ATLANTA – Having never seen Joe Biden in person, I can say with confidence that what I saw last night at Turner Field was the worst display of human ineptitude I have ever personally witnessed. Brooks Conrad, second baseman for the Atlanta Braves, single-handedly lost the game for Atlanta. He committed three errors in the game, two of which led to runs for the Giants. The Braves lost the game 3-2 and now are down 2 games to 1 in the best of 5 series. We need help at second base. Anybody but Brooks Conrad would be preferred.
Brooks Conrad in many ways is a neat story. He’s a journeyman minor leaguer, who at age 30 was given his first crack at the big leagues this year. He played admirably off the bench throughout much of the season and even was a hero for Atlanta in several tight games. In May, for instance, he hit a two-out walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the Reds 8 to 7.
But through a bizarre turn of events, the Braves have been forced to start him over the previous two weeks- the end of the regular season and the beginning of the postseason. With injuries to Martin Prado and Chipper Jones, and with a bench that is now very thin, Bobby Cox believes he has few alternatives.
Given that this year has been such a fairy-tale for Mr. Conrad, you would hope he would once again rise to the occasion- or at least be adequate, if not great. But that’s not how the script is going. The man has made errors in 7 of the last 8 games he has played. Even before last night’s game started, I was over-hearing fellow Braves fans chattering away about how they hoped Bobby Cox would bench Conrad in favor of the aging Tony Glaus- having Glaus at third and Infante at second.
Eternally loyal, Bobby Cox would have none of it. With a chance to steel the momentum of the series and take a 2-1 lead, Bobby stuck with Conrad at second base for the game, against the protests of the fans.
And Bobby got burned- in what could be the second to last game of his career. Conrad muffed multiple routine plays, caused his pitchers to make dozens more pitches than they would have otherwise had to, and ultimately cost the Braves the game.
I’ve never seen someone play so poorly. In many ways, I had a deep amount of empathy for Conrad. He is in his first postseason and has to feel terrible being booed ruthlessly by the hometown fans in such a big game. But I also believe Bobby Cox is at fault for continuing to stick by him, even though it was obvious before the game that Conrad was struggling in the field.
What a disappointment. We could use help at second base- but alas, it’s too late for that help to come. Too many injuries and a depleted lineup probably mean the Braves will be bounced tonight or in game 5. A sad way to end what could have been a story-book final season for Bobby Cox. And a sorry ending to the Atlanta Braves career of Brooks Conrad.