Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The .500 Braves are facing change. But how much?

  • 9:24 am Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"I find this ejection unacceptable." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

On the night of Sept. 15, the Atlanta Braves completed their downward journey to break-even. After 150 games, they’re where they were on April Fools’ Day. Then they were 1-1. They’re now 75-75. They’re no longer a winning team.

It was altogether fitting and proper that this inglorious moment came against the Washington Nationals, the one opponent they’d been able to handle, and Stephen Strasburg, the pitcher they’d come to own. Alas, these Braves have fallen so far that even those Old Reliables have been rendered moot. Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings. The Nats won 4-2 to pare their magic number [More]

Meanwhile, back at the Braves: Is all hope gone?

  • 8:19 am Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Kind of says it all, doesn't it? (Alex Brandon/AP)

Can’t you just see it? Fifteen days from now, the Atlanta Braves will have swept four games from Pittsburgh to clinch the second wild card and the champagne will be flowing in the home clubhouse at Turner Field — yes, teams celebrate being the runner-up of runners-up — and the soggy Braves will turn to the cameras and proclaim,” Nobody believed in us! Everybody counted us out! Everybody said this wasn’t possible!”

And that last part will be true. Look around today. Nobody believes in the Braves. Everybody has counted them out. Everybody is saying even a second wild card isn’t [More]

The plucky Braves try again to score an actual run

  • 12:00 pm Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Turner Field, 13 minutes before gametime. Pennant fever! (M. Bradley)

The Atlanta Braves had three hits Tuesday, one night after they’d managed none. They actually had 11 on Sunday, which enabled them to score one run. That run — a second-inning homer by Evan Gattis — remains the Braves’ only one in 37 innings.

They’ve been shut out three times in four games. Over that span, they’re 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position. (And the one hit — a Jason Heyward infield single Saturday night — didn’t result in a run.) Over those four games, the Braves are hitting .044 with RISP. Fun fact: The Braves were actually 0-for-6 with RISP [More]

In this season of no hitting, the Braves are no-hit

  • 6:02 pm Monday, September 1st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The Braves managed the same number of hits against each of these four. (John Bazemore/AP)

Labor Day brought a logical culmination to the five months that had come before. The Atlanta Braves were no-hit by four Phillies pitchers, the first of whom — Cole Hamels, who can be great — wasn’t terribly great by his standards. He walked five and hit a batter in six innings, after which he retired, having thrown 108 pitches.

The Braves did nothing — not against Hamels, not against the three relievers who followed him. A season spent doing little on offense reached a nadir in its 138th game. No runs, no hits, no chance.

Ready for the really weird part? Until [More]

Why B.J. Upton still would seem untradeable

  • 8:59 am Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Say this for B.J.: He does have nice glasses. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Bob Nightengale of USA Today has provided details regarding the Atlanta Braves’ attempt to trade B.J. Upton in July, an attempt first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports. Nightengale reports that the Braves were willing to take pitcher Edwin Jackson off the Cubs’ hands in “a straight swap of dead weight contracts.”

In other words: Not exactly a bonanza.

Jackson is owed $22 million over the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Upton is owed $46 million over the next three seasons. So: Big savings to the Braves, right? Per Nightengale, the Braves “would have had to throw in a ton of cash.” [More]

Good news: The toughest part is behind the Braves

  • 7:57 am Monday, August 25th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
B.J. Upton can't believe he struck out. Because he never strikes out. (Al Behrman/AP)

The worst of the schedule is behind them, and the Atlanta Braves are a game behind San Francisco for the second wild card. That’s the good news. Less cheery is the realization that, having fallen eight games behind Washington with 31 remaining, they could sweep the final six games against the Nats and still not nose ahead.

Bottom line: The sequence of 25 games that began July 29 and saw the Braves play 18 times against plus-.500 opposition — and Cincinnati, against which the run ended, only recently fell below .500 — didn’t break them. They lost the first eight of [More]

The Braves have arisen, mostly due to J-Up

  • 10:35 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Rounding third and heading for home. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

When the Atlanta Braves lost three of four to the Dodgers last week, I was very close to saying, “That’s all, folks.” (And I’m normally pretty cautious about such proclamations, having been wrong so often.) The Braves had gone 0-8 on the West Coast and had come home to lose four of seven. They’d gone 3-12 at a time when you don’t need to be going 3-12.

They were one game above .500. They were six games behind Washington in the National League East. They’d fallen to fourth in the wild-card pecking order. They had nothing going for them, and they [More]

At the home of the Braves, another flurry of homers

  • 11:49 pm Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Freeman puts up a three-spot. (David Tulis/AP)

When the ball flies over yonder wall, the Atlanta Braves are a different team. We’ve known that for a while, and we’ve seen it again this homestand. A week ago they hit four home runs off Stephen Strasburg and won. On Friday they hoisted four more — three off starter Jason Hammel, the fourth off former Brave Jesse Chavez — and beat the Oakland A’s, who hold the best record in baseball.

This was the way it worked in 2013, when the Braves led the National League with 181 homers and won 96 games. It hasn’t worked nearly as well this [More]

Free-falling Braves: Closer to fourth place than first

  • 11:13 am Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Missed it by that much. (John Bazemore/AP)

Folks, this isn’t getting better. The Atlanta Braves are 2-3 on this difficult homestand, having fallen five games behind first-place Washington. They haven’t lost an acre of ground in the wild-card chase because most of the other aspirants have likewise been losing, but they’re still 2 1/2 games out of the second WC spot.

Having already depressed the heck out of everyone, we might as well go the full Monty and note: The Miami Marlins, who lost their best pitcher to Tommy John surgery in May, are one game behind the Braves. And the Mets, who haven’t had their best pitcher [More]

The puny Braves suffer a most sobering loss to L.A.

  • 6:46 am Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
One picture, one hundred thousand words. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I admit it. For a minute or two Monday, my thoughts, such as they are, got ahead of my brain, such as it is. News arrived that the Dodgers had bumped Zack Greinke back a day — meaning the Atlanta Braves would face neither of L.A.’s two great pitchers in this four-game series — collided with the belief that the Braves would have much the better of the pitching matchup in Monday’s Game 1. Which spawned this scenario:

Braves win Monday behind the All-Star Julio Teheran. Braves beat the beatable Dan Haren on Tuesday and the eminently beatable Roberto Hernandez on [More]