Look, it’s not always easy being a Braves fan. Part of it is because the hard core among us have to constantly answer for the largely indifferent Atlanta fan base, their playoff-no-shows and the Tomahawk Chop. Part of it is that whole Buffalo Bills-esque five-pennants-but-only-one-title thing (though I’d take that over what anyone besides the Yankees have done in recent history).
A lot of it, though, is that there has never been anything particularly cool about the Braves. Lots of good players, but not many cool ones (my latest hope, Jason Heyward, strikes me as kind of a nerd, actually; here’s hoping I’m wrong). No moments that transfer well to t-shirts or catch phrases that excite the fan base, however briefly. We have no “Chooooch!” or “Yooouuuk!” and our time in the national media spotlight was more a function of Ted Turner needing to fill time on his network in the 80s than of sustained excellence which, while it came later, was somehow less fun.
All of which is to say that I am 100% unsurprised that when the team starts to rally around something — in this case a rally song — that it’s kinda lame and old: “Shakin” by Eddie Money, according to Dave O’Brien. You know, from the 1982 “No Control” album? The one with this video? No, you don’t know because you either weren’t alive then or you had moved on from Eddie Money after the 70s were over to something less … sucky.
Not that I have a huge problem with it. I’m nearly 38 years old and I’m kind of lame myself. And, sure, nine year-old Craigy actually kind of liked that song. Heck, in some sort of half-ironic way I like it now. I hope the Braves’ adoption of it is ironic. I just kind of doubt it is.
And the problem will be if this takes hold and the Braves rip off, like, 20 wins in 30 games. Then it will start to become a thing. And once again I will have lots of people asking me why the Braves are so lame. And I will have absolutely no answer.
But I guess if it comes with wins, I won’t care.
“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”
That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.
Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.
When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.
The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.
Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.
Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.