Hello, my name is Matt and I am a Braves Addict.
I was born in New York, and since I could think rationally for myself I have been a Braves fan. The first time I saw Chief Noc-A-Homa, the powder blue uniforms and Dale Murphy patrolling right field, I was hooked. I had no idea who Ted Turner was or that they were the worst team in the league…all I knew was that the Braves were the team for me.
Being a Braves fan in New York was made easier by the TBS network. Where I grew-up, we couldn’t get cable so my grandfather put up one of those enormous U.F.O.-shaped satellite dishes in our backyard (He did it strictly for me and I will be forever grateful). If I would have only known that as an adult things would be even easier with two of the most significant inventions of the twentieth century; the MLB Extra Innings package and the DVR!
Since the Braves weren’t good in the 80’s, other kids would trade me their cards of Dale Murphy, Zane Smith, Rick Mahler, and Albert Hall. They even threw-in some rookies named Glavine and Smoltz. I would regularly give up Strawberrys, Goodens and Donnie Baseballs, so it worked out well for everyone.
Being a Braves fan in New York became hell as I discovered the NEW YORK SPORTS FAN. It started in ’96 and it’s something I still deal with everyday. Whether it was peanuts tossed at me at Yankee Stadium or a fan trying to fight my mom at Shea, it was always an adventure seeing the Braves in my home state.
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After the worst baseball summer I’ve had since I was pumping my Reeboks, and an off-season that made me consider Prozac, I can’t remember looking forward to the start of a season more than this one—I can’t help but daydream about Cole Hammels’ first pitch to begin 2009, and maybe it’s the Prozac talking, but I have a pretty good feeling about this year.
Through all the criticism Frank Wren has gotten, he’s put together a sneakily good pitching staff that leads all 30 MLB teams in ERA this spring. It begins with the starters; Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Javier Vasquez (though missing time participating in the WBC), Tommy Hanson, Jo Jo Reyes, and heck even Tom Glavine all have an ERA below 3, and Derek Lowe is 3.94—not too shabby.
I’ve made it no secret that I drink the Jurrjens Kool-Aid and every time I see him pitch I want another glass. This kid is for real. I just watched him dominate the Mets yet again (which makes me feel warm and fuzzy EVEN in the spring) and he is getting stronger with each outing. He exhibits the poise and composure of a 10-year veteran and is only 23. It is going to be fun to watch him lead the next crop of great Braves starting pitchers (cough, cough, Tommy Hanson).
What’s that? Talk about the WBC? OK! I am an American and I would never say that I want USA to lose at anything, but I am glad to see Mac return to camp so he can learn the new staff. Every time I saw McCann in WBC action I was biting my nails just praying he came out healthy. My girlfriend had a defibrillator on-hand and charged when he had his brief stint in LF.
Everything seems to be going smoothly this spring for the Braves. We had a scare with Chipper’s oblique and Garret Anderson’s calf, but all looks well for Opening Day, and it seems like (unlike the off-season) the Braves’ glass looks half-full.
Through all the ridicule I get in New York (I still have the scent of old beer on my Andruw jersey), through all the tough postseason losses (I can still feel that stabbing pain in my gut as I stood outside of Jock and Jill’s after Chris Burke’s HR) and through the mess that was the 2008 season, I feel lucky to have made the choice to follow this team and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Until next time……Go Braves!