Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats
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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Bi-Weekly Review: N.L. East
The N.L. East through August 3rd.
I?ve spent the last three recaps being a smug, arrogant ass. I?ve done this for a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy playing up the “damned Braves fans and their presumptuous, ho-hum selves, always assuming they?ll win regardless, oh how I hate them” vibe. That amuses me. Secondly, there has been a very real context for playing that up. Since June, there?s been little actual divisional competition to speak of. Finally, I am, in point of fact, a smug, arrogant ass most of the time [most? - DS]. Still, it?s getting an old trip for me to write, which means it was probably an old trip for you to read last month. With that in mind, I?ve spent the last couple of weeks looking for another way into the subject of the NL East of 2003. Of course, before we get into all of that, we should probably reset ourselves as we always do. The division, as of end-of-games, Aug. 3:
Okay, now a divisional recap is more or less required to point out the standings in the division. That?s kind of what we?re here for. And the standings are what they are. Atlanta still holds a 10+ game lead on the competition, and that lead has shown a tendency to grow by roughly one game every week. New York still has an abysmal baseball team, falling so far out that it?s almost insulting to continue to list them in the standings. (That they?re at least being a crappy team of young players rather than a crappy team of old, washed up players gives them bonus points, but not enough to forget that they?re damned near 30 games out.) But we all knew that already, now didn?t we? I am hard put upon to believe that there is a Mets fan out there so devoted as to read this site that doesn?t know the status of his or her team. But it?s where we have to start, so it?s where we are. Being here, let?s go find something interesting to talk about now, okay?
Mystery standings grid #1:
Look familiar? Not an exact replication, certainly, but not a bad comparison either. Much like the 2003 NL East, this division is being dominated by an offensive juggernaut with decent but questionable pitching. The second place team boasts a noticeably better stable of arms, a staff that was anchored by three young, promising and capable-of-dominating-on-any-given-day starters.
The big climactic reveal here is that mystery grid #1 are the standings of the NL West through Aug. 3, 1993. The first place team is the San Francisco Giants, year one of the Barry. The second place team is the Atlanta Braves. Of course, the Braves absolutely stormed back down the stretch for what many regard as the Last Great Pennant Race and won the division by a single game. All of which is supposed to be an object lesson for me regarding the possibilities of comebacks. The problem is that the Last Great Pennant Race occurred in the last year before the implementation of Bud?s First Abomination. To see a team make the kind of run the ?93 Braves made in the wild-card era would be shocking, in my honest opinion.
So maybe we should find another historical precedent. Which isn?t hard to do. August 3, 1997:
Atlanta		70 	42	—
Florida		63	46	4.5
Things to keep an eye on:
Atlanta plays 22 of their next 32 against teams with losing records.
Philadelphia squares off for three against the Giants at the end of this week. (Marlon Byrd and Placido Palanco are on fire.)
Florida has been the division?s best team since the All-Star break, making up 5+ games in the wild-card standings. (Blame Luis Castillo and Miguel Cabrera for the offense, Josh Beckett, Mark Redman and Brad Penny from the hill.)
Joe McEwing is hitting 324/444/514 since the break. Jeff Duncan has an OPS of 594.
Montreal is still owned by the other 29 teams.
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