They’re still my team, but boy oh boy were the 2013 Braves a joyless and unfun bunch. On the heels of the “policeman of the unwritten rules” stuff last month comes this from the New York Post. Seems that the reason Chipper Jones ceremonial first pitch last week was thrown out to the Braves mascot rather than an active player is because no active player would do it.
Why? Because Chipper declined to be a blindless homer when asked to handicap the series:
Evidently, Braves players were not happy Jones had gone on the radio earlier in the day with the team’s flagship station, 680 The Fan, and predicted the Dodgers would win the NLDS in four games. So no player volunteered to catch the pitch.
Former manager Bobby Cox threw out the ceremonial Game 2 first pitch to Tim Hudson.
For a bunch that claims to adhere to the strictest professionalism in the game you look pretty unprofessional childishly shunning a franchise icon because, like just about everyone else on the planet, he recognized that the Dodgers were pretty good.
And I guess now Chipper will get no extra credit for being right either. Oh well.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.