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Giants/Braves Series Preview

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In 5001 Nights at the Movies, seminal film critic Pauline Kael wrote this:

In "Under Siege 2", the Williseyean protagonist, Casey Ryback (played by Steven Seagal), is on a collision course with his antagonist – a glass-chewing mercenary (played by Everett McGill) who has a history with Ryback. The movie builds up the inevitable confrontation; it’s a metaphorical collision course, as if they were both trains on the same track instead of two hacks on the same train.

After almost two hours of buildup later, the two characters meet for the final battle. What follows is a stroke of directing brilliance – Ryback just kicks McGill’s character until McGill dies. There is no back and forth, and Seagal’s character was never in danger. It is an absolute pummeling. You might think of it as a letdown, but I think of it as the defining moment in the film career of one of our greatest American action stars.

Couldn’t have written it better myself. Is it wrong that when I think of a Jason Heyward/Buster Posey showdown that I think of "Under Siege 2?" Maybe that’s a little off anyways. Maybe I should think of "The Bourne Ultimatum", where Jason Bourn slaps a rival around with a folded up magazine, but still takes a good amount of damage. It was a much fairer fight.

Maybe I should just think about baseball.

When the Giants took two out of three from the Braves earlier in the year, it was a different Braves team. Not because their roster is turned over or healthier, but because the Braves were on a losing skid that would bottom out at 12-17, already six games back in the beginning of May. Shortly after that, they went on a tear and they haven’t stopped. When American League-loving weenies talk about the disparity of talent between the elite teams in either league, they’re nuts – the Braves are as complete of a team as any in baseball.

Maybe. It was a lot easier to say that before the season, when Yunel Escobar was a) on the team and b) a legit All-Star candidate and when Melky Cabrera and Nate McClouth were serviceable instead of wretched. Other than those minor details, the Braves are still a pretty good team. Instead of giving up and retiring after giving up a ninth-inning home run to Edgar Renteria, which is what I would have done, Billy Wagner is leading a fantastic bullpen. The rotation is probably underperforming, and I’d take the over on what the offense is currently doing too. They’re playing well right now, but they could be even better.

So while it was great for the Giants to go into Washington and Milwaukee and do some road damage, this is probably going to be just a wee bit tougher. Remember when the Braves were finally bad? Remember those three glorious seasons in which they finished between 71 and 84 wins? That was fun. Bastards. I’d love to read a "Moneyball"-style book about the Braves. For almost two decades, they’ve been run as well as any professional sports franchise. Even when they make a horrific mistake – like turning Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus into Mark Teixeira into Casey Kotchman into 242 at-bats of Adam LaRoche – they still come out with a good team and a deep organization.

The Braves kind of make me sick. I humbly propose that the Giants should consider not losing to them for the rest of the season.

Hitter to watch:

See, here’s what I’m talking about. It would be unfair to Matt Downs to write that Martin Prado had a Downs-like career in the minors: Prado didn’t have the early success in lower levels that Downs did. Then when Prado stuck with the Braves as a utility player, they sacrificed whatever small animal is needed for their blood ritual, and Prado then morphed into an All-Star. They do this crap all the time. It’s a little easier to take the The Season of Andres Torres, Man-Beast, but not much.

Pitcher to watch:

See, here’s what I’m talking about. Kris Medlen was a reliever for much of his minor-league career. That was his role when he made the majors. When the Braves needed a stopgap starter due to an injury to Jair Jurrjens, Medlen converted to a starting pitcher. That gag never works out. It works in reverse, sure, but it’s pretty rare for a reliever to turn into a successful starter, at least right away. Of course, that’s no problem for the Braves and their magic organizational blood rituals. I’m tired of it.

Actually, I don’t think Medlen is pitching in this series, which is just fine with me. But, of course, the Braves have four other good starters to fill in the gaps. I hate this franchise, and I always will.

Prediction:

Melvin Nieves will never lead the Padres to a World Series. Bastards.