In what I thought was one of the worst seasonal campaigns in recent Atlanta history, "This Is Braves Country" became a real life story to me just this past week as I was traveling in Istanbul, Turkey. Yes, you read it correctly. TURKEY! If John Rocker could see us now.
Jump to read the whole story.
-AJCbeatNow if there's one thing I'm known for, its always having an adequate amount of sharpened pencils and condoms. I guess that's two things. But if there's another thing I'm known for, its not traveling anywhere without my trusty Atlanta Braves hat. Sure, its gotten to the point where its raggedy, there's a small tear in the side, and it smells atrociously, but I just feel naked without it on my head. Upon arriving in Turkey, with my hat proudly donned upon my head, I met a middle-aged man named Aynasız Musluk, who approached me because he noticed my Braves hat. In a series of poorly strung-together English sentences, he began to tell me all about his love for the Braves and how he'd grown up watching them on TBS. He kept saying "Bobby Cox" frantaically and began doing the Tomahawk Chop in the middle of the baggage claim lobby. We ended up sharing a taxi (he drove, I rode) to my hotel. The trip there was far from usual though. His car was plastered in Atlanta Braves bumper stickers, inside and out. On his dash was a Chipper Jones bobblehead. On his visor was a photo of the dog pile after winning the World Series in 1995. Few words could describe this experience. Surreal. Freaky. Erotic. It was like I was in a constant state of euphoria the entire ride. I had so many questions but he just kept rambling in Turkish and I just kept nodding my head in agreement. The trip lasted over an hour.
After I made it up to my room, I decided to go get a bite to eat before my appointment that night. When I stepped out of the hotel, who should be waiting on me? Aynasız, and another man who I quickly found out was a translator. The first question the mystery man asked me was, "Do you love Mark Wohlers?" The weird thing was it wasn't posed as a fan question. Instead, it was in that quick monotone translator voice. I laughed but then I seriously had to decide within my soul if I LOVED Mark Wohlers. It was life or death for my and Aynasız's relationship. As abruptly as it was asked, I answered, "Yeah. Don't you?"
That was the beginning of our fruitful relationship over the next half week. I found out later that his parents grew up in North Carolina where they ran a Texaco gas station and recorded most of the Braves games in the early 90s and brought them back. The only current knowledge Aynasız had of the Braves was box scores and highlights on the internet. Our most interesting conversation was about the recent Dan Uggla trade. He said his favorite player last year was Omar Infante and that he hated we traded him. "Why would you trade a Star of All?," he kept saying. I tried to explain to him we received the better end of the deal and that there is potential for us to get him back in only a few months when he becomes a free agent.
He listened so peacefully when I was talking. Its like he wasn't just waiting for his turn to talk. Its what struck me the most about Aynasız. After I had finished rambling, he ended our discussion by saying, "I respect what you are saying and I understand. But I loved Omar." Aynasız understood something we here at Talking Chop take for granted every time we post. We are all Braves fans and we all want the same thing: our team to win. We discuss and bicker and whine and support and defend and insult and yet, we don't do it with any type of respect for each other. This is a forum of news and opinion and most of the content is discussion. We are all diehard fans or we wouldn't be blogging about a sports team in the off-season. However, our fanhood blinds us to the fact that a majority of us are not experts. We have our administrators, who have some whacked out opinions sometimes, that have their respected views. I have run across several posts where someone is trashed for simply disagreeing on a hypothetical trade scenario.
Learn a lesson from Aynasız as I have and respect your fellow fans and understand that while their opinion may be different from yours, they are entitled to have it. Thomas Hobbes once said "They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion."