This has been one hell of an off-season for the Atlanta Braves. I'm not gonig to make anyone groan by recapping all the failures; instead, I'm going to take a look at the significant series we'll see in the first half. Call it, reasons to cheer and reasons to jeer (mainly jeer).
- April 5th - We open'er up in Philly as the visiting team in the first game of the season (for the second season in a row) against the defending World Series champs. My guess is Derek Lowe vs. Cole Hamels, should be a great game.
- The ease of April - To say we have an easy schedule in April would be an understatement. We have a really easy schedule. After playing the Phils we play only two teams that had winning records in 2008, and we play them at home. 12 games against Washington, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati should result in substantially more wins than losses.
- May 1st - Houston comes to town and with them could be our old friend Mr. Glass, a.k.a. Mike Hampton -- that is assuming that he hasn't strained his figment by then.
- May 4th - We face the New York Mets for the first time in 2009. It's a home series and only two games... weird.
- May 22nd - Interleague starts with a three-game series versus the Blue Jays... oooo, the Blue Jays... that's gonna be a big draw.
- May 25th - The Braves head out on a west coast swing, starting with the Giants, where we'll visit our old buddy Edgar Renteria.
- June 2nd - The Cubs come to town... might they have Jake Peavy by then? It's gonig to be a Japanese media firestorm as Kenshin Kawakami faces Kosuke Fukudome.
- June 12th - Picking up with more interleague in Baltimore, there could be another Japanese head-to-head match-up as Kenshin Kawakami could face Koji Uehara.
- June 19th - The bad memories will be out as we head to Boston. Will John Smoltz be in the Red Sox rotation by then? If he is, the reunion stories will be flying in the MSM. What if Smoltz gets matched up against ex-BoSox pitcher Derek Lowe -- ESPN won't know what to do with a story about the Red Sox that doesn't involve the Yankees.
- June 23rd - The Yankees invade Turner Field, and with them comes the target of the Braves off-season affection, A.J. Burnett... assuming he's not on the DL by then.
- June 26th - In come the Red Sox and if you weren't sick of it already another round of MSM stories rehashing the Smoltz drama of the off-season.
- July 13th - The All-Star break, this year the Braves only have the minimum three days off.
An interesting first-half note is that we only play the Mets five times, setting up a potentially intense increase in the rivalry during the 13 games we play them down the stretch.
Another note is that we don't play the Dodgers until July 31st, so make mark that down as a return to Turner Field for Rafael Furcal.