It’s been a good run. It really has.
The Braves entered the 2011 season with a lineup that could stand up to any other team as the best in baseball. The only problem is that they aren’t finishing the same way.
With just two days left to play in the regular season, much has left to be decided. The Braves could very well be headed to their second consecutive postseason, but could also be destined to complete a monumental collapse.
Either way, it’s feeling more and more like this just isn’t quite the year for Atlanta. Talent and strategy can only get you so far over 162 games and for the second consecutive season, the Braves have broken down physically when the games count the most.
This isn’t an indictment or a criticism. Nobody could have seen Chipper Jones going down last season or Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens breaking down just after the All-Star break this year. Things will happen over the course of the arduous Major League Baseball season and the Braves have been unfortunate enough to be snake-bit two years in a row.
Of course, this could all be irrelevant.
As much as Atlanta has struggled, it could very well still make the playoffs, and anything can happen from there.
If the Braves do make the playoffs, the slate is wiped clead and their capable offense and dominating bullpen can stand up to any challenge, and could even prove good enough for another title.
But for those who live and die with the Braves, it seems that they’re running on fumes. Frontline pitchers are hurt, key players aren’t performing, and bounces just aren’t going their way lately.
If there is a silver lining, it’s that — in spite of the misfortune of the last two Septembers — the Braves are doing things right. Atlanta has a plethora of starters and relievers that have teams around the league envious and a core of Michael Bourn, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, and Jason Heyward that figures to from a solid day-to-day lineup for years to come.
Full disclosure to all of you — Yours truly is a Philadelphia Phillies fan.
This might be the year for my team and another disappointment for yours, but the Braves are on the rise, and a stretch of misfortune last season and down the stretch this year might just be the growing pains preceding another stretch of Atlanta dominance.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.