Fredi’s dead

Fredi Gonzalez, fall guy

Fredi Gonzalez, fall guy

The Atlanta Braves have thrown out the first manager of the season. Apparently, their patience expired with an 8-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday night, sending the Braves to a 9-28 record. Since the rebuilding Braves didn’t seem to expect to be that bad over most of the first third of the season, Fredi Gonzalez finally had a date with the guillotine.

What a difference five years makes.

The Beltway clinches, and dreams awhile . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones got a few Camden Yards fans a little pie-eyed—cream pied, that is. Bryce Harper plopped a personalised Washington, D.C. Fire Department helmet on his head and took selfies with teammates. Neither man had to be told otherwise that a possible Beltway World Series loomed ahead, depending upon how the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals handle themselves when the postseason launches.

Chipper Agonistes

The look says it all, after the double play opening throw that sailed away . . .

The greats don’t always get to choose the manner in which they leave the game. But whatever you believe about instant or at least same-day karma, Chipper Jones surely deserves better than to have his Hall of Fame-in-waiting career end like this.

His own throwing error, opening an unwanted door to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League’s first-ever wild card game; his own Atlanta Braves victimised by a soft fly to the shallow outfield ruled an infield fly when the Braves might have loaded the late-tying runs on base.

Valentine, Like Queeg, Convicted Himself

Valentine’s reign of error is over . . .

This is not to suggest that any known or alleged president of Red Sox Nation should proclaim, “Our long national nightmare is over.” But it is to suggest that the Red Sox and their minions can go to sleep tonight not having to wonder whom Bobby Valentine threw under the proverbial bus this time, if not shooting himself in the proverbial foot yet again over some actual or alleged slight or accusation.

Enough, Already—Bobby Valentine Needs to Go; Yesterday, if Possible

It’s come to this. The other team who collapsed almost as monumentally as the Red Sox did a year ago gets credit for not doing what the Red Sox did, letting an incumbent and decent manager fall on his sword and hiring Bobby Valentine in his place.

The Red Sox collapse spared the Atlanta Braves the ignominy attached to the Red Sox, never mind that nobody accused the Atlanta rotation of spending more time with chicken and brewskis than with pitching charts and sliders on the black down the stretch. And the Braves should probably be grateful not to have had imposed upon them what was imposed upon the Red Sox.

Berkman's End (Possibly), and Other Doings and Undoings . . .

You wouldn’t have thought so, with the hoopla around the Boston-Los Angeles blockbuster, but there were happenings aplenty in baseball over the past couple of days . . . including the possibility of retirement for one of the game’s most respected players.

The end may be near for Lance Berkman. The St. Louis first baseman has started a rehab assignment (knee) in Memphis, but he’s talking like a man who’s thinking seriously about calling it a career.

The Proverbial Change-of-Scenery: Just What Hanley Needed?

The proverbial change of scenery scenario is almost as old as Fenway Park. A player thought to be a secured ingredient in a team’s fortunes proves less enough of that, for various reasons, that when the team decides to let him walk into free agency, or makes a nebulous attempt to re-sign him, or trades him away, the team can’t resist thinking that the old change of scenery will do the player and, perhaps, the team a huge favour.

The 129 Minutes Heard 'Round the World

I could say that there are no words, but then I wouldn’t be a writer. I could say that I didn’t know what to think or say when Evan Longoria tore Scott Proctor’s 2-2 service over the fence for game, wild card, and what remained of the Boston Red Sox’s hearts; when badly-spent rookie Atlanta relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel heaved up the tying run in the ninth and Hunter Pence ripped a two-out RBI single in the thirteenth. But then I wouldn’t be a baseball fan.

"That's telling me I was incorrect in my position . . .": Jerry Meals

“It’s a shame,” Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Wednesday, “because Jerry Meals is one hell of an umpire.”

Meals is also one hell of an honest ump, based on remarks he made later in the day Wednesday about his call that enabled the Atlanta Braves to win a marathon, 19-inning, 4-3 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Turner Field. The Braves won after Julio Lugo, tagged above his right kneecap on his thigh by Pirates catcher Michael McKenry, was called safe by Meals, inexplicably.