd. Everything comes to an end in sports, even the most remarkable of streaks.

But the one thing I knew for certainty that would end was the Greg Maddux Era. That is why I tried to make it a point to never miss one start, one interview, or one chance to see him live and in person.

And, I didn’t.

It is because of Greg Maddux that I will always prefer a good pitcher’s duel to a slugfest.

It is because of Greg Maddux that I will forever respect finesse pitchers and have a deep appreciation for the art of control. He wasn’t flashy. His stuff wasn’t overpowering. But, he was as accurate as any pitcher to ever play the game.

It is because of Greg Maddux that I’ve become thirsty for an even greater knowledge of the game. They called him “The Professor” at times. Not just because of the glasses he would sport off the field but for the great intellect and insight he would provide on the game of baseball. He was more then a teacher and mentor, he was a true strategist, just a fountain of knowledge that one could only hope to begin to tap. Some called him the smartest pitcher they’ve ever seen. I’d have to agree.

It is because of Greg Maddux that my faith in iconic baseball figures is not completely shattered. Growing up in the “Steroid Era” and watching so many big names fall victim to the juice, I take even greater pride knowing that Maddux played the game the right way—cleanly, and with integrity and class. His numbers always spoke for themselves but with the likes of Roger Clemens, whose records are now tarnished with the all too familiar asterisk next to them, it elevates Maddux to an even greater level.

His legacy is now cemented in the history books.

While it was sad for me personally to watch Maddux leave the Braves and go on to win his 300th game in a Chicago Cubs uniform, before then finishing his career out west, I do feel his benchmark years were those spent in Atlanta.

Today’s induction in the Braves Hall of Fame is only the beginning.

The greatest culmination of his career comes later… when he is inducted into Cooperstown.

Greg Maddux, the 4-time Cy Young winner.

Greg Maddux, the 8-time All-Star.

Greg Maddux, the record 18-time Gold Glover.

Greg Maddux, the 300-game winner.

All of those accomplishments are remarkable but can’t compare to the ultimate: Greg Maddux, the World Champion.

That last feat, which came when he was a member of the Braves in 1995, is why I know Greg Maddux will go into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame as an Atlanta Brave.

That would be the final and only fitting ending to an illustrious career.

Greg Maddux was a master of his craft and if I can be half the journalist that he was pitcher, then my career path was indeed the chosen one.

12
May
09

D-Lowe defeats Santana, division rival Mets…

Derek Lowe

Derek Lowe

The New York Mets were riding a 7-game winning streak with ace Johan Santana on the hill against their NL East rival Braves at brand spanking new Citi Field.

On the surface, they had to like their chances.

Problem is the Braves themselves are just hitting their stride, enjoying a 5-1 road trip thus far against divisional opponents, moving Atlanta to within 1 1/2 games of first place in the East.

And, despite being arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Santana seems to play the role of hard luck loser against the Braves. Atlanta is the only one of the 28 teams he’s faced that he has not yet gotten a victory.

That trend continued Monday night.

Derek Lowe set the tone for the Braves, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 2/3 solid innings of baseball, enroute to his team’s 8-3 trouncing of the Mets.

Lowe was credited with his fourth consecutive win, improving to 5-1 on the year, while Santana dropped to 0-4 in six career starts against Atlanta.

Santana again found himself a victim of bad luck.

Despite suffering the loss, he still saw his National League best ERA drop to 0.78, allowing only two unearned runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings before watching his bullpen self-destruct.

Matt Diaz led the charge for the Braves offense, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and two hits against Santana, raising his batting average to .556 against the Mets lefty.

Yunel Escobar also had three hits on the night and Casey Kotchman hit two consecutive singles, helping the Bravos blow the game wide open.

With a win tonight, Atlanta can guarantee themselves another series win.




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