(I must give a big ol' hat tip to Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk who wrote about this earlier today. Please check out his write-up.)
Man, the 2013 Braves really love creating and then enforcing their own unwritten rules.
Chipper Jones threw out the first pitch last Thursday at the first game of the NLDS, held in delightful Atlanta. Were it not for the mascot, he'd have been throwing the pitch to thin air, as not one single Braves player volunteered to catch his first pitch. Why? Because the Chipster went on the radio and picked the Dodgers to win the NLDS over the Braves.
Yes, that is what earned the ire of the 2013 Braves.
Now, I am no supporter of Chipper Jones. But I have to give him credit for looking at the things happening in front of his face and then coming to a logical conclusion. The Braves, who played in the laughably sad NL East, were not as good as the Dodgers. When someone asks you to make your postseason picks, you're not picking who you want to win. You're picking who you think will actually win. Chipper, lifelong Brave on the fast track to sainthood, maybe wanted the Braves to win, but picked the Dodgers as the team that he thought would actually do the winning in the real world. The Braves, apparently taking offense to Chipper's newly acquired habit of making judgments based on facts, decided that they'd show him! Yeah, they'd show that Braves hero/demigod what it means to be a Brave! No facts! No thinking! Just blind, unfailing, never ending devotion to the team! If you can't give that to the team, then there will be no one but a foam/human filled mascot to catch your ceremonial first pitch.
The 2013 Braves have elevated pettiness to an art form. At once, this reaction seems both excessive (he's a beloved franchise icon, perhaps a little respect is in order) and excessively stupid (ooh, you're not going to catch his pitch! What next -- are you going to send him a chain letter? Prank call his house?). To accomplish both of those things in one reaction means we are (or were) in the presence of true greatness. Petty, petty greatness.
I love the kicker in the Post's blurb about this.
Former manager Bobby Cox threw out the ceremonial Game 2 first pitch to Tim Hudson.
Yes, the Braves were perfectly willing to catch the ceremonial first pitch of a man who was arrested for hitting his wife, but not of a man who picked the Dodgers to win the NLDS.
The 2013 Braves have made me take the side of Chipper Jones. I need one of those Silkwood showers.