So the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was going ga-ga over the 3-0 start the Braves had coming in to tonight’s game; it was the first time, you know, that they hadn’t lost a game in the first three outings since 1994.

Terrence Moore, the AJC columnist, was already declaring the Braves as the team to beat in the NL East after the first game, and then, today’s print edition of the AJC had a very poignant headline to a story by, who else, David O’Brien:


But go ahead and try to find that same headline on now, when the Mets just won 11-1 on a horrendous night by starter Mark Redman (5+ IP, 5 ER). Oh right, but according to Moore, if the anybody has to beat the Mets, they have to do it with pitching:

When you consider everything, ranging from manager Tony LaRussa still fresh from a DUI arrest to maybe the worst starting pitching rotation ever for a defending world champion, the St. Louis Cardinals are a mess. That’s why the New York Mets spent the first week of this season exploding to the top of the National League East.

Well, that’s part of the reason. Despite the Mets ranking among baseball’s most overrated teams every year, they actually are more than hype this time.

What this means for the Braves is that the perennially aching Mike Hampton has to stay healthy. It means John Smoltz and Tim Hudson can’t stop resembling their vintage selves. It means Chuck James, Mark Redman, Lance Cormier and whoever else fills out the Braves’ pitching rotation must have more solid starts than sorry ones. It means the revamped bullpen has to continue looking potent.

So, again, what did Redman do? Allow 5; what did the bullpen do? Allow another 6. But let’s hope Smoltzy can stop the bleeding tomorrow. I’ll be there; and I’m thinking that’s not going to be the case.

It’s going to be one long year, Braves fans.

8 Responses to “I think we know which is the team to beat in the NL East…”

  1. It may be true that the Braves have no glaring weakness (despite the fact that I had no idea Kelly Johnson could play second base, let alone bat leadoff – and by the way, can we put an end to parents naming their sons Kelly?). But they also don’t have a laudable strength aside from their set-up men.

    On paper, the Braves have the 3rd best lineup in the NL East (and no, I do not rank the Nationals ahead of them). On paper, they have the third best starting rotation (behind the Phillies and Marlins). Their bullpen, although improved, has the fourth best closer in the division (hats off to the Marlins for forgetting to get one). I am a big fan of the Rafael Soriano acquisition, however, and think that he and Jon Rauch are the best set-up men. With Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, that’s a very strong 7th-8th inning bridge. But I don’t think that’s enough.

    Long story short, they still look like a third place team to me. But as they say, that’s why we play the games. But I think the NL East is a two-team race in 2007.

  2. Sarah Green says:

    Paul, I believe Kelly was a boys’ name before it was a girls’ name. We ladies have a long history of stealing names from you men. This is a favorite topic of conversation between Nick and I at cocktail parties and such. Among these:

    Alexis, Allison, Ashley, Audrey, Beverly, Brook, Carol, Courtney, Dana, Ethel, Evelyn, Gail, Glenn, Haley, Hillary, Jocelyn, Kelly, Lauren, Leslie, Lindsey, Lynn, Marion, Meredith, Paige, Robin, Shannon, Shelley, Shirley, Stacy, Tracy, Vivian, and Whitney.

    No wonder so many boys are named Mike these days.

  3. Ethel? There was a man named Ethel?

    There has never been a good baseball player who had Kelly as a first name.

    Among those I can remember:

    Kelly Stinnett
    Kelly Schoppach
    Kelly Wunsch

    And the ironically named Kelly Mann.

    The closest we can come to a good baseball player here is Kelly Gruber.

    Am I missing anyone? Suggestions?

  4. Nick Kapur says:

    Extremely little known fact: Bobby Abreu’s middle name is Kelly!

    Possibly even less known fact than that: “Ethel” literally means “prince” in Old English, which is why it makes no sense for a woman to ever be named that.

  5. Alejandro says:

    Meh; it’s April…

  6. Coley you’re worse than Dave O’Brien.

    ONE loss and you’re already calling “one long year” for Braves fans?


    Now the Phils are another story.

  7. Coley Ward says:

    Zvee, I didn’t write that post, you jackass!

  8. Actually, O\’Brien probably didn\’t write that headline. As a former sports journalist, headlines are written by copy editors. The byline is attributed to O\’Brien, but that\’s about it. Give credit to the witty copy editors on the desk at the AJC for that one.

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