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    braves v. future

    Final thoughts on the World Series… and the Braves

    by | 6 | Nov 3, 2015

    Turner Field by Nicolas Henderson via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.

    The World Series is now over and the Kansas City Royals, who fell just short last year, showed their mettle by coming back time and time again to win the crown.

    We can only hope the Braves were watching.

    They did it with what has become more and more lacking in major league baseball, playing fundamentally sound defense and taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes.

    The Royals had good starting pitching, not the great young starting pitching espoused by the Mets, but solid and good. They were not a power laden team, hitting just enough home runs to keep a pitcher honest, but relied on putting the ball in play and running. They have a bullpen as good as any, so as long as the starting pitcher doesn’t get blown out and they get the game in the late innings, they have a better than good chance to win. And they did.

    The Mets have a solid foundation and with their young pitching they can look forward to being competitive in the future, but the Royals proved no matter how good the starting pitchers are you can’t expect them to simply go out and shut a team down every time they take the mound. This was something the Braves believed in for years, and while the run of division titles and playoff appearances was impressive, they only won one World Series.

    It should be noted that Ned Yost, the often maligned manager of the Royals, now has the same number of World Series rings as the allegedly great Bobby Cox.

    The message here for the Braves is, yes, you are acquiring a lot of good young arms but you can’t win on just that.

    Playing solid defense and having a bullpen that can keep you in the game, and keep the other team down when you are winning, has become the benchmark for long term success. Certainly you can’t have complete oil cans as your starting rotation, but you also can’t rely on tremendous starting pitching as the primary consistent factor in winning championships.

    The idea the Royals have shown how to do it and the Mets have shown what every Braves fan must surely know, except for some local sports writers at the AJC, is that good pitching and good hitting will beat great pitching because the best pitching in the world is not enough since nobody wins 0-0.

    Great starting pitching, surrounded by little else, will keep you in a lot of games and let you rack up enough wins so that you can always be competitive. Good pitching, supplemented by the other aspects of a fundamentally sound team, can carry you to a championship.

    The Mets will likely be very good next year because pitching is always where you start. But the ability to hold a lead, put the ball in play, run the bases and play sound defense, ultimately won the Royals a World Series.

    The Atlanta Braves (or is it the Cobb County Braves?) have touted all the moves being made as rebuilding a pitching staff that will rival the best in the league. If those pitchers pan out the Braves may be more competitive this year than last, but even if the brain trust are right the Mets have clearly shown that is not enough.

    If the Braves hope to claim any notion of being a championship caliber team in the coming years, they should not be looking at the Mets but the Royals, a team built with players schooled in the way to play baseball.

    Meanwhile, Ned Yost can call Bobby Cox and say, we’re even.

    ###

    Ric Latarski

    Ric Latarski has written for a variety of publications in the Atlanta area, was a stringer for Time Magazine, did commentary for Georgia Public Radio and wrote the guidebook, Atlanta: 101 Great Choices. He now writes fiction and recently completed his first novel.

     

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    • Jeffry Scott

      Another good piece Mr. Latarski. I like the observation about Bobby Cox, and I’m going to go ahead and say — as you have in earlier pieces — he is hardly a hall of famer if the measure is winning championships commensurate with the talent on your roster, and going beyond that, winning championships when you don’t quite have enough talent on your roster. Atlanta sportswriters have always been reluctant to point out he had perhaps the greatest rotation in the history of baseball — three hall of famers in their primes — and he managed from that just one world series. His team didn’t run. His team didn’t steal bases. The Royals are a perfect paradigm to which the Cobb Braves should aspire, you are correct.

      • Will Cantrell

        “…he had perhaps the greatest rotation in the history of baseball --three hall of famers in their primes--and he managed from that just one world series. His team didn’t run. His team didn’t steal bases…” You nailed it, Jeff. Should be on Cox’s tombstone…and the Braves. Will

    • dockeroo

      The Braves seem to be baseball’s version of “The Gang that couldn’t Shoot Straight.” The glamour and hype of new digs (fanned by local sports writers/broadcasters) takes precedence over sound baseball planning. Who really cares if they have franchise “restaurants” outside their Interstate highway colossus? Or a bridge over traffic jams?They are in danger of alienating fans and don’t seem to care.

    • hannah

      Baseball and football are team sports. I think that, just as in politics, the emphasis on heroes and leaders as the key to success has undermined the essential importance of these sports. On a very basic level, they teach how to be members of a team, how to manage time and how to alternate action with inaction productively.

      • Hilarious.

        • hannah

          For some reason, this response ended up in my spam folder on google mail. Google anything bears close watching! LOL

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