Dave O'Brien went on a rant of sorts that almost turned into self-fulfilling prophecy Friday night. He made the case defending Fredi Gonzalez and ripping the Atlanta Braves fans who feel he does nothing right, only to have those same fans question a routine decision made in the Braves' loss to the Nationals.
That decision involved pinch-running for Evan Gattis with B.J. Upton when Gattis was the go-ahead run and on second with one out in the seventh inning. Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson struck out to end the inning, and Upton struck out in his only at-bat, resulting in a chorus of Twitter angst.
O'Brien notes that the Braves have the best record in the National League since July 4 with an 84-51 mark.
"It is what it is," OBrien said. "But watch the anti-Fredi contingent twist itself into pretzels arguing that it’s been in spite of him, and certainly not because of him."
He goes on.
"Nevermind the Braves have a middle-of-the-pack payroll, middle-of-the-pack attendance, and as many or more significant injuries than the average team over that span. There are a lot of people who will still look you straight in the face – OK, more likely over a wi-fi connection – and tell you that you why you’re an idiot for not seeing things as they do and not understanding that Fredi is just fortunate to have … well, to have what, exactly?
If he’s not at least a pretty good manager, why does his team have a better record over the past 134 games than any other NL team? Do his critics simply formulate opinions based on him putting together lineups that, admittedly, occasionally leave us scratching our heads? Or because he doesn’t rant and rave after his team lays an egg or an ump makes a terrible call?"
O'Brien then likened the anti-Fredi crowd to the anti-Bobby Cox crowd who rode his case for every decision. He also made the case that the South generally has a football mentality, freaking out over an ugly loss far too harshly for a 162-game season.
The man does have a point. Gonzalez may not be the best manager ever or even in the National League, but he's done what he could with a middle-of-the-road payroll.
The Braves are 4 1/2 games up in the National League East right now. Do we really think it's time for a managerial change?
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