Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't Do This to me

The Braves are ever-so-slightly getting my hopes up that they can stage some sort of miraculous rally into the Wild Card. They've won nine of 11 to creep to within three games, although the fact that they trail three teams makes a recovery a virtual impossibility. With a three-game set against the Phillies and the Padres collapsing, a last-gasp run would be possible, but the Rockies presence in the mix two games ahead of the Braves makes the playoffs a pipe dream. Incidentally, the Braves are tied with the Rockies right now for the best Pythagorean record in the NL. If both sides miss the playoffs, would that be a further argument for the weakness of the NL that its two best teams are not in the mix?

Even if the Braves don't make the playoffs, their run at the end of the year is gratifying on a couple levels. First, if they take care of business the next two nights (and with Smoltz and Hudson throwing, it's quite possible that they will), then they'll likely keep the Phillies out of the playoffs. While I was not especially geeked this weekend that the net effect of the Braves winning three of four would be to send the Cubs to the playoffs (I'm still bitter about '03), it would be especially satisfying to deny the worst fans in American sports October baseball for the umpteenth year (and I'm still bitter about '93). Second, finishing with 87 or 88 wins is better than finishing 82-80 because the Braves can say to themselves that they had a good season. The complaint that the team got screwed by its Interleague draw will have validity if the Braves miss the playoffs by a game or two, although there really is no counter to "forget the Red Sox; you went 1-6 against the Reds." Third, Liberty Media is more inclined to open the checkbooks this off-season if they perceive that the Braves are on the cusp of being a contender in the National League again. While I would be fine with the team letting Andruw walk, one of the messages of this season is that it's very hard to get quality pitching on the cheap, so the team will hopefully suck it up and pay some of the outrageous sums that pitching commands on the open market in the winter. Average pitchers cost an arm and a leg, but the alternatives are Mark Redman and Kyle Davies.


Ed said...

Doesn't it strike you as wrong that a team that went 51-61 over a 112 game stretch still has a chance to be in the postseason? I feel awkward taking interest again in a team I basically kicked to the curb a month ago. (However if that means diverting my attention from college football, I'm all for it at this point.)

By the way, the trouble with bearing grudges against teams that have beaten the Braves in the postseason is that pretty much means hating every other team in baseball. I mean aren't you still bitter about the Padres in '98? Michael Tucker's homerun off of Kevin Brown was such a glorious moment...why did there have to be a Game 6?

LD said...

Right now, with 5 games to go, the Braves have as many wins as the eventual World Series champion last year had.

So, no, it doesn't strike me as wrong. Just about every team in the league had a bad stretch.

Get in the playoffs and anything can happen. I'd rather it be the Braves than some other team.

Anonymous said...

Can we call 112 games a 'stretch'? That's roughly 70% of the season. In order to reach 90+ wins (usually enough to make the playoffs), the Braves would have had to play .800 baseball for the remaining 50 games. Asking any team to do that for 2 months is insane.