A couple days ago, I mentioned being in the eye of the storm of the Atlanta Braves postseason storm. For some teams, the first wave has been survived. For others, the chaos has swept them out to sea. The Rangers and the Reds are out. The Indians and Rays have just 9 innings left to prove they belong in the race. The Atlanta Braves can see the dark clouds gathering.
Tomorrow night, a storm in Dodger blue will descend over Turner Field.
Certainly by now, you’ve read a hundred different versions of who’s the clear victor before a single pitch has been thrown. Surely you’ve heard the analysts break down every game by pitcher, fielder and batter. The votes are in. Curt Shilling has made his prediction. It’s basically already over, and the overwhelming majority claim that the Dodgers, led by Clayton Kershaw, will emerge victorious!
This is the postseason. Every baseball player dreams of playing ball in October. And if there’s one thing the past Octobers have taught us, it’s that nothing is decided before the first pitch. Namely during the Atlanta Braves postseason.
Two teams will march into a stadium on a given fall day and only one will walk out. Figuratively, of course. The losing team will walk out to board a plane or get in their car to go home, but you get my point. This is do-or-die baseball and anything can happen.
The truth is that while my last post was the top 10 reasons why the Atlanta Braves postseason will be successful … and that they will beat the Dodgers … I could write another 10 reasons why the Dodgers will beat the Braves. Which I’d never do, because it’s just not going to happen, but I could fake it. But seriously, folks!
This series is going to be one of the more interesting postseason contests we’ll get to see this October. Both teams have many ups and some downs. The Dodgers have older experience. The Braves have youthful exuberance. Both teams had a killer August and a lackluster September. Both have won games behind mediocre pitching and lost games behind dominant pitching. Kershaw’s given up five runs in a couple games this season. Kris Medlen pitched a two hitter in his last start.
I think you get it.
This isn’t an article about weighting one team over the other. I already wrote that article. And you’ve already read 100 of them. In fact, if you’re a Dodgers fan, the rest of this might not even be for you.
I don’t know how many of you read my first article for TTFB (and it was my first here, so be nice), but it was a challenge to Braves fans about whether you were a real fan or a bus rider. This isn’t about that, though. I just picked up my tickets for Friday night’s matchup at Turner Field and I’m sure many of you will be there. But some of you will be watching on TV, and others listening on the radio. And some of you will be watching on TV and listening on the radio, because these postseason broadcasts just don’t have the flair that Jim Powell and Don Sutton bring to the game.
My point is very simple, actually.
There’s a real value, for sports fans of all breeds, in developing a short term memory. Hell, it’s useful for players of all sports to have it too. It’s far too easy for yesterday’s game or the last at-bat against a certain pitcher to get into someone’s head and define what comes next.
It hit me last night how awful last year was, as I watched the Reds play the Pirates in the first wild card game of this season. I was working and told everyone I was working with to not say a single word about the game. But it didn’t matter, because the look on their faces told me everything. I came home and started up the DVR and watched it unfold on my own. And after a year of so much promise and battling, of wanting Chipper Jones to go out on a high note, it was the worst possible ending.
But now I’m watching the Indians and Rays, and Danny Salazar got tapped to pitch this game. The game that could be the last game the Indians play this season. He’s only started 10 games this year, for a total of 52 innings, going into tonight. And Terry Francona, who’s no stranger to postseason baseball, thought he was the right choice.
Anything can happen.
What I’m saying, Braves fans, is that it’s time to forget last year’s coin flip. It’s time to let go of the infield-fly. As the 24 hour clock begins, it’s obvious this series could go either way and I wouldn’t be completely surprised. We know what we’re up against. We know that the Braves need their pitching to be solid. And the offense needs to string together good at-bats. But I’ll tell you something else.
We need to be there too.
Watching the Pittsburgh fans absolutely crush the spirit of the Reds, as well as potentially unnerving Johnny Cueto so badly that he dropped the ball, made me realize how important it is for us to forget the past and look ahead. To believe in this team, even if their last handful of chances in the postseason have not yielded the results we wanted. The Braves earned their spot this season. They belong in October baseball as much as the next team. Which means that, starting tomorrow, they have as good a chance as any to make it happen.
What’s it gonna be, Atlanta? The drums are beating! Who’s with me? This is #choptober and the Dodgers better be ready!