I wouldn’t be much of a fan if I didn’t mention that the Atlanta Braves have made the postseason for the first time since 2005. They limped in as the National League Wild Card with a 91-71 record – an amazing mark considering that the team consisted of the likes of Nate McLouth, Rick Ankiel, Alex Gonzalez, Brooks Conrad, Kyle Farnsworth, and, of course, Melky Cabrera.
Of course, this team had a nine-game losing streak this season, as well as a nine-game (or was it more?) winning streak. They also had outstanding pitching, featuring the arrival of Johnny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor, as well as mainstays Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and a surprisingly rejuvenated Derek Lowe. Then there was Billy Wagner anchoring down the ninth, usually in effective fashion (although there were some times of worry).
But all things considered, it’s remarkable how well they did (a Major League best 56-25 home record helped) with such a mediocre offense. I’ve never seen a team so inept at moving runners over, or getting runners in from third with less than two outs. And they played disgusting defense, committing more errors than 12 of the 15 NL teams. So it’s really quite a gift that they edged out the Padres and took Bobby Cox to a 15th and final postseason. Heroics from mysterious rookie Brooks Conrad certainly helped.
Tonight marks the second game in the best-of-five Division Series against the San Francisco Giants, a team strangely similar in its pitching abilities and offensive inabilities. The contest last night was marked by the Braves flailing at pitches and striking out 14 times to Tim Lincecum. Wait, I’ll let this article tell the story…
…And, as an aside, it seems that the umpires’ union got their hand to the reporter of that article. Per usual in the 2010 MLB Postseason, the game was decided by a blown call by the umpire. This time, the second base umpire egregiously ruled rookie Buster Posey safe on his first Major League steal of second – although he was clearly out. The very next play resulted in the only run of the game. (Ignore the fact that the Braves had as many errors as hits and were striking out more than six times for every hit they got.)
Anyway, the point was that it will likely be a short few days for the 2010 Braves in October. But it should be their own fault, not the ump’s. And they’re going to need to address some of their ugly voids next year to remain competitive and stop driving their fans insane.