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Location: The Promised Land

This is my triumphant return to the lifestyle I've always furthered and forwarded in my heart, at least, so let's blast off. The first half of my life has been incredible and the second segment will include more splendors than any Ottoman Sultan could ever have wished for in his golden repose. Anyway, fasten your laughter belt cuz you're on a collision course with wackiness.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Miss Jean-Louise, stand up.....

I knew (I suppose) that this day would come but I had no idea it would ever take this long to get here, basically the last third of my life. The Atlanta Braves have officially been eliminated from contention for the National League East pennant. I've been trying to gauge my feelings and pay this the proper respect but I can't get around the mountain. Just trying to pick out a few memories proved impossible but maybe I can slam it all in to one lightning round:
1991 started with a rainout that I sat through while trying to get over the flu and then I came the next afternoon to see us get beaten by the Dodgers, the All-Star Break came and the Braves were nine and half games behind L.A. in the then National League West but the pitching nucleus came together and the run was on, Terry Pendleton was MVP and won the batting title, the city went tomahawk crazy, playoff tickets were impossible to get, I watched a game in a hotel room in West Palm Beach, Florida in September and we went down 5-0 in the first inning to Cincy but we rallied and won it on a Justice homer off Dibble in the ninth, an incredible call by Skip Caray, attending the final games against Houston and watching the last out made on Saturday afternoon and then turning to watch the end of the Dodgers game on the jumbotron in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium as the Dodgers went down to the Giants which gave the Braves the division title, drinking champagne on my front porch on Myrtle Street that crisp afternoon, some of the finest fall days and the sharpest October weather I can ever remember, the rally house, the rally dog, Sheep-Nok-A-Homa, dueling the Pirates and Steve Avery winning two 1-0 games, game seven victory and tequila fuelled party at my place, entire Braves team autographs my naked body in colorful magic-marker while I'm passed out after post game revelry, Greg Olson signs me three times, the greatest World Series ever, to the tenth inning of game seven and we settle for almost, 1992 and we play like the defending N.L. champs, Otis and "the catch", seven with Pittsburgh again but the final in ATL this time and I attend with Erin Mohan, erupting with the rest of the stadium as Barry Bonds' undoctored arm couldn't beat the reconstructed knees of Sid Bream to the plate, BRAVES WIN! BRAVES WIN! BRAVES WIN!......BRAVES WIN!
I also recall watching the black ball of Ed Sprague sail over the wall, just to the left of where I was sitting, in game two of the World Series and a home split with Toronto instead of a 2-0 lead, holding game seven tickets but watching in the kitchen of 1266 North Highland Avenue as Otis Nixon was out by an eyelash trying to beat out a bunt with the tying run (Jeff Blauser {the Fonz: Henry Winkler}) charging home from third in game six, tears stinging my face as the Goodyear blimp buzzed directly over the house on its way to the next big event just an hour after the final out, 1993 and the greatest division race since the leagues were split in '69, trailing the Giants by seven and a half in early August, attending a three game sweep in Candlestick Park with Glavine, Maddux, and Avery doing the pitching and McGriff and Justice scalding the ball, the last day of the regular season and the Braves win 104 games to Frisco's 103, amazing, losing to Philly in a stunner, the lost '94, finally in the N.L. East and first in the division for years to come, the mechanical precision of 1995, watching game six of the World Series at my own Halloween party at 1112 Hudson Street in Virginia Highlands, Marquis Grissom squeezing the last out and the Atlanta Braves were World Champions.
1996 was one of the great disappointments of my life, not just my sports life, I attended every playoff game that year, watched as we faced elimination twice in games six and seven against the Cardinals, the former a nail-biter, the latter a laugher, 15-2, winning the first two games at Yankee stadium and looking invincible, Andruw Jones homering twice in game one at age nineteen, looking good in game four until Mark Wohlers underhand-tosses it to Jim Leyritz who couldn't hit Bobby Cox's fastball, saying goodbye to AFC Stadium as John Smoltz lost to Roger Clemens 1-0, standing there at my seat in the last row of the upper deck and looking at the near complete Turner Field from the converted Atlanta Olympic Stadium across the street newly named Hank Aaron Drive, standing there 'til they told me to leave, multiple experiences at Turner Field and many great games and the great 1999 NLCS when we sent the Mets home crying, watching game four of the World Series at 7-B in the East Village as the Yankees swept us out and one of the great over-achieving runs in history still goes overlooked, incredible teams with incredible class and heart this decade but way too many teams celebrating on our field, building on Jeff Francouer and Brian McCann and Adam LaRoche and Chuck James and old Andruw who will turn thirty early next season. The Braves had my love before the run but now I've gotten more joy out of my team than I would've thought possible in ten lifetimes. What an incredible ride this has been. I still can't see the whole thing at once, it won't fit on my screen. Where were you in 1991?


Anonymous Steve Carroll said...

Where was I in '91? Actually I was at quite a few Braves games with you my friend!

I'll never forget sitting in those killer "Meteor" corporate seats that nobody ever cared about prior to the last third of that season, with a strong beer buzz dulling my senses, and cracking up at you doing live play by play from the stands.

Good times... yep. Good times.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Scout said...

In 1991, I took you and Sergio to a game for your back-to-back birthdays. Happy Birthday Sergio and Tony was displayed on the JUMBOTRON. Dad went with us, the only time the 4 of us went to a game together.

Then Mom took us to the World Series with Glenn and Larry. I ended up on the highlight reel.

Roddy came to live with us...

It was a Summer of Love love love. (to paraphrase the B52s)

8:03 AM  
Anonymous dave said...

I dropped a hit of acid and bundled my 7-month-old baby son up for a May game at Candlestick and we got our photos on the Jumbotron in full Braves regalia. Braves won that night.

3:29 AM  

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