So your driving down the high way as you embark on a long road trip. You see miles and miles of road ahead of you. You think to yourself what a long trip this is going to be and how you will surly be exhausted by the end you. You decide that you are not up for changing speeds constantly while you driving so you decide to put the car on cruise control and just relax for a little bit. Sure you won’t be able to pass many people or make any aggressive moves but the cruise control will help you rest up and get some of your stamina back. Sounds like a good plan right?
Well meet the 2011 Atlanta Braves are experiencing their own little joy ride as they have put their season on cruise control. Let’s just hope that the season ends before their car runs out of gas. To me that’s the exact scenario that we find ourselves in as Braves fans. We are literally counting down the games until the end of the season. You all know how much I love the game of baseball and how much I enjoy watch games. No, not right now. I have a calender in my house that I’m using to count down the days until the regular season ends. I can’t wait for this madness to be over. The games are no longer enjoyable and are coming with the price tag of high anxiety and stress. Yes, maybe my love for the Braves is a little unhealthy but isn’t that what happens to us as fans?
If you picture yourself driving in that same car. You look down and your gas tank is almost on empty and you have no idea where the nearest gas station is. You decide to just ride it out and pray that you make it to your destination before you run out of gas. That’s all the Braves are doing right now. They appear to be hoping that the season ends while they still have at least a 1.0 game lead in the Wild Card.
Now this is where I will attempt to calm Tomahawk Nation. I think that’s why most people read my post anyways. They are looking for answers and they are looking for my thoughts on certain situations that occur. Well my thoughts are as follows.
Were no longer chasing anyone. All were doing is trying to keep ourselves a float. Nothing more and nothing less. The Phillies hold a 10.5 game lead in the division with 20 games left to play. The N.L East is over and done with. The Wild Card is our only hope of making the playoffs so we need to treat that opportunity like gold. No more chasing, which I think is a better mind set. We need to realize that we’re the team to beat in the WILD CARD. Other teams like St. Louis and San Fran are chasing us. We need to win ball games to try and reach our magic number.
The Braves hold a 6.5 game lead in the N.L Wild Card. I know that were complaining about it as our nerves are getting the better of us, myself included. I can’t even begin to think about how I’d feel if we blew this lead and missed the playoffs after a 162 game grind that sent us on emotional swings that resembled a roller coaster. However let’s consider this. The Boston Red Sox hold just a 7.0 game lead over Tampa Bay for the A.L Wild Card. Yes, the unstoppable World Series projected champions are really only a .5 game better off then our Braves right now. That should give us a little comfort as our lead is fairly healthy considering the amount of games left.
We could be the Angels right now. A very talented team that is desperately trying to chase down the Texas Rangers for possibly the final playoff spot in the A.L. At least we are in control of our own destiny. We don’t need anyone else to lose games, we just need to win games. The pressure is on the Cardinals right now. They can’t afford to lose any games.
Brandon Beachy was outstanding last night. For a young pitcher to go into such hostile territory this late in the season and pitch so well, to me that’s a great sign. Beachy I believe has earned himself a spot in the playoff rotation no matter who is healthy. Hudson and Beachy deserve to be in there. Who else is in there is still up for grabs. I’m hoping it’s Hanson but his healthy is out of our control right now and we kind of have to see what happens.
Today is a great opportunity to turn things around. It’s a chance to collect 2 wins in just 1 day and after today we’ll only have 18 games left in the season with hopefully AT LEAST a 6.5 game lead over the Cardinals and hopefully it expands some. Could be a big confidence boost for this team.
The biggest series remaining for this club is not the series against Philadelphia. After the 2 games in New York we head to St. Louis for a CRUCIAL 3 game set. If we win 2/3 in that series then I believe the Wild Card will be ours. That’s truly what I believe needs to happen. People in Tomahawk Nation are also thinking the worst. Yes if the Cardinals sweep us then were going to be in big trouble down the stretch but what if we sweep them? If we sweep that series in St. Louis then the Wild Card will pretty much be wrapped up at that point. I think we need to make a statement in that series. If we can leave St. Louis with a 7 or 8 game lead in the Wild Card with 15 games left on the schedule I will feel pretty good about things.
The Braves have lost 5 of their last 6 games and our very fortunate that we didn’t get swept by the Dodgers as well. This team doesn’t have to 18-2 down the stretch to make the playoffs. But we also can’t afford to go 2-18 either. I think going 10-10 will be enough and that’s why you work so hard to build a lead like we have late in the season, it takes a little bit of the pressure off during the stretch run.
What I don’t recommend is that the Braves continue to play with this sleep look in their eyes. Half the time they look like they are completely out of it. I’m not sure why to be honest. I guess it’s just them being a little too comfortable and looking ahead to the playoffs? They certainly have taken their foot of the gas and they do need to up their intensity just a little bit.
Have no fear Braves fans. As it sits right now I can’t see the Braves missing the playoffs. 10-10 down the stretch will get the job done and then records are out the window. We have very little to play for other then the Wild Card because once you receive that 4th seed in the playoffs you can’t have home field advantage no matter how good your record is. So these loses really aren’t costing them anything unless they miss the playoffs all together, which I’m going to go on record saying this team gets in without too much of a problem.
Like I said before this team needs to win 2/3 from St. Louis and they’ll be alright. This team won’t get swept again for the rest of the season. Come on Braves fans let’s believe in the team that’s 82-60.
By: Bob McVinua