Thursday, August 10, 2017

Atlanta Braves begin to face 'brutal reality' of slipping post-season hopes

Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.
The brutal reality began to set in for the Atlanta Braves this week as word came down that they were officially out of the running for a Wild Card spot.

As of Monday, the Braves were 51-59 overall and running third in their division, which makes it mathematically impossible for them to catch the six teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race.

With that said, the Braves could still secure a spot in the playoffs, but they’ll have to win their division, which isn’t impossible (but highly unlikely). As of Monday, Atlanta was 14.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East standings and 1.5 games behind the second-place Miami Marlins.

Atlanta, with 51 games left on their regular season schedule, had a much-needed day off on Monday as they prepared for a two-game home series against the Phillies before getting on a plane for St. Louis, where they’re scheduled to play a three-game series against the Cardinals. The Phillies currently have the worst record in the Major Leagues, so the Braves should be able to take both of those games, especially since they’re playing in Atlanta. Of course, there are no guarantees as the Braves have inexplicably struggled against the Phillies this year.

As of Monday, the Cardinals were a whisker below .500 and sitting in third place in the NL Central behind the Cubs and Brewers. St. Louis is very much alive for a NL Wild Card spot, so you can bet they’ll be all business when the Braves visit Busch Stadium.

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As baseball enters its last two months of the regular season, football begins to crank up. Hillcrest and Sparta have both started preseason practice, and this time next week Sparta will be preparing to host their first game of the regular season. A week later, Hillcrest will be preparing to host a preseason game against Pickens County with their regular-season opener scheduled for the following Friday.

The much-anticipated start of the college season will follow shortly thereafter, and I’ve got a feeling that this year’s college season might be one of the best we’ve seen in years. Alabama will have a really good team, but I think several SEC teams have closed the gap between themselves and the Crimson Tide, especially LSU.

The NFL season will begin on Sept. 7 with a game between the Chiefs and the Patriots, followed by a full slate of games on Sunday, and the first Monday Night Football game of the year on the day after that. Preseason games are already underway, but I don’t put a lot of stock in those. Many of the players you see in the preseason won’t make the final cut when it’s all said and done, and I’ve never heard of any correlation between preseason success and Super Bowl championships.

In the end, we’ve got a lot of great football to look forward to, and I’m wishing both of our local high school teams much luck as they prepare to kick off their seasons. 

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