Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Braves get Kolbed

Joke gone wrong: Cox forced to use Canadian physics professor as closer.

Lenny McGillicudy,
The Associative Press

April Fool's Day came nearly two weeks late in Atlanta, and it cost the Braves a ballgame.

Leading 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning of last night's game against the Washington Nationals, Braves' manager participated in a seemingly routine act: he called down to his team's bullpen and ordered for his closer to warm up.

"Get me Kolb," he said.

The "Kolb" that Cox intended to summon, Danny Kolb, was not in the bullpen. He was not even in the ballpark. Instead, his older brother Norman Kolb, a professor in the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics of the University of Saskatchewan, was present.

Why was there a 44 year-old subatomic physicist in a major league bullpen?

About a month ago, the younger Kolb and Braves' bullpen coach Bobby Dews came up with the idea of playing a joke on Cox on the traditional day for jokes, April 1. The older Kolb would fly to Atlanta, dress in Danny Kolb's uniform, and take his place in the Braves' bullpen. Cox would make the call to close out the game and be shocked to find the professor take the ball. Then, everyone would get a good laugh.

"It would have worked, too," Dews said. "Bobby [Cox] might seem rather taciturn, but he's got a wicked sense of humor. He would have appreciated it. The idea was perfect."

Perfect, that is, except the April 1 exhibition versus the Cleveland Indians never occurred; it was canceled on account of rain.

"Now, we were in a bit of a bind," Dews explained. "We had this great joke, but our window for it closed. Or so we thought."

Dews, Kolb and various other players and coached looked at the early-season schedule and circled the April 11-13 home series versus Washington.

"Yeah, we figured they were an easy mark," Dews said with a laugh.

The timing was perfect, as well; Norman Kolb would be attending an academic conference at Georgia Tech, which is located in Atlanta.

"It was a great deal for me," the older Kolb said after the game, after he had been forcibly removed from the Braves' locker room. "I got to go to the conference. Danny and the guys figured, especially after Monday night's game [an 11-2 Atlanta blowout], Cox might call down, have me warm up, then say, 'Nah, I don't need my closer.' Plus, Danny took me out to dinner, and I got to pitch in a major league game, too."

During the eighth inning, Cox made the ritualistic call for the closer---the pitcher assigned to work the final inning and protect a close lead---to get warm. Dews immediately became nervous. "I didn't know what to do. I mean, I've got this fat [gentleman] pretending to be a big leaguer, and Danny's off at the Gold Club."

Dews attempted to inform Cox of the situation. "I tried to persuade him to warm up [middle reliever Chris] Reitsma instead," Dews explained. "But Bobby wouldn't have it. He said, 'Kolb is my guy. Get me Kolb.' And I said, 'Alright, I'll get you the Kolb we've got.' "

"I thought he was acting strange," Cox recounted after the game. "Especially when he was talking about Kolb. Little did I know . . . [Darn]. "

Norman Kolb entered the game and promptly surrended a hit and two walks to load the bases.

"I called down to Dews and said, 'What in the sam hell is wrong with Kolb's arm!' " Cox said after the game. "He looked like [trash] out there. He was throwing . . . fifty . . . miles an . . . hour out . . . there."

Dews informed that Kolb "wasn't feeling like himself." Cox ordered Dews to get Reitsma prepared.

Norman Kolb rebounded to induce a fielder's choice grounder from Ryan Church; Chipper Jones threw to home plate for the force out. Thereafter, Cristian Guzman lined a sacrifice fly to center to cut the lead to one.

Cox reconsidered and decided to keep Reitsma in reserve. "He was still throwing [badly] and like a [female], and really, you can throw [badly] and like a [female] to Guzman, because he doesn't hit worth [anything]. So maybe I made a bad choice," said Cox.

Nationals' catcher Brian Schneider followed with a double into the gap, plating both Nick Johnson and Ryan Church. Norman Kolb had blown his first major league save opportunity. Kolb subsequently retired the side. (After a 31 minute rain delay, the Nationals closed out the victory.)

Following the game, Cox was surprisingly reserved. "I'm just going to have to go home and sort through some things," Cox said, without elaborating.

As for Norman Kolb, all things considered, he found the experience rewarding. "I had fun. Not too many physics professors get to pitch to big leaguers. I felt like I didn't have my best stuff, but we still almost pulled it out. Danny could have done it better, but he's 15 years younger. He was an accident, actually.

"And, really, Bobby Cox handled it well. He's a gentleman and a scholar. He told me to [do unprintable things to] myself, but that's the way the baseball guys talk."

Color me unimpressed with Blogger.
You're telling me!

Piece o shiite!

I guess you get what you pay for. If I wasn't so po', I'd try finding a host or something.
Hey, let's go do this on some random blog about cats or something.
Better yet... a different baseball site. Just take over one of their threads with our non-Nats-related banter.
What are we, Mets fans?
let's take over! ungrateful bastards.

Top of the 9th? 5-3?
Hey, if you want a post about cats, I've got it. ;-)

Let's just invade Primer.

Norman says hi, by the way. Doesn't he look a little like Father Stats, Bill James?
It's 5-4, Chris.
Oh, by the way, sure---go ahead and use this thread! The more (anyone, actually) the merrier. ;-)
Skip Caray pulled out the old "swung and a drive" voice, sweet.
Isn't it too late to invite your friends in after they've already opened the fridge and helped themselves to a beer?
Primer's even less reliable than Blogger.
I'm so fucking sick and tired of the House Rules Committee that I just can't put it into words.

In other news, Jose Guillen is hitting the cover off the ball.
True but at least you get confounding error messages on Primer, rather than just "Hey, shut the hell up."

Mi crappy site es tu crappy site, Chris. ;-)
Uh-oh. Dave thinks Jose Guillen is a clutch hitter. ;)

7-4 now?
Speaking of having beer -- if I do this barbeque thing next weekend (the 23rd), are people actually going to show up?
That Braves pitcher's name is Roman Colon, which is hilarious. Just think of the Caligula jokes.
Not a David Dreier fan, huh?
It's not quite as blatant as Greek Colon, I suppose! (Hi, Basil!)
If you had picked it one weekend earlier, Yuda, I would have been there. I'm going to the game on Saturday night. I won't be able to come up the weekend of the 23rd. Cool idea, though.
23d? I dunno yet. Depends on how leashed down I am.
I'll in Malta, Yuda, so at least I have an excuse.
What game on the 23rd? Aren't they in New York?
Greek Colons are the best.

If only David Dreier were as cool as Fred Dreier.
Okay, fuck it. I'll do it in June when the weather's better. ;)
Hey Basil - stay in front of me.

I stole that from Jim Carrey imitating Don Rickles.
I meant the game on the 16th.
Time for an inning-ending double play.
Where are we in the game?
I can't say I've ever heard Jim Carrey doing Don Rickles.
We're ahead.

It's 7-4 in the 9th.
It was on In Living Color.
Ah. I recall very little of Carrey on that show except for "Fire Marshal Bill."
How freakin' crazy is it that we're coming home in first place and above .500?

I can't wait for tomorrow night. (I wonder if my misacquired tickets'll get me into the better seats?)
19,093. Better than the night games, I guess.
This game ain't over yet, folks.

And Schneider has just missed about four doubles so far.
I appreciated Schneider's doggedness, but I really gotta pay the water bill.
Amazingly, an entire fan board gets 43 game chatter posts; 5 or 6 people here have put up, what, 300 or so posts in four different threads now?

From BPG:
Who was the idiot that said The Nationals would rue the day they traded Juan Rivera?

Throw down, Ryan.
Profound! A PH!

Sledge will hit for Davis momentarily, I'm sure.
"The district court, owing to a topographical error . . . "

I thought that was bad (fortunately I caught it), but Skip Caray just referred to the Good Guys as "Montreal."
Clear the deck, Terrmel!

The state be locked!
Man, it's a week into the season. Just you wait.
All we need is a double switch, and my bingo card will be all full!
This is more like it.
Can I call 'em or what?
I wanna watch! This isn't fair!

I'm assuming Guillen's the POG so far?
I'm not too fond of our feast-or-famine offense, though.

Shut out three times in four losses?
This is winning baseball's effect: Baerga's batting, but I could care less.
Why PH for Carroll?
Why not? We're up seven, and Frank's giddy.
It sure paid off.
Who's going to play third base now? Sore Shoulder Boy? Termel?
I think Carlos logged an inning or two there last night.
Carlos did indeed.
Did Carlos just make a nice play?
Brendan Harris update: 200/200/300 with an error. 20 PAs.
Are you the guy who just commented in the Jose Guillen's temper thread at BPG, Ryan? If so, I see that you agree it's probably the stupidest proposition ever.
Frank is weird.
Bah. Let Cordero pitch.
Yeah, that was me, Basil. I'm considering if I should get involved in that other thread.
I don't tend to read the BPG boards. Should I bother?
What the hell is Frank doing?
Yuda: no. I think it's gotten a lot worse over the last few months.
Do you like homers, Yuda? Well, it's not that bad, I guess. I hope not, anyway, seeing as I've posted there a surprisingly high amount of times. (I guess it's one of those consistent couple of posts a day things, because I don't spend much time there.)
what the hell happened while I was gone? Jesus ... 11 runs?
So, just to recap, Frank went to a LOOGY up 7 with two outs in the ninth.

Well, at least he locked the state.
It's definitely not up to Primer's standards... even the standards to which they've now sunk.
nice win by the Nats ... back just in time
Okay -- did any of us actually expect this team to come home with a winning record?
I seriously thought 3-6 was the best they could've hoped for.
Who's the first to correlate Brian's absence with our rally? ;-)
Let's kill Brian!
No, Yuda. I fully expected 3-6 or 1-8 or something.

This is awesome.
I expected 9-0, but I post on BPG.
BPG was probably expecting 14 - (-2)
Hey look! We've got a new catcher!
hey bitch, I left up 5-3 ;-P
here is what I expect on BPG:

DCFan: only 5-4 on the road trip, maybe George Michael was right

Washington Senator: Ballgame

Maury: Boondoggle

That's funny.
What a great day! It's amazing how a stupid little baseball game that you couldn't actually watch can put a smile on your face.
Add in 1,053 posters with some form of "Nats" in their handle, stir, bake, then top with the Nats Fan Club's hand lotion.
Ryan is kicking ass and taking names over at BPG.
can I get all of your handles on BPG?
I get the finder's fee, though.
Thanks, Yuda.

Brian: I'm SenatorsRyan. Basil's the guy who's tired of Secret Smary.
I'm nomoresecretsmarty. If you've seen "Sneakers," you'll get it.

Chris's handle is surprisingly original . . .
Not registered and not sure if I'll bother. The images over there make my head hurt.
got it ...

John and I make it difficult I know

John = dchardball
Brian = HardballinDC
Okay. Time to pretend to do some work before I can go home. Enjoy your afternoons.
That always confused me, too, Brian. John has his blog in his sig, right?
You too, Yuda. Come by any time. If Blogger freezes, though, it's Brian's fault. ;-)
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