CUE THE outrage.
Instead of promoting franchise icon Tom Glavine at the end of his rehab assignment, which everyone expected, the Braves chopped him instead. The winning pitcher from the clinching game of their only world championship was dumped after pitching six shutout innings for Class A Rome.
John Smoltz, another touchstone of the team's 14-season run of first-place finishes who was forced to sign with the Red Sox after the Braves made it clear last winter they weren't interested in bringing him back, spoke for many. "That ain't right to let him go after getting that far in his rehab," he clucked.
Glavine, in a text to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said he was "surprised and disappointed."
Here's the thing, though. While the Braves may have made a mistake - and lack of velocity is an oddly unconvincing explanation for those of us who watch Jamie Moyer every fifth day or so - general manager Frank Wren did the right thing.
The unpopular thing, maybe. The erroneous thing, perhaps. But still the right thing because he made a baseball decision that superprospect Tommy Hanson gave his team a better chance to win.
It's fine for fans to root, root, root for the home team, wear the colors, take pride in the accomplishments of the mercenaries who gather each season and then scatter again after the last game.
But sentiment is a luxury only the paying customers can afford. Try as we might to ignore the fact, professional sports are a big business.
The Braves are trying to put their best team on the field. To that end, they demoted another hot prospect, Jordan Schafer, earlier this week. Then they improved their outfield by giving up a chunk of their future for Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth.
Glavine is 43 years old. He's a class act, a 305-game winner, a future Hall of Famer. Maybe he will sign with another team, pitch great and prove the Braves wrong. Maybe Hanson isn't ready.
Doesn't matter. It's Wren's duty to make the moves he thinks are necessary to make Atlanta competitive. And that's exactly what he did.
The hot corner
* Even though the Cardinals got good news on disabled third baseman Troy Glaus - they now expect him back before August - general manager John Mozeliak said he plans to "ramp up" his efforts to add another bat to the lineup as soon as possible. "We're looking to add offense," he said.
* Oakland's Matt Holliday said in a radio interview that he likes playing for the A's, but added: "I would say if it looks like we're not going to be able to get back in the race or get healthy, I think every player wants a chance to win. So ... I'd be OK with getting a chance to go try to make it to the postseason and play in October."
* The Twins are cautiously optimistic they'll be able to keep All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, even though there is already speculation he could command a 10-year, $200 million deal when he becomes a free agent after next season. "All indications are that he's more like [Kirby] Puckett and [Kent] Hrbek than some other [former Twins] who wanted to play on a bigger stage," club president Jerry Bell said.
Around the bases
* Pirates manager John Russell insists that the trade of face-of-the-franchise star Nate McLouth doesn't mean the organization has given up on the 2009 season. "We're not throwing in the towel at all; far from it," he said. "We made a trade that will help our organization for the long run." To replace McLouth, the Bucs have called up Andrew McCutchen, one of their top prospects.
* The Athletics have three pitchers in their rotation who are 22 years old or younger: Vin Mazarro, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill.
* Tampa Bay's David Price has become the third pitcher to win his first regular-season game after getting a postseason victory. Odalis Perez did it for Atlanta in 1998 and Francisco Rodriguez for the Angels in 2002.
For White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. At a time when most people in baseball work hard at saying as little as possible, Guillen at least speaks his mind. Two examples from this week:
Hearing that Jake Peavy and Roy Oswalt wouldn't waive their no-trade clauses to come to the South Side of Chicago, he shrugged. "If you don't want to play for us, why should we have you?" he responded.
And he isn't worried about fans who bemoan the fact that he has been playing Dewayne Wise over Brian Anderson in center. "If they don't like it when Wise comes to bat, turn the TV off, turn the radio off or turn around and start walking toward the concession stand," he suggested.
Gotta love that Ozzie.
To Cubs righthander Carlos Zambrano. After getting a six-game suspension for flipping out on an umpire, heaving a ball into the outfield and destroying a Gatorade dispenser in the dugout, the Big Z blew off the team charter to Atlanta on Monday without letting anybody know.
This is the same guy who left the ballpark in the middle of a game last September. And team sources told the Chicago Tribune it's not the first flight he's skipped, either.
What a good pitcher. What a knucklehead.
BY THE NUMBERS:
4: Grand slams by Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist in his last 70 games, covering 195 at-bats, after launching one against Kansas City on Wednesday night.
5: Wild pitches allowed by Dodgers catcher Russell Martin on Monday night, tying a club record set in 1918. "It's not really a record I want to put my name behind," he said. "It was a tough night. I just wasn't getting there and wasn't putting my body in the right position to block the ball."
80: Strikeouts, in 177 at-bats, for Rangers first baseman Chris Davis. At this rate, he will demolish the single-season whiff record (204 by Arizona's Mark Reynolds last season).
509: Games for Dan Uggla to reach 100 career home runs. That's the fastest ever for a second baseman.
Unlike Pedro Martinez, Paul Byrd, Mark Mulder and other free-agent pitchers still unsigned, Tom Glavine just completed a rehab assignment and is ready to see if there's enough left in his 43-year-old arm to get big-league hitters out. With all the teams in desperate need of pitching, it shouldn't be long before the 305-game winner finds a job.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, the 2008 NL Rookie of the Year, on why he doesn't believe his .209 batting average with just one home run has been caused by the sophomore jinx: "There are a lot of guys in the lineup who are slumping, and they're not sophomores."
SUPERSTITION OF THE WEEK:
Trying to change his team's problems on the road, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had Metrodome home clubhouse attendant Wayne Hattaway travel with the team to Tampa Bay last weekend. Didn't work. The Twins went 1-2 in the series.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The Orioles' touted catching prospect Matt Wieters had more hits (four) in his final game with the Triple A Norfolk Tides on May 26 than he had in his first six games (three) after making his major league debut last Friday.
INSCRUTABLE COMMENT OF THE WEEK:
Here's what Mariners hitting machine Ichiro had to say, through a translator, after breaking his own club record by extending his hitting streak to 26 games: "Once I got this far, I wanted to achieve it. Now I wish that I would have asked my wife, Yumiko, and my dog, Ikkyu, to come to the game. But, at the same time, if you think about it, if I didn't invite them, it means that much to me as well."
So there you have it.
The San Francisco Giants took a White House tour while in Washington this week. While the players were waiting to have their IDs checked, centerfielder Aaron Rowand was yanked out of line and told to step into the guardhouse.
"If a Secret Service agent pulls you aside, that's not good," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.
As it turns out, the agent was from Philadelphia and a big Rowand fan from his time with the Phillies. He got an autograph, Rowand got a Secret Service pin and the rest of the visit proceeded as scheduled. *