Monday, September 23, 2013


They Own The East

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA-Over a thousand days have passed since the Atlanta Braves, this city’s version of the boys of summer,won a championship. Winning the National League eastern division, a drought-ending milestone, was more meaningful in light of the incredible adversity-a growing list of stunning injuries-that in all rights would have pulled a lesser team into the cellar

Instead, with baby-faced Craig Kimbrell’s blazing fastball striking out the final batter, the celebration began. Years have passed since the Champagne bottles were spraying over players, coaches and reporters and what a sight it was.
I silently dedicated the moment to my late mother, as a devoted Braves fan as existed on this planet. During the Braves 1991 run, she surfaced as a devotee. Ever the quientessential lady, there was no war paint, never any feathers in her hair. She smiled when her team won and ached when they lost.

I confess terrible behavior with this team’s losses or mistakes. I embarrassed myself with rants about Dan Uggla’s helicopter swings, hitting nothing but air and the Upton brothers chasing balls all over the outfield. But I’ve confined all this to my living room, pledging to be a better sport. (I need help.)

The appearance of Jason Heywrd in the lineup after having his jaw shattered by a ball to the face in New York won me over. Seeing this young man suit up with metal plates still in his face is inspirational. He didn’t have to do it and no right thinking person would think badly of him if he took over months to recover. But, there he was in the outfield and at the plate, running like a jackrabbit when lesser athletes sit out games, disabled with hangnails or as Lewis Grizzard once observed, the “dreaded Heinekenitis.”.

Maybe there is something special about this edition of the Braves. After all, the ’91 team was not expected to do much .and came close to winning the World Series, producing legends like Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. That season, Dieon Sanders introduced the Tomahawk chop and chant to fans, forever a Braves’ tradition.

Baseball is open to the impossible. Somewhere each year, a player or a team becomes the embodiment of the American Dream. Baseball is instructive, inclusive and is the one sport where hopes grow into precious memories.

May this season continue into late October.

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