John Coppolella said it best on May 16th. He was a guest on Jonah Keri's podcast. He had a lot of interesting things to say, but one of them still sticks out to this day. I remember the quote verbatim even four months later.
"The reason why people don't rebuild, why they don't do this, is because it's fucking miserable."
Fast-forward the clock four months, and it's been a remarkable turnaround. The Braves are 29-24 since August 1. They're 19-11 in their last 30 games. They've won 10 out of 11, sweeping the Phillies and Mets in that span.
Look at Thursday night's win over the Phillies. Tied 1-1 in the eighth, star prospect Dansby Swanson — who hit his first home run at Turner Field earlier in the evening — leads off the inning with a walk after falling behind 0-2.
Matt Kemp, the player many scoffed at when the Braves acquired him two months ago, smacked the go-ahead double off the right-field wall. He clapped his hands together as he trotted into second base.
Rio Ruiz picked up his first big league RBI with a bases-loaded single to right that pushed the lead to 5-1. His smile was as wide as the Mississippi.
It reminded you of what made Braves baseball so great for years. Good pitching, timely hitting and young stars finding their way at the highest level.
The Braves are fun again. It hasn't been miserable watching them lately. They're hitting. The defense is generally good. The pitching is coming around.
Ender Inciarte leads the National League in hits since the All-Star Game. Buster Olney declared Freddie Freeman an early favorite to win the MVP award next season. Kemp is crushing the ball. Dansby's hitting .300 in his first taste of the bigs.
The Braves will head into the offseason with the most money they've had in a decade. They have one of the game's top farm systems to support the big league club. Love it or hate it, they're moving into a new stadium in six months. I'm thrilled for that as an out-of-towner.
We will look back on the 2016 season and shake our heads at 92+ losses. We'll smirk at Joel De La Cruz and Williams Perez combining to start 20 games. How in the world were A.J. Pierzynski and Erick Aybar so bad?
This season, as a whole, hasn't been great. The Braves will still finish with a bottom-six record. There are still plenty of things that need to happen before the team is a legitimate contender again. But, man, these last few weeks have been a blast. I'm excited for 2017 -- that wasn't the case two months ago. We've reached the light at the end of the tunnel.