The Braves haven’t been in first place this late in a season since Oct. 2, 2005. They’ll be in first place if they win today.
How’s that for a snappy lead?
Memorial Day at the ballyard. Phils in the house.Big crowd assembling. Traffic a mess. Clouds overhead. Beach Boys to perform afterward.
(And here I pause for a Beach Boys digression. I saw Brian Wilson perform at the Daytona 500 a few years ago, and I thought to myself: Here’s an individual who couldn’t bring himself to leave his house — the one with the sandbox in the living room — for years at a time, and now he’s standing up there in front of a couple hundred thousand other individuals.)
Chipper Jones said it Sunday: “We’d like to win two of three. When we’ve played these guys the last few years, we went in knowing we had to sweep.”
True enough. Since 2005, which ended the run of excellence, the latest the Braves have been in first was May 15, 2007. So you could say there’s something at stake today. Then again …
It’s baseball. This is Game No. 51. There will be 111 games remaining after this. You don’t clinch pennants on Memorial Day, and the Phillies, who have been hurting — Jimmy Rollins is on the disabled list and Placido Polanco has been hurt — and who haven’t been scoring (six runs in the past eight games, three in the past six). And the Braves won’t face either Roy Halladay, who just worked a perfect game, or Jamie Moyer, who’s 2-0 against the Braves this season without yielding an earned run.
In sum, you have to think the Braves have a splendid chance to win this series, which would not only put them in first place on Memorial Day but would leave them there on June 2. Which would be big news ’round here.
And I’ll be here to witness the doings, and I invite you to join me. And if Brian Wilson and Mike Love get into a fistfight afterward — Love famously thought Wilson’s shelved masterpiece “Smile” was gobbedlygook — I’ll tell you who prevails.