Unceremoniously, it ended.
And that’s okay.
After 101 wins and a first-round bye, Atlanta fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 in the NLDS. Maybe having so many days off between the end of the regular season and the playoffs played a role; maybe they ran out of gas after having to charge back from 10.5 games back to win the NL East; or maybe it is just the way the playoffs cookie crumbled.
Everyone’s reactions are different. Some of you are raging, some of you are weeping, some of you are swearing the team off forever (until next Spring), and some of you are simply lamenting that it all ended so soon.
Me, I’m bummed, but I’m okay.
The 2021 season ended with the utmost high – one not seen around these parts since the year before the Olympic torch was lit by Muhammad Ali. Now this year’s dream is over, and the Braves didn’t become the first National League team to win back-to-back World Series since the Big Red Machine-era Cincinnati Reds.
It sucks. It does. But it’s okay. The sun will rise tomorrow and the 2023 season will be here before you know it.
Each season is just a chapter in a book that (hopefully) never ends. It just goes on-and-on, my friend.
There are a few questions about the 2023 Braves - not the least of which is who will be playing shortstop - but all-in-all, Atlanta is in position to complete for a playoff spot again next season and once you get into the post-season, anything can happen.
That hope is the consolation prize that helps to offsets the bitter taste of the end to this season.
Baseball is a beautiful game. It is an escape from the ails of life. At the end of the day, though, it is just a game. In it, over-the-hill players – all of 33 years old – are seen as staving off the glue factory when they have an above-average season. Meanwhile, in the real world, a 33-year-old has barely cut their teeth in many professional careers.
I think, with the passing of time, the 2022 season will be well be reflected on with fondness. There was a tremendous amount of emotion early in the season – between the celebrations, the drama surrounding the departure, and then the return of a legend. That matriculated to the surge in the Summer and the battle down-the-stretch that didn’t conclude until October.
Take a day or two to decompress from the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations. You’ll be fine. The team will be fine.
The off-season is a few weeks away and by the time Thanksgiving comes around, you’ll be in a place to be grateful for what was another exciting season of Atlanta Braves baseball.
When the holidays are over and new year arrives, we may know a lot more about who will – or won’t – be playing shortstop and left field for the team come March.
Valentine’s Day will arrive, and baseball will gift you a present better than any heart-shaped box, as pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Florida and Arizona.
As we say good-bye to Winter, and hello of Spring, we will be only a couple of weeks from Opening Day and hope will - ahem - spring eternal again.
So yeah, I’m disappointed, but I’m not outraged.
This beautiful game, played between chalk lines, never goes away. It just turns the page, readying itself to write a new story once again.