And that, as they say, is that. April is over.
Good riddance, I say. Seriously, snowed-out games, half the superstars in the game on the DL and I still haven’t found a good heirloom tomato yet. Who goes to games when there’s a snowman sitting in the stands? Eskimos, that’s who. Also, dude, Eskimo is not the preferred nomenclature. Inuit-Americans, please. I think any team that plays in the North and not in a dome should be on the road until mid-May. I don’t care if the kiddies aren’t out of school yet.
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I bring this up because I’m good at making excuses for teams that don’t do so well in a game. Or nine. Whatever.
The Atlanta Braves wrapped up an already dismal (and frigidly cold) roadtrip by getting spanked by the Detroit Tigers. With a broom. It wasn’t pretty at all, friends. The big whiffs loomed large and the pitching struggled to hold down the absolutely smoking-hot bats of the Tigers. Craig Kimbrel blew his first save. Besides a couple of long balls, it was mostly forgettable. I don’t even remember what I was talking about.
I don’t think I was the only one who was extremely happy to bring them on home to a friendly stadium and real baseball weather.
But before I go any further, let me get back to April. I bring it up mostly because I and every other baseball pundit, manager, player in the game has been saying the same thing for an entire month.
“It’s still April.”
“It’s only the first month.”
“It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”
But now it isn’t. We’re growing older in the mirror, right in front of our faces. Maybe that extra dimple isn’t just baby fat. Maybe that’s just how your face looks!
It’s time to start evaluating teams and player performance with a more critical eye. The cobwebs should be dusted. The rust should be shaken off. If not by now, maybe they shouldn’t live in a junkyard. It’s time to start being honest with ourselves. Houston Astros fans — you’re not going to the playoffs. I mean, barring some kind of alien Astros in the Outfield intervention, that is. But it’s a rebuilding year anyway, right?
As for the Atlanta Braves, I could have sworn I heard something about an “A” rating, but I cannot find the source to back that up. FOX Sports gives them a power ranking of three, but I’m still a little skeptical.
It’s not that I’m not loving the season so far. Frankly, if you’re going to work out the kinks on a team, leading your division by 4.5 games and being tied for the second-best record in baseball is the way to go. Not to mention it’s been done without Brian McCann and missing Freddie Freeman for a full 15 days. Add to that B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla are hitting below the Mendoza line and it starts looking pretty impressive.
The best way to follow up a sweep is to turn around and do it to someone else — that’s just playground politics, pal. And the Atlanta Braves have come home to lay a solid beating on the Washington Nationals so far, stretching their streak to 9-0 going back to last year. That’s great. Tim Hudson getting his 200th win, and hitting a double and a home run in the process? Also great. But seeing the Atlanta Braves put the long ball on the backburner and playing small ball to beat a division foe? Priceless.
That’s what it’s going to take for this team to win. Combined with the power potential they have, it means they aren’t out of any game. Behind strong pitching, it means they’ll be near impossible to beat.
I know a beer swilling moose who speaks in philosophical phrases, kinda like a Canadian Yoda. He swears he’s the one who coined the phrase “Get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in,” and I believe him. He’s absolutely right. The Braves blew chances to win games in Pittsburgh, Colorado and Detroit because they failed to execute with runners on base. But considering they came home and did just that, I once again blame the weather.
These past two games (Atlanta fans may have seen me in the stands Monday night), the Atlanta Braves have come out and executed, giving a glimpse of what this team can and, hopefully, will be moving forward. April may have been a combination of highs and lows, but May should mark a leveling-out and where this team sits on average, especially with the return of McCann, which could be as early as the end of the week. They still have two games left against the Nats, and they’ll see surprise ace Matt Harvey on Sunday, but if they keep up what they’ve done the past two days, they will establish a seriously dominant hand in the NL east.
As the Moose says: “Let’s play ball!”