If Atlanta sports were an astrological cycle, this week would be when all the stars align. Every major Atlanta sports team is on the field, court or ice at some point this week.
This week – in both our actual world and in the hypothetical one that existed before Sunday – is all about the Braves. They’re back in the postseason for the first time since that time they blew a lead because some random role player hit a huge home run to swing the series. (Is that not specific enough? You mean it’s happened more than once?)
Monday, October 4 – This would have been the day of the one-game playoff between the Braves and the Padres if things had not gone the way they did. Fortunately the Padres remembered they had only been shut out twice in the week, and, well, they had a quota to fill.
Tuesday, October 5 – This would have been the day that the Braves played their one-game playoff if things had really gotten weird. You know, because winning the wild card on the last day of the season after losing a seven-game division lead while using a starting infield that features a third-string third baseman and includes no one who was on the starting infield in July – that’s not weird at all.
Thursday, October 7 – Big day. First the Hawks open their preseason schedule at home against the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m. This will be our first chance to see disgruntled Jamal Crawford in action. It’s preseason. It’s the Grizzlies. I fully expect Crawford to take off one sock and sit down at center court like Richie Tenenbaum at some point during the second half.
Also, the Braves open their NLDS series against the team that did them a solid on the last day of the regular season, the San Francisco Giants. The game begins at the exact moment the clock strikes 9:37 p.m. on the east coast. Despite losing seven of their last 12 regular season games the Braves somehow advanced to the postseason for the first time since their piecemeal bullpen imploded at a crucial moment and cost them the series (still not narrowing it down, am I?)
Friday, October 8 – Despite losing all seven of their preseason games the Thrashers somehow advanced to the regular season. They’ll kick things off (or whatever the expression is in hockey) at home against the Washington Capitals. It’s a Friday night, so they’ll have to compete for spectators with the Braves game, high school football, Swift Robinson at Lenny’s Bar and the marbles match between me and SB Nation Atlanta editor Jason Kirk. [Editor's note: Respect the shooter.]
Also, the Braves will begin the second game of their NLDS series with the Giants exactly 24 hours after the first game began. That first pitch better be at 9:37 or I’m complaining to the commissioner.
Saturday, October 9 – First, a big game in the dramatic subplot of "how long can a former SEC power have one fewer SEC win than Vanderbilt?" takes place at 12:21 between Georgia and Tennessee. The Vols have put up a tough fight against both Florida and LSU, but have nothing to show for it. And if Georgia doesn’t put up a fight at home this week, the possibility of 4-8 (or worse) becomes too real for comfort.
At 3:30 the Techies take on the Virginia Cavaliers, who sometimes call themselves "Hoos." This is apparently short for "wahoos." Which is short for "Don’t take us seriously. We suck."
Also, the Thrashers will take their massive traveling contingent of fans to their road opener in that ice Mecca of Tampa, Florida against the Lightning at 7:30.
Sunday, October 10 – The Falcons travel to Cleveland, where the Browns will likely be an underdog despite their 23-20 win over Cincinnati Sunday. This starts a very favorable portion of the schedule for Atlanta as they have Cleveland, a potentially Mike Vick-less Eagles team, Cincinnati (who – did I mention? – just lost to Cleveland), a bye, and then Tampa Bay. Anything less than a 6-2 record after the Tampa Bay game would not only be disappointing, it would also be a surprise. This team is expected to win, and that’s a good feeling for a franchise on the rise. Or as I like to call it – a franchrise.
The Braves will also try to complete the sweep of the Giants (nothing wrong with a little wishful thinking), but the game time had not been announced as of Monday morning. So in terms of starting times we’ve gone from the hyper specific 9:37 to "TBA," which means it could literally start any time within a 24-hour period. Thanks for keeping us on our toes, MLB.