Hey all. Longtime TC reader (and member---3 yrs), very occasional commenter, first-time FanPoster. Apologize in advance for the length.
I've gotten caught up in the thrill of the Hot Stove season, allowed myself to get cautiously excited at the signing ofBJ Upton, celebrated the trade of Hanson, and been incredibly frustrated by the relative silence of the Winter Meetings. (I want a left fielder, dammit, and I want one now.)
In the midst of my frustration, I found myself needing to take a deep breath and to remember why I get so caught up in this stuff in the first place. It's because the winter is long and cold (well, maybe not so much here in New Orleans, where the wife and I relocated for grad school in August) and baseball-less, and because seeing the Braves win warms my heart more than almost anything outside of my friends and family. Sure, I like football, but pulling for the Titans and/or the Saints hasn't been particularly rewarding this year, and I'll own that I'm a fairweather fan in basically every sport aside from baseball. I miss baseball pretty desperately this time of year, and I miss the Braves even more. The first week of April is like coming home after a long absence; it's strange and familiar and wonderful all at once.
Of course, I was blessed to be born in September of 1990---literally the last month that the Braves could have been considered a less-than-respectable franchise---and have not yet endured the torture of a last-place finish (though our pitching staff in 2006-08 made things pretty damn nerve-wracking at times). I grew up watching games with my grandmother. My parents weren't huge baseball fans, so I would find ways to get to my grandmother's house by 7pm as often as I could during the summer, and more often than not, we'd find a way to pull out a win. Every single season, as July begot August and August begot September, I could not imagine that the Braves wouldn't win it all, and every single year my heart was broken by an exit way too early in October (I'm sure you don't need reminding that we haven't advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 2001). And in 2006, when the division title streak ended, and we had to bear those intolerable "Not THIS year, Atlanta!" signs at Shea Stadium, and then watch the young pitcher we traded for one year of JD Drew win the World Series with a team that barely finished above .500, I began to understand that fandom was not going to be easy.
Whenever I've been home during the summer over the last few years, I've made sure to give my grandmother a call, and get down to her house before the first pitch. Always seems like we have a disastrous first inning if I arrive late.
I suppose I need the Hot Stove season, because it gives me something to hope for whenever I find myself wandering towards Talking Chop or DOB's blog in November and December. It keeps me connected to my grandmother, who had a stroke in October and may not live to see many more seasons. In the end, the reason for the season is to remind us that the real season is only a few months away. It'll be worth the wait.