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On Tommy Hanson, who helped me find my way seven years ago

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In the winter of 2008, I was 17 years old.

I got confused about the proper usage of their, there and they're. I understood the difference between your and you're, but I didn't care. Why should I?

In the winter of 2008, the Braves were also involved in trade rumors to land Padres ace Jake Peavy.

Being a fan of 17 years, I was instantly curious about bringing Peavy to Atlanta. It had been years since the club had the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz trio to piss off hitters every five days. I wanted that level of dominance again. Peavy would be the ace the Braves so desperately needed.

But the problem was that the cost was going to be Tommy Hanson, arguably the game's best prospect at the time, armed with a disgusting fastball-curveball combination out of a lanky 6'6 frame. He wouldn't be moved under any circumstance.

I had never heard of Tommy Hanson before the 2008 offseason. I followed the team on TBS, but this was before the days of established baseball blogs and Twitter, where news about an emerging prospect could reach thousands within seconds. I didn't know about Tommy Hanson the same way I do the Braves' top prospects now.

The 2008 offseason sticks out to me not because of the Tommy Hanson rumors, but because it guided me to my love of writing.

I didn't get excited about too much when I was 17.

High school kinda sucked.

I was overweight and not as good at sports as I once was.

I had no idea what my future would hold, and, honestly, I didn't really care.

Tommy Hanson was so good and so exciting that it gave me something to get fully invested in. I was all-in.

I started to write about baseball after that 2008 offseason. I'm sure it was horrible. Hopefully those articles and blog entries are so buried in Google that they never appear again.

But even as a terrible 17-year-old writer, it gave me something to be passionate about. It gave me something to get better at each day.

Tommy Hanson helped guide me to where I'm at now, which is a good place. I won't be able to thank him for that, but I would like to think he knew his impact on me was far more than just balls and strikes.

Twenty-nine years of age is far too young. You will be missed.