MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Well, we’ve reached the July 4th holiday and the Braves are still in first place. If you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon, you better do it soon.
It seems the win by Atlanta on Monday night at Yankee Stadium made the national folks sit up and take notice. “Oh, wow, the Braves may be for real.” Well, yeah.
It helps that the Nationals, the preseason favorite to win the National League East, has now fallen to seven games back of the Braves. That doesn’t mean the Nationals are dead. Remember, we saw a Braves team 9.5 games back in 1991 come back and win the division. The Phillies aren’t going away, so this is going to be a race.
And if you’re worried about the Braves going away, don’t. As long as the starting pitching stays strong, they’ll be fine. The lineup can have slumps. Ozzie Albies was in a bad one for two weeks and then he bounced back. Freddie Freeman is in one now, and he’ll bounce back. The Braves are going to score runs, especially with Ronald Acuna back. But as long as the starting pitching stays strong, this team will avoid any losing streak that could jeopardize their spot in the pennant race.
We all know the bullpen needs help, and there’s no reason to believe the front office won’t get help before the July 31 deadline. This team may win the division. Wow, let me say that again. The Braves may actually win the division. They could collapse, and everyone will be waiting for it. But don’t you feel something special with this team? Don’t you sense this team is too good to fall apart?
The similarities with the 1991 Braves are scary. The only difference is they had the great second half comeback I was referring to earlier to win the division. This year’s team has been in first place for two months, with the exception of two days. The 1991 Braves had good young players, like Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Ron Gant, David Justice, Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser. Then there were veterans like Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream, Otis Nixon and Charlie Leibrandt. It was a good mix of kids and vets that came together to go all the way to the 10th inning of game seven of the World Series. And many believe the 1991 team, and that season, is more special than the one that won it all four years later.
Maybe this year’s Braves team won’t make it to the World Series, but after half a season we know this is a special team. How do we know it is special? Well, they’re in first place on July 4th, and that’s a really good sign.