With sincere apologies to the late, great Allan Malamud…

On June 21, Bobby Cox brought John Rocker in to start the ninth
inning with the Braves trailing 3-1. It was Rocker’s third appearance since
his recall from Richmond, and he was brutal: one out, four walks, a hit and
five runs.

Since then, Rocker has been indistinguishable from the pitcher who blew
through the NL in 1999: 26 1/3 innings, a 1.37 ERA, 16 hits, 15 walks and
35 strikeouts. Before yesterday, Rocker had gone almost a month since his
last walk allowed.

The Braves desperately need Rocker. With him effective, the team has three
solid relievers for the late innings, with Kerry Ligtenberg and
Mike Remlinger. Since Cox didn’t want to use Kevin McGlinchy
last season, there’s no reason to believe he’ll want to use Scott
this year, meaning the Braves will need to get as many
effective innings as they can from the rotation and their three good

John Rocker makes the plan work; without him, it’s unlikely the team can
get through three playoff rounds without dipping into the
Kamieniecki/John Burkett/Terry Mulholland parts of the staff,
which is a recipe for disaster…

Has Mike Cameron touched the plate yet?…

The Cardinals can clinch this weekend, with a magic number of five as of
this morning…

Chaos update: the AL wants the Indians play another day/night
doubleheader, this time on September 25, to make up Sunday’s rainout of
their game with the White Sox. They would play the Sox at noon and their
regularly scheduled game with the Twins at 7:00 p.m.

I love this idea. Anything that could create weirdness is always fun. What
if it rains that day? What if they first game goes 14 innings? Exactly how
big is the the visitors’ clubhouse at the Jake, anyway? And how late can
the Twins play, anyway? Doesn’t most of their roster have a 9:00 bedtime?

The Indians are, frankly, in an absurd situation. They have no off-days
between now and the end of the season and have to play at least 19 games,
and possibly 20 or even 21, in the 18 days between now and October 2. I
don’t blame the league for trying to get the makeup game out of the way,
because they may need October 2 for a playoff. And maybe October 3 as well,
if the Blue Jays or an AL West team gets into the mix…

Cleveland lost five coin flips, by the way, and would be on the road for
any and all potential wild-card playoff games…

Joe Sheehan can be reached at

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