Things can’t get much worse for the Braves
As Serena Williams continued to unleash venom toward the chair umpire during Sunday afternoon’s U.S. Open Women’s Final, it seemed quite easy to deduce that she too pulls for the Braves, Falcons and the University of Georgia.
With all due respect to Notre Dame supporters, the most most miserable sports fan this past weekend was the one who was pulling for the Falcons and Braves less than 24 hours after watching their Dawgs fall to 0-2 with a tough loss to South Carolina.
Yeah, the city of Atlanta felt a whole lot like Cleveland this past weekend.
The Falcons have more than three months to make things right and with a little help from Tennessee or Florida, UGA could still play in the SEC Championship Game. As for the Braves, they can only hope the final two weeks of this season prove to be more memorable than the past two weeks have been.
Dating back to Aug. 26, the wacky day that preceded Hurricane Irene’s arrival in New York City, the Braves have lost 10 of 15 games. They’ve also won just eight of their past 11 games with two of those victories coming during last Thursday’s doubleheader sweep of the Mets.
If you’re a Braves fan and wondering why traffic seemed a little more miserable today, you should know that your team has won games on just three of this month’s first 11 days. And of course you know the fans in St. Louis have seen their team win games during each of the past three days.
Still even as bad as things might seem in Atlanta, there are a lot of fans in St. Louis who wish their team was still in the position the Braves are entering tonight’s series opener against the Marlins.
After getting swept in St. Louis this past weekend, the Braves are 4 1/2 games ahead in the Wild Card chase. With 15 games, remaining they are obviously still in great position to secure a second consecutive postseason berth.
Of course with just five wins in their past 15 games, they have also positioned themselves to potentially live in infamy with the 2007 Mets and 1969 Cubs.
The ’07 Mets blew a seven-game lead in the National League East race with 17 games to play in 2007. The ’69 Cubs owned a nine-game lead in the NL East with 42 games left to play and ended up finishing eight games back after losing 18 of the season’s final 26 games.
The Braves owned a 9-game lead in the Wild Card standings entering Aug. 30 and an 8 1/2-game lead before they began last week’s horrific road trip. Before getting swept by both the Phillies and Cards, they had not been swept in a season series this year.
The casual outside observer who has not kept daily tabs on the Braves might suggest that this was bound to happen once the club was forced to send rookie starting pitchers to the mound in four consecutive games last week.
Those of you who have agonized with every painful turn of events over the past couple weeks will remember that the Braves won two of those four games and would have won the other two had Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel simply done what they have done most of the year.
There is certainly no reason to criticize Venters or Kimbrel, who have been instrumental to this year’s success. Unfortunately they are among the many who have chosen the wrong time to be wearing a Braves uniform. If it could go wrong for manager Fredi Gonzalez’s team over the past couple weeks it has.
This 11-game skid began with Brandon Beachy and Arodys Vizcaino combining to blow the five-run, third-inning lead the Braves had on Sept. 2. Two days later, the Braves mounted a three-run seventh-inning rally against NL CY Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw and avoided being swept by the Dodgers in the three-game series.
The Braves were in position to avoid a sweep last week in Philadelphia until Venters allowed the Phillies to tie Wednesday’s game with two outs in the eighth inning. Then during Monday’s series opener in St. Louis, the Braves owned a one-run lead until two outs in the ninth, when Kimbrel allowed his first two runs since June 11.
When Hurricane Irene forced an early exit from New York City a few weeks ago, the Braves were not thrilled about the fact that they had to return for the doubleheader played against the Mets last week.
But given everything else that has happened over the past couple weeks, that doubleheader sweep claimed last Thursday seems to be the one thing that has allowed the players and many of you to remain sane.