Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Official End of An Era

Later this month I will turn 20 years old. I'll be halfway to 40.

Tomorrow will mark the first day of my life where either Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux or John Smoltz (or some combination of the three) were not members of the Atlanta Braves.

I am heart broken.

With Tom Glavine's release due to recurring injury problems, the Atlanta Braves officially ended an era that defined almost two decades of baseball in the south east.

The Braves, as we all know, are the official team of all things southern. Being the only professional baseball team below Washington DC, above Florida, and as far west as Texas will certainly do that.

I was born in Atlanta and lived there until I was 5. I have faint memories of Fulton County stadium, and a picture autographed by Mark Lemke.

I grew up on the Braves.

I grew up watching the most dominant pitching trio baseball has ever seen.

They have combined for 810 total wins and 147 saves (thanks Smoltz).

They won 6 straight Cy Young Awards (one of Maddux's was with the Cubs). 7 out of 10 of baseball's most prestigious pitching honor in the 1990's.

They brought the only professional championship to the city of Atlanta.

They fueled an era of unprecedented dominance, winning 14 consecutive National League East Titles.

Most importantly these guys did it "the right way." In an era in which recent baseball headlines have been fraught with steroid controversies, and some of the greatest players of the past generation have been given a black mark, these three have kept their names blemish free. Although baseball players seem to be guilty until proven innocent, I have a very hard time believing any of these three have ever used a performance enhancing drug. Which makes their combined dominance even more astonishing.

Right now I am somewhat at a loss for words. Although the luster of their greatness has waned over the past few years as the three have battled injuries consistent with being over 40 years old and pitching, having at least one of them on the Braves was always comforting. Now that they are all gone, the Braves seem so much more unfamiliar. A 20 year constant has now been altered forever, and I am unsure of how to respond.

But for now at least they still have Chipper. But what will I do when he retires?

I shudder at the thought.

(PS- I'm going to be writing a column for my school's newspaper on this exact subject. There will probably be a little overlapping, but I'll still post it on Sunday when I'm finished)

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