This is why I was dubious about the Braves’ post-season prospects. If you can’t hold onto a 6-1 lead in the 8th inning, you don’t deserve to win. Even after 18 — 18! — goddamned innings.
David Z., an Atlanta native and a life-long Braves fan, excoriated me via email the other day for my fair-weather-fan, boo-hiss-the-Bravos-will-disappoint-yet-again post, arguing that the team had accomplished an amazing amount given injuries this season, and that some highly impressive rookies have done some highly impressive things. He’s right, of course. And I agree, as DZ pointed out, that 14 consecutive division titles isn’t something to dismiss lightly.
I was all prepared to link to this summary of MLB teams’ payrolls and moan about the underachieving Braves, but then I realized that, hey, they’re 10th on the list. (The real question is how, with a payroll some $80 million higher than the next highest team — which is the “Cinderella,” “underdog” Red Sox, by the way — the Yankees aren’t uttterly, utterly dominant. I suppose it’s time I give “Money Ball” a read…)
Since, as I mentioned, the Braves have won a remarkable 14 straight division titles, manager Bobby Cox is either A) a managerial genius with the ability to spur good teams to consistant excellence; or B) a mediocre manager who succeeds, year in and year out, in delivering his team to the promised land — the playoffs — but then lacks the ability to win the big games once they get there. I think A is more likely than B, but I just don’t know anymore.