I love going out to eat. Food is one of my great passions. But don’t get it twisted. When I say I love food, I’m not one of those strange “Foodie” types. I’m not down with fancy food with small portions served by some “hippie wanna be acoustic guitar player” waiter. Sir…here is your seared baby seal on a bed of bear cub skin…as you requested, the tears of three lost kittens are on the side for dipping. NO WAY! I’m a wings and beer guy. I’m a “fold the pizza slice in half and eat it” guy. Every time I go out to eat, I’m thinking about what I’m going to get while I’m on the way there. I don’t need a menu! Just give me the same thing I’ve ordered for the last 4 years. Why mess with a good thing?
You go to one of your favorite eateries and have a seat. The waitress comes over and takes your drink order and says “let me tell you about our specials tonight”. And then it happens. WOW, that special sounds GOOD! Your mind starts racing. You think, “I know what I’m in the mood for, and I know what I usually order here is good, and even when it’s not that good it’s still pretty good…ARRRRGGGHHH”! Dammit! Why did she have to tell you the specials? Now you’re totally torn. You make a game time call and you go for it! “The Special” it is. It comes to your table and it’s “ok”, but you kinda wish you’d stayed with what you really came for. So much for your yummy night out on the town. Right now, Jason Heyward is that old faithful meal and Jose Constanza is that really good sounding special.
Look, I know what most of you will say. The Braves have to play the hot hand. They have to go with who is playing well. And, on the whole, I’ve always believed that, too. There’s no “I” in TEAM. The collective is greater than the individual. Winning and team success trumps individual achievement. But baseball is different. It’s not really a team sport. It’s an individual sport masquerading as a team endeavor. And the Braves need Jason Heyward to develop as an individually singular “great player”. I’m sorry, Constanza is not Heyward. He’s not even in the same ballpark as Heyward…well, physically he IS…but you get my point. Jason Heyward NEEDS to be great. He needs to be successful. And Fredi Gonzalez needs to let Heyward play everyday. I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me about Heyward’s struggles. Look, I took the guy in the second round of my fantasy draft. He’s been stinking it up more than you will after eating that special you shouldn’t have ordered. And for a long while I’ve been in the “sit him down, send him down, put him down, whatever” camp. But I’ve changed my thinking. He JUST turned 22. He’s never struggled to perform at a high level in his life. He’s a superior athlete with tremendous skill. Growing up, there were times where I just wanted to say “I got it, I got it, don’t worry” when faced with a challenging task. Even though I had NO IDEA how I was going to achieve that success. It’s all part of maturation. Failing…sometimes failing badly. Heyward has no choice (and the Braves don’t either) but to work through his struggles and overcome them.
Yes, the Braves have a team that can win now. And if Heyward isn’t playing up to snuff, he’s hurting Atlanta’s chances to make the playoffs, go deep and maybe win it all. But at the beginning of this season, didn’t everyone consider Heyward a BIG part of this team and its estimated success in 2011? Wasn’t he thought of as the present AND future of the Braves ballclub? The Braves MUST let Heyward play. Constanza is a good story, but he’ll be irrelevant by the time this blog gets posted. If you need a real world Braves example, remember Wilson Betemit? Remember when people were calling for him to take over 3rd base and for Atlanta to get rid of Chipper? Chipper may now be a shell of what he was, but at that time, getting rid of him would have been pretty stupid. Not letting Heyward play through this would also be pretty stupid.
So an open request to the Atlanta Braves. Don’t bring me a menu, don’t read me the specials. Just give me “The Jason Heyward”…with a World Series on the side for dipping.
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