Giving it one last try ……
The divisional races in some cases are heating up , whereas in others, they are pretty much settled , as baseball enters final stretch of the regular season before it all culminates on the 3rd October . In what has been an eventful year that was filled with the usual plethora of drama , it should be noted that not much has changed in terms of the players’ continued fascination with the use of prohibitive substances (PED’s and anabolic steroids). The league hierarchy would have us believe that they have everything under control , but at the minor league level, the illicit use by the players is far more widespread than the league would care to acknowledge . In the past 18 months in the Minor Leagues , over seventy players have been caught , penalized with the mandatory suspensions , yet the feeling is that the concern amongst the fans is what actually happens at the MLB level , where many of the game’s high-priced stars exhibit their talents . This season we have had our answer with the summary mandatory suspensions of Melky Cabrera , a one-time leading candidate for the NL MVP , and also with the Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon . The latter, whose suspension may or may not have severely hampered the A’s hopes of making the postseason. As things now stand, it is looking like a four-horse race for the two AL wildcard berths.
Slide show .
In what he says, will be his twentieth and final season in the Majors , the Atlanta Braves (90-65) utility player and outfielder, Chipper Jones will be looking to lead the team into the postseason for the first time since 2010, where they lost (3-1) in the NLDS to the San Francisco Giants . This season the Braves have been lucky enough to play themselves into contention for a postseason berth within the NL. As the leading contender for one of the two berths under the new playoff format instigated by Bud Selig , the ball-club seemingly has a comfortable 6 ½ game lead over their closest rivals the St Louis Cardinals , with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers closely following in hot pursuit.
The Braves, now have 7 games remaining on their schedule , starting with the final game of a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. Fredi Gonzalez’s players, then close out the month of September with two games against the New York Mets , and with their final three games, in a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Ballpark , in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania .
The NL East division appears to be of reach , albeit , that were the Washington Nationals (94-61) to lose five of their seven remaining games , then just about anything would be possible . For the moment however, I am just happy to witness a season, where the Braves had more than their fair share of success ! ! GM Frank Wren and team President John Scheurholz have emphasized a commitment to success, which has been passed on by Gonzalez’s coaching staff to the players on the entire roster. And it has been that renewed commitment that has brought about the change in fortune for the team over the course of the season. Michael Bourn , Chipper Jones , Jayson Heyward , Freddie Freeman , Dan Uggla and Martin Prado , have all contributed greatly to the team’s efforts in 2012 , in providing the offensive productivity needed to be viewed as a contender within the NL. While the pitching at times, has been exacerbating and inconsistent , here too, players such as Tim Hudson, Mike Minor , Brandon Beachy , Tommy Hanson , Paul Malholm and Craig Kimbrel , have more than justified their worth to the team.
One of the more positive things to come out of the season for the Atlanta Braves , has been to see that renewed interest in the team by the fans. Far too fickle , at times it was somewhat depressing to see Fulton County Stadium (Turner Field) in Atlanta , Georgia , barely filled to capacity for the Braves’ home games . This season having drawn over 2,242,046 in —- attendance for their scheduled games at Fulton County Stadium , the franchise ranks eighth of the National League’s sixteen teams averaging 29,117 per home game. Team payroll asides, Chairman & CEO Terry McGuirk along with the managing partners who make up the ownership group of the organization , would have to be happy with the 2012 season. . The ball-club has been fiscally prudent with team salaries , which this season is pegged at $83,309,942 , a far cry from the almost $200,000,000 that the New York Yankees have budgeted for their roster.
The playoff picture is still somewhat muddied , as the vagaries that make up this point of the season will be filled anomalies .In 2011, who would have thought that both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox would have surrendered their wildcard berth leads to the St Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays , in what has been described as one of the best finishes to a season , in recent baseball history . As we all know, the Cardinals would go on to prevail in a thrilling triumph in the World Series over the Texas Rangers . The Atlanta Braves would like nothing more to be a participant in baseball’s showcase postseason event , but that would now all be predicated upon how the ensuing scenarios now in motion , would play out . There is no denying that the most significant moment in the Braves’ postseason history came in 1995 , when they prevailed in defeating the Cleveland Indians (4-2). Two other appearances in the “ Fall Classic” resulted in losses, in 1996 and 1999 , each time to the New York Yankees .
With the inauguration of a one game playoff format , the Braves would have to face the St Louis Cardinals for the privilege of appearing in the NLDS . In between 2008 and 2012 , the two teams have met thirty-three times , with the St Louis Cardinals holding a significant 19-14 lead. In 2012 , their meetings show a significant turnaround , with Atlanta having defeated the Cardinals five out of the six times ( 5-1) that they have met . It would be easy to surmise that this bodes well for the postseason, should such a scenario materialize! The last meeting between the two teams in 2012 , was a hard-fought competitive game , which resulted in a 10-7 victory for the NL East —- team. The advantage would appear to favor the Atlanta Braves , but in a one game playoff format , just about anything can happen .So we might as well let the chips fall where they may , in such an instance and just hope for the best .
Picture gallery .
In light of the new playoff format for the postseason , which in all likelihood will be tinkered with by baseball’s hierarchy. Do you ultimately believe that this change will of benefit to the game? Or do you simply see it all as just another make-shift idea of Bud Selig to simply create the perception that everyone is in with a chance ? And of the NL teams that will be vying for the NL pennant as the NL’s representative in the World Series , which of the ball-clubs do you believe to be the best and will be triumphant ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .
Picture and slide show details below.
(1) In this photo taken Sept. 25, 2012, Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones , right, celebrates after the Braves beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 in a baseball game in Atlanta, to clinch a playoff spot. With one last trip to the postseason assured, Jones is relishing the final days of his last season. Jones, who will be honored by the Braves before Friday night’s game against the Mets, says he is savoring the final days of his last regular season as he and his teammates look forward to the playoffs. AP Photo/David Goldman …..
(2) In this photo taken Sept. 25, 2012, Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones , right, celebrates with teammate Freddie Freeman after the Braves beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 in a baseball game in Atlanta, to clinch a playoff spot . With one last trip to the postseason assured, Jones is relishing the final days of his last season. Jones, who will be honored by the Braves before Friday night’s game against the Mets, says he is savoring the final days of his last regular season as he and his teammates look forward to the playoffs. AP Photo/David Goldman ……
(3) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Paul Maholm (17) works against the Miami Marlins in the first inning of a baseball game in Atlanta, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. AP Photo/John Bazemore … (4) Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) works in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Kimbrel earned the save as Atlanta won 3-0. AP Photo/John Bazemore …….
(5) ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 26: A young fan shows off a sign in support of Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves against the Miami Marlins at Turner Field on September 26, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images ….
(6) Fredi Gonzalez tries on his Braves jersey as the team’s new manager. At the Wednesday press conference announcement, Gonzalez is flanked by (from L-R) team president John Schuerholz, general manager Frank Wren, and former manager Bobby Cox . Photo-Edgar Treiguts ….
(7) (L-R) Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz , Atlanta Braves Chairman Emeritus Bill Bartholomay , Atlanta Braves Chairman & CEO Terry McGuirk , and Major League Baseball Living Legend, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron . Philip Moss / Atlanta Journal Constitution ….
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