JB @ The Launching Pad
Just before I start.
Chip, I don’t hate Mike Hampton. I don’t think he’s a bum. I don’t
blog just so I can rip him apart every time I’m alerted to yet another
one of his startling and bewildering injuries. Now I’ve had some fun at
Mike Hampton’s expense but that’s just because his injuries are so comical.
Mike Hampton is just a complete anomaly. His many
explanation-defying injuries are just fodder for bloggers (like me)
because it gives us something to talk about. And as much as it
disappoints me that his comeback is happening in July rather than in
April against the Pirates, I’ve gotten to the point where all I can do
is laugh-and I do- at how strange it all is. I mean something like this
is too good of a story to just ignore because it defies logic, all
expectations, and is just plain bizarre. It’s more bizarre than
Frenchy’s inexplicable trip to Mississippi and back that didn’t even
last the fortnight it was supposed to. It’s more bizarre than our road
record and one run loss mishaps at the beginning of the year. But
that’s just been our season. Bizarre. A tale of two teams, a swath of
moves that I just don’t get, and now Mike Hampton… in all his ironic
beauty, is going to pitch in a crucial series coming off a night that
the Braves actually looked very good.
So speaking of two Braves teams, which team showed up last night in Philadelphia?
Was it the team that had been swept twice at home by the Phillies?
The team that had just headed to Miami after dropping a weekend series loss at home to the Natspos?
No, it was the team that some how manages to win ballgames by very
large margins and have explosive run production rather than the team
that has almost been no-hit twice and shut more times that I want to go
find the stat for.
Last night was a great win for many reasons. McCann homered twice
and one of those shots was a nail in the coffin, sayonara,
man-its-good-to-have-McCann-type, grand slam as part of a 7 run ninth
inning in which every Brave hit.
And Jurrjens… He was just on last night. The 2008 NL ROY got his
10th win but check out his line in Philly: 8 IP, 6 K’s, 0ER, 3 H’s. I
love you, Jair.
The Mets won again last night keeping us at 6.5 by today’s 3:55pm start. Boo hoo.
And yes as we mentioned earlier Mike Hampton is slotted to start
today’s game. And if the Braves are going to have any serious thoughts
about baseball beyond September, this series (and thus this game and/or
tomorrow’s) is a must win.
But the Braves don’t have to just play great baseball from here on
out. They need two things. To play exceptional baseball and Mets
Collapse (Version 2.8). But they also need the Phils to keep playing
the way they have lately and they need the Marlins to just finally bite
it. (So four things).
Folks, the Wild Card ain’t coming out of the NL East so just get
that naughty little thought out of your head (for those of you who like
to say “Well there’s always the Wild Card”- bull hockey!). The Wild
Card will be a Central team for sure and so in the East it’s do or die.
If we can manage even getting back within 3.5 games back by our next
Mets series (Auguest 19-21) we can control our own destiny. IF.
I said after the All Star Break that the Braves magic number is 44.
They need at least 44 wins until the end of the season (and also the
aforementioned choking of three other teams) to even have a prayer. So
far the Braves are 4-3 since the start of the second half. It’s less
likely that the Mets will fall apart two seasons in a row even if the
Braves do get hot. But let’s put it this way. They’d have to get very
hot and against some pretty good teams over the next month.
The Brewers, Two Cardinals’ series, and the Cubs, are in our near
future. Even the .500 NL West leading Diamondbacks are not going to be
easy. The only “push over” we have are the Giants but like the Nats I’m
afraid they wouldn’t mind playing spoiler. And depending on which
Braves team shows up in San Francisco… they could.
Here’s irony for you as we close. What if Mike Hampton gets a win
today? If there ever was going to be a turning point and it’s July
26th, how suiting would it be if Mike was part of the Miracle? Because
nothing short of a Miracle will keep us in this.