— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Friday, July 18, 2003
Bi-Weekly Review: N.L. East
The N.L. East through the All-Star Break.
So we?ve run through a little better than half the season, taken the obligatory step back for the All Star break, cursed the lame ending of Order of the Phoenix three times already and are now prepared to re-enter the NL East matrix. We?ll try to avoid the self-aggrandizing, proto-dharma soliloquies and stick to our bread-and-butter kung fu fighting. So, without further adieu, jack in.
The Atlanta Braves are, for the purposes of our metaphor, Agent Smith. Everyone remembers how at the end of the last installment of the series they ran into a feedback loop, couldn?t kill the neo-heroes from San Francisco, and just sort of exploded all over the place in the off-season. Little green bits of Tom Glavine flew over to the Mets, Kevin Millwood code ended up in Philadelphia, and God or the Architect only knows what the hell happened to Damian Moss. Everyone was sure they were dead, really dead, this time.
But lo and behold, something wacky and ontologically unnerving seems to have happened instead. Apparently, when you stare into the abyss the abyss does stare back at you, and when you dive into the Agent with your super kung fu, the Agent dives right back into you. And apparently, when you cannibalize the pitching-and-defense master blasters and leave them strewn all across the lawn for dead, they re-constitute into an offensive behemoth while you blink. Who the hell knew?
Anyone else getting tired of this convoluted metaphoring? Good, ?cause I am too. Enough! That movie is like two months old, anyway.
It?s hard to remember at this point, but for a week there, it almost became interesting. Back in mid-June the Phillies took 4 out of 6 in head to head action vs. Atlanta. The Braves eked out a series win against Tampa Bay, but then dropped two of three to the Marlins as well. While all of this was going on in Atlanta, the Phillies continued to streak, running off a 12-3 mark in grand fashion. Meanwhile the Marlins where humping up courtesy of Dontrelle Willis and generated a nice little streak of their own. The net result of all of that being the division closing from ho-hum to 4.5 in less than 10 days.
Then everyone woke the hell up. Atlanta strung together 9 wins in 10 games, sweeping through Shea in the process, while the Marlins and Phils went head to head, with the Fish sweeping the series. All of a sudden everything was back to 8.5 and barely stifled yawns. If it?s any consolation, I?m three quarters of the way through the latest William Gibson book, and it?s very promising so far.
Bottom line is this: if someone, most likely the Phillies, doesn?t close to within five games by August, this division is over and done. If the Braves maintain their current lead through the end of the month, the rest of the Phils, Expos and Marlins respective seasons will be so much wild card hunting. Does that sound all Brave-o-centric and fan-boy of me? Yeah? Okay. Does it sound wrong?
First Half Hong Kong Cavaliers
First Half Red Lectoids
Uh, Mo. Duh.
Atlanta opens the second half with an eight game home stand. The Mets bring whatever is left of their major league roster in for four sound thrashings, with the Cubs dropping in for a two-day layover afterwards. An equally stupid two game set with the Marlins follows. The Braves then hit the road for four games in Montreal before returning home for a six game stand split between Houston and LA.
Philadelphia hosts the Expos for four then gets a two-day set vs. the Mets followed by two at Wrigley. A quick jaunt down to Florida follows for a three game set, then it?s back up to Cincinnati for one freaking game. Yes, really. Some moron at MLB actually scheduled them for two days in Chicago, then flew them to Miami, and then flew them back to the upper Midwest for a single freaking game in Cincinnati. Amazing. The Phils roll into August with LA and San Diego at home.
Montreal, as noted above, starts up again in Philly before visiting Florida for two days. Then they?re back home for two vs. the Mets before Atlanta swings in for their four games. The Cards and Brewers stop by for three games each after that, making for a nice long home stand to end the month. (That?s actually in Montreal.)
Florida hosts the Cubs for three, Montreal for two, and makes a two-day stop over in Atlanta before returning home for a three game set with Philadelphia. Arizona and Houston visit Miami for three each afterwards. Again, a nice little home stand, interrupted only by that goofy-assed two game road trip up I-75.
Norfolk visits Charlotte for two games then turns around and hosts two more vs. the Knights. Columbus and Scranton each pay a four game visit before the Tides load up the buses again, heading out for two games in Durham followed by two in Charlotte again. They end the road trip with a four game set in Richmond.