Friday, April 20, 2007

play ball

The Braves are off to a great start, 11-5, and they are presently leading in the National League East, one half game ahead of the Mets. By the way, they pounded the Mets this evening, winning 7-3. Brian McCann and Matt Diaz are both hitting above .300. Edgar Renteria is knocking on the door at .298, and Chipper and Andruw Jones and Jeff Francouer have hit ten home runs between them. The breaking news, however, is the strengthened bullpen, upgraded during the off-season with Mike Gonzales, Rafael Soriano, Bob Wickman and Chad Paronto. Tim Hudson and John Smoltz have given very strong starts thus far, and Smoltz will likely achieve his 200th win in the near future (he is now at 195, and he also has 154 saves). It looks to be a good year, which is something of a surprise. It is a long season, to be sure, but no one had them pegged to be doing this well.

A couple of ecclesial and cultural asides: Atlanta will never be able to host a United Methodist General Conference, because of the ban on Native American mascots (although Florida, which will host the GC in a few years, is home to the Florida State Seminoles, who have a vastly greater influence upon their state than do the Richmond Braves in Virginia...Am I missing something here?). And Jack from Haiti, who lives with us, loves the fact that so many major league baseball players are from Latin America and the Carribean. He knew nothing about baseball when he arrived (he is into soccer), but he has picked up on it quickly; he likes the banter between the announcers, and, of course, the Geico commercials ("So easy a caveman can do it!").

Interestingly, the number of African American baseball players is declining, while the latino and carribean representation is growing. And in addition, even though they share the island of Hispaniola, there are no baseball players from Haiti, while, on the other hand, its neighbor the Dominican Republic is well represented. As of opening day 2007 there were 443 players, and four managers from Dominican; among the managers is Felipe Alou, a former player with the Braves. Amazing!


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