Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Back in March

This past March the experts said the most dominant teams would be the Nationals, Angels, Reds, Rangers, and Yankees. They said the Braves might sneak into the wild card, but not stick around long.

Considering this, what if I had told you back in March that none of those five high-salaried favorites would win a postseason game. What if I told you back in March that Hudson, Beachy, Venters, O'Flaherty, Martinez, Pena, and Pastornicky would be lost to season-ending injuries. That Freeman, McCann, BJ Upton, Maholm, Walden, Schafer, Uggla, Janish, and Laird would also miss considerable time with injuries. That Heyward would get a slow start, then miss over two months of the season with an appendectomy and broken jaw. That the two highest-paid players would hit under .180 – then hit even worse in September. That with half the pitching staff out hurt, the Braves would have to call up two rookies (Wood and Hale) and pick up an over-the-hill castoff (Garcia) to shoulder the starting pitching burden down the stretch. That the Braves would have to pick up a second-baseman the lowly Royals released for lack of production. That the Braves would have to play a rookie catcher in left field for a good part of the season.

Considering all this you might think the Braves would finish the season in last place. Certainly behind the powerful Nationals, the up & coming Mets, and the loaded Phillies.

Then what if I told you that despite all these setbacks the Braves would remain in first place the entire season, except for one day in early April. What if I told you the Braves won the Eastern Division championship by nine games, with the second-best record in the National League. Would you consider that a successful season?

Then what if I told you that the Braves had to face the most dominant pitcher in baseball twice in four games, and face another hot Cy Young Award winner with one of the best records in baseball over the past few months. That the Braves would have to face one of the hottest teams in baseball since June, who had a payroll over 2-1/2 times that of the Braves. That despite these overwhelming odds, the Braves would be competitive in three of the four game series.

Had you known all that before the season started, would you consider the season a success? Or would you still say "Same old Braves?"

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