Braves Rivalry Hasn’t Been Much Of A Rivalry At All
The Mets will soon end yet another long season fraught with futility against their NL East rival, the Atlanta Braves. This time, the Mets finished their season series with the Braves by losing their last eight contests against them. The current spate of losing to Chief Knockahoma’s former employer is the tip of the iceberg. The big picture transcends games, but sadly (and maddeningly) extends to 18 years (1991-present).
Realistically, a rivalry is defined as a “competition.” However, ”it takes two Tango.” Ever try dancing with someone with two left feet? Over the years, the Braves are Fred Astaire and the Mets Elaine Benes.
Doesn’t matter where they play either, Turner Field, Shea Stadium, or Citi Field, the Braves organization top to bottom outshines the Mets, on and off the field.
Especially the latter. Take this season-please, for example. While the Braves develop rising pitching studs, in Tommy Hanson (10-4, 2.85 in 19 starts), and Jair Jurrjens (13-10, 2.70) the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey regresses and John Maine cannot stay on the field.
The Braves sign Derek Lowe out from under the Mets noses, and he wins at least 15 games, while the Mets re-sign Oliver Perez who is as useless as a dead beat dad at a “Father of the Year” banquet.
While the Braves add a young star outfielder in Nate McLouth during the season, the Mets sign a broken-down malcontent, Gary Sheffield just in time to smack his 500th home run.
As hollow a milestone in Mets history.
The Braves realize they cannot re-sign Mark Teixeira, and deal him to the Angels for Casey Kotchman, and parlay him into the re-acquisition of Adam LaRoche, who they regretted letting go in the first place. The Mets? They pin their hopes on an aging Carlos Delgado and he helps swamp the lifeboat.
(Think about it, if Delgado, who may have been released before his 9-RBI explosion against the Yankees on June 27th last year, was productive for more than half a season, the Mets might have walked away with the division crown before another collapse).
Atlanta cuts ties with Tom Glavine (Part 1) and the Mets lavish him with millions in time to celebrate his 300th win (the second most hollow milestone in team history) and the infamous melt-down in game 162 of the 2007 season.
They let John Smoltz move on to Boston and he bottoms out. Mark Mulder is not re-signed and Greg Maddux moves on and is a shell of his former self.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Mets sign Pedro Martinez, who only gives them one good season out of four. Two straight years he is absent during crunch time of a pennant race. Then after collecting over $50 million in pay, he moves down the turnpike and signs with hated Philadelphia. Ouch!
On and on the winning continues on one side, the follies on the other.
The Braves pick up Javier Vasquez and he provides innings and whiffs (over 204.1 and 221 K’s) the Mets add Tim Redding. Redding leads the league in the amount of facial hair in a concentrated area. Maybe he’s a lost brother from the band Z-Z-Top. He might be a better musician (he played the Mets for a 2.25 million tune) than pitcher.
John Schuerholz, the former Braves GM ate Steve Phillips’ lunch and now his replacement, Frank Wren steals Omar Minaya’s milk money. Wren did donate Jeff Francoeur to the Mets bleak cause for the equally sour Ryan Church. Maybe he felt sorry for his counterpart.
Don’t get me started on Yunel Escobar verses Jose’ Reyes. Or, Brian McCann verses a mish-mash of Mets backstops. Heck, the Braves’ role players might be better than some of the Mets regulars. Who would you rather have Matt Diaz, Martin Prado, and LaRoche, or Angel Pagan, Luis Castillo, and Daniel Murphy?
The good news is Bobby Cox is retiring after the 2010 season. The bad news he will act as a consultant five years after. That should ensure the Braves dominance over the Mets for years to come.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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