It must have gotten a little dusty in chez Shyster yesterday afternoon, because as I was watching the last ever Atlanta Braves broadcast on TBS, my eyes were irritated for a few minutes. Damndest thing.
I've been a Braves fan since I was 12 and my family moved away from Detroit. In Parkersburg West Virginia in the summer of 1985 -- a summer with no friends and a serious case of culture shock upon moving to what I then foolishly thought was the south -- I found the Braves on TBS. I don't think I'm being dramatic when I say that those broadcasts made a gigantic difference in my life. They gave me a place to be on evenings and weekend afternoons when, due to boredom, a close to desperate desire to make new friends, and the presence of a lot of aimless river town kids with an abundance of weed and beer, I had other options. Since then I have always lived in places with no major league team (pre-Nats DC, Columbus, Ohio), so those TBS games continued to make a difference, albeit in different ways.
I get a ton of Tribe games here in Columbus, but while I get a vague feeling of joy from the concept of them doing well, the Indians have had sixteen years in which to lodge in my brain and heart and have yet to do it. They never will, and a lot of that has to do with me not liking their announcers. The lighting of Jacobs Field for TV. The graphics. The microphone placement. It's not TBS baseball and it's not the Braves, so it may as well be Australian Rules Football for all I care. I'll watch when nothing else is on, but I won't arrange my day in order to catch an Indians game.
As is evidenced by the tone and content of this blog, my baseball interests have become more general as the years have gone on. While I still love the game and always will, I have become more of a wonk and student of baseball and, I must admit, something less of a fan as that term is typically understood. It's probably no accident that this has coincided with the steadily decreasing number of Braves games on TBS in favor of "Friends" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns. I talk about baseball more than I used to, but I must admit, I watch much less of it.
So thanks Ted. Thanks Skip. Thanks Pete. Thanks Ernie. Thanks Don Sutton, Joe Simpson, Billy Sample, and yes, for a year or two, thanks John Sterling. I am the baseball fan I am today because of those guys just as much as I am because of Dale Murphy, Rick Mahler, David Justice, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Chipper Jones. There will always be good players to watch, but they won't always be in my living room 140 nights a season. And for this, I am sad.