I remember my best friend at Emmanuel School of Religion, Scott, used to get the Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent to him every week by his dad. As a displaced Georgia Bulldog and Atlanta Braves fan, Scott had no other real way of keeping up with his teams—the internet not yet being a thing and all. Being a displaced Cubs fan, I kind of understood—at least the impulse to want information on your team from trusted sources.
I say that “I kind of understood,” because, you know, displaced fan thing—but the whole “Atlanta Braves” thing entirely escaped me. Please understand, this is the pre-Maddux-and-Glavine Atlanta Braves, the Dale-Murphy-in-decline Atlanta Braves, the 106-loss Atlanta Braves. (I’m a Cubs fan, so I do have a pretty finely tuned sense of what a baseball wasteland feels like—but I guess it’s easier to understand when it’s your own wasteland.)
I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to keep up with days old box scores from the Atlanta Braves. But Scott did. Faithfully. Every unimaginably excruciating day. I had a grim admiration for his tenacity.
It used to take a certain amount of courage to be an Atlanta Braves fan, to go to a virtually empty Fulton County Stadium in the torrid Atlanta summer, and watch your boys get hammered by the Montreal Expos—a kind of brave fatalism, if you’ll pardon the pun. However misguided, it struck me as a nobly rash commitment to something that everyone agreed was a bad idea loaded up on a train to nowhere.
Until it wasn’t.