Should we thank the Braves for the nice, mild winter we’ve all been enjoying here in Georgia? Maybe Mother Nature decided to cut us a break by saving an extended cold spell for another year, after seeing that chilling September in which the Braves weren’t just on a cold streak–they were frozen solid. Thinking back over that epic collapse that marred what once was such a promising season is enough to give any die-hard Braves fan shivers.
But of course, I’ve got to believe that this warm weather helped to thaw our Bravos out.
And so begins Spring training. A new year, a clean slate. The boys have reported to camp, and hopefully they’ll be able to put last season’s painful finale behind them. With GM Frank Wren standing pat this off-season and running the same team (more or less) out onto the field, it may make more than a few of us in Braves Country feel a bit uneasy about our chances. But we should all keep in mind that prior to an ugly September, we had a really formidable squad.
In order to be successful this year and prevent a repeat of that historic breakdown, a few things need to fall into place. Jason Heyward needs to brush off his pitiful sophomore campaign, regroup, and show that superstar promise he put on display in his All-Star rookie season. And while I marveled at Dan Uggla’s colossal 33 game hit-streak, I’d like to see his average well over the Mendoza line for this season’s first three months. And as always, our pitching can match up with the best of ‘em, providing we can stay healthy. A case can certainly be made that if we had Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson healthy down the stretch, we wouldn’t have blown that 8 1/2 game lead that denied us our spot in the playoffs.
We certainly have the talent. A lot of young arms and bats, with a few grizzled veterans providing leadership. It’s just a matter of making it count when it matters the most. And while I enjoyed wearing shorts on Christmas, I’d trade a sub-zero December for a red-hot Brave’s October any day.