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As I’ve chronicled here and here, the Braves are far and away the best… at whining. They tend to do it a lot when two stars align: the Braves are playing in Philadelphia, and John Smoltz starts one of those games.
They did indeed align, and as expected, Smoltz whined after the game about the Phillies’ home ballpark.
Last night, the Phillies beat the Braves 6-4 and moved into a tie for first place with the ever-so-slightly collapsing New York Mets, simultaneously eliminating the Braves from playoff contention.
The Phillies needed to make no outs in putting up a four-spot in the first inning off of Johnny Boy.
NL MVP candidate Jimmy Rollins swung at Smoltz’s first pitch of the game and singled up the middle.
Speedster Shane Victorino, making his first start in a week, followed with a bunt down the third base line. Smoltz, rushing, threw errantly to first baseman Mark Teixeira and the ball rolled around in foul territory in right field. Rollins came around to score, and Shane Victorino landed at third base.
Chase Utley then hit a routine grounder to Teixeira, but he booted it, allowing Victorino (who was not going on contact) to score, and Utley to reach first base safely. And, as all the highlights have shown, Ryan Howard torched a Smoltz “didn’t really slide” slider for a line drive two-run home run down the right field line.
Smoltz, ironically, did not whine about this homerun (perhaps because the pitch was a mistake), but just in case he does whine about it, let’s get the facts out of the way. Howard’s home run would have gone out of Turner Field, too.
Admittedly, my method for proving this is rather rough (hey, Hit Tracker hasn’t put it up yet), but if MLB Gameday is in any way accurate, then it should at least drive the point home.
In the above screenshot, we see where Howard’s home run landed in last night’s game at Citizens Bank Park. I will lay this on a screenshot of Turner Field.
I superimposed Turner Field on Citizens Bank Park, aligning them at home plate, and, indeed, Howard’s HR would have gone out in Atlanta, too:
Smoltz didn’t whine about Howard’s hit, though. He whined about Burrell’s third-inning two-run (eventually game-winning) home run. From the Braves website:
Burrell’s ball isn’t a home run. But that’s just what this park can do for you. You get the ball in the air and you can get lucky. Obviously, they feast off it.
I’ll use the same rough experiment.
Burrell at Citizens Bank Park…
Burrell if he hit it at Turner Field…
[Start Imaginary one-sided conversation with Mr. Smoltz]
Still a homer, John. Your claims are unfounded.
It couldn’t have been that you left a slider up in the zone (you can watch the home run here, under Thursday, September 27). And it couldn’t have been that Burrell put a good swing on the ball.
Six runs (five earned) in four innings. It’s got to be the ballpark.
You, Teixeira, and Kelly Johnson played superb defense throughout the game, right?
And if the ballpark is such a beacon for home runs, then your bullpen most definitely would not benefit from it right? It’s not like your bullpen pitched 5 scoreless innings of relief last night, allowing only two hits and two walks.
[End Imaginary one-sided conversation with Mr. Smoltz]
As the Braves find themselves watching the playoffs from home for the second year in a row, after 14 consecutive seasons of watching them first-hand, they might need to learn how to cope.
Phillies fans are always available to tell you how to deal with it.
The Most Exciting Three Days of the Season
Here are the match-ups for the Mets and Phillies as they begin the final regular season series with the Marlins and Nationals, respectively:
Friday, September 28
WAS (Redding, 123 ERA+) @ PHI (Hamels, 129 ERA+)
FLA (Kim, 79 ERA+) @ NYM (Perez, 128 ERA+)
Saturday, September 29
WAS (Chico, 92 ERA+) @ PHI (Eaton, 72 ERA+)
FLA (Seddon, 62 ERA+) @ NYM (Maine, 105 ERA+)
Sunday, September 30
WAS (Bergmann, 101 ERA+) @ PHI (Moyer, 89 ERA+)
FLA (Willis, 82 ERA+) @ NYM (Glavine, 103 ERA+)
The pitching match-ups certainly favor the Mets, but you never know.
In the Event of a Tie
Per the Phillies website, here’s how the tie-breakers will go down, if they occur:
- If there’s a five-way tie — yes, it’s possible — with the Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies, New York and Philadelphia kick off the party with a one-game playoff on Monday at Citizens Bank Park to determine the NL East winner.
- Meanwhile, the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Padres then grapple for the NL West. Colorado, by virtue of the best head-to-head record among those three, could choose whether to play two games at home or one game on the road.
- Once the divisions are settled, the remaining trio must determine the NL Wild Card, starting another three-team playoff on Wednesday and Thursday. Colorado, if involved, would again have the best head-to-head record, and choose between two home games or one road game.
- If it’s an NL West club, the Wild Card winner would start the playoffs in either New York or Philadelphia. If it’s an NL East team, the NL West winner hosts.