There is a lot going on in the world today and I have a million memories of things from bygone days. Sometimes I remember things that didn’t happen. Thusly, I try to write about a myriad of experiences and thoughts. I try not to beat a dead horse, in other words, by addressing the same or similar subjects over and over and over.
But every once in a while, the low-hanging fruit is just so luscious and so appealing and so juicy that a guy just has to pluck it. Having said that, I realize I shared my first visit to Sun Trust Park just last week, and under normal circumstances wouldn’t be due to mention the Braves or Major League Baseball in a column for another year or two, but dang, y’all!
What a roller coaster of a week they gave us. I haven’t seen Braves fever reach such epidemic proportions since the worst-to-first season of 1991. My buddy and I spent $220 apiece to attend Game 3 of that World Series. My buddy was in the bathroom when David Justice led off the fourth inning with a homerun. The scalper who sold us the tickets was sitting right beside us. We had so much fun that we gave him $50 apiece when the game was over because he undercharged us.
Those were heady times for Braves fans starving for success, and a little bit of that hysteria was creeping back into the public consciousness last week. I mean, I watched every inning of every game and had not done that since Greg Maddux stepped down. My lovely wife, Lisa, even watched with me, and the last time she voluntarily watched an entire baseball game was the night Rick Camp hit a homerun at 4 a.m.
Game Three, of course, turned out to be the high-water mark of the 2019 season. Late inning heroics. Come-from-behind win. Chop ‘til we drop. All of the clichés rolled into one spectacular evening of baseball. We thought we would close it out the next day, and local sports talk people were worrying about the etiquette of celebrating a win in the other guy’s locker room.
Then came Game Four and the bases left full, two innings in a row, and Ronald Acuna, who could have made Game Four and the subsequent nightmare that would be Game Five unnecessary by channeling a little Pete Rose coming out of the batter’s box in Game One, reaching third to lead off an inning and being left to die there.
But there was always Game Five, and Braves fans dutifully filled the ball park, eager to chop their team to victory and on to the next series.
But, to paraphrase Chester Riley (ask an old person who he was — a REALLY old person) “What a revolting development that was.”
Instead of finding thousands of foam tomahawks in their seats, the fans found only that the management team had folded like a cheap suit because one Cardinal player, claiming Indian heritage, had stated that he was offended by the Tomahawk Chop. Bless his heart. We wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings in this age of political correctness run amok.
I have Indian heritage, too. I spit in a test tube and paid one of those internet companies a hundred bucks to prove it, and I’m offended that there weren’t tomahawks in the seats. Call me crazy, I don’t care. That sign of weakness destroyed the mojo. There is no scientific evidence for mojo in the sporting world, but it exists, and you don’t want to mess with it. The Braves did, and the team was doomed from the get-go.
Exhibit A, a 10-run first-inning. Something that had never been done in the whole long history of the post-season. Yogi was proved wrong Wednesday night. Sometimes it really is over before it is over.
I’d also like to address those who would criticize Atlanta sports fans for their reaction to the fiasco that was the five-game series with the Cards. I have friends who insist that fans should be positive and not complain and not “hurt the players’ feelings.” Case in point, Freddie Freeman, who struck out four times in Game Four and made an error in the first inning of Game Five that would have ended the Cardinals’ massacre before it got started.
Freddie makes $135,000,000 to play a game. The fans who buy tickets and apparel and support the television sponsors pay his salary. They shower the players with accolades when they do well. They have every right to show their frustration when they don’t. Freddie’s a big boy. He understands. Not to put it all on Freddie. There’s plenty of angst to go around.
So, another year has ended, and the hope that springs eternal has been dashed for another season. But wait ‘til next year. On Opening Day everybody will be undefeated. That’s the beauty of sports. Next year.
Unless the Braves announce that their tomahawk ban is permanent. Then there will be no next year for me. I’ll be done.
Hmmmm. Sometimes beating a dead horse is more fun that you think.