Friday, July 21, 2006

Welcoming Big Bob & A Little Caption Fun

Although I typically pride myself on my unabashed pessimism, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think yesterday was a pretty great day. Tiger put himself right in the thick of things, Duval was clearly inspired by yesterday’s column, the Jackets got a verbal from a big time recruit, my buddy Dave surprised me with my first piece of College of Charleston swag, and the Braves got a closer in exchange for nearly nothing. Well, I think you know where I stand on Tiger, my Jackets, and my College of Charleston Cougars (yes, they are “my” Cougars and I don’t want to hear a damn word about it!), and I think yesterday’s piece on Duval speaks for itself, so that just leaves the Braves. Yes, that’s right, now that the winning streak is over I’m breaking my silence. Let’s talk a little baseball!

We are heading into the last week of July, and the Braves are five games under .500, 12 games behind the Mets in the East, but still, somehow they have managed to find a way to keep things interesting. Just when it looked like all hope was lost they go out and reel off 7 wins in a row and all of a sudden all bets are off. All of a sudden, it’s a big deal that we just acquired Bob Wickman. I’m not going to sit here and proclaim the Braves as the favorite to win the Wild Card, or issue a warning to the Mets, but I will say that having a guy that’s converted 15 of 18 saves this year, in addition to his American League leading 45 saves last year sure feels good. Listen, I’ll take my chances with a lineup featuring Renteria, Francoeur, Andruw, Chipper, LaRoche, and McCann, and a starting staff led by Smoltzy and a sure to revitalize Hudson. The biggest problem, of course, has been the absolutely abysmal bullpen. Think about this for a minute: Braves relievers have converted only 20 of 40 save opportunities! That number is absolutely staggering. In fact, it’s down right horrifying. If we had converted only half of those opportunities, we would be five games clear of the Reds in the Wild Card and only 2.5 games behind the Mets! As the old saying goes, that’s why they don’t play the games on paper.

Now, however, with a proven commodity in the closer role, you can’t help but feel we like the Braves aren’t done just yet. Sure, I’d much rather Wickman be the kind of guy that blows batters away instead of a rich man’s Dan Kolb, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. We’ve managed to stay alive with nothing, and Wickman, at least, gives us something. Is it enough? I’ve got a sneaky feeling that it just might be.

I hope everybody had a great weekend, and that everybody has a chance to watch The Open on Saturday and Sunday. If Thursday is any indication, it should be a wild race to the finish.

Oh, and one last thing today. We didn’t have a caption contest yesterday, and based on the apparent lack of interest the past several weeks I’ve actually considered bagging the contest for a while. But, I had just enough emails yesterday to convince me to give it another shot. So, here’s a photo you should be able to have a little fun with. Come strong today because the fate of the caption contest could be in your hands!