“Epic” was the word used to describe the Braves stepping aside in September and handing their spot in the playoffs to the surging St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe it was meant to happen, people in the organization may have thought. After all, the Cards won the World Series. It’s like finding out that the guy your ex-girlfriend dumped you for ended up marrying her. There’s some minor solace in knowing you were just impeding fate.
Well, what’s happening now? The Cards got their rings. Good for them. But, why aren’t the 2012 Braves winning? Is it because, as opposed to the even-more-epically collapsing Boston Red Sox, they kept their roster largely unaltered? Perhaps. Is it because the New York Mets are playing like a team that’s been written off and has nothing to lose? Could be. Whatever it is, the team’s first half of 2011 Dan Uggla impression needs to end. (Although, through the Mets series, the Braves’ team batting average was .151, whereas Uggla was hitting .173 on July 4, 2011.)
The thing is, while we stayed largely the same, much of our division is improved. (I use “we” because I cut work, dropped 60 bones, and went to opening day at Citi Field to support my team. They rewarded my fandom by scoring zero runs.) The Marlins rep just Miami instead of the entire state of Florida, and added Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle to their roster. The Nationals have Stephen Strasburg back and are bound to get a better year out of Jayson Werth. With the loss of Reyes, the Mets, basically sport a minor league lineup surrounding third baseman David Wright. We shouldn’t be losing series to these guys, much less be getting swept by them.
I know it’s early, but, this means we were swept in the last series of 2011 and the first of 2012. My faith in Fredi Gonzalez, who barely had to interview to be the Braves’ skipper and faced no competition in getting the job, was already shaken. I’ll be looking for his scalp by midseason if we aren’t hitting any better.
The collapse was epic. This coda is unnecessary.