Remember back when you were a kid, back when you first reached that age where your Little League team started facing live pitching from other kids? No more coach-pitch, no more t-ball…real, live, actual kids, pitching! Remember how exciting that was the first time you stepped into the batter’s box, kicked the dirt around, tapped the bat against your cleats, and glared out at the pitcher, your new nemesis? Ah, the anticipation. That sweet, sweet anticipation…
Now, do you remember waking up with your teammates gathered around you, horrified? The coach, concerned but happy to see you still breathing? Remember that ringing in your ears as you slowly realized that the young gun on the mound had guided his first ever curveball directly between your eyes? Ah, Little League…home of the inadvertent bean-ball, and the forty minute inning. You remember the forty minute inning- the veritable merry-go-round on the bases, as you stand at third, praying for your pitcher to throw a strike so you can get away from these damn gnats, while the left and center fielders discuss Garbage Pail Kids and the right fielder cries into his glove, noting this torture and vowing vengeance on his parents one day.
If you remember any of that, you can commiserate with those of us viewing or following the Braves seventh inning collapse in Philadelphia last week. Not since David Middleton back in fourth grade have I witnessed such a pathetic display of inaccuracy on the mound. The inning was torture and, if you’ve been a fan of the Braves at all in recent years, reminiscent.
However, here’s the important part. In recent seasons, these Braves would have lost every bit of momentum they built up taking the first two games from the Phillies. They would have wallowed, not publically, but wallowed nonetheless. They would have followed up this series win with a series loss, at home, against the Nationals, and they would have looked bad doing it.
This is what gives me hope going forward this year. The Braves did not fall to the Nationals this weekend. Rather than giving those of us who can only watch Atlanta on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network further reason to wish to strangle Rob Dibble (and really, do we need anymore reasons to want to strangle that idiot?), the Braves left that seventh inning in Philly. Friday night was close, but the Braves turned it around and swept the weekend series from the Nationals, a feat almost inexplicably difficult for them to accomplish last season.
So, I feel good. Do you feel good about this team? To borrow a phrase, I’m positively optimistic. I feel like the team is fairly solid, although that bullpen is going to give us fits all year, I’m afraid. Hopefully, hopefully, last Wednesday was an aberration, an indicator that it is early in the year and the kinks are being worked out.
I’m excited. Let’s keep it going, guys.