It was a time of fear, unease, and extreme anxiety in Atlanta, Georgia. Left-handed soft tossers became magicians, making the ball disappear somewhere between the pitchers' mound and home plate. Rookies pitched like Hall of Famers, turning their mediocre minor league results into major league dominance. 5.50 ERAs became 5.20 ERAs after seven and a third scoreless innings. 88 mile per hour fastballs somehow developed hyperdrive, hurtling toward the plate at something resembling the speed of light. Slightly above average sliders became a mysterious type of black magic, bedeviling would-be hitters as they awkwardly swung while corkscrewing themselves into the ground. Sinkers sunk...well, not much, but nevertheless, they were pounded into the ground over and over again. And again. And one more time. Sometimes, they were missed completely as the batter silently mouthed what all of his teammates were thinking: "wait...fastballs MOVE??" Yes, that's right: fastballs moved. Nobody knew what manner of sorcery this was.
What misfortune had caused this brutal turn of events? How had terrible pitching become such an artform, a secret weapon against the Atlanta offensive, painting mediocre results in broad strokes as grounder after grounder went to die in the glove of a second baseman? Would this never end? Were we forever doomed to see history repeat itself, as Randy Johnson peeled back his mask to reveal he was actually Wade Miley the whole time? Surely someone could save us from this terrible fate.
And, just when we thought the future couldn't get any more bleak, the unlikeliest of heroes emerged.
July 12, 2014, began like any other day. Jerry, a newly-minted Atlanta Braves summer intern, was running to the coffee machine to get Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez some coffee. "I like sugar, so give me lots of sugar. I don't like sugar, so give me some Splenda. Milk comes from cows and I like hamburgers, so lots of milk. Cream comes from ice cream, so two scoops of that. Also, I don't really like coffee, so no coffee." Fredi's order was the same as it always was, and his words echoed through Jerry's head as the intern ran for the breakroom.
But, somehow, Jerry took a wrong turn. Instead of the break room, he ended up in a darkened hallway with a rusty file cabinet at the far end. Jerry approached cautiously, wondering why the breakroom was shaped like a hallway and why there was a file cabinet in the breakroom. As he inched forward, he noticed a memo lying on top of the file cabinet. It read as follows:
ATTN: 2014 Atlanta Braves Offense
February 22, 2014
After years of intense effort, we are pleased to report that we have finally compiled a comprehensive list of the Starting Pitchers in the National League who suck. Please distribute this to the Atlanta Braves offense NO LATER THAN Opening Day, 2014. Thanks and have a great day!
(Scrawled on the back of the memo was a list of National League starting pitchers who suck.)
Jerry's eyes widened as he realized the magnitude of this discovery. Forgetting all about his previous mission, he grabbed the memo and ran to the manager's office. Upon arrival, Jerry immediately handed it over and Fredi, upon receiving the sheet, flipped it over, turned it upside down, and took a bite. "Hey! This doesn't taste like coffee!" he roared as he spit the bite of paper into the waste can and threw the memo's mangled remains back at the intern.
Despite this valuable information, Jerry would not be dissuaded. No, the memo did not taste like coffee. It didn't smell like coffee. And it certainly wasn't spilling all over him as he ran with it like coffee. But he had a feeling, an inexplicable belief that the note was important. It MUST be important. He would take it to the Braves' starting lineup. They would know what to do.
A couple hours later, a baseball game broke out in Chicago. The starting pitcher for the Cubs was terrible and, against the Braves, he pitched...terribly. A month's worth of runs were scored. BJ Upton got a hit in between strikeouts. Jason Heyward didn't ground out to second. Chris Johnson had his first multi-homer game since fifth grade kickball. And the Braves won.
Now, some would say this was pure luck, that the Braves just had an unusual run of good fortune against a bad pitcher. But, somewhere, deep in the halls of the Atlanta Braves Headquarters, Jerry knows differently.
In a somewhat related story, a janitor walked out of Fredi Gonzalez's office with a souvenir that night. It was a bite-shaped piece of paper with "Kyle Kendrick" scrawled across it. Nobody really knows what the janitor did with that piece of paper, but it's probably not that important.