Making the playoffs is always the ultimate goal.
But, admit it, Braves fans — you want to see your team beat the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies almost as badly as you want a postseason berth. Every win against those teams feels like a playoff win, and every loss hurts more than it should.
There are still about six weeks left in Major League Baseball’s regular season, and that’s a lot of time. A ton of time. Far more than six weeks in a football season, considering how many games are played and how much damage can be done by a swoon.
I don’t need to remind Braves fans where they stood at this point in the 2011 season.
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While we wait to see if the Braves can hold on to that Wild Card spot they currently occupy (or even move up into the division lead, should the Washington Nationals falter), there’s a pretty good trend going on this season that shouldn’t be ignored.
The Braves are absolutely dominating their two biggest rivals.
Against the Phillies, the Braves are 9-3 so far this season. They’re 7-4 against the Mets, but they’re 7-0 since dropping the first four games between the two teams at the beginning of the season.
16-3 against their biggest rivals since April 17? Now that’s a beautiful sight.
Of course, it comes with stipulations. Both the Phillies and Mets have been dreadful for most of this season (the Mets held their own in the division through June, but the Braves have won five of those seven games after the meltdown began). And if you really want to get down to brass tacks, the Nationals are probably the Braves’ chief rival this year.
But we like seeing fans from Philly and New York cry in their beer, and the Braves have certainly made that a more common occurrence for Phillies and Mets fans in 2012.
Hopefully, this year’s outcome will be better for Braves fans, because last season’s blowup was hideous. The Braves will go for their second consecutive sweep of the Mets tonight; reading this sentence should make any Braves fan smile.
Hopefully, they will be able to accomplish bigger things while using their most hated opponents as springboards … or speed bumps.
Whichever you prefer.