A Most Improbable Comeback


With my thumb ready on the stop button of my Directv remote, the next morning’s itinerary started to take shape in my mind–we needed toothpaste and it was my turn to get “the essentials.” Matters suddenly more pressing than the Braves were flooding my consciousness as Troy Glaus walked to the plate last night, down by three runs, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He’d surely be the final out, a fitting denouement to an awful night both at the plate and on the field for the embattled first baseman who perhaps was wondering how a scant crowd of 18,000 notoriously docile Atlanta fans had managed to create such a loud chorus of booing disapproval. I wondered if I had eaten all the Corn Flakes…And then suddenly, out there in the real world, the unmistakable sound of a ball hitting a bat in the sweet spot yanked me away from my mental shopping list. I snapped out of my stupor; Glaus had brought the Braves to within one run.

It wasn’t over yet.  Especially with Jason Heyward–the unflappable rookie, whose ninth inning heroics had given the Braves a series win over the visiting Rockies just forty-eight hours ago–coming to the plate.  As if on cue, he continued to inspire jaw dropping awe from all onlookers as he deposited an 85 MPH breaking ball into the stands with his best impersonation of Fred McGriff.

Nate McClouth, batting half of his 2009 average, would then end the game in the 10th with yet another dinger.

Perhaps the new face in the dugout, who seems to not only embody winning in the talent department the way guys like David Justice used to, but also a love in doing it (the way guys like David Justice used to) has ignited in his team a much needed spark, one that has been conspicuously absent since the 90’s, before the franchise became a business as usual operation that seemed to sit back on its laurels and regard division titles as foregone conclusions.

Perhaps, with Heyward’s name now permanently engraved on the line-up card, the Braves can finally put an ex through that which has been needed on ITS laundry list of “essentials” for nearly two decades: an unadulterated love of the game mixed with an uncanny ability to play it.

Ray Kelsey