Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You can either get busy living or get busy
The Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves endured two of the worst September
collapses in recent memory a year ago. The Red Sox saw a nine-game wild card
lead evaporate, while the Braves watched an 8 1/2-game edge for the league's
extra playoff spot with 23 games remaining go by the wayside.
Two teams. Two epic collapses.
The Red Sox this season have basically become a punch line and the laughing
stock of Major League Baseball. The Braves? Well on Tuesday, they became the
latest team to join the National League playoff party, earning themselves the
right to at least play in the one-game wild card playoff next Friday.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.
While the Red Sox seemed to learn nothing from last year's failures, the
Braves wore their collapse as a badge of honor all season.
"You can't really win consistently until you lose," pitcher Kris Medlen said.
"You've got to have that heartbreak to know how to react to certain situations
and bounce back. It's huge for us to be in this situation."
While an NL East title is still a possibility, the Braves figure to host the
first-ever one-game wild card playoff next week. Who they will be facing is
still up in the air, but it's likely the defending world champion St. Louis
Cardinals will be at Turner Field for that contest.
"We can go out now and play a lot more relaxed now that we've got a chance to
play a postseason game," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "We got a
great opportunity to go out and take it a step further. We're not out of the
division yet. Until they close us out, we're going to keep fighting for that
Now here's where it gets tricky for the Braves. They will likely start the
phenomenal Medlen in that wild card contest on Friday, probably limiting his
availability to just one start in the Division Series should they advance.
Medlen has been absolutely unbelievable for the Braves here down the stretch,
and has gone 8-0 with a 1.04 ERA in the 11 starts he has made since moving
from the bullpen to the rotation on July 31.
The Braves have won each of the past 22 games started by Medlen, the longest
streak since the New York Yankees won 22 games started by Whitey Ford between
1950-53 and the New York Giants' streak in Carl Hubbell starts from 1936-1937.
Atlanta's incredible streak with Medlen started back on May 29, 2010, and he
has since overcome Tommy John surgery and a stint in the bullpen to start this
It looked as if the Braves' streak was going to come to an end on Tuesday, as
he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning with his team trailing,
"He can't go out there and strike them out every time," Atlanta outfielder
Jason Heyward said. "That's the name of the game of baseball. It's not going
to happen every night for everybody."
But Freddie Freeman saved the day with a two-run game winning home run in the
bottom of the ninth to send the Braves back to the playoffs for the second time
in three years and putting last year's mess behind them.
"Guys have just played their butts off, and it's gotten me this little streak
thing," Medlen said. "I'm just excited. You give up a few runs and the guys
battle back for you."
It's hard to pick Atlanta to win an NL pennant since they could be playing an
elimination game right out of the chute. Not to mention the Braves are just
8-10 against the Nationals, 1-5 against the Cincinnati Reds and 3-4 against
the San Francisco Giants this season.
But there's something about this team. They still have a chip on their
shoulder from last year's meltdown. They may have the best pitcher in baseball
at the moment on their side.
And then there's the whole "win it for Chipper" scenario.
Get busy living or get busy dying.
The Sports Network