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Main | The Man Who Is L.A. Baseball »

May 16, 2005

Braves Keep Rolling Along

Let me begin by making perfectly clear, I am an Atlanta Braves fan. So it goes without saying that I really enjoyed this past weekend where the Brave took two out of three from the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. In fact, I was at Sunday's game with wife and 9 month old daughter, Kaleigh, who attended her first, of what will be many, major league baseball games. She wore her Dodger outfit only because my wife thought it was cute and I haven't been shopping at the Braves on-line store yet.
I've heard it all before, how can I be a Braves fan and root for a team with all those division titles and yet only one World Series title? I root for the Braves because I've been a fan since 1977, I've been thru some pretty lousy seasons and the alternative is to root for the Cubs (my wife is from Chicago) . But you know what, I'm willing to bet that 99% of the major league teams would sacrifice just about anything to equal the Braves' success, the exception being the Yankees.

The Braves can trace their remarkable string of success to the hiring of Stan Kasten in 1986, his hiring of John Schuerholtz in 1990 who, in turn, hired Bobby Cox that same year. This triumvirate was responsible for building the foundation that has won 13 division championships, 5 league championships and the 1995 World Series title. Although Kasten left in 2003, Schuerholtz and Cox have stuck to the blueprint that was established in 1990; revamp and maintain focus on the farm system, utilize 'home grown' talent whenever possible and make trades that benefit the team over time. The proof of this can be seen on the field with All Stars such as Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Johnny Estrada and this year's additions of Ryan Langerhans and Wilson Betemit, all products of Atlanta's stellar farm system.
The fact that the Braves keep rolling along is a testament to the guidance of Schuerholtz and Cox. Despite free agency losses of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Gary Sheffield, Ryan Klesko, Javy Lopez, etc, etc, the team has shown remarkable resiliency and consistency, winning their 13th National League East Division title last year.
Which brings me to this year's team that, as I write this, are 23-14 and have a 2 1/2 game lead on the Florida Marlins in the National League East. With the free agency addition of Tim Hudson and the return of John Smoltz to the starting rotation, this year's pitching staff, which also boasts Mike Hampton, Jon Thompson and Horacio Ramirez, has been rated as one of Bobby Cox's best. The team plays excellent defense, the offense is potent and the bench is deep.
So, John Schuerholtz keeps making shrewd trades and acquisitions, Bobby Cox keeps moving up the ladder in managerial wins, Leo Mazzone keeps on rocking and the Braves keep on winning. Do I wish they'd win a couple more World Series titles before this unprecedented run ends, you bet. And who knows, this could be our year.

Posted by Kevin O'Leary at 5:15 AM

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