This article has been published on the blog "Tomahawk Talk" and is available at: http://myteamrivals.typepad.com/atlantabraves/.
I sure wish I could use the present tense of the verb "fallen" to say that the Braves are only falling apart before our very eyes. However, this late in the season, the Braves are going to view the last two week of baseball with as much regret as any stretch of their franchise.
The Braves at one time were within three games of the Colorado Rockies...and now sit eight-and-a-half games back with only 23 games left.
In other words, the Braves better go undefeated for the rest of the season and hope the Colorado Rockies, San Fransisco Giants, and Florida Marlins have a ton of injuries and just all around bad luck to end the season.
Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes!
Here's the thing that bothers me the most. The Braves were playing great baseball. They had their fishing rods out, they had hooked the Rockies, Giants, and Marlins, and were slowly but surely reeling them in. Then, five losses later to the Marlins and Reds, the Braves are virtually out of playoff contention for the 2009 season.
Chipper's been playing hurt when he has been playing. Martin Prado and Nate McClouth have been out several games recently. Adam LaRoche and Matt Diaz have both cooled a tad bit recently. Derek Lowe hasn't been the ace the Braves had hoped he would be. Rafael Soriano also could have been better in the ninth inning.
What can we hopefully look forward to in 2010 assuming the Braves don't make the playoffs?
A healthy Chipper Jones (maybe). A new found slugger in Matt Diaz. The hopeful return of Tim Hudson. Adam LaRoche re-signed and hitting homers again. An All-Star middle infield of Martin Prado and Yunel Escobar. The best hitting catcher in the National League in Brian McCann. A mega-talented starting rotation consisting of Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson and Derek Lowe. Wow.
Not to mention the possibility of a kid named Jason Heyward...
Even so, there is some baseball yet to be played. I'm looking forward to the playoffs, even if it looks like the teams that make it may not include the Atlanta Braves. (At least the Titans kickoff their season tonight!)