THE MYTH OF 14
or CHIEF NOCKAHOMA'S HISTORY LESSON
If there's one thing that galls me, it's when sportscasters make reference to the Braves' "14 consecutive division titles" between 1991 and 2005. While it is true that the Braves did win their division 14 times in that span, to call those division titles "consecutive" is just plain wrong. And ignorant.
It's revisionist history of the filthiest kind, which conveniently forgets the 1994 season, when the Montreal Expos, not the Braves, were in first place when the season ended.
Of course, the season ended not in October, but in August, thanks to an ill-conceived strike and a misguided endgame strategy by the Lords of Baseball that resulted in the cancellation of the World Series. That season, the Expos, under manager Felipe Alou, were a juggernaut, with an outfield of Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, and a pitching staff led by Ken Hill and a young Pedro Martinez. in July, they overtook the Braves in a thrilling weekend series at Le Stade Olympique in front of over 125,000 fans, and never looked back.
This was when pennant races were relatively undiluted, with two divisions per league and no wild card, so the Braves would have been outside looking in come the postseason. In 1995, after the strike was settled in the wake of the whole '"replacement player" fiasco (see last week's Ron Mahay item), the new deal forced the Expos to dump most of their stars. The Braves were among the rich getting richer, snagging Marquis Grissom, while the other Haves picked the bones of the Expos' roster, and effectively killed baseball in Montreal (although its walking corpse paraded itself in front of a handful of die-hards for another decade).
So the next time some chump on ESPN talks about the Braves' so-called dynasty (one World Championship does not a dynasty make), and their "14 consecutive" divison titles, please join me in yelling at the TV, "It was only 11, fool."
FIGHTIN' PHILS FOIL LOS BRAVOS
The Braves went down looking last night on national television as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated Atlanta 5-3 behind soft-tossing 40-something Jamie Moyer. The key play was a botched double play wherein Braves' shortstop Yunel "Pablo" Escobar failed to step on the second base bag and threw late to first (well, actually in time, but it's nice to see the umps blow one in favor of the opposition once in a while). Ryan Howard followed with a towering three-run homer to the opposite field, chasing starter Buddy Carlyle.
The loss dropped Atlanta back into third place, where it is hoped they will remain until they are passed by the Marlins. It is probably too much to hope for them to be passed by the lowly Nationals.
CHIP CARAY: TALENT SKIPS A GENERATION...AGAIN
I'll try to keep this brief, but I just had to vent spleen over the worst announcer in professional sports, Chip Caray. They say talent skips a generation, but in this case it has skipped two generations. Caray's grandfather Harry was a broadcasting legend, first in St. Louis, then in Chicago, where he became an institution for leading the fans in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th-inning stretch at Wrigley Field, and for his drunken garbling of names like "Grudzielanek."
Perhaps knowing the nature of talent and its propensity for evaporating from one generation to the next, Harry named his son "Skip." Skip Caray, now relegated to radio, is, of course, the longtime voice of the Braves, a curmudgeonly homer who has never attempted even the pretense of impartiality. He named his son "Chip," as in "a chip off the old block," perhaps knowing that Chip would also suck mightily as a play-by-play man.
Nepotism being rife in Major League Baseball, the youngest Caray landed a choice gig as the voice of the Cubs in the wake of his grandfather Harry's death. He quickly became an irritant to Chicago fans by using such trademark calls as "Gloves, grabs, guns. Got 'em." Even his dad would've been satisfied with "Routine grounder to short, easy out."
But Chip's act soon wore out its welcome in the Windy City, and he made the jump to TBS as the Braves play-by-play announcer several years back. If anything, he is even lousier now than he was in his days as an undeserving, wet-behind-the-ears punk handed one of the best gigs in all of sports broadcasting at WGN. He has assimilated his father's rampant homer-ism, and added his own unctuous, obnoxious idiocies to the mix. The result: a perfect storm of stupidity, a textbook example of how far the art of calling a ballgame has fallen. Red Barber is rolling in his grave.
Finally, I cannot complete this rant without mentioning Chip's freakish eyebrows. So there, I mentioned 'em. Now I can go back to practicing my quick-draw on the mute button.
Brave Hater is a parody, so don't get yer panties in a bunch, Braves fans.