The Braves have been eliminated from playoff contention and, as I’m typing this, may be in the process of firing Frank Wren. For reasons I may- but probably won’t- one day put into a later post, I can’t stand the end-of-season blame game that’s played after a disappointing season. It’s my absolute least favorite baseball discussion. When a team under performs, I believe it’s much more often bad luck than anything else, and most of the blame-game is just done out of sheer frustration. While a fan doing that is one thing- our one job is to react to wins and losses- I find it to be wholly irresponsible for a front office to act out of emotions, rather than objectivity, and I can’t help but get the feeling our front office is currently doing that with their Wren decision. However, I’m not in that front office. I don’t see the conversations that take place. I don’t know if Frank Wren is actually that good or if maybe he’s just the beneficiary of other brilliant guys employed by our organization. I honestly don’t have any clue, so at the end of the day I’m going to shrug my shoulders, ride out the rest of this year, and get ready for what I hope to be a better season next year.
At this moment of doubt, anxiety, and frustration, I would like to provide you, my readers, with a source of encouragement: no matter what happens to the Braves, you’ll still have me writing these columns for myself and allowing you to read them, too. So with that, let’s get to our Players of the
RAW PERFORMANCE PLAYER OF THE
Hitting for the cycle is overrated. Yeah, I said it: hitting for the cycle is overrated. Now, before you get to freaking out and calling me an idiot, hear me out. If a baseball player hits for the cycle, all of the baseball world will know immediately. Thousands of tweets will be sent, articles will be written, and some other thing that fits this pattern and makes this a list of three instead of two for rhetorical purposes will happen. Meanwhile, when a guy like 2009 Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan goes 4 for 4 with a single, a double, two homeruns, and a walk, it just sort of flies under the radar. The second homerun even changed the course of the game, allowing the Cubs to come away with the win. Yet, compared to the press generated from hitting for the cycle, this will be collectively forgotten about by most fans. Well we here at the General Store were quite impressed by your baseballing, Chris, and for your terrific competency in striking balls with sticks in Saturday’s match, we award you the Player of the
CONTEXTUAL PLAYER OF THE
Typically, generating a win probability spike like this almost automatically ensures you a Contextual POTD victory:
Russell Martin- one of my favorite players in baseball- hit a three run homerun that gave the Pirates the lead, allowing them to go on to win the game and come one step closer to solidifying their postseason status. This was undoubtedly a terrific performance and worthy of being mentioned here. However, this post is not without its fair share of bias, so I’m using my iron fist of subjectivity to grant the award to Josh Donaldson and his tenth-inning walk off homerun against the Phillies.
There’s a few reasons for my biased decision here. For one, I really like the Athletics as a baseballing team. Two, I really like Josh Donaldson as a baseballing player. Three, I love almost nothing more than great bat flips, like the one in the video above. Fourth, as I’ve mentioned before, the Athletics are finding themselves fighting with everything they have to get to the postseason, despite being the best team in baseball over the entire first half. Finally, and most importantly, this was an awesome game throughout the entirety of its ten innings. This is a meandering paragraph that could use rewording, if not scrapping altogether. This will be a good test to see if my editor actually reads these posts. If this is still here in its current form in a couple of hours, I’ll know that I can say literally anything I want in these posts. Anyway, back to the game.
I like to define how interesting games were based on how many times the probability of a team winning changed from above or below 50 percent. In this particular game, that occurred ten separate times. The Phillies started the scoring with one run in the first, which the Athletics then answered with 3 runs of their own. The Phillies tied it in the third, went down by a run the same inning, then tied it again in the fourth. The Athletics put two on the board in the fifth, and the Phillies answered these as well. Finally, with the game tied at 6 runs a piece in the 9th inning, the Athletics looked like they were going to put it away. Following a swinging strike out of Brandon Moss, Nick Punto hit a line drive to the gap that he was able to stretch out for a triple. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Punto run so hard, and he finished it off with this flying-squirrel type dive into third that was completely unnecessary, as the throw was nowhere close to the bag. It was beautiful in every sense of the word. The Phillies chose to intentionally walk Sam Fuld, which brought up Oakland catcher Geovany Soto. All they needed was a fly ball to win it. Soto took strike one, then watched as a slider caught absolutely no part of the strikezone just to be called strike two. Soto relatively maintained his composure, but I went nuts in my apartment. I’m honestly surprised none of the neighbors came by to see what was going on and maybe also to applaud my creative use of English profanity. Soto ended up striking out looking on a questionable third strike, and the next batter, Eric Sogard (who is and shall always be the true face of baseball) fared no better, and the game went to extra innings. Former position player Sean Doolittle stayed in to pitch the 10th and made quick work of Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown, and Maikel Franco. Coming out of the commercial break the A’s broadcast began showing videos of Coco Crisp’s walk-off from earlier in the season, hoping he could recreate the magic while leading off the bottom of the inning. While all Crisp could muster was an easy pop up to the second baseman, Nate Freiman snuck a ground ball through the left side of the infield to put the winning run on base. All of this was just to set the stage for the aforementioned Josh Donaldson, at which point my words stop. Nothing captures the magic of a walk-off dinger like seeing it yourself, so click the picture and enjoy. Here’s to the Athletics’ persistently interesting road to October.