Number Six

Truly, there’s only one October.

Oftentimes it seems people suspend their own set of rules when they fly.  There mini-codes do what they are possible doing:  Taking a short vacation, and  they’ll eat fattening foods they wouldn’t normally touch, they’ll drink a few too many of those little plastic bottles of spirits, they’ll read magazines or trashy “airport” novels or watch poor romantic comedies with Matthew McConaughey.

And it was in this vein that last night, as I soared through the night skies, that I found myself chanting along with the tomahawk chop.

The tomahawk chop, for the uninitiated, is the usually annoying chant and hand-wave of the Atlanta Braves baseball team.  For a good portion of my youth (indeed, most of the 1990’s, and after years spent battling with Jim Leyland’s Pittsburgh Pirates, if you can believe that), the Braves– complete with Larry ‘Chipper’ Jones– represented my surest baseball enemy (simply by winning), and even today, by virtue of them and the New York Metropolitans sharing the National League East, I am not inclined to root for them (nor the Philadelphia Phillies either).

But last night, thanks to Continental’s Direct TV, I settled in for game four of the National League Division Series.  And thanks to this being Atlanta skipper Bobby Cox’s final game as manager after 31 seasons in Major League Baseball, I found myself in the foreign position of rooting for Atlanta and wanting them to force a decisive game five.

11 for 6.  That strange math was seen on banners and T-shirts, and it promoted that simple fact that in order to win the World Series title, a team has to win a minimum of 11 postseason games, and this year’s Atlanta team was going to do it for their baseball lifer, a true player’s manager, a classier man in the game not to be found (even if he holds the all-time record for ejections by a manager, 158), manager Bobby Cox.

And so I rooted and cheered and worried for the Braves, because something missing in professional sports, it seems, is a healthy amount of respect for your talented opponents (at least amongst fans, frankly).  I rooted when Derek Lowe seemingly pitched well.  I cheered the young, terrific catcher Brian McCann when he homered and made a dead-on throw to second and held the ball on a spectacular play at the plate.  I worried when Lowe and the Atlanta bullpen surrendered their fragile lead, and when the Braves stranded their best-hope baserunners in the eighth.

As Yogi might say, It got late early, and it was not to be–  San Francisco will go on with the unenviable task of facing Philadelphia in the N.L.C.S., and, according to the announcers, after 31 seasons in the game as a player and general manager and manager, after a record 15 divisional titles, Bobby Cox will go on a cruise with his wife this April.

After the game last night, in a huge move of class, the San Francisco Giant players and organization– with a pennant to celebrate– came out to applaud Bobby Cox.  As did this Mets fan.  While next season both the Braves and Mets will have new managers– perhaps remaking the landscape of the N.L. East– sometimes people need to be appreciated.  Even people you wouldn’t normally root for, thousands of miles up in the air.

A well deserved curtain call.

Tonight’s the decisive fifth game between the Tampa Bay Rays and your Texas Rangers.  You gotta love this time of year.


One Response to “Number Six”

  1. Twelve Rejected Halloween Costumes « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] Wally's Blog Just another weblog « Number Six […]

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