ESPN Box Score

Baseball is cruel.

Baseball is cruel to players, who pitch their hearts out and suffer through outing after outing of no run support, or who watch their efforts become negated through shoddy defense or unlucky bloops.

Baseball is cruel to teams, who spend most of the summer on the top of the standings looking down, and then have to watch two teams celebrate postseason berths on their home field while they are left behind.

Baseball is cruel to front office personnel, who spend the one year anniversary of their team clinching the division crown cleaning out their office, having been relieved of their duties after a failed season.

Baseball is cruel to fans, who sit surrounded by the September ashes of their spring hopes, when outlooks once so bright have tarnished into a bleak future. Yet…

Baseball is beautiful.

Baseball is beautiful when the home team takes the field to start the game, crisp white uniforms standing out in the fading twilight.

Baseball is beautiful when a right fielder lays out to snag a fly ball, stealing an extra base hit from the disappointed runner.

Baseball is beautiful when a shortstop makes an impossible play, outdoing the last impossible throw or impossible turn on a double play, each one more astounding than before.

Baseball is beautiful when the ball sails high over the fence, breaking a tense moment and sending the good guys home victorious; when joy is evident on every face gathered at home plate to celebrate, and all the ills of the hard-fought battle fade into bliss of triumph.

This month has not held that beauty for the Atlanta nine, as the cruel aspect of the sport has obliterated those moments that once cemented our fandom. Tonight they took a different route to the same result that all but four games this month has held. Single runs in the first two innings were just to tease us before the bats went cold. The Pirates chipped away and eventually took the lead after plating single runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. They celebrated their persistence with a postseason berth, and for the Braves another strong pitching performance and beautiful superman play were once again overshadowed by a loss, and this historically cruel month continues.

The Pirates are the least detestable NL team to make the playoffs this year. Here’s hoping they hoist the pennant in a few weeks.

As brutal as this season—and especially the last two months—have been, having the opportunity to recap games on this site has been nothing but a pleasure for me. Thank you to all who read, or were at least willing to scroll through, the massive novels that my recaps always managed to become, and tolerated my tongue-in-cheek sarcasm over the team’s poor play. Also, a big thank you to Alex for entrusting Braves Journal to me once a week; this place has been my Internet home for over half my life, and it was nothing short of an honor to have the opportunity to contribute in some small way to this community.

Here’s to the Braves finding beauty in the game again in 2015, and, as always, Natspo(s) delenda est.