How many times in 2009 have we been at this juncture? How many times have the Atlanta Braves climbed back in the standings and laced a fainted city with hope? How many times has this team been so close to clinching a hold and gaining a victory, only to have its heart ripped out? Too many.
The Atlanta Braves have a new campaign for this year's push: Believe. They are asking Braves fans everywhere to catch on to a slogan, get out to Turner Field, and support the team as they try and erase a two-game deficit in the NL Wild Card standings. They are asking us to erase all the pain from this season and for all the fans to come out of whatever cave we fled to after the season turned south a few weeks back, and believe once again in this club.
Why should we?
Because this time is different.
This push isn't like the other ones. This one isn't backed by a lackadaisical offensive effort and a bullpen that seems unfocused. This one isn't about gaining some ground on the impossible to catch Philadelphia Phillies or just throwing our name out into the competitive pool. This chase, is for pride in a coach, pride in a city, and pride in a team strung together and stitched up over the past 12 months.
Ask any baseball analyst sitting at an office desk for ESPN or Yahoo! Sports. Ask them what would happen if the Braves were to make the postseason. The answers would all carry the same message: this team would be dangerous. This team has the type of clutch pitching and hot hitters to take down the big dogs who reside atop the NL. This team feels like it can play with anyone right now, and we should believe in them because they know what is at stake.
Once upon a time, this team was a dynasty, with a ruler (Bobby Cox) who sat on a baseball goldmine of talent and racked up pennants at an alarming pace. This general is in his final days with the troops, and they want to send him off right.
This team owes it to Atlanta, a city who's fans may not go to the ballpark when foul weather arises, be it physically or metaphorically, but they are thirsty. They are thirsty for a team to finally ease the pain of a 12-year drought without a national champion, and I think now more than ever they are ready to rally and get back to that spotlight.
And lastly, this team owes it to Frank Wren. Yes, the highly criticised GM has made some questionable decisions and left many fans with a bad taste in their mouth, but we forget to look at the big picture. When you get down to it, he has done everything we asked of him.
Last year we needed better pitching. He got it done in Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, and Kenshin Kawakami (you could argue Tommy Hanson as well). This year we needed better hitting midseason. He got it done in Nate McClouth, Adam LaRoche, and eliminating black hole Jeff Francouer. He has done his job, and wants to reap the rewards.
So Braves fans, even though we have felt down and out many times this year, I think it's finally time to believe once again.