I had planned on posting about the current Braves team and how their offseason moves were truly effective and will make a huge difference on the team moving into the season, but The Braves’ March writer Jamie Shoemaker beat me to it. So instead, I’m going to talk about something else that came up during the offseason, and I feel it necessary to broach the topic before the season starts.
Earlier this year, ESPN writer Rob Parker wrote an article saying that the Falcons didn’t deserve to win a playoff game against the New York Giants, not because the team didn’t deserve it, but because Atlanta as a sports city didn’t deserve it. Needless to say, I read that article and it really ruffled my tomahawk feathers. Now, Parker is obviously a New York fan, and if you didn’t already know, they tend to think any New York team is the best without question. In fact, Parker goes on to say the Yankees are “the standard for excellence in baseball,” which is enough for me to dismiss any claim he makes.
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But he does make a good point.
Atlanta fans, and specifically Braves fans, have a tendency to be pretty fair weather. I don’t include myself in this group, because I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was 10 years old, but even I remember people talking about how no one was a real fan before 1991. Since then, many Atlanta fans are ready to write off the Braves if they can’t go deep into the postseason.
To be fair, Atlanta is the kind of city where new business brings in new residents from all over the country, which is evident at many home games. I’ve seen Braves fans outnumbered by Cardinals fans, Red Sox fans and Cubs fans. So it’s hard to be critical when there are so many people who didn’t grow up here the way they do in New York, Boston and Chicago.
All that said, Atlanta still went to the postseason 14 years in a row. In a row. Not even the Yankees can make that claim. In fact, no other team in professional sports can make that claim. If Braves fans want their team to be the kind of team that can afford big-name sluggers, they need to go to games. It’s really that simple.
But is that really what we as Braves fans want? Atlanta has, arguably, the best farm team in the major leagues. Our young talent is easily among the best in the game, and many teams have profited from young Braves prospects (let’s just say the Rangers owe us a little bit). Right now, our roster includes Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. Those guys have never worn anything but a Braves jersey. That’s something to be proud of. Which is better: to have a group of young, able talent that suffers a late-season hiccup and loses their playoff chances to the dark-horse team that goes on to win the World Series, or to steam roll through the regular season with superstar players and perform poorly in the postseason and lose? I would argue the former. The Braves currently have a youthful team that has the chance to become a dynasty for the next 10 years, instead of expensive stars brought in to make a playoff push.
This article started as a simple discussion about Atlanta and its fans, but I’ve decided to make it a call to arms. This is a challenge to Braves fans, and the challenge is simple: Are you a real Braves fan or just someone who wants some postseason action in your city?
The question: Where do you stand?