A Nice Hard Slap – September 1, The Last Day of Baseball…

For
the first time since 1991 neither of my teams is going to the
postseason. To say I’ve been spoiled is an understatement but there’s
still a very bittersweet aftertaste that I can’t shake even though I
truly feel that the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees have run
their course under their current schemes and possibly even their front
office regimes. On September 1st it dawned on me that the reliable
institutions that entertained and engrossed me for nearly seventeen
years were dinosaurs, passed by as young, stronger, and sufficiently
well-financed teams took the lead.

Jason
Giambi’s probably gone [though I feel they should re-sign him]. Andy
Pettite’s probably gone. There’s a weird triumverate occupying the
catcher position. Mike Mussina’s not young. Carl Pavano has returned
and been decent just in time to leave. Robinson Cano became Jeff
Francouer. Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon are subpar outfielders more
suited for DH. Bobby Abreu will probably be gone [though I feel they
should re-sign him]. Brian Cashman’s probably gone. George
Steinbrenner, once an End Boss and now a role model, is literally on
the way out.

John
Smoltz probably ought to retire. As should Tom Glavine. Mike Hampton
re-sign with the Braves with an incentive laden contract just to make
amends for all the wasted time and salary space he ate up. Tim Hudson’s
a non-factor until midseason. Casey Kochman’s not a solution at first.
Jeff Francouer’s an enigma. Mark Kotsay’s gone. Mark Teixeira is gone.
Bobby Cox is weary. Hell, even the loss of Skip Carey seems to have
shaken the stability and legacy of this team.

Baseball
for me as a fan is over. I’m going to watch as much of the remainder as
I can because I love the sport, though I’ll have to do it at home
because the sports bars are jacking off over football [and college
football is absolutly unwatchable to me].

It’s
weird being a fan and not having your team factoring in much of
anything except being a spoiler. Sad thing is that this is how half of
the baseball fans feel every year. Folks in Kansas City and Cincinatti
and Washington and Seattle are used to this. Until now [I hope, as I
want them to win it all] Tampa Bay was a vacuum of October baseball.

Fans
need the peaks and valleys. It’s unnatural to have your team always in
the hunt. Especially if you’re a Braves fan and used to inevitable
October collapses. This feels RIGHT.

As
a Braves season ticket holder [I ain’t renewing as I plan to be in
Vancouver for much of 2009] I was invited to a Town Hall Meeting with
the front office folks this Friday. They plan to discuss their plans
for the team, the future, and surely how they intend to spend their
theoretically robust payroll.

I
don’t believe them. Not one iota. And frankly I’m not worried. Any
baseball is good baseball and I’m learning that expectations in any
aspect of your life tend to be harsh mistresses. I’m no fair weather
fan so just as long as I can count on freshly cut grass, the sound of
the wood on the ball, and ballpark franks I’m a happy guy.

That said, I have very strong ideas on how to fix both teams but I’ll save that for my first blog of the postseason.

-
Nick Nunziata can’t wait until the World Baseball Classic!

Before
I go, here’s the latest thing I’m adding to the blog. Each day I blog I’ll
have a song, a piece of artwork, a photo, a Mary Worth, or something to
further justify your click and to give the trolls a little more ammo. Today, an ART JAM in progress, the MALL: