Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

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by Bryan Harvey

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'
by Bryan Harvey

A world of child soldiers & cowboys

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by Bryan Harvey

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'
by Bryan Harvey

Breaking the Silence: Jason Heyward and the Atlanta Braves

September 1, 2010

During last year's Atlanta Braves season, I blogged frequently about the ups and downs of last year's team.  This year I haven't said a word.  They've been remarkably consistent, and I've acted like one word from me might disrupt the delicate balance that goes into making a first place division team.  I've acted like one syllable from me might awaken the wrath of the baseball gods, jinxing everything, ruining the perfect season, the farewell tour for Bobby Cox.  But that would be vanity wouldn't it?  I held my tongue for five months and Chipper Jones, my favorite player since fourth grade, still went down with a season ending knee injury, earned on probably the best defensive play he's made in almost a decade.  He went out with reckless abandon and the team kept winning, so I feel liberated from my muzzle.  Something is in the air, and I feel free to say that I love the 2010 Atlanta Braves.

The last year my family lived in Georgia I was in seventh grade.  I had a huge crush on a girl named Jackie, who was in my Language Arts class.  A couple times I wrote notes to her confessing my adolescent passion--how my heart fluttered at the sight of her--but I never delivered them.  I stuffed them in my pocket when she came near my desk, and when I arrived home, I tore them into microscopic pieces, not even a molecular biologist could reconstruct, and buried them in my backyard like fertilizer to help the grass grow green.  I watched her date my friend Matt and my friend Gabe.  They may have even held hands, and when she broke up with them, I held my emotions in my throat, too young and innocent to feel blue balled but filled with unfulfilled desires none the less.  I wanted to tell this girl how much I liked her, and, finally, I did.  

The speaker that crackled with announcements announced that in a month there would be a dance in the gym, so for a month, I stacked courage like blocks of a pyramid--I labored under the weight of my intentions.  I was going to ask out this blond-haired, blue-eyed girl--we hadn't gotten to Hitler's master plan in World History yet so I failed to feel guilty for such stereotypical Aryan love--to the dance.  After seventh period, I positioned myself at the water fountain near her locker and waited for her.  I took a sip and still didn't see her.  I took another sip, looked around, and my eyes still came up empty.  I drank a whole crate of Dasani water bottles while waiting for her to show her face.  By the time she arrived, I had to pee so badly that I associated beauty not with the grace of angel wings but the smoothness of a urinal's porcelain, and as I approached her, her perfume was as sweet and welcoming as a pink urinal cake.  "Jackie, do you want to go to the dance with me?"  

"I don't know."  She didn't even hesitate on the words, and I found her indecisiveness to be filled with the same concrete certainty as no.  My cheeks felt flushed and I felt as discombobulated as if I were being forced down a drain, all my hope washed in yellow urine.  

This Braves team, with the unexpected performances of Martin Prado and Omar Infante, is made of the same stuff that goes into a middle school boy's crush, where the last thing a fan wants to do is proclaim this team the one because with a month left in the season, just like asking a girl out in seventh grade, it feels too soon to say this is it.  With so many important game to play down the stretch, the preservation of the crush still feels more natural than the risk of asking this team to dance.  It's hard to watch this season come to an end because each game is a step closer to the Bobby Cox era ending, the uncertainty of Chipper's knee, and the fear of what happens when the Braves rise to the challenge: there is an unspoken dread folded up in the pants pocket of every Atlanta fan.  We still fear the worst come the postseason, and the reason the seats are so seldom filled at Turner Field this time of year is because we want to make the autumn's rejection less jarring.  

But then Jason Heyward has a night like he did on Monday night against the Mets, where he went four for five, knocked in four RBI's, and scored three runs.  His second inning, three-run blast, with two outs, got the most attention, but it was his scoring from first on a single by Martin Prado, in the sixth, that demonstrated the reckless abandon this kind of season demands, not only of players but of a fanbase.

Heyward drove around third like a race car at Daytona, barreling ahead, full of steam and the passion of youth, and then leapt for home as the throw arrived from center field, his arms stretched out like the wings of an angel as he avoided the tag, and I jumped out of my seat overtaken by feelings of middle school love and the bravery that goes into investing in dreams that may not matriculate.  These are the moments that make regret such a cumbersome emotion: because without these seconds of pure ecstasy, sadness would be as shallow and routine as a yard of green grass covered in morning dew.   

It's time Braves fans deliver, for better or worse, and take all those I love you's they've been hiding in the back of their throat and let them fly.  

2 comments:

Russ said...

I understand now that Brian is my friend because of my Aryan look.

I hope everybody watches Jim Rome's interview of Brian Wilson, Giants closer. Quality entertainment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf0j1rmZVbM

September 6, 2010 at 1:50 AM
Teach said...

Yes, Russ, that is why.

September 6, 2010 at 11:30 AM

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