I love the Atlanta Braves. There I said it. I’m conditionally and completely faithfully in love. And like many of you today, I’ve been reminiscing recently about Chipper’s career and what it means to me. And because of that I’m not in the mood to argue with some dumbass who thinks speed is more important that OBP for leadoff guys… etc…. So Anyway… Here is my story about the Atlanta Braves.
My Love affair began in 1996. (I know what you’re thinking, “Bandwagon Jumper!” Well maybe I was. But, in my defense I was 6, and I lived in the Southeast; who else was I gonna root for? The Marlins?)
So my first season as a baseball fan ended just as painfully as possible as one’s first baseball season could. (Really that sucked. I think my parents let me stay up to watch game 4. Parenting fail. No 6-year-old should ever have to be subjected to that. Ya know, in retrospect my parents seem to have a habit of letting me stay up late to watch excruciating sporting events loses. But that’s another story.)
Even though the ending was so bad. I don’t think I could have picked a better team to watch during my formative years. I freaking loved the late-90s Braves. If I were ever awake for a Braves game, my mom would call me in for every Chipper Jones at bat. I freaking loved Chipper Jones. Without Chipper Jones, there is no way I loved the braves as much as I do. While to some people, he seemed cocky and egotistical at that plate, but that just gave me another reason to like him. Sometimes it seemed like Chipper knew he was going to smash one. Maybe he saw a pitcher tipping a pitch or maybe he was just feeling it. Whatever the case he knew he was about to crush the next pitch. You guys know what I’m talking about. Even a few days ago, Chipper had that look again that prompted a fellow TCer to comment in the OT, “Chipper has that look”. And of course, as if on cue, Chipper launched the last Home Run of his career.
I think its time for his career to end. (You need both hands to count the numbers times hes been injured this season). But with that said, Heyward definitely has some big shoes to fill as our franchise hitter. I excited to watch him for the next 15 years.
A lot of people are saying that his injury is a terrible way to Chipper to possibly end his career. It is. But just wait a few years, or even a few months. I don’t think it will matter to us. I think we will all remember him crushing the Mets, his uncanny leadership (is any other current player likely to be a hitting coach than he is?), and every other highlight of his career. I also think it’s worth pointing out that he was never accused of using steroids. Never. And were you, as a Braves fan ever at any point suspicious of him? Of course not. I think we can say that about every brave. Chipper is on the short list of clean superstars from the Steroids era. I’m proud of that.
While we only got one World Series title during the streak, I think the late-90s Braves spoiled us all. To win a title you need a lot of luck. We were just unlucky to build a team around great pitching in the middle of the steroids era. Yep. Thanks Barry Bonds.
*Sidenote* I’m still kind of pissed about this. While I have no actual evidence in terms of what games we would have won, but with other teams getting accused players using roids left and right, and our teams winning with just pitchers you don’t think we could have won a few more games?
When I originally set out to write this Fanpost, I was going to write about how watching Rick Ankiel flop around in Center field makes me yearn for Andrew Jones, and how I watched as many Greg Maddux starts as I could, or how I spent many hours each morning watching Sports Center highlights just to see what happened to the Braves. But I think today is all about Chipper Jones. Thanks Chipper.
*Sidenote * (Looking back at my youth, I realize that I watched mostly Greg Maddux starts and Chipper at bats. As a 6-year-old I was quite the front-runner.)
Lately the Braves had some tough loses… And hand in hand with these loses there has been a lot of negativity on Talking Chop. I’m not blaming the Choppers. Of Course its easy to be negative when it seems like every single one of our loses is because our SS can’t cleanly field a slow grounder, or we get no-hit by some soft throwing lefty with an ERA of 5.56 and a goofy haircut.
But overall, I’ve loved this braves season. I would hate it if this little slump continues into a tail slide and the season is over. Right now I don’t want to think about that. I want to think about Brooks Conrad and his heroics. I want to think about the Jason-Heyward-Tommy Hanson era for the next 15 years. I also want make a list of the top 6 reasons I love the 2010 Atlanta Braves. After the Jump.
1. Jason Heyward. I know… since his injury his production has dropped considerably. Heyward is still learning. But… He’s 20, has a 380 OBP, and it seems like everything he hits is a scorching double. I love how he sprints out those Home Runs. I think every fan should experience rooting for a phenom at some point in their lives. And now that Chipper’s Career is probably over. Heyward has some big shoes to fill.
2. The Bench and the Personalities. I love having a deep bench. I love it. Where would we be without Hinske, Infante, Ross and Conrad? Also, I freaking love Brooks Conrad and David Ross. Baseball is much more fun rooting for those guys. I love hearing David Ross quotes (after a big collision) “I live for this stuff.” Also, who wins the Question: “If you could hang out with one braves player for one day who would it be?” Hardest Question of the year. Pete Mo is the funniest guy, yet he might just makes fun of you the whole time. David Ross and Brooksy seem like just awesome guys. My Favorite moment of the year was the walkoff-walkoff. I loved it. So creative, different, and poking fun at the rest of the league at the same time. And we beat the Phillies.
3. Winning. We just went 7-3 in the last 10 games, including a series verse the Giants and some of us are panicking. Yep, it’s a good time to be a Braves fan.
4. Bullpen. Its much more fun to root for a team when we have a great bullpen. The reason we’ve won so many close games is because of the pen. When Venters comes in its basically over. Turn off the TV. We win.
5. The Baseball Experience. Being a baseball fan is different from being a fan of every other sport. We basically watch one game each day. If we get blown out it doesn’t mean much. You don’t need to pay 100% attention to understand what is happening in a game. Yet every game matters because only 4 teams make the playoffs. You guys know what I mean.
6. “ We are all Brothers, we pick each other up when we are down”. Jair Jurrjens said something like this a few weeks ago. I’m not sure of the exact quote. But I love it. Its fun watching a team that actually loves each other. While I don’t know how much chemistry makes a difference in winning, its much more fun to root for a team with excellent chemistry like these braves. One game I saw Martin Prado work a made-up handshake with another guy. Alex Gonzales was given a standing ovation when he first walked in. I love it. I love this team. I could go on and on with examples about our chemistry.
Well… I hope you guys liked my list. I would love to hear some of your reasons for liking the Atlanta Braves. I focused on this season, I’m sure some of you loved some Maddux right? Or Andrew Jones Shagging balls in Center field, or Chipper Jones Mashing Balls over the Center Field wall. Thanks again Chipper.
I would really appreciate feedback about this post. In terms of writing abilities. Let me know what you guys think.