The Final Season: Stay Healthy My Friends

Mets 3 – Braves 1; CJ: 0-4

The Braves honored Chipper Jones tonight. Great to see. I felt great for him, watching him get all those accolades. I mean, would you believe Michael Jordan not only knows who Chipper Jones is but also claims to be a fan? Again, I guess I forget I didn’t grow-up in the TBS bubble I think I did. I, along with my fellow Braves’ fans, am not the only one who thinks Chipper is pretty great.

So the ceremony and then… they lost. I had this terribly cynical thought while I was watching Chipper groundout for the third time: Now this is the Brave team I know. Huge crowd in the stands, intent audience at home, and Chipper does nothing and the Braves loose. These are the Braves I know, particularly those teams that made playoff runs back in the early aughts. I know, that’s not fair and is a terrible thought for a team I claim to be a fan of. The night was just a bit anticlimactic, to say the least.

Watching it, I also couldn’t shake this feeling of dread I have for the rest of the season. Well, I guess not the season so much as the playoffs. Well, I guess not the playoffs so much as the play-in game. It’s making me very nervous. I want them to be fully in the playoffs, but I just, well, I have this gut feeling, and it’s not a good one.

I know I’ve written before about my gut feelings and how I tend to believe they’re right (What It Feels Like for a Fan). Well, for some reason, when I think of the Braves playing like the Cardinals in that play-in game, I don’t think it will go well. I have no trepidation about this last series of the season at home. They’ll do fine. Probably win two out of three. Also no concern with the last road series in Pittsburgh. But that could just be because these series don’t matter. I mean, let’s face it. They’re not going to catch the Nationals for the division.

But I had a feeling, when I first heard about this play-in game that the Braves would be in it and that it would be their undoing. Maybe that’s why I was opposed to it from the beginning. To quote Chipper, it’s stupid. The way MLB crammed it into the season without even making it a proper series. Stupid.

I just have a feeling. Again, I could be completely wrong, but I’m nervous for them to face whoever, be it the Cardinals or some other team. And, no, I don’t see them playing the Cardinals as a chance for poetic justice. Why? Well, as I’m outlining in this, I don’t think they’re going to beat them. So now they get the chance to get knocked out of the playoffs basically by the Cardinals two years in a row. That will officially make them a thorn in the Braves’ side.

I could see Atlanta losing that game. And, to me, it sucks that it’s just a matter of one game to keep them relevant. And my gut tells me they won’t win it, and that will break my heart. Not for myself, but mostly for Chipper. Because he wants it badly for the team, and they want it badly for him. And they’ll get close, but I don’t think they’ll quite get it together. But here’s hoping my gut is wrong. It has been known to be so.

But my gut is also telling me that the winner of the Series will come out of the AL, and I’m thinking either the Yankees or the Rangers, whichever wins the ALCS. (That’s called cheating predicting like that.) Even with the Yankees struggling to hold off the Orioles right not, it’s them and the Rangers world, while the rest of MLB is just playing along.

Both teams are very good, and you know that cheesy expression that “steel sharpens steel?” (haha – side note, I just looked that up to see if I was getting that expression right – it’s from the Bible. So much for cheesy.) I think the more those two break themselves against each other, the tougher they get.

Anyway, I said long ago I would just enjoy Atlanta being relevant in Chipper’s last season. And I have tried to. It was a blast watching them win. Good luck, Atlanta, in your, and MLB’s, first ever play-in game. May you win it and get yourselves in the playoffs outright. If not, it’s been fun. Thanks for playing. Thanks for being relevant. I’ve enjoyed it once again. Brought back a lot of memories.

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The Final Season: What It Feels Like for a Fan

Braves 6 – Phillies 1; Chip: DNP

Warning: If you read this post, you might believe me to be ‘a bit off my rocker.’ When it comes to sports, I have gut feelings, and I’d like to believe they are usually right.

Again, this will sound crazy, but I tend to have a feeling before a game starts as to whether or not a team is going to win. Honestly, it’s true. It’s this sort of sense of nervousness or calmness that I have in the pit of my stomach. Does this game make me nervous? If it does, a loss is more likely. If not, I could see a win. But it’s not just nervousness. It’s coupled with a sense of foreboding.

Again, I know there are tons of sports fans out there that think they have the same feeling, and they probably do. So, hopefully, they understand what I’m saying. When I sit down to watch a game, whether the Braves are playing the Nationals or the Phillies, I have a feeling. And it’s either good or bad. I can’t explain it except to say that it’s in my gut. I swear I can feel a win or loss coming. Probably most sports fans can, too, if they took a second to acknowledge what their sixth sense was telling them.

In the case of the Braves, when I feel like they’re going to lose, I feel it in the bottom, back portion of my heart. And it just sort of burns. And while I’m watching the game, ironically, I just can’t wait for it to be over. I just want it to end, whether they’re in the lead or not. I want it to be done because I have a feeling that the bottom is going to drop out at any moment, and it usually does.

When I have a feeling they’re going to win, I don’t care if the game lasts all day. I don’t mind the slow pace of the game. It’s weird, I know. I feel relaxed. I feel I don’t have to give the game my full attention. I have a feeling it’s all good, and it tends to be.

And it’s not just with the Braves. It’s with the Longhorn football team, too, the other team I pull for strongly. At the start of the season, when they’re playing the lightweights, I don’t worry. The games don’t concern me at all. I don’t know if they’ll win by a lot or a little, but I just have a feeling they will win. I usually feel it will go fine for them. But not always.

Now, I recognize that I could be completely wrong. And I have been on many occasions. I just seem to be right more often. Honestly. For instance, I have correctly “felt” the outcome of the Texas-Oklahoma Red River Shootout (now Rivalry because we have to be PC) for the last eight years. My right hand up to God, as all good Italian girls say.

And it isn’t a feeling that I get the day of the game or after it starts or a week in advance. It comes at all times. Sometimes well in advance, though, which is strange. I’ve even seen a game on the schedule and just known it was going to go well or badly. That, I suppose, a lot of fans can say, though. My dad, a diehard Steelers fan, says that for the weeks the Ravens are on their schedule.

Now, with all that said, what does my gut say for this season for the Braves? Well… nothing. Which sucks! I honestly have no idea how this season will turn out. Ask me again in a few weeks, maybe my gut will feel something then.

For some reason, I do think when the Braves play the Pirates in the last series of the season, they’ll do fine. I just hope they’re still relevant at that time. Again, I could be completely wrong.

I’m still nervous every time they face the Nationals, because they, besides being really strong this year, have always been a thorn in the Braves side. But here’s hoping my gut is wrong because I’d love to see them fix whatever problem they have against Washington and pull off a division title. But, I honestly, at this moment, have no feeling as to whether or not they will even hold onto the Wild Card. My gut had abandoned me.

So, good luck, Atlanta. May you win enough of your final games to get yourselves in the playoffs. If not, it’s been fun. Thanks for playing. Thanks for being relevant. I’ve enjoyed it once again, as always.