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I write this as the Braves have just beaten the Phillies 10-6, pulling within three games of the wild card and 4 of the East leading Mets. It will be very difficult for the Braves to make the playoffs this late, involving as it will not only a continued surge but also a monumental collapse by some combination of the Phillies, the Padres, the Rockies, the Mets and/or the Diamondbacks. It could happen. But at this point it may seem a little too late.
Lost in all of this is the fact that the Braves, in some ways (i.e. run differential), have played just about as well as anyone in the NL. Among the powers in the NL, the Braves are 3rd in runs scored (well, second if you give the Rockies a penalty for the Coors effect) and 3rd behind the Cubs and Padres (who play in the pitching equivalent to Coors) in runs allowed. Their run differential, I'm fairly certain, is actually a bit better than the Mets and Phillies. Not so much better that one could suggest that the Braves should actually be four games up on the Mets rather than the other way around, but better to the extent that any reports in the last few weeks preceding the Braves' recent run of the team's imminent collapse were a bit ill informed.
Maybe this won't matter this year, but it could bode well for next year in which, with a good closer, another starter and some luck, the Braves could conceivably and seriously challenge for the title.
You wonder, though, if the window is closing. Chipper is 35. Andruw may or may not be getting old fast (even though he's only 30) and either way, may be gone in a month. Teixeira may or may not be around in '08. Smoltz, though still dominant, is really getting old. And Hudson is not getting any younger. Francouer and McCann are young and exciting. But is Chuck James really anything close to Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz? And if he's not, who is?
Who knows though, maybe the Braves will shock us all, win the East (or the wild card) this year, and begin another run. I hope not.