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Being thankful for the Braves and life in 2023

It’s time again to appreciate the things in life and baseball that happened this year and be thankful for the good times we had.

New York Mets v. Atlanta Braves
It was historic and euphoric but also disappointing. It was 2023.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Hello again, everybody.

Here we are at that time of year again. It’s time for Thanksgiving and the holidays and lamenting how fast this year’s gone by, despite cursing how long the year seemed mere months ago.

Like the mange, draught moved into the inner circle of Braves Country, and muted the Fall foliage with a sepia tone filter. The cool weather - then warm weather, then cold weather, then warm weather again - produced golds and oranges and a few reds and purples, but they all came with that draught-stricken brown hue. It was a disappointing end to what, heading into October, appeared to be an almost-perfect set-up for a beautiful early November.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We aren’t here to whisp away feelings of what might have been like a chance encounter at a coffee shop when you were 20 and made eye contact with a barista whose eyes seem to shimmer as you spoke your name - only to see it be horribly misspelled when you received your cup of caffeinated beverage roasted with the same expertise and flavor as the soot on the top of your Uncle’s grill that hasn’t been cleaned since 2007.

No, we are here to shine a light on what we should be thankful for this year.

Every year has its ups-and-downs, that part never changes.

For some of you this was the best year of your life, for others, it was the worst. Most of you probably experienced a mixed bag where you basically ended up where you started, metaphorically speaking, at least.

As has been a tradition for almost two decades (and here for the last few years), I’ll embark on a journey to remind one and all about the good things this year brought to us. We are in a timeline where, when you look around, you may find yourself worried about the future. That’s normal. But for the next few minutes, let us think not about those harsh realities and focus on joy and hope and remind ourselves that we have much to be thankful for again this year.

Around here, specifically, a lot of that has to do with the Atlanta Braves.

(If you’d like to soundtrack this year’s article with a song or three via YouTube, click here to listen to “Sole Obsession” by Nation of Language and/or “Back Then” from Toro y Moi and/or “My Love Mine All Mine” by Mitski.)

I was thankful when Orlando Arcia started hot and then picked up where he left off after missing some time with injury early in the season. I was over the shortstop conjecture before March even arrived.

I was thankful when Jesse Chavez made the Opening Day roster. Seeing “Uncle Jesse” effectively pitching again was cool, dude.

I am thankful for a regular season that saw the Braves offense exceed its lofty expectations. There sure were a lot of, “No way! That is unreal! I can’t believe it!” as the season progressed.

Ozzie and Ronnie and Austin and Matt and Money Mike. That reads like a t-shirt from ... was it a decade ago? Anyway, they sure made 2023 a lot of fun.

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day
We were thankful for a special 2023 and getting another chance to remember a historic 2021.
Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Mustaches became ironically stylish. I cringe at the soon-to-come stylish goatee trend that is probably only a year or two away.

We welcomed Nicky Lopez and he went Ohtani in his first week with Atlanta. That was fun to see. Good luck in Chicago.

I’m thankful for old faces in new places and new faces in old places but most of all I’m thankful for friendly face, wherever the wind may blow.

I’m most thankful for home.

I’m thankful for a cup of coffee that is made just right. I’m drinking one now that isn’t that, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for the cup I have.

I’m thankful for rediscovering a little piece of joy long-since forgotten. I had a Blizzard for the first time in forever this year, and man-oh-man, was it good.

I’m thankful for cars that last forever and friends that last longer. It is harder to find either of those, these days.

It is nice when that first cool breeze hits your face after months of heat and humidity. I’m thankful for that feeling of relief.

I’m thankful for peace and quiet.

Sometimes I’m more thankful for jubilant and boisterous shrieks and shrills.

I wish more people remembered the good things. I’m thankful when they do.

I’m always thankful for trees. Some people like dogs. Some like cats. Me? I like trees.

I’m thankful for time off and vacations, even though I didn’t get to enjoy either of those things this year.

I’m thankful for Ozzie sliding into second with his batting helmet still on his head. I worry he’s going to take a baseball to his noggin at some point.

I’m thankful for Blooper.

I’m thankful for guys who just keep trying even if their best is merely average. That might be the highest compliment someone can get, in a lot of ways. Here’s to you, Micheal Tonkin. Good luck, wherever you end up, next season.

I’m thankful for riled up Managers and calm catchers.

I’m thankful when umpires get a close play right the first time.

I’ll be more thankful for an automated strike zone.

I’m thankful Eric Davis got talked about so much this year thanks to the year Ronald Acuna, Jr. had.

I wish more people would talk about Larry Doby in the same way they talk about Jackie Robinson.

I’m thankful for celebrating with class and grace.

I’m more thankful for blissful bat flips and euro-stepping around third base.

I’m thankful for 30/30.

I’m more thankful for 40/40.

I still cannot even wrap my head around the idea of 40/70. Unbelievable.

Seeing Matt Olson blast more than 50 home runs and break the franchise record was delightful. I’m sure those constant comparisons to the man he replaced were grating to hear, last season.

Eric Young, Sr.

Ron Washington.

Thank you both, good sirs, for being on-field reminders of so many things. I hope Southern California treats you right.

We are all thankful for the time with had with “Wash” and “EY” but seeing them leave hurts. With that said, our collective hearts were full of joy knowing Wash is getting another chance to manage.

MLB: APR 12 Nationals at Braves
We will miss these two smiling faces in 2024.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’m thankful for you, too, Eddie Perez.

We still miss you, Will Bill. And we probably always will.

I’m thankful for good cornbread dressing. But I’d be lying if there wasn’t a hint of sadness thinking of the dish the way it was made by those who aren’t with us anymore.

I wish life was more like a pen with an eraser than a permanent marker.

Pens with erasers are helpful when keeping score, something that has become a lost art. I’m thankful for those who try to keep it alive.

I’m thankful for the smell of a newspaper and the sound it makes when you turn the page.

I’m thankful for embracing who you are.

Be the best you that you can be.

Be kind to others.

Be aware.

Often times that is harder to say, than do.

But at least try.

I’m thankful for fighting through it and ending up making lemonade out of lemons when things don’t start off going the way you want. Charlie Morton has proven that throughout his career.

I’m thankful for showing up every day. The Braves were the epitome for that this season.

But I’ll be honest, I’m more thankful for those that know how important it is to take a day for themselves every now-and-again.

I’m thankful for sunrises and sunsets.

I’m thankful for long shadows and short commutes.

I’m most thankful for no commute at all, in those few times when that happens.

Sometimes it's hard to be thankful for the outcome based on the process. That doesn’t diminish the appreciation for the effort, even if it can leave you personally conflicted. Marcell Ozuna could write a dissertation about that.

I’m thankful for stolen bases but not bunts.

I’m thankful for faster paces but I miss pitchers hitting.

We all have our things, I suppose.

Here’s to the Rangers of Texas who won a championship. I’m sure there’s a Chuck Norris joke in there somewhere.

Here’s to the old songs you randomly rediscovered and new artists you’re glad you didn’t miss.

Here’s to the comeback of the pedal steel guitar. Let’s hope the electric fiddle doesn’t gain a revival, though.

Here’s to Taylor Swift. I mean, everyone is contractually obligated to say that this year, right? It is her era and we’re all just living in it.

(Except Olivio Rodrigo is better.)

A hat-tip to you, as well, Janelle Monae, because you are something else.

2023 saw the destruction and desertion of a platform that brought so many of us together almost a generation ago. We can try to hold on a little longer, but we can’t go back in time. This year also proved that the skies aren’t always blue, either.

I’m thankful that Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service toured this year. I missed them both in 2003 and again this year.

I don’t miss the smell of recycled air.

Nostalgia was a little stronger this year that it has been in past ones, wasn’t it?

If you’ve figured out a way to go back in time, please leave a comment in the section believe. We don’t tell anyone about it, we swear.

Here’s to golden haze and velvet fog.

Here’s to holiday classics.

I’m thankful for the joy that those things bring.

I’m thankful for water. Yup, good old fashion water.

I’m thankful for peaches. Fresh peaches. Frozen peaches. Peach flavored teas. Peach flavored waters. Peaches that come from a can, put there by a man, in a factory downtown.

I’m thankful for making a joke similar to the last one just about every year.

I’m thankful for plain ol’ potato chips that don’t have too much salt.

I’m thankful for embracing being a basic b and a mid.

I still get a kick out of professional wrestlers who are great on the stick and better in the ring. Unfortunately, this year has led to many disappointments in both of those things.

I miss fresh peas, fresh okra and fresh squash, picked and cooked on the same day.

I miss freshly caught seafood, cooked (or not cooked) just the same.

I’m thankful for trying something new and it being pretty good.

I’m more thankful when you try it, too.

I’m thankful for people who are aware of the importance of mental health and taking care of yourself. There’s no weakness in either of those things, far from it.

I’m thankful for the few times there isn’t spin or hype or marketing tie-ins. Sometimes I just want to know the score, the news and the forecast, plain and simple and matter of fact.

I appreciate the opportunity to give advice, but I appreciate receiving it even more.

Be thankful that you can listen, while you can.

I’m thankful for the good aspects of getting older. Might as well be thankful because there’s nothing any of us can do to defeat time, gravity or entropy - and for many of us, typographical and grammatical mistakes.

Quadzilla. There’s a heckuva nickname for a heckuva pitcher. I’m curious to see how he grows on the mound as he learns more.

It has been nice to see the applause given prior stars when they come back to Atlanta.

I’ll never tire of seeing a home run hit to the opposite field.

This past season saw the first players of the first wave of this era leave for greener pastures. Sometimes grass is greener over the septic tank, just so you know.

Just this month, we’ve seen the reality of life, as a number of former top Braves prospects were ushered out the door. Sometimes hope for the future becomes the past in what seems like a blink of the eye.

Appreciate 2023 for what it was. A six-month journey of excitement and excellence and historical achievements. Don’t focus on what happened in October, it isn’t worth your time or your energy, and it won’t change what happened, anyway.

Appreciate 2024 because Atlanta’s window is still wide open. In a few years, that might start to change. It will be harder to be thankful, when it does.

Be thankful for a front office, who thus far, has made many more decisions that have worked out than haven’t. Somehow, we, as a culture, have adapted the mentality that anything less than perfection is failure. That’s a standard that only manifests failure.

Process > results.

Results to matter, though. There’s no arguing that.

Maybe it isn’t either/or. Maybe it is both. Therein lies the rub between the argument of “old school baseball” vs. “new school analytics”.

The greatest reward for hard work and adherence to process is trust in decision making. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise - in baseball or in life.

Adjust. Alter. Adapt. Sometimes you have to avoid, too.

Forgive mistakes. Something, something, rocks and glass houses.

Prepare.

Make informed decisions.

Try your best to maintain balance in your life.

Be a good person and be good to others.

Be thankful when other people try to be that way towards you.

Be thankful for little wins and moments of happiness.

Be thankful when tomorrow comes.

Be thankful that tomorrow is another day.

Tell the people you love that you love them.

Tell the people you appreciate that you appreciate them.

Tell yourself that you are worth it and are valuable and are appreciated.

(Even if you don’t believe yourself, say it anyway.)

We live in a time and place where none of us know what the next day will bring. You don’t need me to tell you what you’ve heard and seen or what you should or should not believe. Your perspective is yours and yours alone.

There are few things that can bring thousands - maybe millions - of people together. Often times, it isn’t because of positive or happy things. But I can say, with almost absolute confidence that one thing I know brings those of you reading this today, together, is one common bond.

Distain for the New York Metropolitans.

(And those little yellow uniform patches ... I think we all agree on that, too.)

I hope that today you are able to spend time with those who are most special to you. If you weren’t able to do that in person, I hope you called or texted or whatever other method of communication you use, to say hello and let them know you are thinking about them.

I hope you eat too much.

I hope you laugh.

I hope you take a few photos to remember today.

I hope, if you weren’t able to do any or all of those things, you know it’s okay. It is just a day, after all, and one day doesn’t a lifetime make.

I have said this before, and I will say this again, if reading this article was an escape for you - even for a few minutes - because life has been unkind to you this year and you are struggling ... tomorrow is another day.

Things might get better, they might not. But you need to do everything in your power to be there and be present, tomorrow, to find out.

Today is a day to read the comments. Express what you are thankful for; what you enjoyed about this season or this year or life in general.

If you like chocolate sauce on your rice puff cereal, let us know. If you love being stuck in traffic for hours because it gives you a sense of community, speak about that. If you like onions with your ice cream then, sure, go ahead and tell us why you are thankful for that.

Me, I’m thankful for family. I’m thankful for learning. I’m thankful for hope.

I am thankful that you’ve read this far.

I’m thankful that I’ve had a chance to write this piece for another year and carry on my homage to a tradition started by those with much more talent that have been gone for a long, long time.

I’m thankful for this site and the writers who try to deliver the best content possible about a team that we all have followed for many, many years.

I’m thankful you took time out of your day to spend it with us.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Selah.

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