Chipper Jones on the Phillies: “we’re not scared of them”

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Chipper Jones has no illusions that the Braves are going to catch the Phillies in the NL East — he rules that possibility out — but he thinks the Braves stack up pretty well with them overall and is hoping the teams meet in the playoffs:

“The only team that can really put any pressure on them and beat them somewhat is us. And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason. If we get them head-to-head, we like our chances. We’ve beaten their big three. I’m not sure if any other team in baseball has beaten their big three. They’re a great ballclub, don’t get me wrong. But we’re not scared of them. It’s going to be a knock down, drag out [fight].”

I think playoff predictions are kind of silly. Every team — even the best teams — play three or four lackluster games in a row several times a season and every team — even flawed ones — play three or four awesome games in a row several times a year.  If those things line up just right (or wrong) in a series in October we tend to read more into it than we should. Which is understandable because of the stakes involved and the significance of the victory after the fact. But it’s not like one can predict that kind of thing.

So, yeah, if the Braves meet the Phillies in the NLCS there is a chance they could beat them. If you put a gun to my head and make me pick a winner I say it’s the Phillies because I have a hard time seeing how anyone can beat Halladay, Lee and Hamels the requisite number of times to advance past them. But of course there is a chance anyone can beat anyone in a short series, so that’s not worth a ton.

And given the Braves’ postseason experiences over the course of his career, Chipper Jones knows that inferior teams can easily beat superior teams at any time because the playoffs are just crazy and unpredictable like that. Indeed, he knows that better than any active player in baseball. Which makes me think that — wait for it — he’s just trying to mess with Phillies fans, much the way he messed with Mets fans for years.

Imagine that. A Braves partisan baiting Phillies fans.  That’s unpossible!

Tony Clark: among players, the universal DH “is gaining momentum”

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway: enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.