This is a photograph of Cristhian Martinez with a paper cup attached to his ear. Why? Who knows. Who cares? Relief pitchers can be some fascinating people to observe sometimes. They do some weird things from time to time, but the common thing is that the motive remains the same: to keep loose, keep relaxed, and have some fun sometimes.
This picture was taken on Saturday in Nationals Park, as we all remember the Braves losing that game. I had some sweet seats right above the Braves bullpen, and I got to observe the Braves' relievers in their natural habitat. Unfortunately for me, Martinez's ear cup was probably the oddest thing of the day, as there was a pretty prevalent tension in the pen that day.
So what's the point of this post? Honestly, I'm having a hard time figuring that out myself too. I really like the passion, enthusiasm, and intelligence that this community is capable of, but with the good, there's always the bad too. That being said, having monitored some of the banter of recent open threads, and the general attitude among the majority, I have to say that I've seen and read some pretty horrendous things. Not everyone is capable of maintaining a degree of objectivity, and not immune to caving into their emotions. The Braves are indeed playing some crappy ball right now, and I understand that lots of people are frustrated, worried, and angrily concerned about the fate of the Braves' playoff aspirations. I get it, I'm concerned too. I just choose to reserve my right to blame everything on Fredi Gonzalez, laced with egregious profanity, or declare the Braves dead on the spot, and say that WE; not just the Braves themselves, but all of us as individuals, suck, are garbage, or are shit, because it's not fair to everyone, and it's certainly not true.
All that being said, I cannot wait for tonight's game. The team's most questionable starter is starting, against an opponent that sometimes looks like it's sadistically pushing down on the team's throat under a veil of feigned integrity (Can't say I'd blame them, if the tables were turned, I'd want the Braves to bury the Phillies too), and the offense still hasn't shown any indication that they're going to play any better tonight than any other day this month. But the evening holds great promise in my eyes; the weather feels like it might be cooling off, so it won't be hot as balls. The naive belief in the law of averages has to say that even the Braves are eventually due for some degree of turnaround, or at least scrapping together an ugly, nasty win for a freakin' change. The season's also coming to a close, and I always feel obligated to attend as many closing games as I can, with the fearful acceptance that time is running out.
But most of all, I'm looking forward to the disconnect from the computer, the basement, and not having the chance to read the pessimism, condemning, and lack of faith that has recently been the general mood a midst this drought. If that's your cup of tea right now, I'm not saying the least bit to stop it, because like I said, I understand why you might be inclined to act that way. It's also why I'm not going around issuing warnings and temporary bans to every single user who are getting flagged for perceived inappropriate remarks. But be aware that it can affect other people who don't feel the same way as you do, and reading enough negativity will turn anyone jaded eventually, and that's not necessarily fair to them.
So I guess there is a point to this post after all, I just had to type out 500 words before I actually got around to it. Either way, it's nothing personal. The mood here in general kind of needs to lighten up, so let's all (hopefully) get a chuckle out of this jersey I saw at Reagan-National Airport, while I was on my way out of DC, immediately after the embarrassing loss to the Nats. The best part is that when I spoke to the guy, it turns out that this is actually a game-worn Chris Resop jersey, as indicative of the unique tags that are only on the player uniforms. And that he got it on ebay, because it was cheaper than buying a brand new "Authentic replica" blank jersey.
Now that I think about it, it kind of disgusts me that Resop wore #39, because he was more or less putrid for the Braves. It's going to take at least another season of Jonny Venters excellence to erase all the bad mojo for #39, just like it took a few seasons for Jair Jurrjens to scrub out #49.
I'd say I'd love to suggest a meeting place for those of us whom are also going to tonight's game, but seeing how successful those always turn out, I'd say "look for me," but it's not like I'm going to be wandering around in something so very easily identifiable, so we'll leave it to brainstorming in the comments. But watching a win is always more enjoyable with fellow basement dwellers.
Apparently I was naive
To think that leaving the keyboard behind and going to the warm welcoming ballpark would leave all the negativity behind.
I'm not sure what it looked like in the Open Thread, but when Chase Utley hit his first-inning home run off of Derek Lowe, I imagine it was a lot like what I saw at the ballpark. Fans immediately began booing, murmurs of hateful remarks towards Lowe could be heard, and the general atmosphere of the park immediately felt as if twenty runners were on base, and Utley's homer brought them all home. I know the Braves are struggling mightily offensively, but even I had faith that a single, first-inning run could be overcome if the team could get even a modicum of their hitting prowess back.
As the runs mounted off of Lowe, the vitriol in the stands grew and grew, and I hate to say like I'm climbing up onto a high horse, since I'm more than capable of mouthing off with the best of the worst, but it was a downright ugly crowd last night. I came to the ballpark to disconnect from the negativity of my intelligent (creepy) internet friends, but instead traded off to receive the negativity of irate people in the stands, who actually paid money for this kind of performance so they feel entitled. If you didn't know by now, Derek Lowe was booed heavily and frequently, among other unpleasant words. Fredi Gonzalez got a rousing cheer when he came out to relieve Lowe, but once Lowe began the walk to the dugout, the boos rained down again.
The choir group that sang the national anthem prior to the game tried to get "We Will Rock You" started while the Braves were batting. Aside from their group, nobody around them joined so much as to clap with the beat. An inning after Derek Lowe was pulled, some lone drunk high up in 403 began chanting "DEREK SUCKS." Seconds later, numerous people joined in.
The biggest cheer of the night came when it was revealed that Houston had jumped to a 5-0 lead on the Cardinals. Unfortunately, that didn't last too long, which elicited more boos.
The atmosphere of Turner Field was downtrodden, weary, and overall negative last night, despite my hopes that better fortunes awaited at the park itself. Now I like the tangible and quantifiable, but I don't ignore intangible, and not necessarily explainable, so here's some pretty karmic shit coming here: If it were ever possible for negative energy to negatively affect the physical, yesterday really was it. We've all seen the Braves' players body language throughout a slumping month that makes the scoreless April of 2010 look like a buffet, but imagine knowing that things aren't right with your baseball skills, but all while your home crowd fans are either booing you, and believing that you have no chance in hell. Or both.
The underlying feelings I had leaving the ballpark yesterday was that it was an ugly, ugly night, both on the field and in the crowd, and that it was all kind of saddening and a little disgusting, overall. Not exactly what I was hoping for when I looked forward to disconnecting from the computer. The pessimistic defeatist attitude that affects a lot of folks here at TC has permeated far beyond the internets and well into Braves Country, and frankly, it just sucks.
The funny thing is that in spite of the tie standings, going into tonight's game is exactly the same scenario as last night's game: A Braves win, and a Cardinals loss = playoffs. The one game safety net is gone now, but even a loss is forgivable as long as the Cardinals also lose.
To answer those who say it doesn't matter if the Braves make the playoffs because they're probably just going to get swept, that may very well be the case, but I'd prefer that the Braves got swept rather than be lumped up with tragic collapses; LDS failures aren't exactly exceptional, four teams go home every year, whether it's in three or five games.
I'm disconnecting tonight as well, and still looking forward to it greatly, regardless of what kind of negative vibe will be wafting around the Ted tonight. There's plenty of reason to be optimistic, with Huddy taking the hill. The Phillies are trotting out Joe Blanton and the bullpen army, which hopefully will exploit inexperienced arms, and not Braves batting impatience. All while the Astros are trotting out a hot Brett Myers, who is tearing through September with a sub-2.00 ERA, sub-.200 batting average against, .78 WHIP, and a season's best 7.00 K/BB ratio who would probably love to win a Pitcher of the Month award.
The Braves needed to wait until game 162 to clinch last year, so all of this shouldn't be that much of a new thing. Sure it's frustrating, but a repeat of last year would be pretty kosher in my book.
I'll be wandering around in the upper deck mostly tonight, so if you see someone rocking a green Lynchburg Hillcats cap, that'll probably be me. Say hello if you see me. Hey, if the team is performing at the level of a High-A team against major leaguers, may as well support the appropriate skill level, and hope to be blown away.
To end this preach on a high note, yesterday, there was a guy in Section 433 dressed as Jesus Christ. He was carrying a sign that said "Even I don't like the Phillies." I lol'd, and I hope this makes some of you too. The team might not deserve your support in your opinions, but don't let that stop you from having a little faith that a win is possible.