As a recent college graduate, my first real exposure to anything in Atlanta was listening to Jimmy Buffett’s “You Had to Be There” double album recorded at the Fox Theatre in 1978.
If there were a recording of the Atlanta Braves game this past Wednesday, it would have been titled: “You Were There, But Wish You Were Anyplace Else.”
Trudging to the car after the season-ending shellacking by the Cardinals, listening to St. Louis fans having a blowout party befitting the Braves getting a blow out at their home ballpark, I finally figured who to blame.
There are several candidates. The runner-up scapegoat was the wishy-washy Braves brass’ capitulation to a St. Louis snowflake. I knew there was a slight change in the Earth’s axis after settling into my seat and wondering who’d been a bandito in Section 137.
There were no foam tomahawks in the cup holders. Maybe there had been such a run on them that they’d sold out.
No, the Braves decided to cow tow to a rookie Cardinal pitcher, offended by “The Chop.” He said the chant portrayed his Native American ancestors as savages. The foam tomahawk and a chant (our chant) that’s been an integral part of watching the Braves for more than 20 years.
The runaway St. Louis MVP for the NLDS had to be Ryan Helsley, who raised enough of a stink saying the chop was offensive.
Instead of doing a Sitting Bull on his butt, the Braves said: “You’re right, Ryan. Please forgive us. No more chop. No more references to anything within an arrowhead of the staple ‘chop on’ slogan seen all year at SunTrust.”
Helsley managed to silence the huge drum that served as a way of rallying the fans. Robert Andrews, a season-ticketholder from Cumming, opined: “He was like a guest coming to your house for dinner, then saying he was a vegetarian and hated your rug.”
Would anyone in their right mind throw away the rib eyes and rolled up the rug? Me neither.
Helsley was the Cardinals’ NLDS MVP no matter who won the award. He managed to suck the life out of the stadium.
The team that Freddie Freeman said was “good enough to win it all,” couldn’t win three, saying, “we failed.” Surely that will be with him until spring training.
With no chop music, the Braves should have cued up Confederate Railroad’s “The Day Daddy Cut The Big One (at the Horn Lake Mississippi Missionary Baptist Church).”
The game was over in 25 minutes. The loudest cheer by Braves fans came after the Cardinals were finally retired after 10 runs in the top of the first. It was a thunderous cheer, sarcasm at its finest.
Any other cheer the rest of the way was void of sincerity.
It was roughly three more hours of stomach-turning retching sounds from the Braves backers.
Imagine eating two botulism-riddled hotdogs, then being asked to put your head in a box of live worms. No injuries, but dogs are coming back up.
Atlanta fans were provided with a memorable season from a team good enough to win more games. The most frustrating thing from here was the lambasting the experts laid on Atlanta. It seemed like they were relishing what was a total embarrassment.
Few barbs directed at the players. When talking about the game, it wasn’t directed at the Braves. More references to Atlanta than the team.
I wanted to scream: “Don’t blame me. I didn’t walk a single batter.”
In 2020, the clubhouse will be filled with a lot of new faces. The team has a load of young players. They’ve been to the playoffs, so they have some experience.
But we wanted to chop for a few more games.
Forgive me for dancing a jig when I awoke and discovered my formerly beloved Dodgers will be sitting on the couch for the rest of October.
Say what you want about Atlanta and the Braves. We’ll be there next year. But you’d better give us back our Chop.
Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. Thanks Brian McCann. They worked you to death against the Cards. Thanks for the hustle and for the memories. Now, go enjoy your kids. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also on Facebook.