Atlanta Braves

Tragedy strikes Braves’ fan

Going to the ballpark and getting tanked ain’t what it used to be. In fact, the ol’ ball game is becoming a deathtrap for fans who decide to toss a couple back and get goofy. The latest tragedy comes out of Atlanta where a 25-year-old man fell approximately 150 to his death during the eighth inning of Wednesday night’s game between the Braves and the Mets. Apparently, he was trying to slide down a hand rail when he lost his balance and fell.

“The Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Police Department are investigating the tragic accident that resulted in the death of a 25-year old male fan at last night’s game,” the Atlanta Braves said in a statement. “Our sincerest and heartfelt condolences go out to his family.”

The senior investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, Mark Guilbeau, said Thursday that the man who fell was Justin Hayes, of Cumming, Ga.

Guilbeau said an autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death, but officials believe the victim had consumed alcohol before he fell. The investigation is “pointing toward drinking. Alcohol was a factor,” said Atlanta police department spokesman Ronald Campbell on Thursday.

Campbell said Hayes was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with serious head injuries.

Braves spokesman Brad Hainje said Hayes apparently fell from the club level to the landing on the stairwell on the field level during the eighth inning.

These types of falls are becoming far to frequent at stadiums around the country and while everyone loves to partake in some frosty beverages during the game, we’re begging you heavy drinkers out there to practice good judgment and live to see another game.


[]: Fan Dies After Falling 150 Feet At Stadium

MLB General

The Full Count: Padres come up big

1. (Re)taking the Lead: The Padres’ tie with the Phillies atop the wild card standings didn’t last very long. As the Phillies lost to the Braves, San Diego beat San Francisco 6-4 with a huge rally in the ninth. Brian Giles hit a game-winning three run homer to cap off a four-run ninth. The 86-71 Padres are theoretically in the division race too, at two games back, but it is the wild card that gives them a better shot at making the playoffs. They will play their last division game of the year Wednesday at San Francisco before heading off to Milwaukee for their last series.

2. The New Contenders: The Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies are two late-season additions to the wild card race. They are the two hottest teams in the majors, and both won on Tuesday as well. The Rockies have won nine in a row, while the Braves have won eight of their last nine games, including a key 10-6 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday. The win, powered by Mark Teixeira and Chipper Jones homers, put the Braves at three games back in the wild card. The Rockies are even closer, at just one game back of the Padres. They beat Los Angeles, who is officially out of the race, by a score of 9-7. Troy Tulowitzki hit his 23rd homer of the year and Todd Helton added three hits for Colorado. The Rockies, who have scored the fifth-most runs in the majors, will play the Dodgers once more and then face the Diamondbacks for a season-ending three game set.

3. Power Play: The Brewers are edging closer to the playoffs, just two games back of the Cubs after a 9-1 win over St. Louis. They wouldn’t even be near contention without the contributions of MVP candidate Prince Fielder, who added two homers to his league-leading total. Fielder now has 50 home runs, the youngest player ever to reach that mark. Additionally, he and his father Cecil are the only father-son tandem in big league history to each have 50-home run seasons. Prince is having a truly unbelievable season for a second-year player, almost matching what Ryan Howard did last year. He has almost doubled his rookie homerun total (28) while also improving every other category known to man. He isn’t the leading MVP candidate, but he will pick up plenty of votes, especially because he reached the big 5-0.

Player of the Day: Victor Martinez, Indians: 2-4, HR (25), 3 RBIs in a 4-3 win over Seattle. Why isn’t Martinez one of the MVP candidates? He has been by far the Indians’ best hitter this season, with a .301 average and 110 RBIs, both leading the team.

MLB General

The Full Count: Big Papi does it again

1. One Man Show: Last year David Ortiz carried the Red Sox to victory in many games. This year this has not been a common occurrence, though he did single-handedly beat the Devil Rays on Wednesday. Big Papi had two homers and five RBIs, driving in all of Boston’s runs in a 5-4 win. His walk off home run in the ninth was the 9th of his career, giving Boston their 89th win. Ortiz arguably should have won the MVP either of the last two years, though this year he isn’t even close. Though he’s hitting a career-best .321, Ortiz’s 31 homers and 104 RBI are not even close to his usual output, nor the totals of the leading candidates. He is having an excellent month so far, and should be a force in the playoffs.

2. The Amazing Angels: The Los Angeles Angels just keep piling on the wins. They’ve already virtually secured a playoff spot with the biggest division lead in baseball (9.5 games). The Angels beat Baltimore 18-5 on Wednesday, scoring double-digit runs for the second straight game against the pitiful Orioles. Garrett Anderson continued his blistering month with a 5-RBI performance. MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero tacked on four RBIs, giving him 118 on the year in addition to a .327 average. The offense’s excellence gave Kelvim Escobar the win despite a sub-par start from him. Escobar won his 17th game of the season and 100th for his career despite allowing six runs. The 31-year-old is enjoying a career year, with personal bests in wins and ERA. Throughout the year he has provided consistency to a rotation that desperately needed him to succeed. With the win, the Angels kept the second-best record in the majors.

3. Atlanta is out: The Atlanta Braves, a prime contender about a month ago, now find themselves almost without any hope of making the playoffs. With 5 losses in their last 6 games against the Mets, they are 9.5 games back of them in the division. The Braves are five games out of the wild card, with five teams ahead of them. Since August 15 they have gone 10-16, with their offense as a big problem. Though their lineup has produced a few blowout victories over this span, the Braves lost many games in which their opponents only scored 4 or 5 runs. One example is Wednesday’s game against the Mets, when the Braves lost 4-3. John Smoltz had an above-average start, but the bullpen allowed two runs and the offense couldn’t really get anything going. Now all the Braves are playing for is personal pride, because Atlanta won’t see playoff baseball until at least next season.

Player of the Day: Jim Thome, White Sox: 3-4, HR (27, 499 career), 3 RBIs in a 7-4 win over Cleveland. Thome should become the third player to reach the 500-homerun mark this season, though he has received considerably less attention than Frank Thomas and A-Rod when they approached the mark. Perhaps that’s because he plays for the third-worst team in the majors this season.

MLB General

The Full Count: Teixeira still paying dividends

1. Terrific Tex: The biggest winner at the trade deadline is as clear now as it was on August 1. The Atlanta Braves, with their acquisition of Mark Teixeira, got one of the best hitters in the league. In 18 games with the Braves, Teixeira has nine homers and 25 RBIs, including two homers and six runs driven in on Monday against the Reds. It was Teixeira’s second straight multi-homer game as he led the Braves to a 14-4 blowout of Cincy. Brian McCann added a grand slam, and Andruw Jones also homered for Atlanta. Tim Hudson didn’t pitch at his best level (6 innings, 3 runs), but he was good enough to become the first National League pitcher with 15 wins. The win puts the Braves at one game back of the Padres in the wild card race.

2. Battle of the Best: Two of baseball’s best teams, the Angels and the Yankees, began a series in exciting fashion on Monday. The Angels won 7-6 in the 10th inning thanks to a game-winning RBI double by backup catcher Ryan Budde. The Angels barely survived in a game that had six lead changes and not a lot of pitching. For the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez became the first player in baseball to hit 40 homers this year, and had three more RBIs, giving him 118. Jorge Posada also homered and drove in three, but the Angels were able to win with a more balanced attack on offense. LA improved to 73-51, the second-best record in baseball behind the Red Sox. The Yanks fell to five games back in the division and 1.5 back in the wild card.

3. The Streaks are Over: Overall it was a good night for the Chicago White Sox, as they snapped an eight-game losing streak with 4-3 win over the Royals. But the best thing that has happened to the team this season, Bobby Jenks’ 41 straight retired batters, came to a close. Jenks gave up a leadoff single to Joey Gathright in the ninth, ending his remarkable streak, which tied the previous major league record. He then retired the next three batters for his 34th save. The Sox were able to win with a rally in the seventh, tying them with Kansas City for last place. It’s an embarrassment for the franchise to be even near the Royals, especially considering their above-average payroll and recent World Series championship. But it’s been a lost season for the White Sox for months now, so many Chicago fans are probably already looking forward to next season.

Player of the Day: Tim Wakefield, Red Sox: 7 innings, four hits, no runs, 5 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over the Devil Rays. Wakefield improved to 15-10, tying him for the major league wins lead.

MLB General

The Full Count: Padding the records

1. 759 and 133: Two recently set major league records were furthered in Wednesday’s Braves-Giants game. Bobby Cox, who set the major league record for most ejections with 132 on Tuesday, got tossed again while arguing a balk call on Tim Hudson. Also, ejected in separate incidents were first baseman Ryan Klesko and manager Bruce Bochy of the Giants, both for arguing balls and strikes. There was plenty of other excitement in this one besides the ejections. Barry Bonds hit homerun #759 into the stands in right-center, remarkably close to Hank Aaron’s image along the outfield wall. The crowd at Turner Field reacted mainly with boos, though a few (including me) were applauding with respect if not admiration. As far as the actual game went, the Braves won 6-3, thanks to Hudson’s excellent pitching and a sixth-inning rally. Hudson went eight innings with three runs allowed and two questionable balk calls. He is undefeated since the All Star break, and at 14-5, is among the contenders for the NL Cy Young award. The Braves won took control of this one when they scored four runs in the sixth, as they took advantage of Russ Ortiz’s inability to throw strikes. With the win they improved to 64-56 and moved passed the Phillies into second place in the NL East.

2. Here Come the Cards: Once in last place, the St. Louis Cardinals are now inching closer to the Brewers and Cubs in the NL Central. With four wins in a row (and seven wins their last ten games), the Cards are now just 3.5 game behind the Brewers for the division lead. Their pitching staff, which has taken a beating the majority of the season, is actually the reason for their recent success. Joel Pineiro, acquired from the Red Sox earlier this month, won his second start in a row on Wednesday. Pineiro pitched seven strong innings as St. Louis topped Milwaukee 8-3. Albert Pujols hit his 25th homerun and Scott Rolen went 4-5 to power the offense. Though the Cardinals still have a losing record (57-60), if they continue this success they will be viewed as a serious contender in the NL Central.

3. Nine-run ninth: The Mets scored 5 runs in the first, 5 runs in the ninth, and nothing in between. Their win over the Pirates on Thursday still wasn’t easy. Despite leading 10-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, this game was a close call for New York. The Pirates piled on 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth off Aaron Sele, including a Jason Bay two-run double. The Mets held on for the win when Billy Wagner came in for his 28th save. New York’s ninth inning was fueled by a throwing error by Pirates pitcher Shawn Chacon. After the error they scored four runs off of five straight hits. The win was the third in a row for the Mets, who kept a 3.5 game lead in the division.

Player of the Day: Russell Martin, Dodgers: 2-4, 2 HR (14), 3 RBI in a 6-3 win over Houston.

MLB General

The Full Count: Tigers claim first place

1. The Rally for First: Once again the Detroit Tigers are the division leaders after beating Cleveland 6-2 in ten innings. They won thanks to four runs in the tenth off Indians closer Joe Borowski. Gary Sheffield started it off with an RBI single, then red-hot Magglio Ordonez hit a three-run homer. Ordonez has re-inserted himself into the AL MVP race with an unbelievable August. Ordonez has 6 homers and 20 RBI this month, both American League-leading totals. He also has a 1.363 OPS this month, which is first in the majors. Starter Jeremy Bonderman broke out of his slump in this one with 7 innings, 2 runs, and 8 strikeouts. It was Bonderman’s first quality start since July 19. The Tigers and Indians will play again tomorrow, then a three-game set next week.

2. Padre Power: The San Diego Padres gained a game on the Diamondbacks after pounding Colorado 8-0. They scored all their runs in the first four innings off Jeff Francis, including a 6-run second inning. Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a homer and three RBIs, and Morgan Ensberg added a long ball as well. Greg Maddux pitched five-plus shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 4.00. The Padres have now won two in a row compared to Arizona’s two straight losses, bringing them within two games in the divisional race. San Diego also leads the wild card by a game over Philadelphia.

3. You’re Outta Here: Yet another record was set on Tuesday. This one has been waiting almost two months to be broken. Bobby Cox, the Braves’ legendary manager, was ejected for the 132nd time in his career, breaking John McGraw’s major league record. He was tossed for arguing balls and strikes after Chipper Jones was struck out looking with the Braves trailing 3-0. The Braves rallied to win 5-4, ironically winning off Jones’ hit in the ninth. It was the first ejection for Cox since June 23, giving him 43 straight games without an ejection before this one. McGraw had been ejected 14 times as a player, so Cox already held the record for managers.

Player of the Day: Jack Cust, A’s: 2-3, 2 HRs (20), 3 RBIs in a 4-3 win over the White Sox. Cust has 12 RBIs in his last six games, and is on pace for 30 homers this season.

MLB General

The Full Count: Mariners take the lead

1. The New Wild Card Leaders: The Mariners just keep on winning, and that has put them above the Yankees and Tigers for the wild card lead in the American League. Seattle just swept the Orioles to improve to 63-49, one game above those other teams. They won the series with offense, with 31 total runs and a 13-8 win on Thursday. Ichiro went 3-6 with 3 RBIs and had three hits in every game of the series. Rookie Adam Jones also joined in the fun with 3 hits and 4 runs. Starter Horacio Ramirez won despite allowing seven runs and five walks in five innings. Ramirez is 7-3 on the year despite a 7.12 ERA. Seattle is still close to the Angels, at 2.5 back, though if they make the playoffs it’s more likely they would do so via the wild card. And if the season ended today, that’s exactly what would happen.

2. Willie Saves the Day: The Braves were about to blow another game against the Mets. With a 7-3 lead entering the ninth inning, they allowed a two-run homer to David Wright and another run that put the Mets within one. The Carlos Delgado came up and hit a shot to leftfield that would have been a game-tying homer, but Willie Harris stretched over the wall and made a magnificent catch. The catch saved the game for the Braves, and now they are 3.5 games back in the division and just a half-game back in the wild card race. They continued their dominance of the Mets this season, with an overall 8-4 series lead. Atlanta has won every series against the Mets 2-1 this year. Thursday’s win was also fueled by their potent offense, as Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira hit back-to-back homers in the fifth. The Braves are the third-highest scoring team in the NL, behind only the Phillies and Rockies.

3. What an Embarrassment: The Tigers were supposed to get back on track with a four-game home series against the pitiful Devil Rays. With a 2-0 series lead, they blew the last two games, keeping them behind in both the division and wild card races. Jeremy Bonderman allowed five or more runs for his fourth start in a row, with 7 runs in 6 innings. He lost all four of those starts, and is now 10-5 with a 4.75 ERA. Meanwhile, Scott Kazmir of the Devil Rays shut down the Tigers’ offense, with six scoreless innings and seven strikeouts. Kazmir is now 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA since the All Star break. Also hot on the D-Rays is Carl Crawford, who went 3-4 with a homer and has six straight multi-hit games. The Devil Rays, though, are still far and away the majors’ worst team.

Player of the Day: Jacque Jones, Cubs: 4-5, 4 RBIs in a 10-2 win over Colorado.

MLB General

The Full Count: Dodgers down for the count

1. The Dodgers’ Downfall: Not too long ago the division leaders, the slumping Dodgers now find themselves in fourth place. They were passed by the Rockies on Wednesday as they lost their sixth straight game. They were shut out 1-0 by the Reds, their third shutout loss in a row and fourth in the last five games. Aaron Harang shut down the Dodgers with eight scoreless innings and eight strikeouts. Los Angeles, now 58-55, is five games back in the division but falling fast. They are 1-9 their last ten games, while the top three teams in the division have winning records their last ten. The Dodgers’ problem is clear: hitting. They have a team .211 batting average during the losing streak, while their team ERA is an excellent 3.29. It’s clear now they should have made a trade for a slugger at the trading deadline. If they cannot start hitting, they could fall completely out of the playoff picture.

2. Battle of the Best: The Angels won the first two games of their three-game set against the Red Sox. In the third, the Red Sox won 9-6 despite poor starting pitching. Jon Lester allowed five runs in three-plus innings, his worst outing of the year so far. However, the Angels’ Dustin Moseley fared even worse, with six runs and ten hits in almost five innings. Mike Lowell led the offensive charge for the Red Sox, with a 4-4 performance that included three doubles and two RBIs. Dustin Pedroia had three hits, three runs and his third homer of the season. The Red Sox are now one away from becoming the first major league team to reach 70 wins. They gained another game on the Yankees, and the division lead is now six games.

3. Bullpen Woes: Once again, the Braves built up a lead only to have it blown by their bullpen. They are starting to resemble last year’s team in this respect. Atlanta led the Mets 3-1 entering the 7th inning, but then John Smoltz allowed two runs off a Luis Castillo single. In the eighth, the recently shaky Rafael Soriano came in, allowed a solo homer to Moises Alou, and the Mets won 4-3. For Soriano, it was his sixth time in his last thirteen appearances that he allowed a run. Five of those games resulted in losses. Closer Bob Wickman has blown five saves, all on the road. If the Braves’ best relievers can’t get going, they will have no shot at making the playoffs, no matter how good their offense is.

Player of the Day: Garrett Atkins, Rockies: 4-4, 6 RBIs in a 19-4 win over the Brewers. Atkins’ career-high RBI total came as part of a 23-hit parade by the Rockies.

MLB General

The Full Count: WIld Card race is starting to matter

1. It’s Getting Wilder: Finally we have reached that point of the season where the wild card standings are starting to take shape. Right now, both leagues have wide-open chases, with the American League wild card being the closest. Three teams–the Tigers, Yankees, and Mariners–are separated by just one game. The Tigers ended their losing streak on Monday with a 6-4 win over the Devil Rays. The Yankees kept the heat on Detroit, remaining a half-game back with their fourth straight win. The Tigers are also within a half-game of division leader Cleveland, which means the Yankees might have to deal with the Indians in the wild card chase eventually. In the National League, an incredible six teams are separated by three games. San Diego is leading right now, with Atlanta a close second. The Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, and even the Rockies all are close as well. While last year’s wild card races weren’t very close in September, this year they should go right down to the finish.

2. The Cubs’ Bad Day: It was a bad day for Chicago baseball fans. First, Alfonso Soriano was put on the disabled list due to a tear in his quad. He is expected to miss almost a month of action because of the injury, which occurred while Soriano was running the bases in Sunday’s game against the Mets. To make things worse, the Cubs lost in extra innings to the pitiful Astros. One of Rich Hill’s better starts was ruined as backup catcher Eric Munson hit a game-winning single in the tenth. Houston closer Brad Lidge came off two poor outings to get the win, and starter Wandy Rodriguez continued his up-and-down season with a great effort. The Cubs are still only a game back of the Brewers for the division lead. However, the Cubs aren’t playing nearly as well as they were a couple weeks ago, and now they have lost one of their best offensive players for a while.

3. Who’s #1?: The best two teams in baseball, the Red Sox and the Angels, are playing a series in Anaheim this week. The Angels took the first game, 4-2, after Jered Weaver outpitched Curt Schilling. In Schilling’s return from the DL, he allowed four runs in six innings to raise his ERA to 4.31. Weaver, coming off two outings of six runs allowed, just gave up two as his ERA dipped back to 3.94. The Red Sox and Angels, with 68 and 65 wins respectively, are far and away the best two teams in the majors. They will meet in a couple of weeks for a four-game series at Boston, and there could also be a rematch in the playoffs.

Player of the Day: Paul Byrd, Indians: 9 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs in a 4-0 win over Minnesota. The 10-4 Byrd has the fewest walks among all MLB starters with just 16 in 135 innings this year.

MLB General

The Full Count: Guerrero gets his groove back

1. Home Run Derby: Vlad Guerrero hadn’t homered in a month before Thursday’s game despite winning the Home Run Derby. He finally regained his power stroke in a big way as the Angels beat the A’s. Guerrero relived his Derby victory by bashing two out, driving in four runs in the process. He now has 16 homers, which puts him on a pace for 25. That would be his worst full-season total of his career. At least the All Star has 87 RBIs, good for fourth in the AL, and a .326 average. The Angels have now won 6 of their last 8, giving them a 3.5 game lead over Seattle.

2. The Slugging Continues: The Braves and Yankees, the league’s two hottest offenses, continued to be powerful on Thursday. However, both were let down by their pitching staffs. The Braves scored 11 runs in a 14-inning contest against the Astros, giving them double-digit runs for four straight games. But Rafael Soriano allowed a grand slam in the eighth inning that tied the game, and the Astros won off pitcher Jason Jennings’ RBI single. Despite out-hitting the Astros 22-11, the Braves found themselves losing, and dropping another game behind the victorious Mets and Phillies in the process. The Yankees, on the other hand, got crushed 13-9 by the White Sox mainly due to an awful start by Roger Clemens. Clemens allowed eight runs in the second inning, his shortest outing since 2000. The Yankees scored eight runs of their own in the second off Jon Garland, which marked the first time in major league history two teams have scored 8+ runs in the second. The rest of the game went the White Sox’s way, and the Yanks dropped to eight back behind Boston. They are competitive in the Wild Card race though, at three back behind Cleveland.

3. Cy Young Favorites: In the American League, Dan Haren is right now the obvious choice for the Cy Young award. He leads the league in ERA by a mile, with 2.44, and is tied with many with 13 wins. In the National League, the selection is more difficult. Chris Young has a 1.82 ERA, but is on the DL right now. So, Jake Peavy, with his 2.30 ERA and league-leading 154 strikeouts, is the front-runner. Peavy shut down the Diamondbacks on Thursday, pitching seven shutout innings and striking out 10. The Padres won 11-0 behind Peavy as recently acquired Morgan Ensberg hit two homers.

Player of the Day: Jermaine Dye, White Sox: 4-5, 2 HRs (21), 4 RBIs in a 13-9 win over New York.