The Script

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

6 Responses “The Script”

  1. Ron says:

    If we had the starting pitching we had in ’92, I’d have hope too. We don’t have to have Dotel back, but if James doesn’t return very quickly, we won’t be in enough games to make up the ground we need barring outstanding Septembers from Reyes, Cormier, and Carlyle that seem impossible from what we’ve seen from those pitchers so far.

  2. Cliff says:

    Hope is low, but it isn’t irrational.

    Basically, the hitting would have to carry an even bigger load and the young expanded roster pitchers (essentially relievers like Stockman, Ring, most of the rest are now up) and the young pitchers we just brought up (Acosta, Ascanio, Devine) would have to have big impacts. IF 2 of them could be like 2003 K-Rod, and if Smoltz and Hudson don’t run off the road, then actually, as improbably as it might otherwise seem, we are right there.

    However, facing Florida as down as they have been may not be an answer.

  3. Dave says:

    Currently the Mets are 73-56 (33 games left) and the Braves are 67-64 (31 games left). The WORST 33 game streak the Mets have played in 2007 was 13-20 in June/July. That would give them a mark of 86-76. The BEST the Braves record over a 31 game stretch in 2007 is 20-11 in April/May. That would finish them at 87-75. So if the Braves play their best ball of the season coupled with the Mets worst ball of the season (or some combination thereof), the Braves would win by 1 game. While this isn’t very scientific it is fun to play with and leads me to beleive the divisional race is almost certainly over (although Pythagorean indicates the Braves as being slightly unlucky and the Mets being a little bit lucky). The wildcard is a little tougher to handicap. I think there will definitely be a few teams that play themselves out of contention, but it’s hard to conceive that race being clinched by anyone before the final weekend of the season though. If the Braves can just qualify for the postseason, they may be able to outslug anyone in a short series.

  4. Ron says:

    Unfortunately the Mets are getting Pedro back who has been pitching very well in his last few rehab starts while the Braves are uncertain to get James back who wasn’t pitching very well before his “dead arm”. The division is over barring a sudden rash of injuries to the Mets rotation.

  5. Andrew says:

    Tomorrow marks the hometeam’s best chance at making up ground. If we sweep with our best 3 on the hill, I’ll be “dancing in the streets” (Skip Carey reference). I would love to see two sweeps but let’s just win Friday night.

  6. Ron says:

    Realistically we’d need to win 5 of the next 6 to get back into the division race. I don’t think the team has has a stretch like that since April.