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Tag: Atlanta Braves

Baseball Player Name of the Week

The Braves have wisely signed Yohan Flande to a minor league deal.

Flande, a 24-year-old lefty pitcher, had been in the Phillies system since 2006 and spent most of the last two years at AA, where he went 14-12 with a 4.44 ERA, a 1.415 WHIP, and a 2.06 K/BB ratio.

If he joins the Braves AA team this year he’ll join an already strong roster of names that includes Brett Butts, J.J. Hoover, Benino Pruneda, Tyler Pastornicky, L.V. Ware, and the top-notch Jesus Sucre.

I Come To Bury The Tomahawk Chop, Not To Praise It

This topic seems to get brought up every season at some point, but nothing ever comes of it. I was reminded of it again during last night’s NLDS game, when I kept trying to root for the Braves. Whenever I started to feel a little enthusiasm, the crowd would start up with the Tomahawk Chop, and it was quickly snuffed out.

Look: I know it’s a tradition; I know the vast majority of people who do that chant, or wear caricatured Cleveland Indians mascot gear, are not racist and have no actual problem with Native Americans. But it’s well past time for those fans, and those teams, to demonstrate that by knocking this stuff off. Even if no great harm is being done now, these are the vestigial remains of a very real racism which has done plenty of harm, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to associate themselves with it. Does the pleasure of tradition really outweigh the ickiness of taking part, however briefly, in that kind of creaky, ugly, outdated world view?

The usual response to this argument is “lighten up,” and sure, there are bigger problems in the world today. But words have power, and so does iconography, and the argument “I just like doing this chant” simply doesn’t outweigh the negatives of perpetuating trite racist stereotypes.  I know a lot of great Braves fans, and none of them are enthusiastic Tomahawk Choppers; I know a few Indians fans, and none of them are comfortable with Chief Wahoo. This doesn’t seem to negatively impact their enjoyment of (or, more recently, hair-pulling frustration with) their team.

Imagine that a team had a Jewish caricature for a mascot. And that their traditional chant involved counting money. It’s actually not easy to picture because it would never, ever fly today, and I’m not sure why this is considered all that different. Last night I made the mistake of looking for a Jewish caricature to illustrate this point, and I came across a couple. One is part of a clever series at a website called Honor Indians, which along with imaginary team logos for “The Cincinnati Rednecks” and “The L.A. Wetbacks” is making an argument against the use of Indian mascots:

The other image I found is not making a satirical point. It’s from a cesspool of a white supremacist site which, for obvious reasons, I’m not going to link to:

Morbid curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t help reading a few posts – about Jews ruining the Aryan Nation, “muds,” “wetbacks,” and a lot worse; how seeing white women with black men made the writer want to castrate the men and chop off the women’s heads; honoring the anniversary of Hitler’s coup; debating the feasibility of ethnic cleansing in America today.

To be clear, this is the site of a fringe sociopath and, OBVIOUSLY, in no way reflects the views of Braves or Indians fans. And it’s exactly because that kind of thinking – the kind that represents a race of people as an ugly little cartoon, or takes the centuries-old reduction of Native Americans into scalping warriors and turns it into a cheer – in no way reflects the views of fans that we should distance ourselves from it whenever we have the chance. No matter how innocent it might have become over the years, that’s just not a tradition worth carrying on.

Time to get creative, Braves fans – and well past time to ditch the Chop.

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves

2009 Record: 33-36 (.478)
2009 Pythagorean Record: 33-36 (.478)

2008 Record: 72-90 (.444)
2008 Pythagorean Record: 79-83 (.488)

Manager: Bobby Cox
General Manager: Frank Wren

Home Ballpark (Park Factors): Turner Field (99/99)

Who’s Replacing Whom:

  • Casey Kotchman replaces Mark Teixeira
  • Nate McLouth replaces Mark Kotsay
  • Garret Anderson replaces most of Gregor Blanco (bench)
  • Matt Diaz reclaims playing time from Josh Anderson
  • Diory Hernandez is filling in for Omar Infante (DL)
  • David Ross replaces Corky Miller, Clint Sammons (minors), and Brayan Peña
  • Derek Lowe replaces Tom Glavine and Mike Hampton
  • Javier Vazquez replaces Tim Hudson (DL) and Chuck James
  • Kenshin Kawakami replaces Jorge Campillo (DL) and James Parr (minors)
  • Tommy Hanson replaces Jo-Jo Reyes (DL) and John Smoltz
  • Eric O’Flaherty replaces Will Ohman
  • Mike Gonzalez reclaims his innings from Vladimir Nuñez
  • Rafael Soriano reclaims his innings from Julian Tavarez and Jorge Julio
  • Peter Moylan reclaims his innings from Blaine Boyer
  • Kris Medlen is filling in for Buddy Carlyle (DL)

25-man Roster:

1B – Casey Kotchman (L)
2B – Kelly Johnson (L)
SS – Yunel Escobar (R)
3B – Chipper Jones (S)
C – Brian McCann (L)
RF – Jeff Francoeur (R)
CF – Nate McLouth (L)
LF – Garret Anderson (L)


R – Matt Diaz (LF)
R – Martin Prado (UT)
L – Gregor Blanco (CF)
R -Diory Hernandez (IF)
R – David Ross (C)


R – Derek Lowe
R – Jair Jurrjens
R – Javier Vazquez
R – Tommy Hanson
R – Kenshin Kawakami


L – Mike Gonzalez
R – Rafael Soriano
R – Jeff Bennett
L – Eric O’Flaherty
R – Peter Moylan
R – Manny Acosta
R – Kris Medlen

15-day DL: PH – Greg Norton (hamstring), UT – Omar Infante (broken hand), LHP – Jo-Jo Reyes (hamstring), RHP – Buddy Carlyle (upper back strain/Type-1 diabetes)

60-day DL: RHP – Tim Hudson (TJ), RHP – Jorge Campillo (shoulder tendonitis)

Typical Lineup:

L – Nate McLouth (CF)
R – Yunel Escobar (SS)
S – Chipper Jones (3B)
L – Brian McCann (C)
L – Garret Anderson (LF)
L – Casey Kotchman (1B)
R – Jeff Francoeur (RF)
L – Kelly Johnson (2B)


FIP To Be Tied

Braves New World

My latest for SI.com looks at the Braves’ new rotation in the wake of the Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami signings, including a scouting report on the 33-year-old Japanese import. Toward the end, I summarize the remaining free agent market for starting pitchers in two paragraphs:

After [Oliver] Perez and [Ben] Sheets, there’s only a handful of veterans that could be considered remotely reliable signings. That group includes Andy Pettitte, who continues to play chicken with the Yankees over a one-year deal, Paul Byrd, Randy Wolf, whose name frequently surfaces as a back-up option, Braden Looper and Jon Garland. Of those five, however, only Looper posted an ERA better than league average last year.

Beyond that group there’s a series of bad bets, be it on aging stars who’d be better off retiring (Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Kenny Rogers, Orlando Hernandez), the perpetually injured (Jason Jennings, Mark Mulder, Bartolo Colon), roster fillers (Livan Hernandez, Sidney Ponson, Josh Fogg, Josh Towers) or assorted castoffs who will be lucky to land a non-roster invitation to camp (Steve Trachsel, Jeff Weaver, Kip Wells, Mark Redman, Matt Belisle, Esteban Loaiza, Kris Benson).

I realize now I left Odalis Perez and Jon Lieber out of the list of roster fillers and failed to find a place for Freddy Garcia. Nonetheless, that’s about it. In fact, you can cross Prior off the list, as he’s landed back with the Padres on a minor league deal. So, do you think the dearth of alternatives gives Pettitte any leverage over the Yanks? Should they peel off and sign Ben Sheets or Braden Looper before they’re forced to overpay for one of the next five or turn to one of the bad bets? Or should they walk away now and let Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, and company fight it out over the fifth spot in the rotation?

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver