The Atlanta Braves haven't been this bad in years, but it's gotten so much so that it was just a matter of when, not if, they were going to cut bait on manager Fredi Gonzalez. Well, the deed was done earlier today, with Atlanta occupying the National League East basement at 9-28. Ever since the team was sold, first to Time Warner, then to a smaller concern, the Braves have gradually reverted to their former status as league doormats, which they were for much of the 80's, save for the 1982 season when they won the NL West and fell to eventual World Series champ St. Louis. With the team leaving Atlanta proper for the suburbs next year, it was understood they wouldn't be in the hunt for the playoffs anyway, but none of this would be happening if they were still owned by Time Warner or some other large conglomerate, don't you think?
Getting swept by Colorado over the weekend leaves the Mets 1 1/2 games behind Washington in the NL East, as the two teams will begin their first series of the season tonight at Citi Field, marking the return of ex-Met Daniel Murphy to New York for the first time since signing with the Nationals in the off-season as a free agent. All Murphy has done is lead the NL in batting and base hits, but the tabloids are curious about how he'll be received by the Mets fans. Meh.
Considering the Mets were, reportedly, rooked by the umpires in losses on Saturday & Sunday, due largely to the umps' poor judgment and inability to ask their brothers in blue for help when they really need it, the defending NL champs' season-long 4 game losing streak shouldn't be a psychological crutch headed into tonight's game, but it's bound to. The lucky thing for the Mets is, they've still got 4 months plus of baseball to play after this series ends on Thursday. Plenty of time to right the ship. Why they have to sound the Chicken Little alarm is just flat out lame, and a sign of a slow sports news day in NYC.
Closer to home, high school baseball & softball sectionals begin today. Troy High's teams are as different as night and day in terms of records and seedings.
The softball team finished 11-6 in its first season in the Suburban Council, good for a #4 seed in Class A, and a home game vs. city rival Catholic Central on Friday afternoon. However, the Flying Horses will have to play the game without head coach George Rafferty, who has been "removed" (read: suspended) as coach in the wake of an incident during last Thursday's loss to Averill Park. Rafferty, upset about a call that favored the home-standing, defending Class A champs, bumped a base umpire and, according to an account in the Albany Times Union today, used foul language. In other words, he didn't do anything different from a major league baseball manager in getting ejected. Rafferty, in his 6th season at Troy, led the Flying Horses to back-to-back sectional titles before a quest for a 3-peat was thwarted last year by Averill Park.
On the baseball side, coach Will Whitty's club staggers into the post-season after a 5-4 loss to LaSalle yesterday, capping a 2-week stretch where the Flying Horses had qualified for post-season play. The May 11 game vs. Burnt Hills remains unreported, so we don't know if they were on a significant winning streak leading to the LaSalle game. Troy will open on the road at Scotia, a team they were to play last month, but ended up cancelling due to cold weather. That game was never rescheduled. The Tartans are the #2 seed in Class A, meaning that Troy, seeded 7th, has a hard road to travel if they want to get back to the Class A title game at Joe Bruno Stadium, set for May 26. Though I am a Troy alumnus, I'm also a realist, and I can't see Troy returning to the Joe in 9 days.
The Capital Region has two women's roller derby teams, and neither the Hellions of Troy nor the Albany All-Stars have faced each other. That's about to change.
The Hellions, who play their home matches in Rotterdam because they can't afford the rents being charged for any rink available in Troy, will meet Albany on June 4, but not at the Washington Avenue Armory, the All-Stars' home. Instead, they're moving down the hill to the cavernous Times Union Center, thinking that'll draw a larger than usual regional crowd for the first-ever meeting of the two teams. While such thinking works for college basketball or hockey (UAlbany-Siena, RPI-Union), I don't see it happening for roller derby. As bad as the acoustics are in the Armory for roller derby, it's bound to be worse at the TUC. The upper tier will likely be tarped off, but this may be a mistake that dooms both franchises. We'll soon see.
And, as the All-Stars finish their season, the Troy Fighting Irish, the Northeastern Football Alliance champions, open defense of their title on Saturday against the local icons, the Albany Metro Mallers, on the road before the home opener on June 4 vs. Broome County. The Irish played their home games at Lansingburgh High last year, and likely will again this year. Maybe this year I'll take in a game or two or three.......