Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Cantor’s magic tallis has cure to Braves’ problems

  • 11:00 am Friday, August 29th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Cantor Bruce Braves Tallit

This has been a Braves’ season in which not nearly enough has gone right, but there’s a cantor in New Jersey who apparently has the answer to all of their problems. At least one night a week.

“The Braves are 10-0 when I wear it,” cantor Bruce Rockman of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick, N.J., said. “But we’re taking a big risk by making this public.”

To the Old Testament miracles of locusts, boils and the parting of the Red Sea, we add: The Undefeated Tallis.

Rockman has a unique, Braves-inspired prayer shawl he wears in services on Friday nights, the beginning [More]

On Braves, McGuirk and repairing baseball

  • 9:19 pm Thursday, August 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Three members of the Braves' hierarchy (from left): Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Frank Wren. (AJC photo)

Should Pete Rose be allowed back into baseball, and therefore become eligible for the Hall of Fame? (Yes.)

Does baseball, which is losing a generation of fans and is suffering from long games in the regular season and late starts in its signature event, the World Series, need to make significant changes to improve the product? (Yes.)

Should the 162-game season be preserved? (No.)

Those are some of the issues (and my answers) I’ve addressed in a MyAJC column that you can read here. Commissioner Bud Selig is retiring and Rob Manfred will replace him, so this is a prime opportunity for [More]

Braves find a groove — but so do Nationals

  • 9:21 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Braves have won five straight but remain six games behind Washington. (AP photo)

Six days ago, on the eve of the Braves’ “Zombie Night” promotion at Turner Field, I wrote a column on the Braves’ seeming march into the regular season afterlife and the reasons manager Fredi Gonzalez needed to bench the struggling B.J Upton. At that point, they had lost 12 of 15 games and 17 of 26 since the All-Star break.

A follow-up blog and cartoon posed the question to you, “Is the fat lady singing” on their season?” Most readers believed yes. I certainly believed yes. When it comes to the division race, I still think yes. But it [More]

With Braves six back, is ‘fat lady’ singing?

  • 8:39 am Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
BravesfatLadyJeff

So is it over?

The Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 Thursday. If you missed the almost-too-perfect inglorious ending, here’s a free link to my column on the game.

In brief, Justin Upton had to leave the game with a strained hamstring. His lesser brother B.J., who had been benched from the starting lineup because he’s hitting .209, was sent in as a pinch runner. He stayed in the game, and, of course, wound up being the key at-bat in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third base, B.J., batting in Justin’s spot, struck out.

The strikeout numbers [More]

Braves’ crowds reflect lack of confidence

  • 9:00 am Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dodgers at Braves

As the Braves begin to slide out of the playoff race — or at least show no sign of having interest in it — they also are sliding off the radar in Atlanta.

Crowds for the first two games of the weekend series against Washington last week drew over 30,000 but the Sunday night game saw only 18,191 in the stadium. I realize it was the night before the first day of school for many kids, but for a late-summer weekend series against the Nationals with first place on the line, the numbers were disappointing. It also was stunning that the [More]

Poll: Who’s most to blame for Braves’ fall?

  • 9:19 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners

The Braves are back home after an eight-game road trip. There will be no parade today.

They lost all eight games — swept in consecutive series in Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. It’s the first time something like that has happened since the 1949 Boston Braves went 0-8 on a trip. That’s so long ago that, as historian David O’Brien noted, Warren Spahn was in the starting rotation.

More miserable numbers: The Braves scored only 18 runs in the eight games (three of which went extra innings) for an average of 2.25 runs per game. They also are 6-13 since [More]

Dan Uggla rejects demotion, out of job again

  • 1:04 pm Monday, August 4th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dan Uggla looked under control with San Francisco in this snapshot but he wasn't. (AP)

I understand this probably isn’t going to elicit much sympathy, given that Dan Uggla still has about another $18 million coming his way (and unless he has been using stacks of hundreds for kindling in the winter, he doesn’t need another $18 million).

But seriously: What happened to him?

It’s rare that the bottom falls out of a player’s career as dramatically as we’ve seen with the former Braves’ second baseman. Having been signed by San Francisco two weeks ago following his release in Atlanta, Uggla is out of a job again. The Giants designated him for assignment and there are [More]

Trade deadline day … and it’s quiet here (update: minor trade)

  • 9:01 am Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Trying to picture David Price in a Braves' uniform? Don't waste your time. (AP)

UPDATE: As you probably know by now, the Braves made a minor trade, dealing catching prospect Victor Caratini to the Chicago Cubs for utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and left-handed reliever James Russell. It was exactly the kind of deal that general manager Frank Wren was expected to make, but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to get the Braves to the postseason because of fundamental flaws on the roster and in the clubhouse. I wrote a full column on this topic over at MyAJC.com. Here’s a free link. Thanks, J

Good morning. The major league trade deadline is at [More]

Giants take a chance on Dan Uggla

  • 2:32 pm Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dan Uggla has landed on his feet with a pretty good team. (AP photo)

(Updated: 2:50 p.m.) Dan Uggla may have face-planted in Atlanta, but he was just picked up by one of the best teams in baseball. Is this bad foreshadowing for the Braves?

San Francisco, which has won two of the last four World Series and is tied for first place in the National League West, have signed Uggla to a minor-league contract, according to multiple reports. The news was first reported by Fox Sports. Uggla, who was in the fourth season of a five-year, $62 million contract that he never lived up to, cleared waivers, paving the way for any team to [More]

Braves’ tryouts at leadoff are dizzying

  • 12:36 pm Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
So what's the chance B.J. Upton provides stability for Braves at leadoff? (AP photo)

When Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez tabbed B.J. Upton as the Braves’ next future ex-leadoff hitter — sorry, just an assumption — it continued an ugly trend that began in 2006.

The Braves have struggled to find a leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal left for Los Angeles as a free agent following the 2005 season. Furcal hit .284 as a Brave with a .348 on base percentage, a career-high 48 stolen bases and a 100 runs scored in 2005. Then general manager John Schuerholz lost a bidding war with the Dodgers that winter. Oops.

Want to a venture a guess how many players [More]