Caray: McCann's role as enforcer; more Braves topics
FOXSportsSouth.com checks in with play-by-play announcer Chip Caray to get the latest on the Braves.
FOX SPORTS SOUTH: In two weeks we saw Brian McCann confront Jose Fernandez and Carlos Gomez for showboating after home runs. What's your take on this side of the catcher that hasn't always been so outwardly visible?
CHIP CARAY: I think Brian's always been a leader on this team and going back to 2005, he and Tim Hudson are the last holdovers from the ball club that won the last division title. I think the fact that being a homegrown Brave gives him more cachet in the clubhouse.
I think what I really like and respect out of Brian McCann is for a new generational player he still has old-school baseball values. I know people say the game has changed, but it hasn't changed at all; the people who pay it certainly have.
I'm of the mind that you don't show up the other team. I think that's one thing the Braves have never done and they've handled themselves with a great deal of class. If one of their guys has a dramatic moment they put their heads down and run around the bases. They're not any of the silly stuff that seems to go on.
I know that Ron Roenicke and the Brewers don't play the game that way. Carlos Gomez just decided that he had to take retribution and had to let everyone know he was taking retribution and the Braves took exception to it.
Jose Fernandez in Miami, he's a young, excitable kid and he loves to play with that flair for the dramatic and passion and he likes to have that kind of fun. As Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said: "Our guys like to have fun too and if somebody else is going to hit a home run or do something spectacular and react in a way that might be deemed offensive, the old saying 'if you live by the sword, you die by the sword' applies."
That's what you saw. I think in the case of McCann and Fernandez, he really likes the kid. He was trying to teach him how the game is supposed to be played or the right way to play the game. I think we all love his flair, we all love his excitement. He's my favorite opposing player to watch.
But he crossed the line and Gomez crossed the line. I admire and respect the fact that Brian McCann wasn't afraid to point that out.
FSS: Beyond McCann, we've seen Fredi Gonzalez get tossed twice in the last week, once vs. the Nationals, once vs. the Brewers. Overall, this seems to be a team with a lot of fire at the right time.
CC: Fire is great, but fire doesn't necessarily win you any games. You still have to get hits and have to stop the other team from scoring.
But this is a passionate club and we've seen the light at the end of the regular season tunnel and the possibilities for a world championship are right there, not just for the Braves, but for all the teams that are competing for playoff position now around the major leagues. I don't want to say there is more tension, but certainly now the games become much more important; blown calls become much more important; missed assignments become much more important; big pitches, big hits become much more important.
As a result, I think people's awareness becomes more focused and more intense. Whether it's a byproduct of Alex Wood getting tossed in Washington or Fredi Gonzalez getting tossed here in Atlanta ... I'm not one who believes that fire is what wins games; good, solid fundamental baseball is what wins you games. If you disagree with the umpire ... tensions are high right now and that's always a good thing.
FSS: You mentioned Alex Wood and he will serve as a reliever through the postseason. We've seen him be a very effective starter, but with the bullpen showing some signs of struggles, how big of a boost do you think he can provide?
CC: He's big because he can pitch multiple innings. He can face lefties or righties. He's not just a situational guy.
If a Braves starter goes six innings and you have a bunch of left-handed hitters coming up in the opposing lineup over the next two innings he can go out and pitch those two innings and be a bridge guy to Luis Avilan perhaps or go straight to the ninth with Craig Kimbrel.
That's a very valuable weapon. He's stretched out and he hasn't pitched a ton of innings. He's pitched out of the bullpen so that's not a totally new experience for him and his delivery is just funky enough that if teams see him once or twice a game it could make it very, very difficult for them.
FSS: On a personal note, you called the division-clinching win Sunday at Wrigley Field. It was the Braves' first title without your dad Skip and it happened in the stadium where your grandfather Harry became a legend. What did that moment mean to you?
CC: Now that you mention that, I didn't really think of that at all.
The first Braves' championship without my dad, yeah, and also my first one back with the Braves. I was there that night in Atlanta in 2005 when the Baby Braves were spraying champagne down in the locker room.
What the Braves accomplished, it isn't about me, it isn't about my dad and it isn't about my grandfather. It's about what they did.
I'm sure dad would have loved to be there. I'm sure Harry would have enjoyed being there as well. But I was a reporter doing my job in that locker room. A lot of coincidences, quite obviously, but it wasn't about my family or me, it was about the Braves and justifiably so.