The Atlanta Braves are suddenly on an 11-game win streak, 13½ games up on their nearest division rival. How in the world did that happen?
In a way, the 2013 Braves are an extension of their 15-year run of National League dominance, an achievement the likes of which we’ll probably never see again. Anyone who rooted for another NL East team near the turn of the century probably quivers with anger at the memory of an Atlanta team that was almost perfectly constructed to dispassionately steamroll all comers, year in and year out. It was an awesome sight to behold, or it would’ve been if I hadn’t been angry enough that my eyes were bleeding while it was going on.
You can name any one of seven or eight candidates and have a great argument, but Posey gets the slightest of nods. For starters, no National League player has put up better park-adjusted rate stats. That's doubly impressive given Posey is a catcher, the position at which offense is rarest. Posey hasn't quite played all of his games at catcher. But 75 out of 90, with the numbers he's put up at AT&T Park, still plays well. And no, we don't care one whit about the Giants being eight games under .500, compared to, say, some of the top players on winning teams like the Cardinals. Posey, like Yadier Molina and every other player in the league, has no control over the teammates his general manager picks to play with him.
In case you were busy mixing up Davy Crockett with Daniel Boone, much to your own embarrassment and chagrin, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Golden State Warriors, powered by Stephen Curry's 30 points, beat the Denver Nuggets, 131-117, to even up their first-round playoff series at a game apiece. Curry, who fought through a twisted ankle in the third quarter, said after the game, "Of course I overcame a twisted ankle. I'm Steph Curry. A twisted ankle to me is just an ankle. A sprained ankle for me feels like a twisted ankle for you. I need to have my entire foot removed from my shin at this point to be fazed by my ankle."
Despite a night that many would say was quiet by his standards, LeBron James and the Miami Heat used a strong fourth quarter to dispatch the Milwaukee Bucks, 98-86. "Sometimes you have to be subtle, understated," James said after the game. "You can't just score 40 every night; you have to treat each game like it's a snowflake. Sometimes you have to be gentle with it. Let it know you care, that you see its unique qualities. And then some snowflakes you drop 60 on because that's what that snowflake wants. Tonight wasn't about that. Tonight was about the velvet touch."
Five things to know about the five-year, $75.25 million free agent contract B.J. Upton signed with the Braves:
1. Upton's got age and skills on his side. Several of the biggest-name free agents on this year's market are on the wrong side of 30. Not Upton, who celebrated his 28th birthday three months ago. He's had a bit of a weird career, posting the two best seasons of his career (by WAR) in his first two full seasons as a starter, in 2007 and 2008, his age-22 and age-23 seasons. Also odd: He posted the best strikeout and walk rates of his career during the only full season in which he failed to hit double-digit home runs (2008), then did a passable Babe Ruth impression in that year's playoffs, cranking seven homers in 11 ALDS and ALCS games.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Mason Plumlee scored 21 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Rasheed Sulaimon scored all 17 of his points in the second half, as no. 2 Duke staged a 73-68 comeback win over no. 4 Ohio State. "In the end, 'The Little General' just killed us out there," said Buckeyes coach Thad Matta. Unfortunately, it was unclear who he was referring to, since a majority of Duke players and coaches are nicknamed "The Little General."
The Tampa Bay Rays just did something no other team had ever done before: They marched into Fenway Park and held the Red Sox to three hits or fewer, three games in a row. Their starters just missed tossing three consecutive complete games against one of the best offenses in baseball, and the Rays are now on pace to win 88 games in what will likely be another solid season.
Too bad none of this makes a lick of difference. Not when your team plays in the AL East.