The Atlanta Braves have gotten off to a decent, but slow start to this season. The Braves currently hold a 36-37 record, which is good enough for the #3 spot in their National League East division. Former MVP and silver slugger Chipper Jones rounds off the offense for this team with his best-in-the-league .400 batting average in addition to his 10 home runs this season. Starting pitcher Chuck James has started off this season with an amazing ERA of 7.62, but veteran superstar John Smoltz leads Braves pitchers with 36 strikeouts this year. Smoltz is a former Cy Young Award winner and 8-time All-Star. The Atlanta Braves are trying to edge their way back into playoff contention this year, which they may well do with the great supporting cast on this team. Tickets are selling slow until the Braves prove what fans know they can do.
The Atlanta Braves have had a few scene changes
before they finally set up their camp in Atlanta. The team spent
76 years in Boston and 13 years in Milwaukee and finally landed
in Hotlanta in 1969. The team has featured a number of Hall of
Famers and the number one and two career home runs leaders in
Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. As memorable as those two players are
the Braves as a franchise will be remembered for the streak that
they find themselves in today. Atlanta has won the past 12 National
League East championships. They’ve had scares before, in
the ’94 season the Braves were six games back of the Expos,
but the season was stopped due to a strike and the Braves kept
their streak in tact by winning the ’95 divisional crown.
The Braves franchise has been a great example of regular season
dominance, but in the playoffs it’s been a different story.
The Braves have been to 12 straight postseasons, but have only
come out with five National League pennants and one World Series
championship. This lack of success in the playoffs was the reason
that many call the Braves the “Buffalo Bills of baseball.” They
always seem to do great in the season and fall apart when it
Last season the Braves finished the season with a
101-61 record and had a great deal of confidence
going into the playoffs. The Braves bats were on fire all year
long like they had never been during their 12 year run and
players and fans alike were hoping that would give them the
push they needed to win another ring. The Braves matched up
against the Chicago Cubs where the old adage “good pitching beat good hitting.” The
Cubs went on to win 3-2 behind amazing performances from their
young stud pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
This past off-season for the Braves wasn’t big because
of the players they picked up on the free agent market, but rather
the players they lost on the free agent market. They lost franchise
cornerstone Greg Madddux who the Braves thought was not giving
them fair value for his asking price. Maddux had spent 10 seasons
with the Braves and had won 226 games and a handful of Cy Young
awards over that span. The other big loss was slugging right
fielder Gary Sheffield. Sheffield flew the coup to the Yankees
who offered him a contract way over the Braves head. The Braves
also lost long time catcher Javy Lopez and third baseman Vinny
Castilla. They did have a few key additions despite the two huge
losses. They picked up utility guy Eli Marrero and right fielder
J.D. Drew who has never quite lived up to the expectations he
set while in the minor leagues.
The batting line-up sans Sheffield is still quite
daunting task for opposing pitchers. The Braves feature
third baseman Chipper Jones, center fielder Andruw
Jones, shortstop Rafael Furcal and second baseman
Marcus Giles, all of whom have been All-Stars at least once
in their career.
The last of the Braves “big three” is converted closer
John Smoltz. Smoltz has been closing for three seasons and has
been thriving in the role. He is only second to Dodgers closer
Eric Gagne for the amount of nasty pitches and pure intimidation
he brings to the hill in the 9th inning.
The Braves call Turner Field their home, named after
long time owner and TV mogul Ted Turner. “The Ted” as
many call it has a capacity of 50,091 and hosted the ’96
Olympics’ baseball tournament.
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