I wanted to write this article after Atlanta Braves fans had a chance to take a deep breath and calm down. The fan in us is always quick to criticize and get upset, but most of the time when we take a step back, we can see things a little more clearly. That’s what I am trying to do with this Braves team, because believe it or not, this team had a really good year.
I will start this off by saying that I completely disagree with anyone that thinks Fredi Gonzalez should be fired. I don’t even understand how you could arrive at that conclusion, when this team led the division for every day of the regular season except for one. Sure, guys didn’t hit like we wanted them to, but didn’t Fredi make those changes towards the end of the year and at playoff time?
If you want to criticize some of Fredi’s decision-making that’s fine, you can do that. But realize that the second guess is always right. The only reason that there is such a thing as the second guess, is because someone failed. It’s easy to sit on the couch and question everything that doesn’t work after the fact, but managers have to make the decision in real-time.
The biggest example of this is the decision not to throw Craig Kimbrel in the 8th inning of game 4. Had Carpenter not given up the game winning home run, you would have never heard a word about it. Kimbrel didn’t record six consecutive outs all season long, so why would you try to get him to do something he hasn’t done all year, in the biggest game of the year?
You want further proof that no one would have said anything about the decision Fredi made, had Carpenter not blown it? Who is questioning Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly, about telling Uribe to bunt? Are fans outraged by this? Of course they aren’t, the managerial mistake was fixed by the long ball. If Uribe had sacrificed the man over, who knows how this game turns out. Mattingly made a questionable decision and because he won, we say nothing.
Winning cures all and in most cases it should. The problem I have though is that this series wasn’t the same old song and dance with the Braves. If you listen to my radio show at all on WCCP 104.9 FM, 9 a.m. to noon every weekday, then you already know what I am about to say. The Braves lost to a better team, plain and simple. The Dodgers had better pitching and a very similar lineup to the Braves, that doesn’t strikeout as much. The Braves didn’t choke the series away, or whatever other narrative you would like to use, they just got beat.
It is so hard to follow a team for 162 games and see it all come to an end the way it did for the Braves, but that’s baseball. It is why you can love and hate the game all at the same time.
The Braves are a real good baseball team, but the injuries that this team sustained were just too much. It is almost impossible to overcome all the injuries that this team had. The best news is that this team will be right back in the playoff hunt next season.
Before you know it, we will be talking about packing for Orlando and going to see the Braves start Spring Training. Things didn’t work out this year, but if the Bravos can stay healthier next year, the sky is the limit.