The Death of Optimism

Andrew Bare reacts to the Braves' series defeat at the hands of the lowly Kansas City Royals. Forced to re-examine this Braves' team, he arrives at a dispiriting conclusion.

I am not a very optimistic person. I leave ridiculously early for appointments because, heck, god only knows what's going to happen on the five minutes worth of road between my house and my destination. There may be excessive traffic, or sudden inclement weather, or an apocalypse can pop up unexpectedly, and you know how those things can delay even the hardiest of travelers.

But I make an exception for my sports teams. They're always going to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. I just know it.

"No, I don't have a ‘reason' or a ‘rationale' for saying that the Chiefs are going to stop Payton Manning on Saturday. It's just going to happen, damnit!"

OK, sometimes it doesn't work out too well.

But the Braves have never betrayed my optimism, not in the regular season at least. Every year since I've been a fan the Braves they have found some bizarre, unforeseen way to justify my confidence. So, when the Braves came into Thursday's game against the Royals 31-33, I hadn't panicked quite yet. 12 years of brilliance earns at least 2 ½ months of respect, right?

That all ended Thursday.

It ended after Atlanta's embarrassing 10-4 loss to the 25-38 Royals, their second consecutive 10-4 loss, a defeat that sealed a rather pathetic series loss to the cellar-dwelling Royals.

That's not intended as a slight against the Royals, who play hard and have lots of…oh hell, of course it's intended as a slight against the Royals. Kansas City is awful. They're just friggin awful. They can't run, they can't hit, they can't pitch and they can't field.

So when the Braves give up 20 runs over the last two games of the series, it is not time for optimism.

When the Braves score one run against Darrell May, whose ERA column contained a number that was more appropriate as a Richter scale reading than an earned run average, it is not time for optimism.

When Angel Berroa and Desi "Yes, That Is My First Name" Relaford rake your pitching staff over the coals, it is not time for optimism. Succinctly, when your team loses a series to the Kansas City Royals, it is not time for optimism. The brand of baseball the Braves are currently playing is uglier than the haircuts at a Pete Rose look-alike contest. And the OBPs at the bottom of the order today?

Bud Selig look-alike contest.

Before today the great question on our affiliated message board has been who the Braves can acquire to help them reach the post-season. We may have been asking the wrong question.

All of this isn't to say that the Braves won't make the post-season, or that the Atlanta Braves are a bad organization. They aren't.

But 12 years of excellence earns you only so much slack. In the end, the National League East will be won based on the merits of the respective organizations involved. It will not have anything to do with what happened on the last day of the 1993 season, or what took place in September against the Mets in 1999.

Past success does not earn an organization present leeway. If the Braves win the division this season, it will come as a surprise to me. And that's a feeling I won't be used to.

Andrew Bare can be reached at

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