Friday, September 18, 2009

Rootin' for the (damn) wild card

Well, the Atlanta Braves made things hard on themselves by playing only a "so-so" August, especially against the Philadelphia Phillies. Now, they are on fire again but it is a little late in the season to be making dramatic moves up in the standings. Being 8 games behind the Phillies with only 16 games to play means they need a collapse by Philadelphia in order to win the NL East.

That probably ain’t going to happen. Though Atlanta has won 7 games in a row, the Phillies have won 5 in a row and seem to be playing great ball.

But, tonight the Braves start a big weekend series at home against Philadelphia. The Braves need a sweep of the series, but not necessarily so they can possibly win the division. They need a sweep because they come in to tonight’s game trailing the Colorado Rockies by only 4 games in the loss column for the NL Wild Card spot.

Anyone who knows my love for baseball also knows that I hate the designated hitter rule, artificial turf, post-season games played at night, and even the fact that they lowered the height of the pitching mound by 5 inches after the 1968 season. Just don’t mess with baseball.

Add the damn wild card race to the list. I hate the whole concept of wild card teams and the three divisions in each league that came with it. There should be two divisions in each league (they did that in 1969 and I go along with it – so, see, I am flexible), one round of play-offs and then the World Series. Just don’t mess with baseball.

But, that’s where I find myself late in the 2009 season. Rooting for the Braves to be the damnable wild card team.

And they have an outside shot at it with just 16 games to play. They just have to go something like 13-3 and hope Colorado (along with a couple of other teams) goes something like 8-8. Yeah, it is a stretch.

If we had only played better in August. If our hitters had only supported our outstanding starting pitching earlier in the summer. If if if. Biggest word in baseball – or anything else.

The bottom line is we can not lose. We virtually have to win every game. We have to sweep the Phillies. We have to take the current winning streak to at least 11 games in a row.

That’s not impossible. The bats have been better in September. The pitching, which has been good all season, is only better now that we have Tim Hudson back, now that Vasquez, Jurrjens, that outstanding young kid Hanson, and the others have all shown they are potentially the most solid rotation in the major leagues.

You can go a long way with just pitching.

But the Phillies are just as hot as the Braves. So, a sweep is going to be difficult. Nevertheless, it is essential.

After all, even if I don’t like the system, rooting for a wild card Braves team in October is better than watching somebody else’s favorite team take the championship.

Let’s hope. (Late note. Ryan Howard crushes the Braves, 9-4. It is late, far too late for this to be happening.)

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