Atlanta Braves Have More to be Proud of Than Bummed About in 2013
If you want to read negative things about the Atlanta Braves, this is not the article for you. The news is all over Major League Baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers were one big swing better than the Braves in game four of the ALDS. Unfortunately for the Braves, it was the last game they had to lose and now they are forced to watch the rest of the postseason from their couches at home. That is the extent of the bad news for the Braves however. They were one of the best teams in all of baseball this season and they should be nothing but proud of it. The same goes for their fans.
I’ve already seen plenty of articles about how crushing the loss was and who all could be to blame for the timely defeat at the hands of the Dodgers. Instead of adding to the muddied voices that are calling everyone out on the carpet for what was wrong, this article is about what was not. For example, instead of pretending that Dan Uggla would have saved the NLDS, I want to point out how great it was that Jose Constanza proved he could hit some of the best pitching in MLB at the most pressured of times. There could be a roster spot for him next year.
The pitching staff was one of the best in MLB with a promising young core that overcame the loss of great veteran leader Tim Hudson. The bullpen lost two of the best relief pitchers in recent memory within a week of each other in Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty but still finished with the best bullpen ERA in all of baseball. That is quite impressive and there should be enough returning stars next year that they will be able to shine once again.
B.J. Upton was a huge disappointment this season but considering he has never had that bad of a season before, there is every reason to believe that he will rebound next season. If he does and Jason Heyward can avoid being injured a few times, we might finally see how impressive the Braves outfield could be.
Lastly I think it was great the way Fredi Gonzalez handled the team. He will take a lot of flak for the choices he made but that is what happens to managers everywhere. Gonzalez lead a young team over an unbelievable amount of trouble this season and still came out with one of the best few records in all of baseball. That is impressive for any manager, no matter what scornful fans or smarty pants writers say.
2013 was a great season for the Braves that saw them return to the top of the National League East at last. Instead of tearing them down for the few things they did imperfectly, real fans should be thankful that they had a division series to lose and hope for an even better season in 2014. That is what I will be doing.