I'm not one to ever admit defeat easily as a sports fan, because in sports there's always next year. At the beginning of next year, everyone is going to be on level footing again. But in trading Mark Teixeira to the LA Angels last week, the Atlanta Braves have thrown in the proverbial towel and are unofficially looking towards 2009. With the amount of injuries sustained by the Braves this year, the mere fact that there was a debate on whether the organization was going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline was an accomplishment for this team.
The original starting rotation went as follows - Hudson, Smoltz, Glavine, Jurrjens and Chuck James. The following is, roughly, the actual Braves starting rotation as of this week - Jurrjens, Jorge Campillo, Mike Hampton, Charlie Morton, Chuck James. Campillo started the year in the bullpen but has been solid in the rotation. Mike Hampton just pitching is a small miracle. Morton and James have both been up and down from AAA Richmond all season and have been able to hold up the back end of the rotation.
To compete in the loaded NL East, you can't have one of your stud pitchers go down, let alone three. And last week, with Tim Hudson and Chipper Jones both about to go on the DL, the Braves realized that making the playoffs was unlikely this season. Considering that the NL Central will probably win the Wild Card, the Braves would have had to climb over three teams (Philly, New York and Florida) and about 7 games in two months. Is it do-able? Sure it is, with a 100 percent healthy rotation and lineup, which is something the Braves haven't had since April.
I'm still going to support my team, but I understand that October 2008 will once again not feature the Atlanta Braves. So I'm officially starting my campaigning against New York, both the Mets and Yankees and will enjoy the months of sports radio talk bashing both teams. I hope the Red Sox make the playoffs again so my dad has something to root for. And I hope that the Tampa Bay Rays make the playoffs. That's right, I have been on the Don't-Call-Us-the-Devil Tampa Bay Rays bandwagon for some time now, mostly to annoy various family members who are Yankees and Sox fans. But I've always liked this team. I love watching smaller/underdog teams succeed and have been looking for an excuse to find an old Devil Rays hat to break out since the D-Rays had one of the most underrated hat/jerseys in the league.
I also couldn't post this entry without mentioning the loss of long-time Braves broadcaster, Skip Caray. The son of legendary Cubs announcer Harry Caray died just days ago at the age of 68. Caray was the voice of the Braves for 33 years and was limited to only home games this season because of his health. While I never met him, I do own a Braves montage CD that features his calls of Sid Bream in 1992 and the World Series in 1995 that will forever go down in Atlanta Braves history as a few of the greatest calls in the history of the franchise. The Atlanta Braves and the sport of baseball, has lost one of the best.
R.I.P - Skip Caray - 1939-2008