The basic expectation of civility in discourse generally keeps us from telling the fans of rival teams just how we feel about the franchise for which they root. Fortunately, the internet requires no such expectations: welcome to the 2014 NL East Doxologies. With our blessings.
To say we wish the 2014 Atlanta Braves well would be something of an overstatement.
To be sure, we wish them continued health and well-being. We do not wish that they encounter any sort of embarrassment off the field. For this is a classy organization that has a storied history and a dedicated fanbase that always represents itself with the utmost dignity [link not found]. So let's keep this purely on the field.
I think Ben Kenobi said it best when speaking of the Braves roster that "you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." This is the team that last year tried to steal the sunshine of noted golden god Jose Fernandez after he hit a home run against them. If a pitcher hits a home run in a hitter's park against a guy with a low threes ERA like Mike Minor, he should probably be allowed to walk as slowly as he wants around the bases, in order to bask in the sheer humiliation of it all. The Braves disagreed.
Ever the fun group of great dudes, this kind of behavior was repeated through the season. Erstwhile Brave and current Yankee Brian McCann famously blocked the plate when Carlos Gomez of the Brewers hit a home run. Surely McCann's joyless adherence to the unwritten rules that tone down the excitement of baseball to a pitch that stentorian septuagenarians can handle will play well in New York, but I don't imagine that the attitude has left Atlanta with him.
And let's not forget the way that this team (predictably) fell out of the playoffs two years ago: on a controversial call. "Oh, Trev," you opine, "doesn't that mean you should feel badly for the poor, poor Bravos?" And of course the answer is: dear god no. This has created a culture of whinging, excuse-having, umpire-bating monsters who feel that the world could not be more against their 90+ win team. The same fans and media base that couldn't have fun with this recreation of history. At least their crushing defeat at the hands of the Dodgers left no real possibility for controversy, though the reverberations of their no-fun jeremiad rippled through the majors into the NLCS, so screw them anyway.
And let us not forget, this is a good team. Arguably a great team. And you know what fans of arguably great teams do? That's right: they over-rate them. So was I surprised to hear not only one, but two "experts" on the Braves suggest that Andrelton Simmons could be an MVP candidate if he hit his ceiling. That's definitely possible, in the alternate universe where anyone who votes gives two whiffs about defensive metrics. Yeah, hey, I think Galvis might have some pop and elite defense too -- quick lock him up to an 8 year deal! That market inefficiency thing is still inefficient if it's expensive, right?
And Freddie Freeman? This dude is the next Chipper Jones, in both baseball skill as well as the ability to completely infuriate me with how deeply beloved he is by people who look at stats selectively. Hey, friends: let me tell you about another multi-year 125+ MM dollar contract for a first baseman that I know about. Ah you're right: never could happen -- a 4.8 fWAR season after a previous high of 1.8 totally doesn't scream regression.
And hey, a four year contract for a closer at 50 MM plus? Boy, why does that sound familiar.... And gosh, I wonder how locking up a young projectable arm like Teheran to a long term deal will work out? I mean, that's like basically a lock for good value right? Pitching is super easy to predict, right? I'm doing this sarcasm thing right, right?
I have nothing bad to say about Jason Heyward, however. Though, that doesn't seem to be the case with his mouth breathing fans and foes in the Atlanta-metro-Cobb-County-SEC-Football megaplex. But hey, I heard on the radio today that he might really break out this year! What of course it was from a Braves fan, why?
And with a rotation in shambles, now this powerhouse team will have to rely on a collection of Ervin Santana, Gavin Floyd, and
Freddy Garcia Aaron Harang (ed note: lmao) to bring them innings. Yes, you looked right: I am not talking about some Phillies nightmare scenario. When you hear the media train calling for a Braves postseason, just remember: 75 wins doesn't get you there.
So what blessing do I confer upon the 2014 Braves?
May your Cobb Country contracts fall flat.
May your extensions produce negative WAR.
May your bullpen always regress.
May your defensive metrics prove to be small sampled.
May your infield flies be botched.
May your home runs against be admired.
May you produce no MVP's outside of the Most Vicious Parkways that your highways resemble.
May your losses be controversial.
May your wins be dull as dirt.
And if you should find your way to the first round of the playoffs...
...may you soon feel the familiar pang of defeat.
And may your promise turn to ash in your mouths.
Next time: The Marlins!
PS: I've contacted some Braves writers in hopes of a response of sorts, but so far no luck. If any Braves fans out there want to take the piss, get in touch!