Is this a team of destiny?

With Al Michaels’ voice providing some influence, many of us will always recognize the 1980 U.S. Men’s hockey team as a group of men who helped us “believe in miracles.” 

As the Braves enter this postseason motivated to prolong Bobby Cox’s managerial career as long as possible, they have already give us further reason to wonder if we should “believe in destiny.” 

Cox first guided the Braves to the playoffs in 1991 and now the last Atlanta team that he carries into the postseason is coming off a 91-win season.

Cox’s first and only trip to a big league ballpark during his schoolboy days came when he traveled from his rural hometown of Selma, Calif. to San Francisco and had the chance to to see Stan Musial and the Cardinals play the Giants at Seals Stadium.

Now a little more than 50 years later, Cox’s final postseason journey begins in San Francisco. Unfortunately with both Chipper Jones and Martin Prado sidelined, he carries a lineup that doesn’t posses the offensive firepower that Musial provided in the latter part of his career.

“I was mad because (Musial) didn’t take batting practice,” Cox said. “It was toward the end for him.  No wind sprints, no nothing.  First at-bat, he grabs two bats waves them a couple times in the on-deck circle, steps in the box and  whack  — a bullet.”

At 69 years-old, Cox is still sharp as a tack and obviously very vibrant as we witnessed again Sunday when he celebrated his club’s Wild Card berth with his players.

The Braves organization staged a first-class tribute Saturday afternoon and the fans that packed Turner Field this weekend showed an appreciation that proved that the oft-maligned Atlanta sports fans can display that same passion that exists in Philadelphia, Boston and New York.

But what I will forever remember about this weekend was the fact that Cox truly allowed himself the opportunity to enjoy a couple of fitting celebrations  — the one staged Saturday to honor his career and the one staged Sunday after the Wild Card entry was clinched. 

Cox’s primary focus remained on the games and the postseason race.  But for 25 minutes before Saturday’s game, he allowed himself to wholeheartedly enjoy a fitting tribute.  Then after suffering a demoralizing loss that bruised his club’s postseason hopes a few hours later, he took time to reminisce with some of his former players who had traveled to Atlanta to celebrate his career. 

Getting a chance to see Cox smile like he did both on Saturday and Sunday was something special for those of us who have had the pleasure to spend countless afternoons and evenings with a man that we recognize as much more than somebody who has totaled the fourth-most managerial wins in Major League history. 

Taking the Wild Card route for the first time, Cox will be taking his Major League-record 16th club to the postseason this week.  He and Joe Torre entered the season tied with 15 appearances.

If this is truly it for Cox, he will go out unlike any other legendary manager in the game’s history.  None of the other managers who rank among the top 30 on MLB’s all-time wins list have guided their final club to the postseason.

ROTATION PLANS:  The Braves will work out a Turner Field this afternoon and then travel to San Francisco tonight.  They will likely officially announce Derek Lowe as their Game 1 starter later this afternoon.  Cox and his coaches spent a portion of Monday deliberating whether to use Tim Hudson or Tommy Hanson in Game 2.

Lowe went 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in five September starts and is 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA in eight career starts at AT&T Park.  This obviously enhanced his candidacy for the Game 1 start.  But the Braves also seemed to want to put him in this position because they feel he is the best candidate to return on short rest. 

With Jair Jurrjens’ status still uncertain, the Braves may work with a three-man rotation during this Division Series.  Lowe would be on short rest if he comes back for Game 4, which would be held Monday at Turner Field.

Whoever starts Friday’s Game 2 (Hanson or Hudson) would be on regular rest for Game 5, which, if necessary, would be played Oct. 13 in San Francisco. 

Jurrjens (sore right knee) and left-handed reliever Eric O’Flaherty (blurred vision and dizziness) may spend the next week in the club’s Instructional League in Orlando, preparing for the possibility to pitch in the NLCS.

     
      

 

26 Comments

I love October, GO BRAVES!

I am not a big “Team of Destiny” guy, but I will say that this team has more good old fashioned “Want To” than any of the 14 division winners. It was discussed at length in my circles back then that they looked more like a country club team back then, and they lacked the fire win or lose that we as fans wanted to see.

There is no denying this bunch and where they stand. Go Braves, win or lose, it has been an unforgettable ride in 2010.

I think the 3 days off for this team are gonna be huge. This team needed a couple of days break, BAD!!! The long plane flight sucks, but after the 1st time, they have to make the same flight. I am so glad we didn’t have a Tuesday tiebreaker with SD or SF in ATL and then have to travel to the west coast for the 1st playoff game. The jet lag is rough going west. I used to work in Australia and LA and had to roundtrip between the two every three weeks. That trip west is always the worst.

Bill, you’ve been trippin for most of the season.

If this team succeeds any further, it will be because of the same reasons that have brought them this far.

1. Starting Pitching

2. Strength of Bullpen

3. Bench Strength

And do you know who we have to thank for this success?
Bill – when you boil it all down – his initials are F W.

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With Saito and O’Flaherty not able to go I like to see Dunn and Kimbel make the roster but Bobby will likely keep Farnsworth (I still think of what he cost us last time he was here in Houston). Question is what outfielders does he keep?

It’s official – Lowe, then Hanson, and then Huddy back in Atlanta. Minor and Freeman both got the word that they are not on the initial 25 man roster, and will not be making the trip.

Roster predictions anybody?

Catchers: McCann, Ross, Boscan

Infield: Lee, Conrad, Gonzalez, Infante, Hinske, Hernandez

Outfield: Heyward, Cabrera, Diaz, McClouth, Ankiel

Starters: Lowe, Hanson, Hudson

Bullpen: Wagner, Moylan, Dunn, Venters, Kimbrel, Farnsworth, Beachy, Martinez,

Braves will need everything to make it past the first round….so maybe they have everything. On another topic, when are we going to start calling for Selig’s head. These games should all be played at a time when a child of 7 or 8 can watch them (period). And I don’t even want to get into Selig’s culpable actions with regard to the steroid issue. It’s disgraceful how Clemen’s is being called to the carpet on a policy Selig and the owners turned a blind eye to. It’s also disgraceful how this low life has levitated himself guiltless. I’m tired. I’m going to bed.

Yeah BarryDumb, Frank Wren is a genius. All those deals have worked out. McLouth, KK, Lowe,Soriano for Jesse Chavez, Gonzalez for Yunel, Ankiel and Farnsworth, for Tim Collins(1.33Era at AAA) and Gregor Blanco, Keeping TP as pitching coach. Yeah, they’ve all worked out great. This team has created the unimaginable, A FW managed playoff entry. They have done it through their own hard work and an incredible team ethic. If you’re giving FW credit for this team, you are even crazier than I previously believed. I just think you have left the farm now. Still want Diory as your starting infielder?

Oh and Jesse Boscan is going to be on this roster, like I am coming over to your house for Thanksgiving dinner.

Yeah, Barry, I think fighting off the crap heap of players Wren assembled all year was a bigger battle than the Phillies. Now bill, I’ll excuse Lowe, for he has been one of our biggest pitchers down the stretch(even though he doesn’t deserve $15m a season). McLouth, Melky, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Chavez, and last and certainly least in any fantasy draft next year… Kenshin Kantwinagami(that’s right, ‘m bringing it back.)

On another note; congratulations to Tim Hudson on his Comeback Player of The Year Award, like I predicted he’d win at the start of the season.

Ok.. just want to chime in on the Wren argument, which I thought had been put to bed since you know..we uh.. are in the playoffs. I mean, how many wins do you want? 120?
1. Derek Lowe. He has won 31 games as a Brave in 2 years. The ERA over that course isn’t brilliant, but he was right at 4.00 this season, and regardless of his playoff performance, we would not even be close without his performance all year, but most notably in September. If he had any run support after the break he would be a 20 game winner.
2. Soriano. Like I’ve said 50 times.. I don’t think the organization liked his attitude and wanted him here at all. His numbers this year are shocking and no one would’ve predicted that. He’s probably more comfortable in Florida which is obv closer to the DR. Chavez didn’t work out, which was a disappointment.
3. Look at Alex Gonzalez’ numbers since the trade and then look at Yunel’s. Then tell me who got the better deal for 2010. The team HATED Yunel. They love Gonzo.
4. KK had bad luck which snowballed into no confidence and bad performance. He was a gamble when they signed him. Most free agent signings are gambles. This one happened to be a bust. We needed to sign him when we did after the rotation was demolished during the final days of Glavine and Smoltz.
5. McLouth. No one seems to get this guy. From a payroll standpoint he’s taking up space, but we gave up a couple duds for him.
6. Farnsworth and Ankiel have not worked out great. Ankiel is in center for defense only on a team that has suspect defense overall. Would be nice if he could hit every now and then. We didn’t give up much. Is anyone REALLY missing Blanco??
7. Keeping TP as batting coach is Bobby’s decision. NOT Wren’s.

BarryDumb, I posted a lengthy Roster analysis a couple of days ago. Talk about not reading. And just as a point of fact, I am not here to respond to your needs, sorry son. And Viva I guess I can’t see the trees for the trees. Having a lineup without anyone who can hit a home run(apologies to the Somedays 2nd baseman) cost us the race to the Frillies and may cost us the playoffs. FW has stated as his objective for the last 2 years getting a legitimate power bat in the lineup. By his own measure he hasn’t achieved his no. 1 priority.

Hey Bill, I didn’t notice that you offered any roster predictions of your own….

And do you prefer ham or turkey?

viva,That trade with the Royals was godawful. Gregor was fine in CF, had a decent throwing arm, and was hitting over .300 (he always had a good OBP, even when he was a .250 hitter). Even if we dont keep Blanco… Tim Collins is a stud. A 2.26 ERA in his minor league career with over 100 more Ks than innings pitched (329/223). Career WHIP of 1.06. All of that and he’s 5’7″, 155lbs. Wouldnt that have been fun(ny) to watch?

Oh, and I was at Turner Field from 10:45am until 8pm on Sunday. Man, what a great day. I feel like I ripped them off. $20/ticket. 2nd row, section 138 (left field, just above wall scoreboard). Of course, I bought the tickets 4 months ago…

Ok, class. Now we are going to focus on some POSITIVES brought to the team by Mr. Wren. For a team to be in the playoffs, one would think that their GM has done more good than bad. Let us review:
1. We’ll start w Jekyll/Hyde: Troy Glaus. In the course of the season he has been a bust, but the team wouldn’t be here without him resuscitating the team almost by himself. Wren and Bobby guessed half right on him. He still has skills, but didn’t still have the endurance to make it through the entire season.
2. Still at first base.. Derrek Lee. His numbers w the Braves have been good, though more power would be appreciated. His contribution will be measured in the post season, where he has never really shined. But I would much rather have him than Freeman at the moment.
3. Wagner and Saito. Everyone said the Braves were making a mistake revamping the back end of the pen and taking a chance on two old dogs. Saito’s numbers have been as good as they have always been, and Wagner hasn’t pitched like this since he was with Houston. His ERA this season is the lowest it has EVER been in his career.
4. Infante, Ross, Melky, Hinske. All Wren signings, which have built one of the best benches in baseball. Everyone was about to storm the castle after trading Vazquez, who since has had one of the worst seasons of his career.
If you think that Wren has done a terrible job, you either have something personal against him, or just can’t see the forest for the trees.

Mark,

If you have any friends at TBS, can you PLEASE request to them that they bring back the the old Braves theme music for their post season telecasts?
Speaking For all the diaspora Braves fans who grew up listening to Skip, Pete, Joe, and Don every night on TBS (and who now have to pay an arm and a leg for MLB extra innings, and endure regional blackouts etc), It would certainly mean a lot.

Oh and Barry, I’ll take the turkey, there will be plenty of ham there already.

I don’t really have a drawl, born in DC, lived in ATL twice. Lived out of the South(unless you count South Florida) ever since. I don’t why I said Jesse(probably still thinking about the mighty Jesse Chavez) but I was right on both count’s. Neither Jesse or Jean Carlos Boscan are gonna be on the Braves postseason roster.

I hope “Jesse” Boscan won’t be on our roster…I don’t even know who the hell that is!

Haha Bill took the pronunciation of JC as “Jaycee” = Jesse. How thick is your accent?

I don’t really have a drawl, born in DC, lived in ATL twice. Lived out of the South(unless you count South Florida) ever since. I don’t why I said Jesse(probably still thinking about the mighty Jesse Chavez) but I was right on both count’s. Neither Jesse or Jean Carlos Boscan are gonna be on the Braves postseason roster.

So Frenchy gets the first RBI and scores the second run for the Rangers…. Good for him!

It is good to see you verbalise from the heart and your clarity on this important subject can be easily observed.Chanel|Manolo Blahnik

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