Sid Bream declines Braves’ request to throw out the first pitch

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For Pirates fans old enough to remember the 1992 NLCS, former Braves first baseman Sid Bream still haunts their memories. The image of Francisco Cabrera lining Stan Belinda’s pitch to left field, of Barry Bonds’ throw being to the right of home plate, of catcher Mike LaValliere reaching for it and diving back to tag Bream, of Bream’s foot hitting home plate just a split-second before the tag. It was the last we heard of the Pirates until this year.

The Pirates ended their playoff drought and, if they win their Wild Card play-in game against the Reds (assuming, of course, that the Cardinals clinch the NL Central title), they just might match up against the Braves in the NLDS. Knowing this, the Braves asked Bream if he would like to throw out the first pitch before a Pirates-Braves playoff match-up. Bream declined, reports Rob Biertempfel.

“Whatever their motive (for the invite) was, I don’t want to be involved,” Bream said Friday by phone.[…]“I wasn’t surprised (by the offer),” Bream said. “Whether their motive was to rub it in the Pirates’ faces, I don’t know. I think it was just more of a gesture to commemorate those two teams getting back together in the postseason. But I’ll stay neutral. I’m not going to do anything to tell the fans in Atlanta or Pittsburgh that I’m (rooting) one way or the other.”

Bream played for the Pirates from September 1985 through the 1990 season. In December 1990, he signed with the Braves as a free agent, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Relive Bream’s unforgettable moment below:

A.J. Hinch responds to Ken Giles’ negative comments about Astros

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On Sunday, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles spoke to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. Giles said, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston.” Giles won a World Series with the Astros last year, but talked about communication issues with the Astros and compared them unfavorably to the Blue Jays. Giles described the communication as having been “lost” and credited the Jays for staying patient with him.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to Giles’ comments on Monday. Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Hinch said:

I think he’s wrong and I’m disappointed that he would go down that path given how much work and time and energy and communication that our front office, our coaching staff, me, we all went through this with him. And I understand, there was some disappointment in his tenure as an Astro because of the turbulent way things went about. We gave him every opportunity, we communicated with him effectively, we have an incredible culture where every single player will tell you it’s one of the best cultures they’ve had, one of the best communication envrionments they’ve had. They all know their roles. They all know their situations. To have one person out of all the guys in our clubhouse come out and claim otherwise is flat wrong.

While Giles certainly could be embellishing or deliberately misconstruing his time there, Hinch’s rebuttal doesn’t actually disqualify anything Giles said. Giles certainly could have had a negative experience in Houston even if everyone else was enjoying the “incredible culture” and “one of the best communication environments.”

Given how the Astros — including Hinch — responded to criticism about their acquiring an accused domestic abuser, they’re not in the best position to boast about an “incredible culture” anyway.

At any rate, this is a he-said, he-said situation. If anything more comes of it, it will be Giles further torching a bridge.