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Column: Braves give us reason to pay attention to September baseball

The views of the author are not necessarily the views of AllOnGeorgia.

Pro Roof GA

I got so wrapped up in football last week with the college season starting and the high school season in full swing that I forgot about all other sports including baseball.

That’s not hard to do this time of year, and with the NFL getting started this week, King Football will be in full swing with prep, college and professional football making headlines in newspapers and on web sites throughout the country and particularly here in Georgia.

But of course, it’s been a fun spring and summer following the Atlanta Braves who are still playing meaningful baseball late in the season as September is here and the end of baseball’s regular season is near.

The diehard Braves fans know the situation. The team is in a great position to make it back to the postseason for the first time since the 2013 season.

Going into tonight’s home game against the Boston Red Sox, the Braves own a four-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East standings.

That’s the biggest lead the Braves have had in the back-and-forth division battle between the two young teams who arrived as serious contenders in the NL East perhaps a year earlier than anyone outside of their own clubhouses thought they would.

Atlanta’s lead came as result of the Braves having a slightly better August than the Phillies. The Braves were 17-13 last month while the Phillies went 13-14 when the dog days of summer arrived.

Of course, this pennant race between the Phillies and Braves is a long way from over, considering that Atlanta will face the Phillies in seven of their final 10 games later this month.

Four of those games will be at SunTrust Park on Sept. 20-23, and then following an off day, the Braves will play three games against the New York Mets in the Big Apple before finishing the regular-season with a three-game set against the Phillies in their home yard.

Yes, the Braves are in good position to claim the division title and not have to take the wild-card route to the playoffs.

But, in the National League, the wild-card race is about as muddy as the water coming ashore on St. Simons Island from the Atlantic Ocean.

All three pennant races in the league are tight, especially the one in the West where three teams are within 1.5 games of the division lead.

All three of the current division leaders – Atlanta in the East, the Chicago Cubs in the Central and the Colorado Rockies in the West – could very easily lose their division race and also not even make the playoffs via the wild card.

It’s different in the AL where the East and Central pennants are all but decided with Boston leading the East by eight games over the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians owning a 14-game cushion over Minnesota in the Central.

The only real battle for division supremacy lies in the West where the Houston Astros hold a 2.5-game lead over the Oakland A’s.

And you can basically assume right now that the wild-card teams will be the Yankees and the runner-up in the West as Seattle appears to be falling out of contention as it is now nine games back of Oakland in the wild-card chase.

As you can see, the real fun in baseball coming down the stretch will take place in the National League with several teams in contention for playoff berths.

And, it’s cool that the Braves are one of those.

They give us reason to pay attention to September baseball here in the State of Georgia as football tries to take us away from the grand old game.

Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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