Tom Glavine officially retires, joins Braves front office

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Tom Glavine big.jpgAfter a year or so of denial, anger and bargaining, Tom
Glavine has finally reached acceptance,  officially ending the
playing portion of his baseball career.  He’s taking a job in the Braves’ front office as the assistant to team president John Schuerholz.  He’ll also do
a bit of broadcasting work, both on Braves radio and on FOX Sports
South, and will do appearances, special projects and that sort of thing
for Frank Wren and Bobby Cox.

I’ve long known that he would never pitch again, but this announcement
still makes me a little sad.  Mostly because I’ve always felt like Tom
Glavine and I grew up together. I was 14 years-old when I watched his
Major League debut. I was on vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach.
It was raining so we were hanging out in the hotel. I clicked on the TV
and the Braves were playing the Astros. Skip kept going on about how
young he was. He mentioned that Glavine had some promise, but made a
far bigger deal about him having been a hockey prospect.  Glavine got
shelled that day, giving up six runs on ten hits in less than four
innings.  To my untrained eye there was nothing special about him. I
remember thinking that maybe he made a bad decision giving up on the
hockey. I certainly had no idea that he’d save the franchise like he
did.

Of course Glavine matured, winning more games, becoming more confident
on the mound, winning Cy Youngs and leading the Braves to the World
Series multiple times. I was always a bigger Maddux fan than Glavine
fan, but I’ve never been more thrilled by a Braves’ pitching
performance than I was Glavine’s in Game 6 of the
1995 World Series. In some ways Maddux was that guy you always knew
would do well.  I know intellectually that Tom Glavine was supremely
talented as well, but having watched his debut, I always saw a bit of
that kid from 1987 in him. I always felt happier for him when he did
well, as if he were some underdog or something, even though he
obviously wasn’t. I rooted for him in ways that I never rooted for Maddux. I always felt he needed my chores a little more.

I’m guessing every fan of a certain age can identify with this.  Can
name the first guy whose whole career they watched really, really
closely. The first guy with whom they took the entire ride.  For me
that guy is Tom Glavine and the ride is now officially over.

Guess it’s time to get back in line and ride again.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).