About two weeks ago, I was heading to Alpharetta, Georgia and I passed the place where I spent a large amount of my time growing up, Turner Field, now known as Georgia State Stadium, since it is the home of the Georgia State Panthers football. I still call it Turner Field, though, because that’s what I’ve always known it as. I witnessed many victories inside those friendly confines and very few losses. In fact, a few months ago, I did the math, and I realized that I had been to 42 Braves games, 41 of which game at Turner Field. The Braves home record when I attend is 31-10. I like to think of myself as the Braves ‘good luck charm’. Because they almost never lose when I’m in attendance. As I passed the stadium, I was suddenly taken back to my childhood, I felt the thrill that I felt as a little kid, I felt like a kid in a candy store all over again. I’ve seen so many Braves greats take the field there. I was taken back to when I was little and we would pull up to the stadium and I would blurt out the ESPN theme song, I could hear Crazy Train over the PA system in my head as I passed it. So many great memories were made there. I never visited the stadium when I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself. It was like I was a little kid again for that split-second. So many life-long friends were made inside those four walls. I haven’t been inside SunTrust Park yet, but I did pass it as I was headed home that weekend and I plan to visit in 2020. Nice to see you again, old friend.
The date was September 3rd, 1939, exactly 80 years ago today, when my Grandma Sherry first saw the light of day. I was blessed to spend 19 of my 21 years on earth with her. I often catch myself thinking about she would say or do if she could see where my life is today. I often reflect on the many conversations that the two of us shared on the back porch of both her days in Spanish Fort at 7 Yankee Trove and Wetumpka, where she lived when God called her home on December 30, 2017, six days after she fell ill on Christmas Eve of that year. I remember her saying multiple times “I love Kid Rock, I just wish he didn’t talk so ugly.” Many of our conversations involved some sort of life-lesson or one of her many sayings that should’ve been trademarked. One of those many sayings was “Nobody goes hungry under Mama’s watch.” One of her many valuable life-lessons that also should’ve been trademarked was “There is never a right time to do the wrong thing and never a wrong time to do the right thing.” She was always preaching about treating people with respect, no matter how wrong they were. In fact, recently a family friend came over to the house and said that she had talked to my aunt and my aunt said I needed to go with them to see Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock. I immediately began to think of how many times Grandma Sherry and I had talked about seeing Kid Rock if he was ever close. Sadly, she never got to see him, so I will go see him for her on September 21. Even though I selfishly wish she was still here, I know that she is not suffering and that she is finally back with Big Ken after 11 years of being apart, when he died of pancreatic cancer in 2006. I will write a piece dedicated to him at a later date. But for now, Happy 80th Birthday, Grandma Sherry, give Big Ken a hug for me. We will meet again one day soon.
Coming into this weekend series against the Phillies, Atlanta was fresh off a two-game sweep courtesy of the Kansas City Royals. However, the Braves looked to be in mid-season form during the weekend in Philadelphia or what some may call “pre All-Star break” form. Friday night, Atlanta picked up a much-needed 9-2 win and on Saturday, the bats came to life and the Phillies never really had a chance from the start. Winning Saturday’s contest 15-7. A big part of that was an Ozzie Albies 3rd inning grand slam. The slam was Ozzie’s 15th homer of the year. Even though the Braves couldn’t win on Sunday, I think you have to feel really confident taking two of 3 from Philadelphia and head to Washington D.C. with a series win. Atlanta is now (62-44) on the year and 5.5 games ahead of Washington. One big impact was Ronald Acuña exiting the Sunday game with neck tightness and gave way to Charlie Culberson. Brian Snitker said Ronald Acuña “checked out good, we’ll just wait until tomorrow to see how he feels.” Snitker also said he thinks there is a chance that the All-Star center fielder could play on Monday night in Washington. On to Washington, my friends! Monday’s game will feature Dallas Keuchel taking the mound for Atlanta and Patrick Corbin getting the nod for the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05pm CT from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Picture: The Sports Herald-Morganton.
Some might say that the two-game sweep against the Kansas City Royals, the second-worst team in Major League Baseball, trailing only Baltimore, was destined to happen or that it’s the same thing in a different year. But personally, I think it’s just what the Braves needed to light a fire under themselves and right the ship against the two team that have been in the taillights of the Braves for a number of months now. I mentioned it to a friend the other night and I’ll say it again “Baseball is a beautifully, cruel game, you’re going to lose games that you’re supposed to win at some point every season. That’s just how it works.” You might also say “The Braves always choke after the All-Star break.” Or “I told you this would happen it always does.” But, what you critics fail to realize is this. The 2019 Braves lineup is one of the most potent lineups in baseball behind maybe the Dodgers. These guys were picked third in the preseason but yet, look where they are. This team loves playing under pressure, that’s when they play their best. Personally, I think the best is only months away. Friday’s game will feature two of the best pitchers in baseball in Mike Soroka and Jake Arietta going head-to-head in “The City of Brotherly Love” at 6:05pm CT.
Early on in the 2019 season if you had told me that Josh Donaldson would be putting up the kind of numbers that he has produced since the All-Star break has ended I would’ve probably laughed, honestly. But to my surprise, the Auburn University alum has been nothing short of scorching hot since then and he continued that hot streak on Friday night in a walk-off win for the Braves against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park, when he absolutely scorched the game-winning hit off of Nationals relief pitcher, Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning to left-center field that brought home Ronald Acuña Jr. and raised the Braves record to (59-40). The last 62 games of the 2019 regular season will be extremely critical for Atlanta as 22 percent of their remaining games come against these talented Washington Nationals. What can we expect from Josh Donaldson over the last 62 games of the regular season?
It had been a long time since the Atlanta Braves won a series in San Diego against the San Diego Padres, eight years to be exact. Their last series win in San Diego was back in 2011, when I was in the eighth grade. Eight years might not seem like a long time to us now, but in the sports world, it’s an eternity. The Braves snapped that eight-year drought with a 7-5 win in 10 innings on Saturday thanks to Nick Markakis, who leapt from the right field warning track to save the Braves 56th win of the year. On Sunday, it wasn’t much different, in the fifth inning, All-Star centerfielder, Ronald Acuña Jr. played the role of Superman as he left his feet on the center field warning track, landing almost over the wall, robbing Padres slugger, Manny Machado of a two-run home run that would’ve given San Diego a 2-0 lead. Mike Soroka was his usual self, shutting out the Friars through 7 innings. In the eighth inning, the Atlanta Braves plated four runs. In the bottom of that inning, Touki Toussaint surrendered a run, but held Andy Greene’s club right there and turned things over to AJ Minter to slam the door and preserve the Braves first series sweep in San Diego in 13 years, yes 13 years. I was eight the last time Atlanta swept the Padres on the road, I was also in the third grade. Atlanta has now won four-straight games and boards a plane bound for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to begin a three-game set at Miller Park with the Milwaukee Brewers, Monday through Wednesday. Tomorrow’s game starts at 7:10pm CT and will pit Max Fried against Adrian Houser against each other. The Braves are now (57-37) on the season. Good things are worth waiting for my friends.
It’s that time again, the time when the world’s most elite baseball players go head-to-head for one night. It all starts with the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby with some of the game’s most vaunted sluggers, one of those vaunted sluggers is Atlanta’s own, Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuna Jr. has 21 homers and is responsible for shattering two Atlanta franchise-records, the franchise-record for homers in a month, which was broken in June 2019 when Atlanta sent a total of 56 baseballs over walls all across the country. The record was fittingly broken by Acuña Jr. at home on Sunday, June 30, 2019. Ronald is also responsible for breaking the franchise-record for breaking the franchise-record for most homers hit by a Braves team before the All-Star break, when he belted the 141st homer of the year on July 6, 2019 vs. Miami’s Caleb Smith on the first pitch of his first inning at bat. It seems fitting that the 21-year-old is an all-star right? He also caught the last first-half out for Atlanta on July 7, 2019 to help preserve the Braves 4-3 win over the Fish. In addition to Acuña Jr., the Braves are sending first baseman Freddie Freeman and 21-year-old starting pitcher Mike Soroka to Cleveland. Soroka and Acuña Jr. will become the youngest pair of teammates to ever be on All-Star rosters in its 90-year history, Acuña Jr. will also be the youngest Home Run Derby participant ever. The Home Run Derby will start at 7pm CT on July 8, 2019 followed by the 90th MLB All-Star Game at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox on July 9, 2019. What should we expect from the second-half of the season?