By Mike Steffanos
At MetsBlog, Matt Cerrone has some fun with David O'Brien's Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog about the free-falling Atlanta Braves and the growing discord in their clubhouse and among their fans. Cerrone gets a real kick out of the fan comments, where they're ripping into everyone from Larry Jones to Bobby Cox to John Schuerholz to the inevitable griping about the Time-Warner corporate ownership. It's great stuff, Check out Matt's posting and the O'Brien post to which he links.
My favorite whine of Braves fans is the ones that relate to the corporate ownership. There is a feeling that Time-Warner won't give Schuerholz the money he needs to succeed. They overlook the fact that the difference between the Braves' payroll at the start of the year and the Mets' was less than Kaz Matsui's 2006 salary. I guess you develop a sense of entitlement when things go your way for a long time, but the sniping at Cox and Schuerholz in particular is hard to defend. Have you no gratitude at all? I hope they get their wish and Bobby Cox is fired. I hear that Art Howe doesn't have a job yet.
If more than 35 years as a baseball fan has taught me one thing, it's that you need to respect that the greatest moments for your team are the heartbreakers for the other team's fans. I always try to respect that, and refrain from gloating at their pain. I make an exception for Braves fans, however; not because it all went their way for so long, but because it wasn't enough for them that their team was so good. They took a lot of enjoyment at how things always seemed to go wrong for the Mets. Even early in the year, when there were clear signs that the Mets were the better team, if you visited blogs and forums where Braves fans gathered their was this constant theme that the Mets would surely falter because they were the Mets.
For the Braves fan, the Mets and their fans didn't even matter enough to hate. There was always that dismissive contempt, that patronizing smirk. You enjoyed our pain; you got a kick out of our frustration. Like the Yankee fan in 2004, you are now receiving your payback.
Your team, which experts still picked to win the division at the beginning of the year, is pathetically wretched, and you're turning on them like the graceless, spoiled front-runners we always knew you were. How's that bile taste? How does it feel to watch your team toss away another game to a team with a payroll 1/6 of yours? The Braves will not hold their annual playoff collapse this October, because they will not be there. Now you're hurting and embarrassed, and we're loving it.
Daily News: Milledge's Blunder
Adam Rubin cites Lastings Milledge on the baserunning gaffe that earned him a reprimand from the manager:
Milledge said he peeked twice on Franco's shot - once to see if the ball was caught by Aaron Rowand, and again when it reached cutoff man Chase Utley. Milledge said he was also stalled approaching the plate because no one cleared Franco's bat.
That wasn't totally accurate. What killed Milledge on that play, in my opinion, was when he was watching to see if Bobby Abreu (not Rowand) was going to catch the ball. Abreu had it in his glove, and Milledge slowed down quite a bit anticipating the catch. There were two outs, and he needed to be busting it rather than anticipating a catch. Abreu had already butchered a similar play earlier. Milledge did peek again after rounding third, but it was his slowing down at second base that caused him to be out at the plate. Willie was on the money with that one.
Newsday: The education of Jose Reyes
Joe Gergen has a good column on the 23-year-old shortstop and leadoff hitter. Gergen quotes Reyes on his improved approach at the plate:
I'm learning. I talked a lot with Rickey [Henderson] in spring training. I look for my pitch now. With two strikes, I used to swing at pitches in the dirt. Now if I'm looking for a fastball, I'm going to wait for a fastball.
Gergen points out that Jose scores about half the time he gets on base.
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Another strong start for Pelfrey
Brian Moritz reports that Mike Pelfrey survived some early control problems to pitch 6 strong innings in the B-Mets' 4-1 win. More good news was that Henry Owens, the young reliever that impressed everyone in camp this spring, pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save.