When growing up, I had a clouded sense of reality. I read about tragedy in newspapers and watched disease and devastation unfold live on the 6 o’clock news but never thought about it happening to me. Over the past few years I’ve come to harsh realizations—realizations that have un-clouded my sense of reality. The main realization is: if it’s going to happen to someone, it’s going to happen to me. Don’t get me wrong; I am leading an extremely blessed existence compared to many if not most. I have avoided grave danger, life-altering injuries, and disaster for the most part. I’ve dealt with only minor havoc and small doses of manageable mayhem and am still here to tell the tales. BUT nagging maladies, inconveniences, annoyances, glitches or irritations; if they exist, they will find a home with me.
Over the past week I’ve been experiencing a slight to moderate to pain behind my left knee which blossomed into treacherous pain throughout my left leg with no visible sign of anything abnormal….until yesterday when I found small bumps on it. So, I call my doctor (who I have on speed dial), go to see him and find out that I have Shingles. SHINGLES?! Isn’t that something my grandmother should get because she craps herself every night and sleeps in it?
Couple that with the fact that I have somehow gotten old. Plain, old. I may not look old (I was ID carded twice before I could see Pineapple Express). I may not technically be old, but since “you’re only as old as you feel,” I am 71, not 31—an old 31. In coming to terms with this, from now on I will eat dinner at 4:30 PM, wear my pants so high that ball hangs out of my pant leg, and will be trading-in in my Volkswagen for a Buick.
What does this all have to do with the Braves you ask? I think the Braves and I are a lot alike. They are in contention most years and are regarded as one of the top organizations in baseball if not sports with a higher payroll than most teams. But like me, their share of unavoidable aggravation is never far behind. They avoid catastrophe (heck, they’re not the NY Mets)…but if it can happen to a team, it will happen to the Braves.
From the press box fire on Fred McGriff’s first day, to Brooks Conrad’s errors in the 2010 playoffs, injuries like losing Chipper and Prado at the end of last season, to John Smoltz’ many arm injuries, to Andres Galarraga’s lost 1999 season, big time players (we are told) who haven’t panned out yet (McLouth and Uggla), playoff meltdowns like the entire 2000s… All nothing that destroy the Braves entirely but just enough to put them out of it until the next set of happenstance.
Obscure Brave of the Week: Dan Kolb
Well, he is not so much obscure, but he fits this blog too well. This week, let’s call it Unfortunate Brave of the week…
Here is a perfect case of the Braves making a seemingly great move but as their luck would have it, turned out to be a calamity.
Kolb was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 6th round (150th) of the 1995 draft out of Illinois State University. He made his MLB debut with the Rangers in 1999 before moving onto the Milwaukee Brewers where he made a name for himself. From 2003-04, Kolb saved 60 of 67 games for the Brewers and was named to the 2004 NL All-Star Team.
Before the 2005 season, Kolb was traded to the Braves for hot prospect Jose Capellan and minor league pitcher Alec Zumwalt. Kolb was set to replace John Smoltz as the Braves closer, but, was horrendous, going 3-8 5.93ERA and just 11SV before being replaced by Chris Reitsma (who himself is eligible to be DREADFUL Brave of the Week in a future blog).
Following the 2005 season, Kolb was traded back to the Brewers for pitcher Wes Obermueller and a bag of…..well, you know. I think the Braves would have given away another top prospect to get Kolb out of town. Maybe they could have sent three of their top prospects to Milwaukee and then watch them play in the World Series two years later. Wait, that happened in 2010 when the Gwinett Braves, err… Texas Rangers won the AL pennant. See what I mean?