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Haters Ball 2014: The Braves Respond

Fair and Balanced!

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
As promised, we at The Good Phight are thrilled to present the response to our recent send-up of the Braves. Delightful Braves fan and mandatory twitter follow Brad Blackburn (@bradnarok) was kind enough to send us his thoughts on the 2014 Phillies, all of which may do little to curb our animosity, but which are appreciated nonetheless.

Just as Khan stabbed in desperation from the hull of his crumbling ship, it would seem that those still beholden to the Phillies organization now lash out against their respected adversaries. Their days and dreams of victory have turned. Their once resplendent team now rests precariously on two aging ivory pillars. In such seasons of expected futility it is absolutely natural that analysis of a foe would turn to pathos and ad hominem to shore up one’s own insecurities. I do not hold this against Trev and defer to his abilities over my own in most matters. However, his piece is understandably muddled by a certain type of envy in this case. So, in the spirit of the dialectical method, let us review and revise this doxology and its virulent reasoning so that we may come closer to the truth which the NL East (Atlanta Braves, current champions) now presents us.

First, it is all well and good for fans from the city of brotherly love to poke fun at a player’s personal life and history. In the case of the Braves’ afflicted former champion, Chipper Jones, it’s darn near impossible not to take a few jabs. Yet it seems a bit irrelevant to dreg up past and peripheral issues even with such admirable wit and sarcasm. As it pertains to the Braves fandom, any level-headed observer is willing and able to see that there are historical issues present. The ghosts of men such as Thomas Watson and John Gordon hang over the region instead of the triumphs of men like Franklin and Penn. The Braves fanbase is troubled, but no team’s supporters are without their prejudices and shortcomings. Thus, it would be childish to compare the two fanbases, and I won’t drag out the old Phillies fans clichés here. Anybody reading this already knows the Phanatical tropes by heart, and if they don’t they can just ask J.D. Drew. Instead, let’s actually do as Trev said, and keep this on the field. The field where the Braves are the reigning division champions.

Now, it’s true that the Braves are not the media darlings that the Phillies are. They don’t garner the same levels of analyst support for their play nor for their management. However, this little southern organization has put together a decent team this year just like it did last season when it won the NL East. I know that the troubled clubhouse of the Phillies may make it a difficult concept to comprehend, but the Braves are a family. They support and defend their own. And it’s arguable that if Mr. Fernandez had spat at Cody Asche with Brian McCann in attendance, he would have defended Asche too. He’s just that kind of a leader. His care for the team will be missed, but as Trev said, "I don't imagine that the attitude has left Atlanta with him."

By paying and playing a trio of great black outfielders, Atlanta continues its long history of bucking the racial politics seen in shameful moves like the benching of Jimmy Rollins and the holding back of Dom Brown. The Uptons, B.J. in particular, are anticipating improvement this season. Heyward will certainly be great as long as he doesn’t lose a kidney or get struck down by the Mets again. The infield promises a certain level of inconsistency. Andrelton Simmons is perhaps the most valuable shortstop in the game while his counterpart at 2B will be more comparable to a Pine stump at his position. The corners offer a similar disparity with Chris "Regression" Johnson at 3B and young phenom Freeman at 1B. The catching position will be shared between a hero to wayward youths, Gerald Laird, and hopefully not Ryan Doumitt. Our pitchers’ UCLs are weak, but the deep staff’s resilience is strong. So there are issues, yes, but whatever you may think of this group’s potential output, it is ludicrous to label them the Mos Eisley of baseball. After all, the Rays still exist.

No, it is likely that such irresponsible hyperbole stems from Trev’s own jealousy of the rapid development of great players within the Braves organization. He looks to the contract of Ryan Howard, the inconsistency of Papelbon, and the fall of Roy Halladay (God rest his soul) and thus cannot appreciate Braves successes like the rise of Julio Teheran and  Andrelton Simmons. He can’t help but lump Freeman in with his hatred for Chipper Jones. His fandom for the Phillies is so derivative of his derision for the Braves that he needs a villainous Atlanta corner infielder even if he has to resort to statistical assassination to invent one. Once again, this is understandable. The Braves have, despite winning the NL East last year, had our fair share of misfortunes the past few years. However, far from needing or wanting your pity, Phillies fans, we look at your current situation and just want to give you a hug. It’s not your fault.

The Braves rotation has suffered losses, but they are not waving goodbye to the likes of Roy Halladay. Yes, they have signed Aaron Harang to pitch a few games, but they are not pining for Vance Worley to come back. The Braves have uncertainties in the lineup, but they are not relying on Ben Revere’s arm in CF nor his bat at leadoff. Frank Wren has made some contract missteps to go along with his expert extensions, but the Braves do not have…well, let’s leave Mr. Amaro out of this.

So, once all is said and done, Good Phight, your doxological efforts are appreciated but have been measured and found wanting. I offer up these simple revisions.

May your move to Cobb spark a transit renaissance and unite the Atlanta region.

May your extensions be a shining example of how to lock up prime years instead of paying $125 million for players over 30.

May your bullpen be as mighty as the hanging arm of Craig Kimbrel.

May your defensive seasons be, once again, historic.

Screw infield flies.

May your home runs against be admired for their scarcity.

[Terrible highways joke redacted]

May your losses be celebrated by your jealous adversaries.

May your wins become mundane from repetition.

And if you should find your way to the first round of the playoffs...

...we’ll talk about that at that time.

And may the youth of Kimbrel, Freeman, Heyward, Simmons, Teheran, Minor (And his ailing manhood) et al guide you to victory for years to come.

I also offer my own brief doxology (And essentially benediction) for the Phillies:

Thanks be to Utley and may his sandy foundation waver not.

Give us a shortstop who is more—well, one that hustles and, you know, isn’t so our team’s chemistry.

Bring peace to Roy Halladay and let his spirit, like his salary, now pass to Cole.

Rid us of our jealousy for the many division titles of the Braves.

Give us contentment to shoot for the podium.

And let our analytics one day be as advanced as our average age.

In the name of Mike Schmidt, amen.

And one line which I believe we should append to both sets of invocations:

May the Nationals challenge the Marlins in a battle for last place while the Mets accidentally finish third. And may their expiring contracts find no extensions.

Play Ball!

Thanks Brad!!