Editor’s Note:

What started out as a potentially thrilling final week in Major League Baseball has fizzled out.  The Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves, who both entered Tuesday’s games with only a two game deficit in the American League Central and National League Wild Card races, respectively, have both lost ground in the last couple nights.

After winning the first game of a doubleheader against the front-running Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon, the Twins have now dropped two in a row to the Tigers, giving the Motor City Kitties a three-game lead with only four game left to play.  A win for the Tigers this afternoon against the Twins would clinch the division.

But in all honesty, we don’t care about Tigers and we don’t care about the Twins.  We do, however, care about the Atlanta Braves, who are now four games behind the Colorado Rockies with four games to play, and all we want to know is why? (Warning:  The following rant will be very Braves-centric.)

Why did Matt Diaz stray so far off of third base in last night’s climactic 9th inning and get picked off to end the game with the bases loaded in 5-4 game?  Why does Greg Norton ever get an at-bat, let alone with two-men on and nobody out? He’s hitting .133 for Christ’s sake (the lowest average of any non-pitcher on the Braves roster. Hell, Javier Vasquez has a better batting average than he does.) How in God’s name do you strike out 16 times against a pitcher that nobody has heard of (Ricky Nolasco)? We know that you all want to make a big play and want to get the offense jumpstarted with one swing of the bat.  But swinging at pitches out of the strike zone will not further your cause (we’re talking to you, Nate McClouth.)

But it’s more than just last night’s game. Why did you win 15 out of 17 games, a run that just built all our hopes up, to crap the season away in two heartbreaking 5-4 losses to an inferior team?  Why can’t you play as well at home as you do on the road? (Are your fans really that awful?) We loyal Braves fans, and there are more of us than you know, have suffered with you through what appears to be four straight postseason-less seasons.  Before that, we looked on aghast while in 13 of 14 postseasons you got whomped by some chump team which didn’t even belong on the field with you guys.   All those fantastic regular seasons, only to become a footnote in some other city’s celebration.  We lived through Lonnie Smith, Kent Hrbek, Otis Nixon’s bunt,  Mark Wohlers’ hanging slider, Eric Gregg’s strike zone, the whole John Rocker episode, and countless other playoff indignities.  But we also cheered when we took the last two in Pittsburgh, when Sid slid, when Salomon Torres coughed up the division, when Justice prevailed, when Michael Tucker took Kevin Brown deep, when Andruw walked, and several other life-changing and life affirming moments.

The fact of the matter is we love you guys.  But this year, with that final run, you guys made it just close enough for it to hurt in this final week.  We’ll still be watching tonight, and rubbing the lucky rabbit’s foot, hoping that you guys can win four in a row, and the Rockies fold like a portable card table down the stretch.  If not, we will see you in spring training.  We just can’t help ourselves.

All our love,

A Casual Fan.

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