I posted something on my personal Facebook page last night about the Braves' loss to the Cardinals in game one of the National League Division Series.
In case you didn't watch the game or don't know what happened, the Braves had a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning and gave up two runs in the eighth and four more runs in the ninth to blow it.
My Facebook post was a reference to my sarcastic shock at those turn events. It simply said, “A team from Georgia just choked in the playoffs.” And I posted this gif underneath it.
I also won a friendly wager I placed on the Cardinals to win the game after Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to cut the Braves lead to 3-2. When you're a lifetime victim of Atlanta Braves postseasons you start to see the horror before it even truly unfolds. You might as well make a couple bucks off of it.
Anyway, one of my friends commented on my post, “C'mon man positive attitude. One day it will happen.”
He too is a lifelong Braves-Falcons-Georgia football fan, and for the life of me I don't know what possessed him to make this statement. I mean, technically he's probably right. Some team from Georgia will probably not choke horrifically in a playoff game at some point in the future. But how the hell do you stay positive?! What on earth is there to be positive about?
Every time the Braves (or the Falcons, or the Bulldogs) show up in the postseason something unprecedentedly bad happens. Every. Time. I keep thinking we've seen all the awful ways a team can choke, and then they find a new way to one-up what has happened before.
I don't need to catalog what I'm talking about, just because we'd be here for a very long time if I did that. And I'm depressed enough about watching the Braves lose yet another postseason series (yeah, it was only one game, but this series is over, folks). I don't need to recount the names of Lonnie Smith and Jim Leyritz and Brooks Conrad and Chris Burke and the Infield Fly Rule and 2nd-and-26 and Stupid Fake Punts and 28-3. I don't need to recall all those things. Instead I want to offer a solution, at least for the Braves.
The participation trophy is a thing that exists in our society. It's awarded to people who showed up to play, but they didn't actually accomplish anything.
Is there any better description of the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs?
I say we create the official Atlanta Braves Participation Trophy. Every time the Braves qualify for the postseason, let's just go ahead and assume they're going to lose in catastrophic fashion, give them the Atlanta Braves Participation Trophy and let some other team that actually has a chance to win go play the playoff games.
Let's talk about football, for crying out loud.
Handley at Elmore County
The last 10 times these teams have played the outcome has been a reliable foreshadowing of Handley's postseason future. In those 10 games Handley has won 7 and lost 3. The seven times Handley has won they have gone on to make the playoffs. The three times they have lost they have missed the playoffs.
Handley stays on the good side of that streak tonight.
Handley 40, Elmore County 12
Wadley at Billingsley
I would feel a lot better about this game for Wadley if the Bulldogs weren't so banged up. Most notably, Elijah Beverly is out with a shoulder injury, which is a major hole to fill. They can probably get by without him this week and two weeks from now against Autaugaville, but they'll need to be at full strength when they go to Notasulga at the end of the month.
Wadley 34, Billingsley 20
RCHS at Weaver
Weaver has been a pesky team for RCHS the past few years, but I don't see this year's version sticking around with the Tigers for very long. RCHS needs to take care of business in this one, because next week's game against Walter Wellborn will be the real doozy.
RCHS 33, Weaver 6
Ranburne at Westbrook Christian
Westbrook comes into this game 4-1, but that loss was a lopsided defeat at the hands of Ohatchee. It's really starting to feel like Ohatchee and Ranburne are a clear cut above everyone else in this region, and tonight's game will continue to prove that point.
Ranburne 28, Westbrook 0
Mortimer Jordan at Clay Central
Central is coming off of an emotional, high-profile game in which they lost in double overtime to top-ranked Jasper. But as head coach Danny Horn said, this week's game is actually much more important in terms of the Vols' ultimate goals this season, and last season's history between these two teams tells you why.
Central and Mortimer Jordan played twice last year. The first was the bizarre blocked-field-goal-turned-touchdown that gave Mortimer Jordan a shocking 32-27 win. That turmed out to be Central's last loss of the year, however, as the Vols won the state semifinal rematch 10-7.
Mortimer Jordan is riding a streak of three straight region championships, but they've already lost to Center Point this year, and a loss to Central would effectively end that streak of region titles.
I think that's exactly what happens.
Central 27, Mortimer Jordan 21
Georgia at Tennessee
If I ever get arrested I will: A) Not talk about shooting police officers, and B) Not call Jeremy Pruitt. These are life lessons that can be learned from other people's mistakes. Thank you, Jeremy Banks. Also, as a Georgia fan, despite the rampant dysfunction that apparently exists within the Tennessee program right now, this game kind of scares me a little. I don't know. Maybe I've just been watching too much Braves playoff baseball.
Georgia 40, Tennessee 21
Auburn at Florida
I'm having a hard time getting a feel for this game because both of these teams are undefeated, and they both feel like they are due for a letdown. Auburn has already won two very tough games away from the Plains against Oregon and Texas A&M. Does that mean that the law of averages catches up to them in the Swamp? Or is Florida's mettle overblown by the fact that they've only played one game outside of Gainesville? It comes down to this question for me: Who is the better team? Right now that feels like Auburn.
Auburn 27, Florida 17