I’ll never stop feeling excitement at the beginning of a new baseball season, but I have to admit … I’ve never been less pumped for the start of a year than I am for this 2016 Atlanta Braves campaign.
It’s not that I don’t believe in what the Braves are doing; they have a long-term plan, and they’re in the process of executing it. I can see that. Both the Astros and the Cubs ended up in the playoffs last year and expect to contend this year, so we’re currently seeing teams that engaged in long-term rebuilds begin to experience success after sitting through victory-scarce seasons like the one upon which these Braves are about to embark.
I’m not suggesting the Braves’ rebuild is exactly comparable to what those two clubs have done, but each rebuilding process is rooted in the fundamental idea of tearing it down and building back up with the plethora of young talent acquired during said tear-down. Seeing those franchises find the light at the end of the tunnel gives me hope that what the Braves are doing can also be successful.
So I know I'm going to be patient. I know I’m not going to be disappointed when this 2016 Braves team loses many more games than it wins. I know I’m not going to be one of those clueless fans who leaves angry comments — "OMG WHY DID YOU GET RID OF JULIO HES ARE BEST PITCHER NOW WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?" — when most tradable chips are invariably cashed in at the deadline for youngsters with whom the average, casual, Facebook-comment-leaving fan has very little (if any) familiarity.
But that doesn’t mean I’m jacked up to watch these guys play. Not at all, in fact. Not until more of the young guys, the guys we hope will lead this team to future successes, begin making their way to the big leagues. I’ll watch today's game and many more, but purely out of some barely explainable sense of duty to be a "good fan" who "was there during the bad times as well as the good times" and is definitely NOT a "fair-weather fan" or something like that.
And I guess that’s my question for you all: Should I even be worrying about crap like that? What exactly would make me a "bad" fan? What if I really don’t want to invest the time it takes to watch 100-plus Braves games this year? What if some nights I’d rather watch other teams and players? What if some nights I’d rather rewatch episodes of Breaking Bad? What if I don’t care enough to stay up after midnight to watch them play the Padres on a Tuesday night?
Will that make me less worthy of basking in the glow of any success the 2018 team might hopefully enjoy?