With Thursday night’s loss to the Mets and Colorado’s subsequent choking against Philly, the Braves NL East lead has been shortened to two games right as we enter the home stretch here in September. While I am still fairly positive about the Braves postseason chances, we saw some of the same recurring Braves struggles tonight. Those struggles primarily being a lack of consistent offense and poor fielding. The Braves rank 3rd from the bottom of MLB with 103 errors and it is a trend that has persisted throughout the season. The biggest problem with the offense remains a lack of consistent power from the three-four-and five spots in the lineup. Brian McCann is a power-hitter by catcher’s standards, but it is not a good thing that he leads the team with 20 HR’s with 28 games left in the season. First base remains a black hole for production as Derrek Lee has failed to produce anything resembling power numbers since joining the team and Troy Glaus has been miserable, save for his tear from May to mid-June. Freddie Freeman likely won’t have an impact until next season, although he may be forced to if these veterans keep slumping. The biggest problem is that it seems the Phillies have finally started playing like they’re capable of, with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley hitting bombs recently, and Shane Victorino finding a hot streak
Phillies First-Baseman Ryan Howard hits yet another home run.
What I’m really trying to emphasize is the Braves’ offense has to pick up, as the pitchers can’t win game by themselves. The bullpen has clearly fatigued, with a noticeable decline in the performance of Johnny Venters and Peter Moylan, and the starters aren’t showing the consistency of previous months. The offense may not need to step up to make the postseason but they’re going to have to pick it up if this team really wants to make a run come October, which they are capable of doing. Most importantly, if the Braves are going to rely on pitching to determine their outcome the rest of the year, THEY HAVE TO START PLAYING BETTER DEFENSE. This is a team stacked with veterans who have “been there” before, but the veteran players have had too many mental lapses with fielding the whole season and ultimately, this will be the Braves’ great undoing if they don’t clean up the fielding.
I only say this because I know that I, as well as the rest of the Braves nation, would like to see Bobby Cox go out on top. This Braves team has a special aura to it, leading the MLB in walk-offs and comeback wins, but they could have another few wins this season if they had better fielding. With the Phillies getting hot, the Braves have to fix this issue to really cap this season off like they are capable of and doing so could be key in the Braves’ chances at a pennant.
I’m back just in time to cover the pennant race and college football kickoff! I’d like to welcome the newest addition to the Sports ALL DAY writing crew, Thomas Duggins. Thomas is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, studying Journalism and Electronic Media. His first post will be up shortly, on the current state of the NL East, so be sure to check that out! Also coming later, the countdown is over for Georgia State University’s football team and they showed Thursday night what two solid years of preparation can yield.
“I’m back!” Those were the first words out of Manny Ramirez’s mouth at his “welcome back” press conference for the return of the outspoken super slugger. Ramirez is happy to be back in Los Angeles for at least another two seasons after signing a lucrative 2-year $45 million contract with $25 guaranteed in the first year. Who wouldn’t be happy getting paid a salary like that? Oh yeah, Ramirez a week earlier when he initially turned down the contract. Who in their right mind would turn down $45 million, especially when $25 million is guaranteed and it is only a TWO-year contract? Goes to show that no matter how talented you are, you can still come off as completely arrogant and overpaid.
On the other end of the baseball spectrum back on the East Coast, the Yankees have problems of their own with their superstar, Alex Rodriguez. Weeks after coming out with the story of his steroid use, Alex Rodriguez has opted to have surgery to fix his torn labrum. Unfortunately for the Yankees, this surgery will have A-Rod out for at least 6-9 weeks, or at least that is what they are planning. Reports have said that a torn labrum can take up to 4 months or longer to heal after surgery, so the two month time-frame that the Yankees are giving Rodriguez is absolutely ridiculous. Why risk injuring their star player further by not allowing his injury to heal properly? The answer is simple. Without A-Rod in the lineup, the Yankess face the daunting task of replacing him at third base with their less than stellar backup infielders. This unfortunate news comes weeks after A-Rod’s disheartening confession to steroid use. What a month it has been for Rodriguez and the Yankees. They can only hope that the coming months will bring relief to a Yankees squad that is in desperate need of a pennant come October. With the Red Sox reclaiming the throne as the American League East powerhouse, the Yankees have been left searching for answers.
In light of this, baseball is still going strong, with teams from all around the world competing in the World Baseball Classic. Early favorites Japan and the United States have jumped out to 2-0 and 1-0 records respectively. After losing their first two games, China blew out the previously undefeated Korean team with a humbling 14-0 victory. Look out for the unprecedented amount of talent in this incredible baseball tournament, you might not see anything like it again.
Coming later, David Beckham back with the Los Angeles Galaxy for good?