On July 28, 2018, the Braves were 54-47, 2.5 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East. They were 36-25 thereafter. They won the division by eight games.
The 2019 Braves went 33-20 in August/September, clinching the East with 10 games left. Owing to the shortened COVID season – they opened on July 24 – the 2020 Braves couldn’t wait two months to get rolling. Still, they were 15-11 in September, clinching with five games remaining.
Last year’s Braves were sub-.500 until the first week of August. They finished 36-19. They trailed the Mets by six games on July 28. They finished 11 games ahead of the New Yorkers, 6.5 ahead of second-place Philly.
These Braves trailed the Mets by seven games on Aug. 10. The deficit has been pared to two games. The Braves have won 14 of 16. They just outscored Pittsburgh 22-4. They’re on track to win 100 games. They hold an 11.5-game lead over Milwaukee for the NL’s third wild card. They hold a 10-game lead over Philly for the first wild card.
Are we surprised? Nope. Under Snitker, this is what the Braves do. The more they play, the better they get. Last year’s team entered postseason with the worst record of the 10 qualifiers. It won the World Series.
This time a year ago, the Braves weren’t sure how good they were. This team knows how good it is. This team expects to win another World Series.
About hot seats
Betonline labels Geoff Collins’ job at Georgia Tech as the ACC’s second-most-perilous, trailing only Dino Babers of Syracuse. The assembled ACC media picked the Yellow Jackets to finish sixth among the seven ACC Coastal teams, trailing only Duke.
We can’t say Collins has been inconsistent. His first, second and third teams each won three games. I’m not sure he’ll get fired if Year 4 ends with the Jackets 3-9. He has a seven-year contract. (Should we mention that Tech is terrible at contracts?)
The best thing Collins has done was sell his bosses on the notion that Tech’s rebuild was among the more problematic in the history of humankind. He succeeded Paul Johnson, who inherited the program from Chan Gailey, who never had a losing season but didn’t beat Georgia. Johnson’s first Tech team won nine games and beat Georgia. In Collins’ first two games against the Bulldogs, his team has been outscored 97-7.
After last season, athletic director Todd Stansbury said: “I have my man.” Not all Tech fans share that sentiment, but Stansbury holds the vote that matters. The guess is that he’ll continue to give Collins the benefit of every doubt. Not saying that’s what I’d do. Just saying it’s what I think the AD will do, assuming he’s still AD.
About Deion Jones
Coming off shoulder surgery, the linebacker has begun to practice with his mates. That doesn’t mean he won’t get traded. Jones is scheduled to make $38 million over the next two seasons. (Should we mention that the Falcons used to be terrible at contracts?) He’s the highest-paid Falcon. With the organization in rebuild mode, the highest-paid Falcon is most apt to become the next ex-Falcon.
About Len Dawson and the choir huddle
The Kansas City Chiefs broke it out for the first snap – actually, they took a delay-of-game penalty, enabling Patrick Mahomes to exit the who-cares exhibition – Thursday as a tribute to Len Dawson, who died Wednesday at 87. The stadium announcer declared that the penalty was on “No. 16,” which was Dawson’s number.
The Chiefs of Dawson’s era arrayed themselves in a choir huddle – 10 offensive players facing the quarterback. It was among Coach Hank Stram’s many flourishes. Sports Illustrated put the huddle on its cover in November 1969. Dawson’s back was to the camera. Running backs Mike Garrett and Robert Holmes, plus tight end Fred Arbanas, were in the choir’s front row.
Kansas City had won a big game in Shea Stadium against Joe Namath’s Jets, the reigning champs. The teams would meet again in the playoffs, again at Shea. The Chiefs won that one, too. They’d beat the Raiders – who’d beaten KC twice already; talk about a rivalry – in the last AFC title tilt. Dawson was MVP of a Super Bowl upset of Minnesota.
That game’s most memorable moment was when Stram, wearing a microphone, called “65 Toss Power Trap,” which he guessed “might pop right open.” Garrett scored from the 5 on third-and-goal to make it 16-0. Said Stram in exultation: “65 Toss Power Trap – ya-ha-ha-ha-ha!”