The Braves are in a bad position: seven games back in the East and four back in the Wild Card. They have two reliable starters, just released their “closer,” and three key players (Edgar Renteria, Chuck James and Octavio Dotel) are on the DL. It’s over, or at least that is what many are saying. I’ve said it to myself a few times. But this is not why we watch sports—to witness the obvious and expected.
I recall watching a basketball game with a friend of mine who wasn’t into sports. With a minute to go, the leading team hit a three-pointer to extend the lead to five. “It’s over,” he said. “Change the channel.” I was offended by this comment, and I couldn’t understand why. Deep down, I knew it was unlikely my team was going to loose. And after the minute was up, my friend could only gloat, “told you!” But that wasn’t the point. The fact that games and seasons are not over, when they most likely are is what makes them exciting. Maybe that is why some people get sports and others don’t.
As a Braves fan, I cast aside negative thoughts and look at the glorious script that is being written. The team is down but the situation is not hopeless. The team has six games a piece left with the Mets and Phillies. Chipper Jones is having a magnificent season, second in the NL in OPS behind Bonds. A September like 1999, when he took the MVP by burying the Mets almost single-handedly—at least that’s how Braves fans like to remember it—is still possible. I’d love to see him boost his HOF credentials with another MVP. If James and Dotel can come off the DL and pitch their best, and Andruw Jones does what he is capable of doing, this could be one of the most exciting Octobers in Braves history.
Hope, it’s all we’ve got. And let’s not forget how much fun the ride can be.
“I knew we had ‘em right where we wanted ‘em after eight.”
— Skip Caray