The Shorter The Better
By: TJ Hartnett
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shadow over the entire world for weeks, forcing people into quarantine and changing the way people live and work.
One of the most publicized effects of the pandemic has been that of the sports world and the now lack of its existence.
First, it was a few basketball and soccer games being played without fans in the arenas and stadiums, followed by March Madness being cancelled. Then, after Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, the NBA suspended their season.
The NHL followed suit, as well as just about every other sport going on and suddenly ESPN was showing replays of bowling instead of SportsCenter (this may be an exaggeration).
Major League Baseball hadn’t yet begun their 2020 season and instead was about halfway through Spring Training when they decided to call it and delay Opening Day.
At first, MLB was going to delay two weeks. As time has gone on, the rumors have swirled about when baseball will be played again. Memorial Day maybe? Sometime in June?
Like pretty much everything else, when baseball starts is up in the air right now but the owners and players seem intent on getting a season in. This is, of course, happy news.
Whenever “play ball” is finally called for the season, it will certainly be the start of a diminished calendar. Even if the schedule is loaded with double headers, there’s really no way of getting a 162-game season in and still having playoffs at a time of year in which baseball is still playable.
That is, and bear with me here, good news for the Atlanta Braves. Continue bearing with me, because I’m about to make an argument based on an incredibly small sample size of evidence, but you don’t have any actual sports to read about so what else are you going to do?
The Braves are famous for winning 14 straight division championships, a record. They are equally notorious for winning only one World Series in that 15-year stretch.
Did anyone catch the math?
14 consecutive championships in 15 years doesn’t make sense; unless you know that in 1994, there were no division championships.
There was also no World Series. That’s because the players went on strike and the season was called. They were still on strike in the spring of 1995. Eventually, the union went back to work and 18 days after the season should have started, baseball began.
If that year sticks out to you, it’s because that’s the year Atlanta won it all.
That’s significant, because in all the rest of Atlanta’s postseason stints, that world-class pitching in the regular season often couldn’t meet its own high standards in the playoffs but with (slightly) less wear-and-tear on their arms, the Braves were able to run through their opponents and win the big prize at the end of the season.
The baseball gods tend to abandon Atlanta come October but maybe it’s just that the Braves run out of gas after a grueling full schedule.
Granted, every team plays the same number of games, but the Braves always seem a little more beaten down than their opponents do, with the exception of the shortened ’95 season.
Maybe, with a guaranteed shorter season on the horizon, the Braves will get a little of that 1995 mojo working.
Maybe two less months of regular season games will put life into Mike Foltynewicz’s arm come the fall. Maybe four months of games instead of six will keep Freddie Freeman healthier than he’s ever been in October.
Maybe, it’s a small sample size, but hey, the track record is there.