Whacks and Kudos: I'm starting to like this team

Who are these people? Joan takes a look and who's gone and who's here and how the Braves will play together as a team in 2003.

One of my biggest worries for the upcoming season and maybe yours was:

Will I be able to recognize *my* Braves?

You all know who's gone. Glavine, Millwood, Mossie from Aussie and even the much maligned Helms and Lockhart, etc. Who will I love, I wondered. Who will I blame, I pondered.

Who are these guys? Hampton, Ortiz, even our homegrown Horacio, who was whispered about mightily in the depths of Spring training. Until Smoltzie comes in to save the day, do we have anyone to *hold* a lead? Where is Hammond, Kerry and especially Remlinger?

And then I did it. I watched these strange Braves play the Mutts this weekend and while I was peeking *suspiciously* at Mike Hampton, he pitched gangbusters and he looked super in a Brave uniform.

DeRosa looked the way I always thought he would at 3B, diving and backhanding and making all the plays. (well, he was always a Brave, to me anyway) Chipper hit and Gary, too. Giles looked right at bat and I could finally stop complaining that Lockhart got the start, so that was cool.

And everyone looked like Braves. Fick seemed right, Julio got younger and the game ended easily with a Smoltzie save and much optimism for Hampton being a super choice right behind our own Maddux.

Sunday came with Ortiz, another new face on the mound and he pitched a bangup five innings as a BRAVE, weakening a bit towards the end. We led, the mutts came back, HEY, WE CAME BACK and then a pitcher blew the save for us.

I clicked off the TV, content in knowing that in a *real* game, Smoltzie would have saved it. I saw things I liked. Hey, I even had no complaint about Cox and his managing. Yeah, I'll feel a twinge when I see the old Braves come in wearing different uniforms, but IMO, the team we have now looks to be a winner and baseball can't come soon enough. Our reconstructed pitching staff can match up with anyone and our offense seems to have improved.

Come Monday, PLAY BALL!!!

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