A high-stakes poker game carries on as we are in the home stretch of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. For the Atlanta Braves, sitting pretty atop the National League Division’s standings in the East couldn’t put them in a better position to dominate the division and have a crack at the World Series title that has eluded them for almost two decades. And as the regular season closes its curtains to usher in the playoffs, teams are scrambling to find the perfect combination, the right cards to bravely go all in, especially with their batting order.
In a typical poker game, it is inevitable that we experience teeth cringing bad beats, and cold streaks. One day we feel like we’re on top of the world racking up huge wins in a PartyPoker Sit and Go Tournament, the next we’re left wondering where we went wrong in an MGM Grand live tournament. While lesser players continue to sulk in the agony of defeat, others are looking well beyond the future and make the necessary adjustments for them to come back strong and succeed. And here’s where Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez calls upon his inner poker player, and formulate a Word Series worthy, royal flush forming adjustment amidst all the unfortunate injuries and cold slumps.
Brian McCann (Catcher, fourth)
Batting third baseman Chris Johnson at fourth would be a logical decision to make. But Brian McCann is probably the best bet especially during a playoff period. Though he’s been bogged down with injuries lately, McCann still presents the fortitude of a seasoned veteran, especially when facing the pressures of hitting cleanup. He’s a definite wild card in Gonzalez’s poker hand, and might just be the hidden ace up his sleeve.
Elliot Johnson (Second Baseman, seventh)
In a parallel universe where the Houston Astros and the Miami Marlins are battling tooth and nail for the World Series, veteran Dan Uggla would be batting sixth and starting at second base. But with a chain of lackluster games, Uggla might just hand his spot over to a much more deserving Elliot Johnson. Yes, he’s least likely to get on base, and hit balls with as much power as Dan Uggla would, but Johnson’s speed on the path and his consistency to put the ball in play makes him an ideal starter. As odd as it may sound, but Elliot Johnson may just be the Jack of all trades, the swift fox that provides the Braves with much-needed runs.
BJ Upton (Centre Field, eighth)
Jordan Schaefer makes a solid case for this spot. But reminiscing BJ Upton’s remarkable run in the 2008 post season, we melt Schaefer’s bid at the position. It’s no secret that as a $75 million center fielder, BJ Upton is having a measly and disappointing campaign this season. And to sit him out for the playoffs in exchange of Jordan Schaefer will just completely douse the little spark that he provides the team. BJ Upton is a fantastic player, and one should not discount his talent and his potential to catch fire in an opportune time of the playoffs. Who knows, he just might be the Atlanta Braves’ wild card towards that coveted World Series.
Like a high stakes game of poker, the Atlanta Braves have experienced a lot of ups and downs, but are now positioning themselves for a royal flush come playoff time.
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