Odds and ends from Braves camp: Thursday
Most of the talk around Braves camp on Thursday centered around Major League Baseball’s desire to add an additional Wild Card team in both the American League and National League. Yeah, I know they’re doing it one year too late right? I mean you would have at least been able to keep your hopes up one more night last year to watch the Braves travel to St. Louis for a one-game playoff against the Cardinals.
Odds are the trip would have simply salted the wounds that seemed to become gaping as the Braves lost their final five regular season games and eight of their last 10. But there was also that chance that the Braves could have won that one game and salvaged all that had been squandered since they had entered September with an 8 1/2-game lead over the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card standings.
So yeah, the Braves would have loved the chance to play that one game to make ammends for all that had gone wrong over the previous four weeks. But removing last year from the equation, many of the guys in the Atlanta clubhouse are among those who do not like the idea of a one game determining the fate of teams that did not have equal records at the end of a 162-game season.
Many of the comments made by Braves players are included in today’s notebook. The general consensus was that they did not mind the addition of a Wild Card team as much as they did the fact that the two Wild Card teams from the respective leagues would be squaring off in a one-game playoff.
But you can count Chipper Jones among those who does not like either concept. He’d rather go back to the days when there were two divisions in each league and no Wild Card entrants. It’s easier for him to take this stance at the end of his career when he will not benefit from the television dollars that have already made Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols quite happy this winter.
“I’m not for it,” Jones said. “I think the elite teams deserve to make it to the playoffs . Pretty soon, Major League Baseball is going to be like the NBA. There will be more teams that make it than don’t. The season is too long as it is. Now you’re going to give teams more travel. I don’t agree with it, but we’re just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to.”
There are certainly pros and cons to this proposal. It would not have seemed fair had the Braves kept their September lead, finished eight games ahead of the Cardinals and lost that one-game playoff. At the same time, that eight-game lead would have afforded them the opportunity to preserve Tim Hudson for that one game.
The best thing about this proposed change is the fact that it would once again give the division winners an advantage. The team that likely uses its ace and advances past this one game would be matched up against the team with the best record (regardless of the division) from its league.
“If they had the extra Wild Card team last year, I don’t think the Cardinals would have won the World Series,” Tim Hudson said. “They might not get past the first round. Anything can happen in one game. We could have gone up there and beat them. It didn’t look like we could have beat anybody. But you never know what could happen in one game.”
The picture above shows Chipper Jones and country music artist Jason Aldean taking a breather after batting practice on Thursday. Aldean was in camp for the filming of Day Jobs, a reality show that will air on Great American Country in August or September.
Aldean, a lifelong Braves fan from Macon, Ga., has developed friendships with Jones, Hudson and Brian McCann. The 35-year-old musician last played baseball when he was 18 years-old. But he seemed quite comfortable fielding grounders and picking low throws at first base.
“He’s the best celebrity I’ve seen,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We get a lot of celebrities coming through here to do a lot of this stuff. He’s by far, the best I’ve been around at doing that kind of stuff.”
Fortunately for the Braves, Freddie Freeman was walking around much easier today. He will likely be sidelined for at least another week. But the Braves have not reached the point where Aldean is an option for the position.