LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — At least once after a game this season, somebody needs to walk up to Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell and say, “Nice game, pretty boy.” (More on that shortly.)
I wrote a column on McDowell, who is the only member of the Braves’ coaching staff or management team that nobody seems to have a problem with. It’s no wonder. Despite significant turnover in the pitching staff and an inordinate number of injuries — highlight/lowlight: losing starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to elbow surgery in consecutive days last spring — the Braves have ranked among the top five in the majors in earned run average for six straight seasons.
McDowell is profoundly respected by players and he sees and thinks the game as well or better than anybody in the dugout. He probably has manager potential, but I’m not sure he ever would want to deal with all that goes with that job, particularly the media commitments.
Among the things McDowell and I discussed were low expectations for the Braves offensively, and the pressure that seemingly creates for the team’s pitchers. His response:
“Hopefully from a pitching staff standpoint, our focus isn’t where we are offensively, whether we’re a great offensive club or we’re below average. We can only control one thing — the baseball. We can’t control how many runs we score. We can’t control what happens after the ball hits the bat. We can’t control good plays, bad plays.”
Back to the, “Nice game, pretty boy,” reference. It’s from a “Seinfeld” episode in which two former New York Mets players, McDowell and Keith Hernandez, guest starred. You’ve probably seen this before but I can’t see it enough times.
•Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Braves have issues but McDowell not one of them — AJC: Poll: Are expectations for Braves too low, high or about right? — MyAJC: Will Gonzalez be given some latitude during Braves’ rebuilding? — MyAJC: Falcons’ roster gutting could have big names — AJC: Data show Falcons got least (10-22) from most ($279.3 million) — MyAJC: Georgia shows why we still can’t assume success — AJC: Are Hawks getting Ray Allen? Odds site makes them favorite — MyAJC: Private agendas still at play in Hawks’ offices — AJC: Tiger Woods seems in danger of missing Masters (again) — AJC: Trade likely means Hawks are planning for something — MyAJC: Kyle Shanahan, the coach’s son, has absorbed a lot of jabs — AJC: Greg Hardy skates (and is he worth the risk for Falcons)? — MyAJC: Hawks’ deadline move wouldn’t hurt chemistry — AJC: Tech doing just fine, recruiting rankings notwithstanding — MyAJC: Dan Quinn’s ascent to top job was years in making — AJC: Forget trade talk — Dan Quinn wants Julio Jones on his team — AJC: Falcons need players but Dan Quinn is a good start — MyAJC: Tom Brady takes the air out of critics in Super Bowl — AJC: Short takes: Brady rallies Pats but Seahawks bungle ending — AJC: Another possible embarrassment for Falcons: Fake crowd noise — MyAJC: There’s no confusion about pecking order on Super Bowl teams — AJC: Dan Quinn could have final day on 53-man roster — MyAJC: Blank speaks but remains vague on Falcons’ restructuring — MyAJC: Tiger Woods’ problems aren’t just physical anymore