Ed. note: For those of you with heart conditions, or who are with young and impressionable children, we ask that you turn around in your seats.
We are all sick and tired of 2015. I think this past season of baseball will forever be linked in our minds with a sort of monolith memory black with despair.
However, what we feel as solid, obsidian despair does not exist. The monolith, like the Island of the Grand Jatte, is in this case an illusion, the powerful effect of a million pinprick baseball moments spread out over 162 games.
In the spirit of honesty, healing, and happiness, I have isolated a few of the more emblematic moments of the year for your consideration–after which consideration there will be a vote–after which vote let’s laugh about it and agree that it’s all over now.
Here are your nominees, then, for the Most 2015 Moment of 2015.
1. The $189,000 Man. April 28th, versus the Nationals.
Coming off a convincing 8-4 win against the NL-favorite Nationals, the Reloaded-not-Rebuilt Braves were 10-9 on the young season, 3 ½ up on the Capitol Creeps, and staring into the shaky eyes of a 23-year old A.J. Cole making his major league debut in the hostile confines of Turner Field.
The home team made quick work of the hapless rookie, hanging nine runs on him in 2 innings to bring on mop-up man Tanner Roark, who proved only somewhat more effective. The Braves were up 10-2 after 4 innings. Our 3-4 hitters, mainstay Freddie Freeman and the Improbable A.J. Pierzynski, had huge games. Freddie was 4-6 with a double and 3 runs scored; AJ was even better, going 4-4 with a walk and a sac fly. The Braves were riding high.
Jome Julio hit a rough patch in the 5th, though–with an assist from Alberto Callaspo‘s botched double play ball–and what was once a foregone conclusion became a bit of a ballgame. Braves 10, Nationals 6.
It was close enough that all of us at home began to worry about our kryptonite: former Braves players. As if on cue in the 7th, Feliz Navidad walks Bryce Harper (smart!) and Jose Lobaton (um…) to
put ducks on the pond for former Brave, Dan Uggla, who manages to knock them in with a triple on a high fly ball to right-center. (Reminder: Markakis and Maybin are currently slated to reprise their roles as everyday outfielders in 2016.) Next batter? Reed Johnson, obviously. Result? RBI double, obviously. Braves 11, Nationals 10.
The offense tacks on another, and the Braves head into the ninth inning with Proven Closer™ Jason Grilli facing Zimmerman, Espinosa, and Lobaton–who aren’t exactly Ruth-Gehrig-Meusel. Zimmerman fans, but Lobaton (who hit .199 on the season) singles and Espinosa (having at this point a career walk rate around 5%) takes a base on balls. Thunder Dan strides to the plate:
It isn’t the dramatic loss that hurts most–although it did seem to take the wind out of the team’s sails a bit. Nor is it our unfortunate, inevitable weakness against old Braves–even of the most useless variety. It’s not even the fact that Uggla did it for the absolute, most-hated enemy we’ve got.
No, here’s what hurts most. The $12,692,500 he earned from the Braves this year to play 67 games for Washington is one of the chief reasons the Braves are terrible now. After the front office cut him loose for being one of the worst players in baseball for two years running, first he picked up a World Series ring with the Giants, then he drove this dagger into our hearts. By my estimation, we paid him north of $189,000 for the privilege.
Following posts will introduce our subsequent nominees.