Baseball’s law of averages catches up with the Braves

Atlanta Braves second baseman Brooks Conrad dives for a single hit by San Francisco Giants' Aubrey Huff during the eighth inning in Game 3 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoff series in Atlanta, Georgia October 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Like any red-blooded sports fan, there are players I root against. I’m supposed to be somewhat objective with in my job so I won’t list those players’ names, but I’m like most fans: I don’t mind seeing certain players fail.

Brooks Conrad isn’t one of those players.

I love self-made guys because they never have the best talent, they’re not flashy and they usually appreciate what they have. Conrad, the 30-year-old journeyman who was forced into regularly playing time because of injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado, is a self-made player. He was a nobody until May 20, when hit his first career major league grand slam by helping the Braves beat the Reds, 10-9.

But because of his three errors in the Giants’ 3-2 come-from-behind win on Sunday in the NLDS, now Conrad is somebody. And unfortunately for him, he’s somebody for all the wrong reasons.

Conrad’s three errors tied a record for most errors in a single divisional series playoff game. Two of his errors led to Giants’ runs, including the eventual winning run when a Buster Posey routine ground ball traveled through his legs to score Aubrey Huff in the top of the ninth.

Of course, had Billy Wagner not gotten hurt in Game 2 of this series, Craig Kimbrel would have never pitched the top of the ninth on Sunday. And had Kimbrel gotten one more strike on Freddy Sanchez, the Giants’ second baseman wouldn’t have reached on a base-hit and Atlanta would be up 2-1 in the series.

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Reds’ outfielder Nix helps Braves complete amazing comeback

Usually when a club is down seven runs in the ninth, fans are busy making their way out of the stadium. But those that stayed to watch the end of the Reds-Braves game yesterday afternoon were treated to a thriller. (Unless they were Cincinnati fans, who were treated to heartburn.)

The ball was heading for the yellow stripe before Nix intervened, so even if he didn’t get his glove on it, the ball would have probably been ruled a homer anyway. Still, to come thisclose to robbing a potential game-winning dinger only to have it go off your glove and over the wall must be excruciating.

What’s even more excruciating is thinking about how the Reds’ pen gave up that big of a lead in the ninth. Come on, fellas – close the door!

What a cool moment for Conrad, though. He’s a 30-year-old journeyman who had played just 36 games in the majors before this season and who has largely been a pinch-hitter.

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