Monday, October 10, 2005

The Song Remains The Same

Roughly 18 hours after another ignominious conclusion to an Atlanta Braves postseason, and I've had time to reflect. My immediate emotional response to Chris Burke's 18th inning "blast" has melted into a calm, measured, rational response, and here it is:

FUCK! fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!!!

How could the Braves do this to us again? Every postseason becomes more crushing than the last. How does Kyle Farnsworth, the one reliable arm the bullpen had to offer, suffer a meltdown of epic proportions at precisely the wrong time? And against Brad fecking Ausmus? How do these things happen? The names on the backs of the unis keep changing but, sadly, the one on the front doesn't. Only the Braves could find a way to pull the baseball equivalent of a John Starks in a must-win game: 1 for 19 with men in scoring position! Are you kidding me?!?

And I don't want to hear the spin from quintessential politician John Schuerholz. Bright future with all these rookies, blah blah blah. 14 straight division titles, blah blah blah. At some point he must concede that what he's doing isn't working. Logically, I understand that bad luck has played an inordinate role in the Braves' annual demises. I know this. I know the bleeders and dunkers that Chris Reitsma allows are mostly dumb luck (though a power arm would miss a few more bats). I realize that if Ausmus's ball heads inches to the left, it's in play and probably a double. I know, and yet, I don't care.

Here's what I do care about: for all of the ballyhoo about 14 division titles, Atlanta is 1-7 in its last 8 playoff series since the 1999 World Series. They're 0-4 since 2002. At what point does the organization acknowledge that some part of its team building philosophy is flawed? That what works against the Mets in June doesn't necessarily translate against Houston (or St. Louis, or San Francisco, etc.) in October?

I know this sounds completely spoiled, especially to fans of teams like the Reds, Rockies, Royals, Brewers, Nationals, Pirates, etc. But rooting for this team feels like the old "Peanuts" gag with Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown. Every year you think it might be different but, when the smoke clears, you're flat on your ass wondering what the hell happened. I don't want to be the Detroit Tigers or Chicago Cubs but I'm sick of being the butt of October jokes.

The awful truth is, I don't want this team to make the postseason next year. There, I said it. Spare me the anguish of another pathetic postseason flameout. I know you can't win it if you don't get there, and that anything can happen in a short series, but "anything" always seems to happen to us. Perhaps I'm advocating the "nothing ventured, nothing lost" mindset, but geez, can you blame me? It doesn't take a fatalist to grow weary of watching his team invent new and gutwrenching ways of losing 13 of 14 postseason tries.

Next year, just stay home and spare me the heartache.

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