I predicted a homerun.
In the waning moments of the latest installment of “October Braves Collapse,” the shot cuts to Andrelton Simmons. Rafael Furcal 2.0 (or maybe a poor man’s Neftali Feliz?), a man who had turned 3 years old probably a month before Francisco Cabrera made all my childhood dreams come true while at the same time banishing the Pittsburgh Pirate organization into baseball purgatory, strolls to the plate. Being at a social gathering filled with Braves fans with varying degrees of interest, I lean over to the closest person to inform them that yes, Andrelton is about to tie the game with a three run homerun. I am not one normally to participate in such a worthless endeavor, but I had a feeling something big was about to happen.
… four days later.
The general consensus of the American sports scene, in my opinion, views the Atlanta (Braves) sports fan as the prototypical “fair weather fan.” I’ll let Urban dictionary clarify:
A fan of a sports team who only shows support when the team is doing well.
During hard times they usually jump on the bandwagon of other teams.
They basically have no real loyalty to the team, but still manage to get better
seats than you at the game. Strangely they mysteriously vanish at the first sign
If fair weather is our baseline, then we can likely deduce that when Random Sports Fan X in Sierra, Nevada has a fleeting thought in reflection of this year’s Infield Fly Rule Game, he may always remember Braves fans to not only be fair-weather in nature, but also classless and even dangerous plastic bottle throwers.
Who cares, right? Chiefs fans cheered an injury to their starting quarterback this past Sunday, and while that information was important enough for me to recall now, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. But, it occurs to me that I am at a good position to shed light on why the Atlanta Braves fan base responded so strongly to this game.
I categorically deny the title fair-weather fan. It is akin to calling a business man bad at business. For, if we as fans cannot stick with our chosen teams through thick and thin, can we really even be called fans in the first place? As a fan, my only job is to root for a team. I need(ed) a better term to represent my angst but consistency as a sports fan.
I don’t think I coined this term. Like most ideas I’ve had, I assume someone smarter and older thought of it first. The term is weathered fan. As a weathered fan, I am at once both always hopeful and always pessimistic of the outcome in relation to my favorite teams. As an avid sports fan for the last twenty years, I have experienced enough downs without the ups to balance them out to understand that things so rarely work out like I hope. I find that when faced with the decision of whether I am going to allow myself the luxury of dreaming the impossible (Chipper leading the World Series parade down Peachtree, Roddy White keeping both feet in to win the Super Bowl, Jarvis Jones sacking Matt Barkley on 4th and long to win the National Championship, Josh Smith leading… haha nevermind on that one), I am usually trying to hide my pessimism from others so as not to ruin their own sports experience.
The unprecedented run upon which the Braves found themselves in the postseason for 14 consecutive seasons, in relation to my life, happened from ages 10 – 24. In other words, I didn’t have a chance. Every October was spent living and dying with every rally or defeat. And Atlanta, as a sports city, most recently experienced the same thing.
During a 14 year reign that only equaled one World Series Championship, we became spoiled and jaded. We got so much of what we wanted (the Playoffs) but never got the final payoff (the Championships). The Braves, with all their success, provided themselves more chances than any other team to fail on the big stage. Fail when we needed them most.
Hollywood gave Atlanta reason to break their own unwritten rules, and dream of a World Series. What more fitting end to the reign of one of the most popular modern day baseball players than with a World Series title. We did not want to allow ourselves to picture it, but with a 19-7 September record, Kris Medlen and Craig Kimbrel, and our golden boy Larry Jones, we let ourselves dream the impossible. And we should have known better.