When a book is made into a movie, the film version is almost always a disappointment. It is difficult to capture a story that has been developed over the course of a novel and turn it in to the same story on screen. In my opinion, Up in the Air is an exception. I read the book a few months ago and watched the movie last night and the movie is significantly better. The book lacked any interesting plots and went around in circles without really providing a purpose for the main character. The movie incorporated humor, conflict, compelling stories, & some interesting twists. Two thumbs down for the book, but two thumbs up for the movie.
I feel bad for Frank Wren, General Manager of the Atlanta Braves. Over the past week, he received all kinds of criticism from many Braves fans and columnists for his unwillingness to make a big move before the trade deadline. The two teams that appear to be Atlanta's strongest competition in the National League, the Phillies and Giants, made trades to get arguably the two most coveted available players on the trade market. Meanwhile, the Braves showed interest in both players, Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence, but Frank Wren decided neither player was worth the asking price.
When Beltran was sent to San Francisco, some Braves fans were disappointed, but many understood the reasoning. Beltran could be an impact player down the stretch for the Giants, or he could be an expensive rental player for the last couple months of the season that continues to have bad knees. Many people believe Beltran is a gamble, and most logical minds believe he wouldn't have been worth the top prospects Atlanta would have sent to the division-rival Mets.
If there was grumbling when the Braves missed out on Beltran, there was uproar when Hunter Pence went to the Phillies. Pence appears to be a clutch player who works his tail off and does everything he can to help his team win. He gives the Phillies a right-handed hitter in their lineup and plays the corner outfield position, which makes Philadelphia that much more dangerous. Problem is - Philadelphia had to give up A LOT to get him. Trading two of the best prospects in baseball is a big deal, and it's something the Braves couldn't afford to do. Unlike Atlanta, Philadelphia sells out every home game, giving them a huge payroll and the ability to fill needs on their roster through free agency. So...instead of giving up the farm, Frank Wren stuck to his budget.
Then, Frank Wren made it happen. Sunday morning, the Braves made a deal with the Houston Astros to acquire former gold-glove center fielder Michael Bourn. Bourn can fill an immediate need in center field and take over the lead-off spot in a lineup that sorely needs someone at the top of the order. Not to mention, Bourn is one of the premiere base stealers in the game. On paper, this seems like a great move for the team and Frank Wren played his cards right. Even better, he didn't have to give up ANY of the team's top prospects to acquire Bourn. Well done!
Yet, Wren is still receiving heat for his activity (or lack thereof) before the trade deadline. Some people are saying Wren is too attached to his prospects. Some believe allowing Pence and Beltran to get away to the two best teams in the National League will make it too difficult for the Braves to beat them in the playoffs. Some believe Bourn won't be enough for postseason success and Wren should have picked up more pieces. And those people might be right. Bourn might be the latest version of Mark Teixeira - Atlanta picks up the big name without getting much better while sending away surprising players who end up being major players for a championship contender. Who knows!?
The road to the World Series will be a very difficult one for the Braves. The Phillies look incredibly strong and the Giants pitching is ridiculous. But, if the Braves can't win the National League, I don't think it needs to be Frank Wren's fault. He didn't stay put at the trade deadline, nor did he panic. He made a calculated move that should help the team win this year without hurting the future of the franchise. He did exactly what he was hired to do - manage the organization. Now, let's hope it pays off on the field.
I just finished a great book I would highly recommend. The Hunger Games is written by Suzanne Collins and I think it is listed under the Young Adult genre of books, but this isn't another version of Goosebumps or Animorphs. Although it might sound corny, the book is about a country that requires 24 kids/teenagers to compete in a competition to the death. The story is very well written and intense - and it's one of those books that is difficult to put down.
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