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Brooks Conrad's Errors Etch His Name Into Painful Postseason Lore

Oct 10, 2010 – 9:49 PM
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Jeff Fletcher

Jeff Fletcher %BloggerTitle%

Brooks ConradATLANTA -- Twenty years from now, a couple of old Braves fans are going to be reminiscing about the highs and lows of the franchise, and one of them is going to say the name Brooks Conrad.

No other words will be necessary.

That's the thing about the playoffs. They have a way of turning a name into a description, evoking a whole storyline that can bring joy or sorrow.

Kirk Gibson. Bill Buckner.

Works both ways.



Conrad, the Braves' 30-year-old journeyman infielder, added his name to the history books in a way that would just make you sick if you knew him, or even if you talked to the guys who knew him. This was no Buckner moment, because it wasn't in the World Series, but it was one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

"It's completely embarrassing," Conrad said. "Once again, I feel like I let everyone down. I just feel terrible. It's a whole lot to swallow, but I'll try my best to get over it. It's probably not something I'll get over for a long time, if ever. ... I wish I could just dig a hole and go sleep in there."

Conrad made the error that allowed the Giants to score the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of their 3-2 victory over the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS.

That would have been bad enough, all by itself.

Except Conrad also made another error in the second inning that let the Giants score what had been the only run of the game for the first seven innings.

And he made another error in the first inning, that simply forced Tim Hudson to throw a few more pitches.

And he made another error in Game 1.

"It's getting ridiculous on my part," Conrad said.

"Once again, I feel like I let everyone down. I just feel terrible. It's a whole lot to swallow, but I'll try my best to get over it. It's probably not something I'll get over for a long time, if ever. ... I wish I could just dig a hole and go sleep in there."
-- Brooks Conrad
All told, Conrad has made eight errors in his past seven games, including the final four games of the regular season. He made the first three of those at third base, so manager Bobby Cox moved him to second to ease his mind.

Now what?

Cox wouldn't commit to Conrad being back in the lineup for Game 4: "I'll have to sleep on it."

If Cox were to go around the Braves clubhouse -- which is circular, by the way, one of those unity things -- he would hear nothing but endorsements for Conrad to remain in the lineup. In fact, they wanted nothing more than for Conrad to get a chance at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, after his error.

"You just keep patting him on the back and let him know you want him out there, that he's part of the team," Matt Diaz said.

Although baseball history will now forever tag Conrad as the The Guy Who Made Three Errors To Blow A Playoff Game, up until now that could not have been further from the way his teammates regarded him. Conrad had been the Braves' secret weapon. He had five hits this year that gave the Braves a lead from the seventh inning on, most notably a May 20 grand slam that completed a seven-run, ninth-inning comeback against the Reds.

It was not only one of the signature moments of the season for the 2010 Braves (major-league high 25 last-at-bat victories), but it was the defining moment of Conrad's career.

Until Sunday.

"We love him more now than we ever have," Hudson said. "It's one of those things, a little rough go. We're behind him. We wouldn't be here without him. It's tough to see a teammate deal with some things like that, but he knows we're behind him and we have all the confidence in the world in him. Your heart goes out for him."

A couple lockers away from Hudson, Chipper Jones said the same thing: "There is not a guy in here that wouldn't take Brooks Conrad in their foxhole any day. We love the guy to death. He works his tail off. He deserves better, but it's part of the game."

Jones, who was a fixture in the Braves lineup when the Braves were a fixture in October, also understands that it's possible Conrad's physical mistakes have gotten into his head. The yips. Jones knows that there is no room for that in the playoffs, so he said he planned to have a talk with Conrad before Game 4.

"This time of year you gotta have that pulse that never wavers," Jones said. "When the chips are down, you've gotta be calm and want the ball hit to you. We're all confident he can go out there and do a really good job at second base. It's just for some reason he's had a couple lapses.

"Knowing Brooksy he'll come out tomorrow and hit a three-run homer in the eighth and send this back to San Francisco. The guy has a flair for the dramatic."
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