1-2-3 strikes you're out
I've been a baseball fan all my life. I MADE mother buy Karo syrup as a child because Mickey Mantle shilled for them. I yearned for the day I could drink Falstaff Beer like Dizzy Dean did while saying "he slud into second base". For the record, the syrup, intended for baking or packing wheel bearings was more palatable than the Falstaff.
Then comes the announcement that Major League Baseball is coming to Atlanta in 1965. Alas, an injunction in Milwaukee held them there until 1966. But finally it arrived, only it was usually in the form of the opponents except for the playoff year of 1969 when we lost to the miracle Mets . Our most memorable moment was arguing successfully that Mack Jones had been hit by a pitch because the baseball had a smidge of black shoe polish on it.
Yet, every year there was a phenom waiting in the wings who was going to be "the next BIG THING" or we had given away the next big thing for some faded or jinxed superstar. Were it not for Chipper, Dale Murphy, and possibly Ronald Acuna Jr, it has been a long dry spell. Oh we had the true pre ped homerun king in the Hammer, Henry Louis Aaron but he really belonged to Milwaukee.
We had a few that shone brightly for awhile like a comet, but none that were truly stars. Forthwith, I give you my all time Braves Bust Team. The shoulda, woulda, coulda that for reason never did team. We won't all agree and I've likely missed some real duds but, here we go.
I'll start with the outfield, and in my mind, the biggest bust ever, Brad Komminsk. He was by all accounts, THE CAN'T MISS KID. How could so many have been so wrong? As it turns out, he had slider bat speed, could only hit the curves that hung, and dead red only if they threw where he was swinging.
Jeff Francoeur...Sports Illustrated called him "The Natural ". Home town kid. Hit the bigs with a million dollar smile and an arm to match. He had a phenomenal rookie year and now.....He is barely 35 and is an announcer.
Tie: The Upton Brothers. Take your pick. I'm tempted to throw in Andruw Jones here who for 5 years was the best centerfielder in baseball. Then one spring he shows up fat with more tats than a South Atlanta Stripper, which is where he had spent the offseason.
3B Bob Horner #1 pick in the draft, straight to The Show, homered in his first game and yet, never neared his potential.
SS Pat Rocket. Jeez what a name for a star. Alas, that's the closest he ever came
2B Larvell:Sugar Bear" Blanks. He was going to make us forget Felix Millan and hold that spot for 10 years. He never made it to the All Star Break
1B Nick Esasky....Curse of the Braves....signs big contract....contracts an inner ear infection which led to full time vertigo. He played 9 games. Later taught Pascual Perez to drive
C Jarrod Saltalamacchio.....more hype than Komminsk. He was blocked by McCann and traded away. Played for 7 Major League teams and holds the position player record for striking out in 28 straight games.
RHP Tom Seaver. Oh yes, he was a Brave. Drafted as an underclassman and signed one day after fall semester started which Mary and The Lamb, was against the rules. Taken from the Braves and thrown back into a bogus draft where somehow the Mets landed him. Sadly, he has been recently been diagnosed with full blown dementia, the result of Lymes Disease!
LHP Steve Avery....young and supremely talented, a member of perhaps the greatest starting staff of the 20th century, he just faded away. Had all the tools, lost his tool belt.
So, there they are The Boys of The Summer of my discontent.
Tune in next time for a thrilling matchup:
Martha Stewart vs Paula Deen