No one feels sorry for Braves' fans. No one should, I suppose. As FOX was so anxious to remind us, the Cubs hadn't won a postseason series since 1908. Until Sunday, that is. And the Red Sox haven't gotten to celebrate a World Series title since 1918. My almost any standard, the fans of those two supposedly cursed franchises have suffered infinitely more than we have.
And yet it's hard to overestimate exactly how bad it feels to be a Braves' fan today. 12 tries, 11failures. 12 times the Braves have entered the postseason fray, and 11 times the fans have had to watch as another team celebrates.
An explosive offense didn't work.
A starting staff of historical brilliance didn't work.
An amazing bullpen didn't work.
Great defense didn't work.
All of the above rolled into one team didn't work.
Intelligent, enlightened 21st century men and women are not supposed to believe in curses, let alone the ludicrous idea of a franchise winning 12 consecutive division championships being cursed.
After the 11th failure, it's hard to exactly describe what you feel.
Anger is the obvious choice of emotion, and probably the most understandable. Rage Braves' fans, against the inane 5 game LDS, destroyer of too many superior teams! Rage Braves' fans, against the team who has broken your hearts so many times! Rage against Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones and Greg Maddux. Rage even against the now departed, the Tom Glavines and Lonnie Smith's. Rage all day if that is your desire, for you have every right.
But no, it's not anger. Anger won't cut It's not any one definable feeling, I suppose.
It's partially disbelief, that hitters the caliber of Chipper and Sheffield, hitters who have spent most of their career above a .400 OBP, that these thunderous bats can be held below a .200 batting average.
But mostly, it's an emptiness gnawing away at the pit of your stomach. It just seems so unfair, so brutally, laugh-through-your-tears unfair that a team can win 101 games and have it all end. Tonight. Against an obviously inferior team. It doesn't seem right, and yet it doesn't seem right to point that out.
So you stare at the television screen, blank-eyed, the yelling and profanity and wall punches of a 162 game season all seeming so futile, so laughable. And you wonder why.
The Braves didn't trade away the greatest player of all-time to fund a bad Broadway play. They didn't refuse admittance to a goat.
If this is The Curse of Leyritz, it's only proof that God has a truly sick sense of humor, to make that back-up catcher the cause of so much suffering.
Professionalism, consistency, excellence; these should all be rewarded, shouldn't they? Greg Maddux and Javy Lopez and Chipper Jones and John Smoltz, and yes, even Tom Glavine, they all deserve more than one championship. Right? They deserve better than to have their entire careers burdened with the taint of postseason failure. Don't they?
And so the emptiness grows, inch by inch, and yet it doesn't dull the pain. What is a team suppose to do when everything has failed in the postseason? There are no more strategies to adopt, no different tactics to experiment with. They've tried everything, and received almost nothing.
You throw up your hands, because even when they hit the ball hard, it's right at somebody. And even when the pitchers make pitches, bloops fall in. Luck has so thoroughly ground her heel into the solar plexus of every Braves fan that we can barely feel the hammer blows any more.
We are Tantalus, doomed to suffer only inches away from that which we so desperately desire. The fruit hangs so tantalizingly close, and yet every time we lean in for a bite, Lonnie Smith or Jack Morris or Jim Leyritz or Kerry Wood is always there to tie another rope around our chest.
So to hell with Bud Selig and his expanded playoffs. And to hell with…to hell with everything. It's too damn hard after a while, even if we know it's not really that hard, comparatively.
Tis' a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart, after all.
And so it goes...
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