Rather than continually project or speculate upon the eventual fate of the Phillies’ 2020 season, I decided it might be a nice change of pace to poke fun at one of their division rivals. As far as which team would be the subject of my mockery, that was a fairly easy choice.
Last year, there was one team whose fans proved particularly thin-skinned. They seemed legitimately shocked that a Phillies blog might not discuss one of the Phillies’ rivals with anything less than effusive praise. In a happy bit of happenstance, that team has practically made an art form out of choking in playoff series, providing me with plenty of opportunity for mockery.
So please join me as I celebrate some great moments in Atlanta Braves playoff failure!
2019 NLDS game five vs. St. Louis Cardinals
For our first memory, we’ll take a look at the most recent. In 2019, the Braves won the National League East and got to face the National League Central-winning Cardinals in the first round. The teams split the first four games, with game four being a memorable failure for the Braves in its own right. The Cardinals pulled out the game in the tenth inning, setting up the do-or-die game five.
Mike Foltynewicz got the start. “Folty” had a rough start to his 2019 season, but came on in the second half and pitched a gem in game two of the series. The Braves were hopeful that he’d be able to duplicate that success. That hope - as well as Foltynewicz - didn’t even make it out of the first inning.
Here’s a full video of the game if you’d like to follow along. For your reading pleasure, I’ve provided a running diary of the top of the first inning.
3:20 - You can clearly hear the fans doing the Tomahawk Chop in the background, which should eliminate any sympathy you might have held for these people, despite knowing the horror they are about to witness.
4:53 - Cardinls leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler walks and the fans boo. Not sure what they’re booing. If they’re mad at the pitcher, then that’s a quick boo even by Philadelphia standards. If they’re booing the ump, there’s no real basis for it because none of the pitches called balls were particularly close.
5:33 - Kolten Wong sacrifices the runner to second. Fans cheer the out, and I hope they enjoyed the experience, because it will be the last time they get to do so for quite some time.
Also, despite plenty of evidence showing that sacrifices are a bad move, its nice to know that announcers will always love complimenting a player for putting down a good bunt.
8:35 - I wish I ever looked as self-satisfied about anything as Marcell Ozuna does here.
10:30 - First baseman Freddie Freeman commits an error, and the announcers trip over themselves to make an excuse for him. Apparently, it was the fault of the base runner that the first baseman didn’t make a routine play. My alternate theory is that the Braves are huge chokers, and their best player is no exception.
13:04 - With two strikes to Matt Carpenter, the crowd begins to rally behind Foltynewicz. I mean, look at this guy. He is really trying.
Will Folty feed off the crowd’s energy? Let’s see...
13:50 - Foltynewicz definitely does not feed off the crowd’s energy. Carpenter draws a walk. The crowd boos, but the pitch was clearly a ball.
14:09 - Visit to the mound by pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Kranitz has a great reputation around baseball, and it’s a shame the Phillies can’t seem to hire a guy like that.
16:10 - After a single by Tommy Edman knocks in two runs, Foltynewicz is left to wait on the mound for the manager to come get him. He stands there with a “Biggest game of my career and I crapped the bed” look on his face.
17:01 - Exit Folty, enter Max Fried. Will he fare any better? (SPOILER ALERT: No.)
18:45 - When you’ve got the bases loaded, and the pitcher up to the plate, it seems less than ideal to walk said pitcher. I realize that Fried didn’t expect to enter the game this early, but maybe the coaches should have discussed strategy with him before he was called in.
18:57 - If I could use one word to sum up Foltynewicz’s demeanor after that walk, it would be: Unhappy.
20:26 - A double by Dexter Fowler brings in two more runs. Please note the look of utter despair on the face of Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies.
21:04 - Another two-run double extends the lead to 9-0. We finally get some good shots of fans in the stands. They no longer appear to be doing the Tomahawk Chop.
22:37 - The second out is recorded, and the cheer from the crowd is much less sarcastically boisterous than I expected. They’re probably all shell shocked at this point.
23:36 - They keep showing Foltynewicz in the dugout, and at this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was actively fitting himself with a noose or strangling someone to death.
24:45 - You’d think this inning couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Braves, but somehow it does. Marcell Ozuna strikes out, but the ball gets away from catcher Brian McCann. Despite Ozuna not even realizing it for a few seconds, he easily makes it safely to first base when McCann is unable to retrieve the ball in a timely fashion, and then falls down trying to make the throw.
25:43 - Want to see what it looks like when you realize you spent $200 on a ticket only to watch your team turn in a historically bad performance in the first inning? It looks something like this:
26:06 - Another check-in on Folty who still (presumably) hasn’t killed anyone yet.
27:05 - Yadier Molina grounds to third base for the final out. Somehow, Melina managed to go 0-2 in the inning (he was safe on the error by Freeman), proving he is horrifically overrated. (As great as it is that the Braves blew this, it’s unfortunate that the Cardinals were the beneficiaries because their fans suck too.)
27:09 - The final out is recorded, and the fans use their last gasp of energy to boo the team off the field. I have to admit: They may have a point.
After that, the rest of the game was a formality. Unlike the Falcons in Super Bowl 51, the Cardinals were not about to let a huge lead slip away. The Braves managed just one run in what would eventually be a 13-1 loss. They were left to ponder yet another playoff failure, while the Cardinals went on to meekly roll over in the NLCS.
That was a fun way to kill some time on another baseball-less day. If you enjoyed this, don’t worry: There are plenty of other Braves playoff failures that I can recap in a similar fashion.
If you don’t want to watch the entire game - and honestly, nothing of importance happens after the top of the first, here’s a clip of the highlights: