The Braves gave us diehards some exciting stretches, most notably their 14-game winning streak in August, prompting the suggestion here that they might have what it took to go all the way. But it was not to be. The Braves could muster enough runs to win only one game against the Dodgers and the series ended after four games.
And that brings us to some analysis, also known as second-guessing.
First, how about manager Fredi Gonzalez benching unproductive second baseman Dan Uggla but playing unproductive center fielder B. J. Upton? Frankly, from my excellent vantage point in front of the TV with replays from front, back, inside, out, up and down angles with too many shots of the dugouts thrown in, both Uggla and Upton should have been benched for the playoffs on the theory that nobody could be worse. Uggla was benched.
The Gonzalez theory going into the division series was: “The playoffs are a different season… Guys who hit .400 during the season go 0-for and guys who are struggling are MVPs during the postseason. So hopefully, that is the case.” Unfortunately, that did not happen this postseason. The guys who were struggling did not turn into MVPs.
Fans have to wonder how this will play out for the team in the future since Uggla and Upton are the highest-paid Braves. First place goes to Uggla at $13 million this year — for which the Braves got a .179 season batting average and nil games in the postseason. Eye surgery did not help his performance late in the season. Upton at $12.5 million is second to Uggla, according to mlb.com. Upton signed a franchise record $75.25 million five-year deal in November 2012, even though his batting average for the previous four years was only .240. For the 2013 regular season, his average was a measly .184, not even to be explained by missing a lot of games because of injuries. In three post-season at-bats when hits were critically needed, he was hitless.
As for second-guessing, there was manager Gonzalez’ decision not to bring in ace closer Craig Kimbrel in the eighth. Instead, reliever David Carpenter gave up the game-winning run. Kimbrel wanted to pitch the eighth and ninth but Gonzalez vetoed that and stood by his decision later, of course. Stick a fork in the Braves.
The Atlanta Falcons, decimated by injuries, are 1-4 after losing to the New York Jets on Monday night. Let’s second-guess a little: if coach Mike Smith had settled for a field goal right before the first half ended, the Falcons could have been in position to at least tie the game with a field goal instead of having to score a TD in the final two minutes.
But there’s still hope. All we need is for QB Matt Ryan to make like Peyton Manning.