Braves

Adam Duvall: A T1D Story

Adam Duvall has 79 HR since the start of 2016 – that’s more than Bryce Harper. He has 263 RBI since then as well, 10th most in the majors. He has a top 25 in MLB ISO (Isolated Power: SLG – AVG) over the last 2-1/2 seasons – .233, same as Manny Machado. He has an All-Star game selection and a Home Run Derby semi-final appearance. He has 2 Gold Glove finalist selections.

He also has diabetes.

No, not the kind your grandpa gets because he’s old and overweight. Not the kind of diabetes that Wilford Brimley refers to as “diabeetus” in those commercials from the 90s that came on during The Price is Right. That’s Type-2 diabetes. Adam Duvall has Type-1 diabetes (T1D), also known as juvenile diabetes, and so do I. Here’s my T1D story:

I was in my 4th semester at Georgia Tech. It was a Monday and I was returning to campus from my girlfriend’s house at Auburn. It had been another sleepless night b/c I had gotten up to pee at least 4 times. I was thirsting so badly that I had to stop twice on the drive back to get sodas/sports drinks from convenience stores. I would down them in the first mile back on the road.

I parked where I usually do, near the ME building, and walked completely across campus to my class (I don’t remember what the class was, it was in a building near the library). It was less than a 10 minute walk, but I felt like I had just run a marathon. One of my friends was in my class and said “Man, you look like hell.” I said I didn’t feel great either & wasn’t sure what was up. He said I should go to the infirmary and I said I would after class.

I struggled thru class, barely able to concentrate. My vision was blurry and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, I was so exhausted. I’d lost a bunch of weight since finals the previous semester – something like 35 pounds in 3 months. I just thought it was stress that was screwing up my eating habits. After class, I made the trek back across campus towards the infirmary, stopping along the way at a vending machine in the ME building for a Powerade. I chugged it down and headed up the hill to the clinic.

Before I could make it up the hill (just a few minute walk), I had to step off the sidewalk and I threw up the entire bottle of Powerade I had just downed. I got to the infirmary, told them I didn’t feel well, described my symptoms, and they said that I was just exhausted and needed to get some rest. I said I had just thrown up outside the building and they said “That changes things, we’ll check you out.” They had me pee in a cup and then I waited in a room. A few minutes later, the nurse came in and said “We think you have diabetes. You should go to the ER at Piedmont Medical Center.”

I left the infirmary pretty much in a complete daze. Diabetes? How could I have diabetes? I’m a 22 yr-old, healthy college kid. I walked back to my car and called my parents to get directions to Piedmont. I think they were just as shocked as I was. I tried to keep from crying, but I wasn’t able to. My dad helped calm me down & gave me the directions I needed & said they’d be on their way ASAP (from South Carolina, 4-1/2 hrs away). Then I called my girlfriend and told her I was going to the ER with the possibility that I had diabetes. She said she’d be on her way once she was done with classes for the day (she was in grad school at Auburn).

I got to the ER, barely. I should have gotten someone to drive me, but in my daze I couldn’t think of anyone to call to take me. I checked in and said the GT infirmary told me to come because they think I have diabetes. They took my info and a finger stick to test my blood sugar and told me to head to the waiting room.

A little while later, my uncle showed up. He worked very close to the hospital and, as I found out later, my dad had called him as soon as I got off the phone with him, and told my uncle to meet me at the ER. He waited with me for the night.

I hadn’t eaten much that day and was hungry so I borrowed some change from my uncle to get some crackers from a vending machine. My mouth was so dry that I could barely eat a single one. Eating one of them was like trying to do the saltine cracker challenge.

I was eventually taken to an ER bed where they hooked me up to an insulin IV for the night. I still wasn’t really sure what was going on or why this had happened. My parents & girlfriend showed up later that night & stayed with me as long as they were allowed. Nurses came in every half hour for the entire night to prick my finger to test my blood sugar.

The next morning, Feb 1, 2006, an endocrinologist met with me & my parents to tell us about my new condition and “officially” diagnose my as a Type-1 diabetic. He told me that when the ER tested my blood sugar from that first finger stick when I arrived, it was 840. A normal blood sugar is around 100. I was just a few minutes away from a diabetic coma. I don’t recall a lot about that meeting, but I do recall a question my dad asked the doctor. He said “Doc, why does this happen to a perfectly healthy, 22-year college kid?” The doctor said bluntly “If we knew that, we could prevent it.” Quite sobering.

My girlfriend, parents and I, also met with a diabetes educator to learn about the treatment of my new condition. I won’t go into details, but my life as I knew it was over. I could never eat anything again without thinking about how many carbohydrates were in the food or how much insulin I would have to take. My girlfriend took it all in and was my savior for the the whole thing. She would come to my place in Atlanta, and would prepare 2-3 weeks worth of meals that I could freeze. We worked together to count the carbs so I knew exactly how much insulin I would need for each meal.

I have now lived with this condition for 12 years. In that time, I graduated from Georgia Tech, moved to Richmond, VA, got a great job, married the love of my life (the aforementioned girlfriend), built a house, and had 2 amazing kids. I wear an insulin pump to treat my condition. It’s a pager-sized device that I clip to my belt that delivers insulin into my body 24/7/365. It’s basically my lifeline – without it, I would die.

I wouldn’t wish his disease on my worst enemy. I’m scared s***less that one day, one of my children will start to show some of the same symptoms that I experienced 12-1/2 years ago. There is no cure for Type-1 diabetes. There are only treatments. Advances in the treatment of T1D have come a long way in the last few years and it’s very possible an artificial pancreas will be available by the end of this decade. I’m waiting anxiously for that day.

Adam Duvall went through all this at age 23 as a High-A baseball player. He lost 20 pounds in 2 months, couldn’t lift weights without getting light-headed, couldn’t sleep because he was waking 5-6 times a night to pee. When he was finally diagnosed during Spring Training in 2012, he probably could have said “Man, there’s no way I can keep playing high-level baseball with a condition that screws with my body 24/7.” But he didn’t. He said “OK, where do we go, what do we do now, and just take care of it.”

Imagine having to think about the amount of carbohydrates you’re putting into your body every single time you eat anything at all. Now consider having to worry about the possibility of blacking out when you work out (something that did happen to me once) or when you train to stay in shape to play major league baseball, a grueling, 8-month grind through the heat of the summer that most fans can’t even contemplate fully. Imagine those things being in the back of your mind when you’re in the batter’s box facing 98 mph heat and knee-buckling breaking balls. That’s what Adam Duvall does every single day. He wears an insulin pump while he’s playing – it’s usually in his back pocket, protected by the same type of stuff bicycle helmets are made of. It delivers life-saving insulin 24/7, whether he’s bashing home runs or sliding in the outfield grass to make a run-saving catch.

There are many reasons why fans choose a favorite baseball player. Maybe they signed a baseball for them & were really nice to them on the occasion when they met. Maybe they’re an under-rated grinder, a quiet leader that hits nothing but singles (which are actually mostly doubles). Maybe they’re a cerebral pitcher who doesn’t dazzle with velocity but baffles with location, movement, & sequencing. Coming into this season, Adam Duvall was my favorite “non-Brave” baseball player because I relate to him for the struggles I went through when I was diagnosed with diabetes and the way the disease has radically changed my entire life and will forever. He went through the same experience and is now playing the game I love at the highest level for the team I’ve loved for my entire 35-year life. He could hit like Emilio Bonifacio and I wouldn’t care – he’s Adam Duvall and he’s what T1D looks like.

For more on Duvall’s story, read here. For more info on Type-1 diabetes and the on-going research in the treatment of the disease, please visit http://www.jdrf.org/.

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 69

This week Josh and Ken go hard in the paint at some Braves bloggers. They discuss the political divide of baseball. Why do old school guys hate the analytics crowd? Why is the analytics crowd so rude and condescending to the old school crowd?

They also talk about Trump.

No animals were harmed in the recording of this gluten-free podcast, but we can’t promise about your feelings.

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 67

This week we’re rejoined by Michael Kelly, and Jonathan Howard joins us for the first time. This could be the best episode yet.

You may know Michael from his role as Doug Stamper on the Netflix show House of Cards. Michael’s a buddy of ours, a woke Knockahoma Nation listener, and a very knowledgeable Braves fan. You’d think a guy as busy as him might not keep up with the details of his favorite sports team, but Michael can wax philosophic about Joey Wentz and Touki Toussaint with the best of them.

If you listen to Knockahoma Nation, you may have heard us talk about Jonathan Howard. Jonathan’s our friend who works for Chick-Fil-A, whom we’ve been trying to hook up with Savannah Dent on Twitter. We had Jonathan on to talk Braves baseball, but also to have Michael give Jonathan some relationship advice.

We also bring back our PATENTED “Make It Matter” segment. On this Make It Matter segment we talk about the most political issue of our time – launch angle.

Enjoy.

 

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 66

This week on Knockahoma Nation Ken explains what a baseball manager does and Josh recaps his interesting trip to ElizaBETHton, Tennessee to see the Danville Braves. Did you know that they don’t serve beer at ElizaBETHton Twins games? It’s true.

Ken also gets philosophical, and talks forever, about his favorite past time, the grandest game of all, baseball.

We hope you enjoy. And don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher.

 

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Why the Atlanta Braves lost two games to the Reds

In the game of base ball, there are two teams playing. Unlike individual sports like golf or Olympic diving, athletes in the game of base ball belong to a team and their team is always competing against another team. At any given point in the base ball game, one team is on offense while one team is on defense, and it is the only team sport in which the defense has the ball. Each team is trying to win.

In golf, a player steps up to the tee box alone. Aside from their own thoughts and personal limitations, no one is attempting to get in the golfer’s way of hitting the ball of the tee. The same thing goes for diving. In diving, a diver climbs to the top of the platform alone. The only competition the diver faces is the diver himself.

In base ball, and other team competitive sports, while the player is certainly at the mercy of his own thoughts and limitations, he’s also at the mercy of the players on the other team who are trying to win. As mentioned previously, each team is trying to win, and each player is trying to impede the opposing players from performing their tasks.

For example, when shortstop Dansby Swanson steps into the batters box, he faces an opposing pitcher. Webster defines “opposing” as being in conflict or competition with a specified or implied subject. While Dansby’s job is to get a base hit, or at the very least get on base, the pitcher’s job is to get Dansby out. Thus creates an atmosphere for what is known as competition.

Furthermore, in sports an athlete is often judged and valued on their ability to perform in clutch situations. Websters defines “clutch” (in sport) as denoting or occurring in a critical situation in which the outcome of a game or competition is at stake. Great examples of this in other sports might be former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and current NFL quarterback Tom Brady (former draftee of the Montreal Expos). Manning seemed to perform excellent at his everyday job, but struggled in clutch situations. Brady seemed to perform well in both.

On Monday, the Braves faced Reds pitcher Matt Harvey who was trying to prevent the Braves from getting on base and scoring. For the most part, Harvey succeeded, just giving up one run in 6 2/3 innings. The Braves could only score 3 runs that game, while the Reds scored 5.

On Tuesday, while the Braves scored 4 runs in the fourth inning, and while the Reds trailed 5-3, the Reds did not give up and ended up scoring 3 more runs, making the score 6-5. Had the Braves scored more than 6 runs, they would have won the base ball contest.

The Atlanta Braves remain in first place in a division where there are other base ball teams also trying to win games. Tomorrow they’ll face the St. Louis Cardinals, another base ball team, who are in the central division of the National League. The Cardinals will try their very best to win and prevent the Braves from winning, while the Braves will do their best to remain in first place.

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 64

The Braves just lost two games to a terrible Orioles team, but they’re still in first place. While many of our fellow Braves fans and bloggers are wallowing in despair, we’re still smiling. Why? Well, because baseball’s fun and the sun is scheduled to rise again.

This is a very special episode. This week we’ve got our buddy Michael Cooper on the podcast. Michael’s a die hard Braves fan, living in Texas, with his wife and kids Maddox, Glavine, and Avery. We had Michael on so that he could talk about his son, Maddox.

Maddox (named after some feller named Greg) has Koolen-de Vries Syndrome. Michael’s on the board of directors for the Koolen-de Vries Syndrome Foundation and educated us on what KDVS exactly is and how us Braves fans can help raise awareness.

If you’d like to learn more about KDVS check out their website here. If you’d like to donate, go here. The organization is run entirely by volunteers and all donations help them continue to support their mission: To educate, increase awareness and promote research for the support and enrichment of individuals living with Koolen-de Vries Syndrome and their families.

Oh, Josh and Kenny also talk about the Atlanta Braves. Especially Johan Camargo. Enjoy!

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P.S. Don’t forget to check out their website and spread the love. https://kdvsfoundation.org/

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 63

Greetings, Knockahoma Nation. Do we care about Brian Snitker‘s bullpen management? Do we care about Liberty Media’s involvement in the financials of the Atlanta Braves? Do we care about what the Braves might do by the trade deadline? We do not. Why? Because the Atlanta Braves are in first place.

This week we discuss deep complex issues like Dansby Swanson, pop country and why Jonathan Howard is still single. We don’t have an answer for the latter.

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 62

WELCOME TO THE KNOZARKS.

What a time to be alive. The Atlanta Braves are in first place and Charlie Culberson keeps hitting walk-off dingers. Are you not entertained?

This week we have one of our favorite pals on Twitter and one of Josh’s favorite actors on the show.

Ryan Cothran writes for Walk Off Walk, a Braves blog that we love. Josh spends approximately 12 hours per week trolling Ryan for his questionable baseball takes. Ryan spent most of the off-season pontificating on Twitter how the Atlanta Braves were going to trade Nick Markakis. He never deleted these tweets, and now Josh reminds him of this.

We also have Atlanta-based actor Kevin Johnson on the show. Kevin plays Sam the real estate agent on the popular Netflix show Ozark. The show stars Jason Bateman, but we think it stars Kevin Johnson (or KJ as we like to call him) because Kevin is a huge Braves fan and Jason likes the Dodgers. Kevin gives us the inside scoop on how he landed the Ozark job, how his character Sam was created, and when Season 2 of Ozark is expected to hit Netflix.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher. Enjoy the show!

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 61

If you enjoy baseball and laughing, we encourage you to listen to this week’s replacement-level Knockahoma Nation baseball podcast. This week we’re joined by one of our favorites on Twitter, Natasha from Los Angeles Dodgers podcast The Real Housewives of Chavez Ravine.

As purveyors of humor, we think Natasha might be the funniest person in the state of California. We discuss very important things with Natasha like why Rich Hill is hot and how sexy Chase Utley is. Natasha also gives us a scouting report on the Dodgers for the upcoming Braves/Dodgers series.

Josh and Ken also take a quick look into Braves Country and probably talk about Jonathan Howard a little too much.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher. Enjoy the show!

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The Unsung Hero of the Atlanta Braves

Knockahoma Nation FanPost by @dren_braves on Twitter. @dren_braves is a mustache grower and mountain unicyclist who lives at the feet of the Wasatch Mountain Range in Salt Lake City, Utah where he watches Atlanta Braves games.

“This isn’t a try league…They better be ready to come play tomorrow…I was pissed, there’s a process that wasn’t sustained.  The first three innings, I loved it. And then we just kind of punted the last six innings. That pissed me off.” –Brian Snitker, following being swept by the San Francisco Giants in Atlanta

Just kidding, that wasn’t Brian Snitker, it was Dodgers manager Dave Roberts after losing the first of four games to the last place Cincinnati Reds.  Yes, those Dodgers who won 104 games just last year. Those Dodgers who won 43 games in a 50-game stretch in 2017, the most dominant 50-game stretch in 105 years.  Those Dodgers who breezed their way to the 2017 World Series.

2,179 miles away in Cumberland, Georgia, the Atlanta Braves are responding to their worst losing streak of the season (3 games) by winning 6 of their last 8 games. They are in sole possession of first place in the entire National League. Yet, nobody seems to be paying attention to this red-hot team. Sure, the Braves have some very bright young stars who are beginning to capture some national attention. We all know about Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr., but are these two players the reason this team is currently atop the National League? There is no doubt they are playing an important role as the top two hitters in the lineup. But it takes much more than a couple of young stars to make a good baseball team (just ask the Anaheim Angels). The Atlanta Braves are a complete baseball club. They have good pitching, great defense, and solid hitters top-to-bottom. One of the many guys holding this team together is…

El Chapulín Colorado

(Still trying to get this nickname to stick)

More agile than a turtle, stronger than a mouse, nobler than a lettuce, his shield is a heart…It’s Ender “El Chapulín Colorado” Inciarte!

One of the most polarizing players right now for the Atlanta Braves is Ender David Inciarte Montiel. The ladies swoon, while the SABR nerds spit all over him. Meanwhile, I’m over here listening to his interviews, laughing about how much he sounds like Vito Corleone.

I think even the most hardened SABR folks will acknowledge that Ender is adept at getting on base by hitting singles.  But they will quickly jump to, “but he doesn’t walk at all and doesn’t hit for power”. I am not here to argue that Ender is good at drawing walks, or that he is a power hitter. I am here to argue that Ender is an above average hitter, and a crucial part of the Braves’ success.

FanGraphs is a holy source of data for Ender’s detractors. But according to this holy scripture, an On-Base Percentage of 0.340 or higher is considered “above average”. Let’s see I’m just going to go look at Ender’s…oh my goodness he has a career OBP of 0.340! I am not surprised. That’s because hitting a single is just as valuable as drawing a walk when it comes to OBP. This is not the whole story though. When you draw a walk, any runners on base in front of you only get to advance one base.  If there’s an empty base in front of you, they don’t get to advance at all! However, when you hit a single, all of the baserunners can advance as far as possible. Very often a runner can go from first to third on a single, or from second to home! That means a runner scores! I feel dumb saying this but people seem to have forgotten that singles are more valuable than walks. A guy with a 0.340 OBP and a low walk percentage is more valuable than a guy with a 0.340 OBP and a high walk percentage.

I don’t mean to keep beating up the Dodgers, but they provide such a stark contrast to the Braves this year that really helps us understand what’s going on in Atlanta. Cody Bellinger is one of the bright young stars for the Dodgers. He had a monster rookie season last year. On April 29, 2018, he hit a ball into “Triples Alley” in San Francisco, and casually trotted into second for a double. The aforementioned Roberts benched him the next game for not hustling and trying for a triple. I challenge you, the reader, to find a time when Ender did not run at full steam on a ball hit in the gap. I think Ender probably leads the league in replay reviews on bang-bang plays at first [citation needed] (this, despite being one of the slowest centerfielders in baseball according to Statcast).

Bellinger opened eyes again last Saturday when in a close game in the bottom of the ninth and nobody on base, he bunted a 3-0 pitch right to the pitcher who easily threw him out for the second out of the inning. Ken Rosenthal later reported that Bellinger ignored a sign to take the pitch with three balls and no strikes. He ignored his manager and surrendered in a winnable game against a bad team. Oof. (Rosenthal, The Athletic)

Now let’s flash back to SunTrust Park on April 21, 2018. The Braves were down 3 runs to the rival New York Mets and managed to scratch out 3 runs to tie the game in the 8th and 9th innings. Ender Inciarte came up to bat in the 9th with 1 out and runners on 1st and 3rd in a tie game. Earlier in the game, in a crucial situation, Ender stole third but upon replay review was called out because he momentarily popped off the bag.  It was a deflating play, but Ender and the Braves always feel they can win, no matter the circumstances.

Back to the 9th inning: Freddie Freeman who was in-the-hole later explained, “I didn’t even grab my stuff because I told Snit, ‘I believe in Ender, I’m not even going to go up there’. Next thing you know he’s bunting and I just, like, start panicking. And then all of a sudden just awesomeness happened. I don’t think anyone else would have thought about that except Ender.”

We later learned that Ender did not go up to the plate planning to bunt. He dug into the box thinking, “I’m gonna swing, I’m gonna swing, I’m gonna swing.  Then I walked into the box and I saw Camargo (at third base) and I looked to first and I changed my mind.  I said, you know what, I can lay a bunt right here; it’s the right situation.” (O’Brien, AJC Article)

“It’s the right situation”. How many times have you watched a team try to win a game, and the guy at the plate just totally whiffs as he tries to hit the ball to the moon? Or let’s get weird, how many times have you watched a team try to win a game, and the guy at the plate bunts a 3-0 pitch right to the pitcher with nobody on base? The point is, Ender Inciarte is a great baseball player who knows his role. He doesn’t need to hit a 3 run bomb with a runner on third in a tie game. That RBI bunt single isn’t going to give a boost to his SLG, it’s not going to make his WRC+ look sexy, and it’s not going to make a huge boost to his WAR.  But Ender Inciarte won a ballgame that day for the Atlanta Braves.

We are very fortunate to be able to watch the rise of the next Atlanta Braves dynasty. The Braves are just so fun to watch right now, every day. Ender Inciarte is a big part of that excitement, and plays a huge role in every win. He’s out there every day making tough catches look easy. He’s out there every day getting on base. If you ever find yourself thinking, “but I wish he would draw more walks and hit more homers”, just STOP.  You’re trying to make yourself miserable. Enjoy the ride, you knuckleheads.

Sources:

Ken Rosenthal, “Are the reeling Dodgers really this bad or can they turn their season around?” The Athletic. https://theathletic.com/353492?shared_by=163314

David O’Brien, “Game-Ender bunt for bold Inciarte” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. https://www.myajc.com/sports/baseball/game-ender-bunt-for-bold-inciarte/5L3HsEaxVaI8EwFnJoJhJK/

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