Bill Buckner. Brooks Conrad. Napoleon in Russia. What do these three people have in common? Well, besides the heartbreaking, soul-crushing, game-changing errors they committed that changed forever the course of history, none of them have ever been in my kitchen. But just like Buckner and Napoleon before him, Atlanta Braves "second baseman" Brooks Conrad was just a regular person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Conrad made three egregious errors in yesterday's 3-2 Braves loss, two of which led directly towards Giants runs. Just one-half inning after Eric Hinske smacked a two-run tater tot that put the Braves up 2-1, Conrad let a Buster Posey ground ball split his sticky wickets and roll tauntingly into the outfield, which let the winning run score. Therefore and henceforth, Brooks Conrad deserves ridicule and derision from non-Braves fans, and he deserves to be ridden out of town on a rail by the marauding hoards in Turner Field, right?
Well, not so fast, hoards. Brooks Conrad is a patsy, he's a red herring for a greater problem plaguing the 2010 Fightin' Bobby Coxes. Injuries have so plagued the Braves infield this season (see: Jones, Chipper and Prado, Martin) that they started a crucial playoff game with a scrub playing second base who had only made 11 career starts at the position. That's like preparing for your bar exam by watching a seven-hour marathon of "Judge Judy". That's like training for a triathlon by pedaling a tricycle downhill into a pond. That's like invading a cold, tundra-covered country lacking an established agriculture with an army that can only survive by living off the land. It just makes no sense, you see!
Were Bobby Cox' hands tied? Well not literally, but yeah, he had to start Conrad over light-hitting Diory Hernandez. The Braves are carrying eight 1B/OF types against only four middle infielder-type dudes, so he didn't have many options to pencil in the lineup. But there's a reason Abner Doubleday invented the bench player: so Bobby Cox could bench Conrad, who had made five errors in six games before Sunday's miasma, in favor of the defensively-skilled Hernandez late in the game.
So we can do one of two things now. Sit here and play "Second Guess the Old Codger" or we can realize that my amateur Monday morning managing is ridiculous. After all, there's another game to play tonight and, if Bobby Cox is smart, he'll put Conrad through a nightmarish gauntlet of Tom Emanski defensive drills so hellish it would even make Fred McGriff wet himself.