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BISHER: Braves go through struggles, but luck keeps them in first place

Let’s begin at the beginning. It’s spring. The Braves need a first baseman, when they could have had Adam LaRoche, but he was too expensive. So they re-tool Troy Glaus, who has been a third baseman all his life, hand him a first baseman’s mitt and play ball.

Glaus can hit, but he doesn’t, until June. Then he goes on a tear. Then he runs dry. All along his glove work has been just passable, and the Braves pull into first place in the NL East, and who’s to complain. Glaus was hitting again, but the long, hot Georgia summer was wearing him down. So he gets sent down to Gwinnett for a refresher course in third basing.

Then the Braves surprise us all. They trade for Derrek Lee, who makes friends wherever he goes. Nice man, great for clubhouse peace, but his batting average is ill. Glaus is doing nicely back at the Gwinnett “training center” and gets good grades back at third base again, but no way he could ever fill in for Chipper Jones. Especially when most of us thought he was through third-basing for life.

Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman is hitting a ton at Gwinnett, went 5-for-5 the other day. He has been delegated the Braves’ “first baseman of the future.” So why not move the future up a little bit? He’ll be 21 years old in a few days, same age as Jason Heyward, and Jason seems to be quite at home at 2l. Beats packaging three kid pitchers and shipping them to the Cubs for Lee, who’s moving like a guy who’s tired.

Then the Braves roll into Denver, and they couldn’t have gotten luckier. Not that losing is good luck, especially when you blow a 10-2 lead and check out of town 0-and-3. How lucky are they? While they’re losing three times in Denver, the Phillies are losing four times. At home. To the Astros. And two of their losses were to pitchers they had traded to Houston so they could afford Roy Oswalt, and Oswalt was one of the pitchers the Astros beat. And Roy wound up finishing one game in the outfield.

It’s crazy, this baseball, and there’s no way you can run it from a computer. But you surely can wonder a lot, and a lot of times you’re going to be right as many times as they are. Or even more.

So, no harm done, except that they might have fattened their lead. Now, they get their turn.

Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books profiling major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.