Charlie Hustle

Pete Rose….the name brings a mixed bag of emotions. He compromised the integrity of our national past time, and that is not something that we will take kindly too. But you gotta respect him, the man had more hits than anybody in history with 4256. The closest active player is Derek Jeter who falls at 20th on the list with 3088 hits. After that you cant find another active player on the list till Pudge at 44th. People arent exactly busting down the door to Rose’s record.

I cant start a paragraph about Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame debate without first referring to another blog. I have had an opinion on this issue for a while now and I must say the famous Dale Murphy (yes the former Brave) beat me to the punch. I am a reader of “Murph Talks” which is Dale’s blog and some time ago he wrote his opinion on Pete, Which sums up much of my opinions on the matter. The blog can be found here

The Hall of Fame brings up a very interesting debate when it comes to controversial figures in the game. Mark Mcgwire and Barry Bonds rewrote the record books during the early part of my life time. They were both on the juice. The fact is they boosted their abilities past the capacity of others by simply taking a drug. IT IS CHEATING. This I can totally agree with. But how do we handle these figures and the Hall of Fame? Do we view the hall as a privilege, thus taking it away from these people who have tarnished our game? Or do we accept the steroid era as just a time period in the evolution of our game and acknowledge all these accomplishments with inductions into the hall? Or do we put these controversial people in the Hall with large asterisks next to the little paragraph describing their career?

I guess my opinion is a mix of these, and it all starts with how you look at the Hall of Fame. First of all I want to point out that it is not called the “Hall of the Most Honest, Honorable, and Noble Players to Ever Live.” It is simply called the Hall of Fame. (I am about to define the word Fame…. cliche move I know, but forgive me in advance) Fame is “The condition of being known or talked about by many people, especially on the account of notable achievements”. I would say people like McGwire, Bonds, and Rose are pretty well known and talked about, and certainly each has great achievements.

BUT I know what your going to say, The Hall is an honor and a privilege and these people DONT DESERVE IT! I agree that being in the Hall is an honor, but maybe for a different reason than you think. To me the Hall of Fame exist to tell the story of the game of baseball. The greatest players to ever play are memorialized there BECAUSE they are part of that story. It is a huge honor to be a part of that story, but if you are telling me that Rose, Mcgwire, Bonds etc are not part of the story of Baseball then you are kidding yourself. I will never forget staying up as a child to see McGwire go toe to toe with Sosa or Bonds hit bomb after bomb into the bay. They were on steroids at the time, but it captivated our game and our country none the less.

What I am proposing is a Hall of Fame that tells the complete story of our game. From the Negro Leagues to the Steroid Era, it has all shaped baseball into what it is today. I dont believe that many people would pass the bronze busts of these controversial figures without talking about steroids, gambling, corked bats, whatever the issue was. Putting them in the Hall does not take away what they have done and all of the sudden shine this “Special Hall of Fame Holier Than Thou” light on these figures! Fans of the game will still be aware of not only their accomplishments, but also their controversial aspects as well.

I am just simply not a fan of censoring the history of baseball. I can picture myself taking my hypothetical son to Cooperstown one day. I could see myself strolling past Barry Bonds and saying “Man son, I wish you could have seen his swing. He was a picture of efficiency in a swing. But, he was part of the Mitchell Report, he did use steroids. What a shame, but man what a swing!.” Walking by Pete Rose I would point to that number next to him and explain to my son why the man with more hits than anyone to ever play was banned from the game for life. I would hope my son  would take this information and form his own opinion. He would learn from the past. He would see where our game came from and how it evolved into what it is, which will surely be different for my children than it is now. What I do not want is to take my son and simply walk through saying “Oh yeah, the players that I was staying up at night to watch when I was your age aren’t in here, it captivated everyone I knew, but those years have been censored out.”

Lets tell the whole story. I look at the Hall of Fame as a place for this story to unfold. Its a place where the great and honest can be memorialized as great and honest, and the controversial can be remembered for just that. I think Dale Murphy is right, the fact that Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame for everyone to remember may say more about US at this point then it does about him. Lets not censor the story of Baseball with our pride. Its a beautiful story, lets tell it all.





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Learning Lessons

The drama unfolding before our eyes over the last few days at Penn State has put a damper on the enthusiasm of the sports world and is still weighing heavy on the hearts of many of us. It is a sobering reminder that sometimes the world we live in can be a sick and twisted place. It reminds us that sometimes good people get caught up in bad things and make mistakes. I asked my brother about the situation today he quoted a sign he had seen and I think it said it best, “When good men fail to act, evil will prevail.”

JoePa is a legend. It is hard to argue many men as better coaches than he is. Before this week it was hard to argue many men as a better man than Paterno. Most people have very defined opinions on this, either Joe Pa deserved to be fired (some say he should even be prosecuted) or hes a legend that is being targeted and should have never lost his job. My opinions are slammed right in the middle of all these opinions, and im stuck trying to figure out why. (Lets be honest for those of you who know me I am RARELY lacking an opinion on anything). But I think I may have decided on where I stand.

What hurts the worst about all this? Obviously its the victims, these boys who are now grown men will struggle with this for the rest of their lives. It wont go away and it will most likely never be completely healed. Some of them may be relieved to talk about all this, however they will soon probably be dragged into the media spotlight, a place where nobody in this circumstance deserves to be. Jerry Sandusky has scarred these young men for life, and will probably pay for it with most of, if not all of his remaining years in prison. We can not do much for these men besides pray for healing for both them and Sandusky, maybe that is what hurts the most.

What hurts as sports fans? We will not get to see JoePa carried off the field as the best to ever live. JoePa made a mistake. He simply did what was legally necessary and nothing else. I could try to justify his these actions with several points. Jerry Sandusky was his friend. He might have been hoping that the situation would be handled discretely and save the reputation of the school and students that he had dedicated so much of his time and love too. He tried to stay out of it by doing what he was required to do and leaving it alone. Do I think any of this justifies the fact he did not push someone into acting on this? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But I can see this from JoePa’s point of view.

He made a mistake and mistakes have consequences. I KNOW what your going to say. Ben, this mistake involved sexually harassing children and that makes it the worst mistake you can make. See that is not the mistake he made. He did not commit these acts against children. His mistake was convincing himself that he had done enough. Put yourself in JoePa’s shoes. Your told by a graduate assistant that he has witnessed these actions, and immediately you are scared. Scared for the children, scared for your friend Jerry Sandusky, and scared for the program you love so much. You go to the Athletic Director and tell him, which is probably exactly what your told to do in a situation like this. (some say he even went to the head of campus security but I have not verified this). After you have taken these steps it would be VERY easy to make the mistake of telling yourself that you have done enough. You fall asleep at night telling yourself over and over that this situation is in the right hands and it will be handled accordingly. You pray that it will be handled as well as possible. Suddenly your several years down the road and nothing has been done. Your still falling asleep at night thinking about this, I firmly believe that you can not block it out of your mind. The difference now is that your praying you will wake up tomorrow and someone who you turned it over to will finally be acting. Because if this thing has been swept under the rug by the university and you come forward, your risking everything you have worked for. So you wait longer, once again making the mistake of thinking you have done enough.

Please do not think I am justifying what has been done.  I believe that JoePa made a mistake, and believe that as a resulting consequence he deserved to be fired. I dont know JoePa personally, but I have long paid attention to the history, character, and class of the program he built. This leads me to believe that he is a good man. But good men make mistakes, and this one robbed us all of seeing a good man being carried off the field. JoePa says that in hindsight he wished he would have acted more. My translation: I made a mistake I will live with for the rest of my life, and man do I wish I could go back an act differently. We have all felt that feeling before.

I feel for JoePa. A good man who made a mistake and is paying the price. At the age of 84, there are still lessons to be learned. His lesson? “When good men fail to act, evil will prevail.”



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The New Kid On The Block

It is hard to believe that a little more than a month ago we were sitting in front of our TV’s feeling sorry for a young lad from Northern Ireland that had just blown a substantial lead at Augusta. That kid was Rory McIlroy, a happy go lucky 22 year old with a baby face and a hell of a golf game. He handled blowing his lead with more grace, composure, and humility than anyone I have ever seen. It was obvious then that this guy is mature beyond his years. I closed my comments on Rory after the Masters with “He will learn, he will win, and he will be great.” Little did I know it would be in his next major as a competitor.

Rory stormed through the US Open at Congressional in a way that we had seen only once before. (I will come back to this comparison later) The week started with Rory in the premier group with Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Phil and Dustin showed immediately that they did not have their A game and were hitting it all over the course. Phil somehow pulled a 2 over round out of his rear end….. but rarely have I seen a professional hit it in the places that he and Dustin were visiting. Yet somehow there was Rory tagging along with the big guys and making it look easy. He hit fairways, he hit greens, he made his putts, and he walked to the next tee box to do it again. Phil and Dustin caused several ten plus minute ordeals while clearing spectators or looking for balls that pretty much demolished all of the rhythm that goes  along with a good golf round in the group, but some how Rory managed to march to the beat of his own tune.

That march led Rory down the middle of the fairway and straight into a US Open trophy that he won by an astounding eight strokes. This bashing of the field led straight to comparisons of Tiger’s 2000 Open performance where he won by 15 strokes. Tiger was the only person under par at Pebble that week, and if you ask me that was the easiest anyone has EVER made the very difficult game of golf look. It was the most impressive victory in the history of the game including Rory’s, but don’t let that take anything away from the kid. Keep in mind that this was his FIRST major win that he dominated like this, and that is something that Tiger can not say about his first.

I am done with comparisons. I love Rory, but he does not yet deserve to be in the same classification as Tiger. Notice i said YET. I will be the first to admit that I hope Rory takes this momentum and runs with it. He has a demeanor that I can not help but like and respect. Like Mr. Woods his facial expression never changes, but instead of the icy cold stare we are used to from Tiger, Rory has an innocent smile that seems to portray maturity and passion for the game. Tiger looked like he was attacking the golf course with guns blazing in 2000. Rory looked like he was on a Sunday stroll through Northern Ireland with his best friends. Tee…green…fairway…make the putt… walk to the next tee and do it again… it is a simple game when you break it down but you rarely see it as simple as Rory made it look.

A few years ago the game we all love fell into the hands of a super star. Tiger Woods captivated us all. I respect Tiger and I even consider myself one of his fans. But through a series of personal choices, he mistreated our game. Now we have a young lad who in his last four majors (especially the last two) is acting like he wants the torch to be passed to him. I hope he takes it and runs with it, and I hope he treats the game better than the last guy. Rory… keep smiling, keep being humble, keep learning, keep winning, and treat this game like it deserves to be treated. Ive got a feeling that the game might be pretty good to you as well.




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Halfway Home

I have not found much time to sit down and put the effort into a post that it deserves, but today I have decided to take a brake from hitting the books and write about something I enjoy.

(EDIT NOTE: This was written over several days so in fact we have already won the first two games in the FLA series)

We are almost halfway through the marathon that is an MLB season. Our beloved Atlanta Braves look eerily similar to the team they were last year. As I am writing we are tied with the Marlins at 4 games back and we start our series against the fins in the lonely confines of Sun Life Stadium tonight. We need to make a statement down there. We are beat up and bruised, in need of the all-star break to cool the jets and get healthy but man it would be nice to be a few games in front of the Marlins at the break.

There are several things I like and dislike about the Bravos right now. Here a few for thought:

Injuries have hit us pretty tough. Heyward, Mclouth, Moylan are all significant injuries and we have missed them dearly. The positive side to this, any other team in the league would be drowning. Fortunately Frank Wren and the boys in the front office have put together an extremely versatile and deep roster. Hinske and Mather have stepped up and played the corner spots in the outfield well and are swinging impressive bats. Hinske sits at .298 and Mather at .273 which is very respectable for two of your utility outfielders who have been forced into playing every day for small stretches. Jordan Schafer has also been a little spark to pick up where Nate left off. However the most valuable player on our bench in my opinion would have to be the big man David Ross. Our all-star catcher gets around a day off a week, which without Ross would be a luxury we might not could afford. This will pay dividends when the last two months of the season comes around and Brian is healthy as he can be. David is batting .308 with 3 homers and not to mention he is throwing out everyone that runs on him. I’ve got a feeling David Ross may be a hot commodity come next off season, if I am a team that is struggling at catcher, David Ross tops my list. I cant say enough about our bench production and how versatile we are, in the end this will be what keeps us where we need to be.

The elephant in the room that broadcasters do not seem to want to talk about is of course Dan Uggla. Fans on the other hand do not seem to mind cursing him until they are purple in the face. Dan has been more than disappointing. I thought I was upset with Nate’s performance last year after his All-Star years with the Pirates, but Dan has been even worse. He has struggled to stay above the .200 mark and his situational hitting is flat out awful. Hes batting about .090 against left handed hurlers and I think there comes a time where we have to consider sitting him against lefties. I know that sounds drastic, but his numbers are just not improving very much. Some time in triple A last year seemed to shake up Nate Mclouth and he came back in much better form this year. I hope it does not come down to that, but if the numbers do not get better, I do not think Freddie will hesitate to SIT him down or possibly SEND him down.

Our pitching staff has been exactly what I thought it would be. We are as solid as a rock. As of today (June 9th) we have the best ERA in the league as a pitching staff (with those pesky Phils breathing down our neck). No need to discuss our starters one by one as I think they have all had phenomenal starts. We do miss Beachy, he was making huge strides to being an integral part of the rotation and we have missed him since the injury. Our bullpen is steady. Venters HAS to be in the conversation for the Cy Young. You think I am crazy for saying that about a setup man? Hes pitched 37.2 innings, given up 2 runs, and has a 0.48 ERA. Those numbers are unheard of, hes getting my vote for the Allstar roster, and he should get yours too. Kimbrel is turning some heads too, he was the fastest to 15 saves before the All-Star break which is mighty impressive. He has struggled with walking some batters that have lead to tied games, but we have to remember this is his first full year in the league and considering that, he has done pretty well. I think our pitching staff is good enough to keep us in this race till the end.

I would regret it if I wrote this and did not mention Alex Gonzalez’s defense. Hes having a Gold Glove caliber year and our record would surely be several games worse if he had not made several diving stops to save runs.

I like our team, but we have to find what it takes to put some runs together and get a few winning streaks under the belt. We are exactly where we need to be and I think we will be in contention till the end, but no doubt the offense has to get better.

Keep on pulling for the Bravos, we are in about the same place we were last year, lets hope we can finish a little stronger in the second half. (now I must go to class and can not proof read so excuse all the spelling and grammar errors I am sure are in this)

Cheers, Ben

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Best Show on Wheels

“Rednecks Turning Left” is the name that many have adopted for NASCAR. They write it off as a “wanna-be-sport” that is a waste of their time to watch. Others consider races to be a bunch of “jean short clad-beer in hand” hillbillies getting together for a good ole loud party that lasts a whole weekend. Last week I had the opportunity to attend my first NASCAR weekend (Thanks to my good friend David Erickson). We stayed in the campgrounds outside Talladega Super Speedway from Thursday to Sunday. We began the week fleeing from the “Talladega Twister” that hit Friday, and ended it with one of the best Sprint Cup races in History on Sunday. Was it Rowdy? Yes. Was there rednecks? Absolutely. Was their Partying? Most definitely. But on the inside of all this was one of the most competitive, impressive, fierce, and fun competitions I have ever seen.

You dont see the SKILL in turning left ? I invite you go to a race a rent a scanner. Tune in on your favorite driver’s frequency and listen to his conversations with his spotter. For those of you who are not familiar with racing, each driver has a “spotter” perched on top of the grandstands with a radio. You see, a lot of people forget that these drivers cant see much besides what is directly in front of them. The spotter is essentially the driver’s eyes for anything behind them or by their side. Want to talk about skill? Listen to the drivers talking to their spotters about how and when to pass, who and where to block, who to draft with, and how to avoid the crash that just happened 20 yards in front of them at 200 mph. And the next time you see break lights in front of you on the interstate and slam on the breaks and curse the road, remember there is no such thing as break lights in NASCAR. Its 200 mph of no warning signs.

You don’t see the STRATEGY in turning left? Watch the replay of last weekend’s race at Talladega. The driver’s have figured out the fastest way to race around some of the super speedway tracks such as Daytona and Talladega is to draft in two car pairs. This means at 200 mph the driver in front will slightly drag his break pedal until the driver behind him is actually TOUCHING his rear bumper. They precede to take advantage of the air flowing over the first car and straight over the second, allowing the second car to have much less drag and “push” the first car along the track. They ride the entire track still TOUCHING, until the car behind starts to overheat from the lack of air going into its grill. Then they switch positions and repeat the process. Try doing this going down the highway and see what you think. If that is not enough strategy for you, it heats up when the positions change due to pit stops or cautions. The new starting order means you may have to get on your radio and find a new partner to draft with. Most of the time driver’s start with their “teammates” as drafting partners. Teammates in NASCAR are owned by the same owners, and this means they also benefit when a teammate wins. This adds an interesting aspect when picking a partner to run with. If there is not a team member near you, your either have to go find one or get on your radio and hope  you can make another friend in the split second you have. If you do not find a partner on one of these super speedway tracks, the whole field blows by you in pairs like you are driving a mini-van. Imagine it like this; Kobe Bryant is winning the race and is drafting with his teammate Pau Gasol, but after a wreck they get separated and Kobe then has to ask Lebron to draft with him because they are both stuck without teammates and do not want to get passed. While this is going on, other pairs such as Carmello Anthony and his teammate Amare Stoudemire are sitting at the back of the back trying to not get caught up in a wreck. Then the last lap comes and Kobe, Derek, Lebron, Carmello, Amare, Gasol and all the others are ALL racing each other hard for the win, yet they could not have been there without help from the others along the way. Yeah I know, it seems a little more interesting when you look at it like that doesnt it? Watch a little NASCAR, get to know the drivers, find a favorite, and it is this interesting all the time.

Overall, do not write NASCAR off as a waste of your time. I love sports because I love competition, strategy, and fun. NASCAR is full of all three. Get involved, read up, and do your research on these teams. Some drivers and teams race several series and all are fun to watch. The efficiency of teams and pit crews is unreal. And hey…. if you dont like it… put on your jean shorts and start drinking beer with the locals. Its a guaranteed good time.



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The Way He Intended It

Well I am back. With last weekend being full of unsuccessful turkey hunting and the week being full of tests and dreaded school work, I have not had the time it takes to write. But this weekend brought about my favorite event of the year.

Let me start by saying I do not believe there is a writer in the world who can capture the beauty and magic of Augusta National in writing. It is just not possible to describe in words. I can not tell you how proud it makes me as a Georgian to simply be associated with the most wonderful event of the classiest sport in the world. The Masters is just plain different from any other competition you will find on earth. This year’s tournament was not lacking headlines or drama, and there are a few I would like to touch on.

I will start with the man who earned the top spot on my list of topics. Charl Schwartzel (and for the love of God please stop calling him Charles people) may not be the name we hoped to see at the top. A lot of people could not pick him out in a crowd, and definitely did not know his name at the start of the week. But Charl was simply better than everyone else this week. He is a young talent from South Africa and the humble champion that everyone loves to see win. If you have not heard of him before, look up his European Tour stats. The man knows how to finish and it came as no surprise to many of his competitors that he was wearing a green jacket at the end of the week. Most people were too busy watching Rory or that guy named Tiger, but Charl gained a couple of strokes fast with an unlikely chip in and an even more improbable hole out that put him at three under after three holes. He then cruised Augusta with the poise of a Champion before turning on the jets and making birdie on his last four holes. If you do not think this guy deserved to win, the fact that he was 4 under on his last 4 makes you WRONG. He had a little more in the tank down the stretch compared to everyone else in the field, and that is what it came down too. The last guy to be 4 under on his last 4 on Sunday… Sir Nicklaus himself in 86 and well all know what happened then.

The man who earns second on my topic list? Rory McIlroy. Rory is 21 years old and led The Masters all the way from day one until he made the turn on Sunday. I am the same age as Rory and was stuck at home drinking a beer and watching from my couch while thinking “This kid is my age?, I could not walk straight under the pressure hes under”. The pressure in golf is unlike sports such as basketball, baseball, or football where you react to things that happen in split seconds. In golf you have somewhere around four hours to walk around with thousands staring at you while you think about the pressure on you and wonder introspectively “What the hell am I doing here”. You control the pace of action in golf, so there is not a shot that goes by that you do not know the exact pressure that depends on it. It is simply unlike anything else in sports. Yet here was little Rory. A soft spoken Northern Ireland lad who made Augusta his playground for three days. When he hit a drive on number ten on Sunday and immediately said “Is there Out of Bounds Over There?”, I knew that the pressure had finally caught up to him, but this is beside the point to me. This weekend was only a glimpse of Rory. He has already shown his ability to win tournaments and a major is soon to come. I can not think of any word for Rory’s performance this week besides RESPECT. You have to respect the kid and the talent he shows. He will learn, He will win, He will be great.

Tiger Woods. This was my answer to everyone who asked me to pick a winner for this years masters. I have been picking him to win every single event he has played in for the last five years and I am not going to stop now. What struck me about Tiger this week was that everyone spent all week talking about how good players such as Rory, Jason Day, and Angel Cabrera were playing. Yet when Tiger came up we all just said “Man he is just a little off”. THAT is what is special about Tiger. While the top finishers played golf at their best this week during the war against the National, Tiger was a little off and STILL almost won the darn thing. Any other golfer who comes into Augusta a little off ends up like I was this weekend, watching the final two rounds from my couch. Not Tiger, “a little off” earned him a fourth place finish after a Sunday filled with the classic Tiger drama. I have always been a Tiger fan. I do not agree with his personal decisions but thank the Good Lord that my mistakes are not broadcast in front of everyone like his were. He is the most dominant athlete of my generation and it felt good to see him compete again. Tiger could not win a major for another year and a half and still be on pace to catch Jack and top his record. All I can say is the tour better watch out for Tiger because the way I see it, It will not be long before Tiger is no longer “A little off”.

The real winners this week? Fans of golf. A generation previously overshadowed by Tiger rose up and displayed for the golfing world just how good many of them are this week. The leader board was top heavy with young guys looking for their first major. You could not help but admire their courage as the battled against the other competitors, but mostly against the course. Augusta National is the truest test of a golfer’s ability in the world. Yet somehow such a gruesome and challenging course maintains beauty and magic that I have never seen in another place. I cant help but think Augusta National is golf the way the Good Lord intended it to be played.

Until next time,

Cheers, Ben

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A Winning Recipe

Well its that time of the year again. Time for over priced beer (that we know we are gonna buy no matter how much we complain about it), time for tomahawk chops, and (God Willing) time for some post game victorious fireworks. As we all eagerly await the first pitch to be thrown, I have been pondering what it will take this year to bring home the division and put ourselves in good position to be in it till the end. Heres the recipe I have concocted.

1. Play .750 ball against the two worst teams in our division.

Now I figure these two teams will obviously consist of the Marlins, Nationals, or the Mets. One of these teams will probably end up having a surprisingly decent year. The popular vote is the Nationals with their new addition of Jason Werth and an improved pitching staff. Personally my money is on the Marlins to be the dark horse contender. Whoever the worst two teams are we MUST beat them. Good teams beat the teams they are expected to beat, and the Braves have not exactly been a shining example the last three years. We have played 54 games against each of these teams since 2008. We are 8 games over .500 against the Mets which is not great considering the way they have been flopping in the second half of the season. We are 2 games above .500 against the Marlins which is just not excusable. And worst of all, since 2008, we are 3 games UNDER .500 against the Nationals. We wonder why it seems like it is so hard to gain ground on the teams at the top of our division every year, and maybe it is because we have such a problem beating the teams at the bottom. Playing .750 baseball (some consider this lofty but I like to aim high) would eliminate a lot of our problems.

2. Make a Phillie beat us who is not named Howard or Victorino.

This one is pretty self explanatory. When Victorino gets on base, he comes around to score. Their lineup is way too good to let that kind of speed get on base in front of their power hitters. Plus The Good Lord knows with the staff they have put together you can not afford to spot them many runs. Howard has killed us with the long ball the last few years. We like to play close games against the Phillies, and way to often he uses one swing of the bat to be the difference. If there is a base open, I am perfectly fine with him standing on it. We just cant have him putting balls twenty five rows high in the bleachers.

3. Chippers Gotta Play.

130 games. I think if he plays that many, it has been a hell of a successful year for Larry. The man has shown during the spring that he can still swing the bat with the best of them. I think we are plain out better with him on the field and the intangible benefits of having his leadership and presence out there are infinite.

4. Get it to Venters and Kimbrel with the lead.

Critics will say this step in the recipe may need to be edited out later in the year, but I will bet you that its the most important one. These two young guns can flat throw the baseball. Venters happened to come into a year with an unreal crop of rookies (Heyward and Posey) but not counting the two all stars he made a hell of an attempt at something unheard of, a relief pitcher winning rookie of the year. He toed the rubber for a smooth 83 innings of 1.93 ERA baseball while striking out 93 and only walking 39. He will be the setup man this year and we can only hope he is as good as last year. Kimbrel showed his potential with 20 innings of work at a ridiculously low .44 ERA. He struck out 40 (2 an inning!) and only walked 16. Most important to me is the fact that he had Billy Wagner there to disciple him along the way, which I think will pay dividends as he steps into his roll as the fireball throwing closer this year.

No matter what recipe we use, I just hope we beat the Phillies, MAN do I hate those damn Phillies.


Cheers, Ben

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