After yesterday’s Hall of Fame induction luncheon for Bobby Cox I made it to the Ted in time for the retirement of his number 6. Most of you will have seen or read about the ceremony by now so I’m just going to give my perspective.
I intended to tweet most of this but my phone died a hero by the fifth inning trying to send a picture.
I was right behind home plate and had a great view of the whole ceremony as well as the game. Before the game an artist was nearby painting a portrait of Bobby I assume we will see at some point later. No one near me had any information about her or the picture. I will try to learn more when I can.
Bobby’s grand tour in the Chevy Convertible was a testament to the fans love of the man who guided their Braves for so long. Bobby was obviously moved by their reaction to his arrival and the event as a whole.
He was fine he said until “they pulled that cover from the number 6.” It’s easy to understand why. Having your number retired is a huge event for any player and more so for a manager because so few ever have that honor.
The game itself was a marvelous event. There were 50,000+ in attendance and the Braves responded to the full house. There’s a message there for folks near enough to attend the games; if you come out in numbers and support this extremely worthy team they will respond to it.
Dan Uggla ended any doubt about his hitting streak continuing by launching a homer in his first at bat off Carlos Zambrano putting the Braves in front to stay. Chipper Jones singled, David Ross singled putting men on first and third then Jose Constanza –Georgie – continued his torrid start with a bunt down the first base line that scored Chipper. The Cubs scored in the top of the third but Zambrano’s bad day continued in the bottom half when a single by the still hot Freddie Freeman was followed by Zambrano plunking Uggla and a classic Chipper Jones home run to the deepest part of the park putting the Braves up 5-1.
Zambrano was fooling no one, Alex Gonzalez just missed a homer in the third and I the fourth Constanza slapped his second homer since being called up down the left field line and just over the wall. Everyone could see the Cub pitcher losing it on the mound with every pitch. Then came the fifth.
Before Freeman came to the plate I told the fan next to me that all we needed for Zambrano to go nuts was for Freddie to hit one. On cure Freeman launched a huge homer to the deepest part of the yard. When Uggla followed with his second I was sure we’d see Zambrano’s head literally explode. When after throwing a sweet slider for a strike to Chipper he came inside with a fastball and followed that with another farther inside home plate ump Tim Timmons tossed him from the game then ran to tell the Braves to head back to the bench he had this under control. Wisely the Braves did just that.
The rest of the game was really tame after that. The Cubs scored in the top of the sixth off Mike Minor who left after 5 2/3 innings of well pitched ball. The Braves answered quickly in the bottom half. Constanza hit a line drive that I heard hit the pitcher’s leg, it ricocheted to third and Aramis Ramirez was given an error on his throw putting Gerogie on first and allowing David Ross who had singled earlier to move to third. Brooks Conrad singled Ross home and Michael Bourn hit a sac fly that scored Constanza.
Arodys Vizcaino came on to pitch to nice innings. From my seat behind home plate you could tell his fastball was hard to square up. Ross had him using his slider and change up a lot to keep the hitters off balance. The change up at 81 after a heater at 97 was almost unfair. His slider still needs work. It wasn’t quite there on the night and comments by the Skipper after the game indicated it was a work in progress. On the whole however a nice easy introduction to Atlanta for Vizcaino.
Anthony Varvaro pitched the ninth allowing a meaningless solo homer to the Cubs outstanding young shortstop Starlin Castro. Varvaro’s heater touched 97 at times and his slider bit hard and was almost impossible to hit. He’s another big arm in the pen I look forward to seeing more of down the stretch.
When I finally got back to the room I learned that Zambrano had cleaned out his locker and told staff he was retiring, leaving the Cubs a man short and with one less unstable, undependable, erratic pitcher. I think they’re better off without him. I hope they don’t have to pay him the remaining money on his contract. Even if they do they are well rid of him. He was talented but he didn’t have the ability to deal with the stress that came with the contract and being his team’s ace. So long Carlos. Please stay gone.