I’m not a professional sports writer, never claimed to be. I’m just a fan like everyone who is probably reading this blog right now. I was searching for a more upbeat title for this post but just couldn’t come up with one. Although I always try to take a positive spin on things, I can’t deny the facts. The Braves saw their Wild Card lead slip to 2.5 games at the same time as they watched Infante’s 2 run blast sail over the left field fence.
Those games always feel like a punch in the gut. I don’t know about you guys but I would have rather lost that game 4-1 then the Marlins walking off on us. I’m sure Kimbrel feels terrible and that he wishes he could have that pitch back. Sadly he can’t and the Braves can’t redo the 9th inning. Games like that so often come back to haunt a team during the stretch run. Battling for a playoff spot you can’t afford to lose any games, never mind having your closer blow a lead with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.
Now here’s what you guys have been waiting for I’m sure. The positive spin that I have now become well known for by your reactions on Twitter. I get daily messages from Braves fans asking me what I think, knowing that they are hoping for a positive response. Keep them coming, I enjoy getting them. If you don’t like my positive approach then I’m not sure what to tell you. I’ll never apologize for having an upbeat attitude. Negativity has never gotten anyone anywhere. Life is all about your mindset and how you perceive things. Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to them. You can’t control if your tire goes flat on the highway or if your coworker calls out sick and leaves you with double the work. You can however choose to take a positive approach. Getting all mad and bent out of shape is only going to make the situation worse. If you calmly assess the situation, quite often you will realize it’s not as bad as it appears. I’ve never been one to “panic”, it’s just not in my nature. If the Braves do finish off this collapse I will be devastated. I’ll be the first to admit it and I will take it as hard if not harder then anyone else. Don’t mistake my positive attitude for not caring cause that’s not the case at all. I want this team to win so badly, just like all of you guys do. Tomahawk Nation, were all on the same side here. We may have different takes on this situation but at the end of the day we all want nothing more then to see the Braves win a World Series. I was 8 years old the last time they won a world championship and I feel they are long over due.
So let’s start in with some positive outlooks here. If we dig deep enough I’m sure we can find a reason to keep our heads held high as we go down the stretch run. Here’s what I’ll lead off with.
Anyone who played on last years Braves team is no stranger to the situation were in. Last year we were only 1.0 game up on the San Diego Padres. That’s it. So if anything were in a slightly better spot then last year, not by much but a little bit. And hey, everyone game counts right? Chipper and Prado I believe were both injured at this point last year and that was a huge hit to our team. We stumbled down the stretch but still managed to make it into the postseason. Yes it was an early exit but we lost to the World Series champions and gave them a better fight then anyone else in my opinion. The Braves clinched the Wild Card on the very last day of the season and almost had to go into a 1 game sudden death playoff if the Padres had managed to pull one out in San Fran. Weren’t we worried then? I’m sure we were but we often forget our past concerns when we KNOW that the scenario turned out alright.
Where does the .5 game go? I think this is a HUGE factor that not many people are addressing. That half game will either turn into a full game advantage for the Bravos or it will even out the standings. Which one will it be? Well we will certainly find out on Thursday when the Braves have an off day and the Cardinals battle the Mets. A Cardinals loss on Thurs could be big for Atlanta if it helps bump us up a full game in the standings, don’t over look the Mets, as they took care of business against Atlanta on the road this past weekend.
The Cardinals have no more off days the rest of the season. The Braves will have the benefit of one on Thursday. Absolute worse case scenario I’m laying out is this. The Braves loss the next two games in Florida. The Cardinals win the next two games against the Mets plus the extra game on Thursday. So were saying the Braves loss 2 straight and the Cardinals win 3 straight. Now were DEAD EVEN with 6 games to play and it’s anyone’s race.
Best case scenario is the Cardinals cool off and lose 3 straight, the Braves win the last 2 games in Florida and then the lead goes up to 5.0 games with 6 to play and the race is over. See how quickly things could turn in our favor? The Braves need to win the next 2 ball games. And the Mets just need to win 1 of the 3 against St. Louis. That puts us up 3.0 games with 6 to play. That’s what I think will happen. It’s a middle of the road scenario so I’m not being super outrageously optimistic guys. I’m admitting the Cardinals will most likely take 2 of 3 from the Mets and I do think we’ll bounce back and win the next 2 against the Fish. That’s exactly what happened when they came to Atlanta.
I can’t see anyone sitting there and saying that the Braves are done when they are up 2.5 games. That to me makes no sense, if you’re saying it out of frustration then that’s fine. Everyone needs to vent from time to time. I’m not saying no one should ever get nervous and panic about their team, I’m not exactly thrilled with how tonight ended either but level heads will prevail and we have to realize were still in a good spot.
Do you know how many other teams would DIE to be up 2.5 games right now, playing meaningful Sept baseball? A lot. Don’t you think the Cubs, Pirates, Royals, Rockies, Padres, Orioles, Mariners, Twins etc would all like to be where we are right now? They wouldn’t be complaining about a 2.5 game lead, they’d be jumping for joy because they aren’t completely out of it. Imagine how frustrating it would be if we were 15 games out right now, playing meaningless games the last week and half? What fun would that be? At least were relevant and we have LIFE!
I believe the Braves have lost 7 games in the loss column since Sept 1st. That was a quick calculation on my part so don’t quote me on that and please correct me if I’m off. I’m not sure where that fits in as far as biggest collapses in MLB history. Maybe it’s a top 10 but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as the 2007 Mets. I’m from the North East don’t forget so I experienced the Mets 2007 collapse first hand. All the media coverage and all of the fans who were just in agony over it. I don’t want that to be us and hopefully we can avoid it all together. If we get into the post season this will all be forgotten. It won’t even matter and no one will mention it.
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I’m a firm believer in that. If the Braves don’t get “killed” at the end of the season, they might be better off because of these struggling times. They know what it’s like to fight for it and have to battle down the stretch. Teams like the Phillies who are clearly on cruise control right now are developing a passive attitude. You can’t turn your intensity on and off, Braves fans know that. It has to be there all the time. Phillies might not be able to turn it on during the playoffs, we saw last year how the Giants wanted it more then they did. Braves need to show how badly they want.
New season starts tomorrow. Braves have 8 games left to play. Let’s go 5-3 down the stretch. Force the Cardinals to play mistake free baseball the rest of the way with no off days.
By: Bob McVinua