Thursday, April 07, 2016

What's Your Prediction?

Every year fans complain when their team doesn’t win the championship. Most forget that at the beginning of the season few expected the team to do well in the first place. After two close games the Braves were in up to the final out, I’m already hearing complaints the team failed to execute perfectly.

Last year UGA started the season with three novice quarterbacks. In fact they only had one great player (Nick Chubb) and he went down with a season-ending knee injury. The Dawgs did well to rally to win ten games, but by the end of the season fans were crying for Mark Richt’s head. That the season never held realistic visions of glory meant little by then.

When a sportswriter or radio host makes a preseason prediction, few fans remember to hold them accountable. Some will publish their results, like Mark Bradley, Jeff Schultz, Matt Chernoff, and Chuck Oliver. What fans do this?

Anyone? Bueller?

So often during the offseason I read fans on social media predicting 100 loss seasons, only to complain during the first losing streak. Isn’t that what they expected? Any knowledgeable fan knows the Braves are in a rebuilding mode. The team knew it would struggle after trading away so many established players. The goal is to win in 2017 and 2018. Did these so-called fans actually expect the Braves to win? To lose one hundred (which the Braves did not do) they’ll have to lose two of every three. Four losses per week. Yet the same fans who predicted the terrible record complains when the team performs as predicted. Why is this?

Sure watching a losing team can be frustrating. Fans like to vent on social media. Like many things, this public display of “affection” only reveals the mentality, temperament, and true colors of the individual.

I hope the Braves win the World Series. A winning record and competitive team would be great. Just making a playoff appearance would be tremendous. But these are hopes and dreams, and quite unrealistic ones at that.

On the contrary, I expect the Braves to struggle this year. I’ll do my best to not complain about every strike out and error. I’m not one to do an in depth research project of the Braves personnel to determine how much better the team will be over last year. Nick Markakis went into last year with no offseason work and hardly any spring training – and still was the team’s most reliable hitter. After a season of injuries Freddie Freeman returns healthy. Hector Olivera looks more comfortable at the plate. Aybar can hit better than Simmons without too much drop-off in the field. Inciarte provides solid offense and defense.

Last year the Braves lost at least 20 games due to a weak bullpen losing late game leads and ties games. This year with Grilli, Jim Johnson, Vizciano, and Eric O’Flaherty bolstering the pen, the Braves should be at least ten games better. That should at least keep them ahead of the woeful Phillies.

What are your expectations for the Braves 2016? Based on the reality of the roster and competition, what will their record be? What would truly disappoint you?

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