Tag Archives: Atlanta Braves

Joy Even in Times of Loss

As the song sung by Charlie Brown and his friends goes, Christmas time is here. Or at least it will be here tomorrow.

And while there is certainly happiness and cheer, as well as snowflakes in the air in certain parts of the world during Christmas time, for many people this marks the first Christmas without a loved one.

This is the position that I find myself in following the death of my Grandmother in November.

While I knew that my Grandmother was gone, I was reminded again last Sunday that this would be the first Christmas without her when I was tidying up my desk and came across a pile of Christmas cards from last year. Among the cards in the pile was one from my Grandmother.

I recently found the last Christmas card my Grandmother sent me which served as a reminder to find joy even in times of loss. Photo R. Anderson

I recently found the last Christmas card my Grandmother sent me which served as a reminder to find joy even in times of loss.
Photo R. Anderson

While more and more people are choosing electronic ways to send Christmas greetings, my Grandmother, who never owned a computer, never sent a Christmas tweet, nor posted anything other than framed pictures on her “wall,” always sent a traditional Christmas card with the help of the United States Postal Service.

As I was reading the card from last year I realized that for the first time since I could remember there would not be any more Christmas cards from her.

While I was saddened by this thought at first, I looked at the card again and saw two doves and the word joy on it.

The stack of cards has been on my desk for nearly a year but by going through them this past weekend I was reminded from beyond the grave to have joy for the season despite the feeling of loss.

While I was thinking about my Grandmother Sunday, I remembered that I was to attend my final holiday concert of the season that evening and needed to decide what I would wear.

As part of my preparations for being a pall bearer at my Grandmother’s funeral I bought a new suit jacket since I had increased in circumference since the last time I wore a suit.

The black suit jacket I found was both stylish and befitting my circumference to allow me to join my cousins in our official duties at the funeral.

Since returning from the funeral in November my suit jacket has sat neglected and alone in a dark closet devoid of purpose aside from striking up conversations with the other jackets that are also hanging in there.

Since returning from the funeral in November my suit jacket has sat neglected and alone in a dark closet devoid of purpose aside from striking up conversations with the other jackets that are also hanging in there.

Since returning from the funeral in November my suit jacket has sat neglected and alone in a dark closet devoid of purpose aside from striking up conversations with the other jackets that are also hanging in there. Photo R. Anderson

Now I know that my suit jacket is just thread and material so any anthropomorphic tendencies to believe that it has feelings of its own would be futile. Instead, it was me who needed to have a better memory of wearing the suit beyond my Grandmother’s funeral.

So I decided that I would wear the suit to put a bow on my final holiday concert of the season so to speak and in a way bring my Grandmother along in spirit as well.

As I was driving to the concert in my spiffy suit and tie I realized that I was hungry and should probably eat something before the concert.

I decided to go to Dairy Queen, which as coincidence would have it was a favorite of my Grandmother’s, and upon walking through the door I heard a small child say to his parents, “Wow, he sure got dressed up to get ice cream.”

The joke was on the child though since I did not in fact order ice cream and had a steak finger basket instead. But yes I was probably a little overdressed for the Dairy Queen.

As it turned out I may have been slightly overdressed for the concert as well as I was one of the few people wearing a suit who was not part of the performance, but it still felt nice to dress up.

I am glad that I decided to wear the suit to the concert to add a new memory that did not involve a funeral and carrying my Grandmother’s casket.

Beyond the Christmas card encouraging me to approach the season with joy, I will continue to remember my Grandmother in many other ways in the coming years including when I watch her beloved Atlanta Braves play or whenever I am shelling pecans. I am blessed to have decades of memories of my Grandmother to call upon to help through any sad times that may arise.

Memories are certainly powerful things to be cherished. Or as Paul Simon would say, “preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hang my stocking by the chimney with care. Merry Christmas to one and all.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Championships are Not Won in April but They Can be Lost in April

It has been said that championships are not won in April but that they can certainly be lost.

That is to say that a team’s early success does not always carry over throughout the course of a full season as many things can happen between Opening Day and Game One of the World Series to shape a team’s fortunes and in some cases misfortunes.

While a team winning the bulk of their games early in a season does not guarantee continued success, a team that loses most of their games early on will in most cases continue that trend throughout the season.

While it is certainly neither the time nor place for celebration or despair in any of the 30 Major League Ballparks this early in the season it is certainly worth looking at some early trends in terms of expectations met and expectations that have not been met.

In the American League East few should be surprised that the New York Yankees are leading the standings during the Derek Jeter Swan Song Tour.

With the  New York Yankees in first place in the American League East very few people are likely to bet against them going deep into the postseason during Derek Jeter's Farewell Tour. Photo R. Anderson

With the New York Yankees in first place in the American League East very few people are likely to bet against them going deep into the postseason during Derek Jeter’s Farewell Tour.
Photo R. Anderson

Some may go so far as to suggest that the baseball stars will align so that Jeter’s last game occurs as a World Series Champion. That is not to say that baseball is rigged but there are certainly odd occurrences now and then. I am looking at you Boston Red Sox.

The rest of the American League East offers a few surprises.

Few would have thought that the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox who famously healed an entire region last year with a title following a terrorist attack at a marathon would be in last place in the division.

The Tampa Bay Rays who many predicted as a World Series bound team are also struggling a bit due to injuries to their starting rotation but it is likely that they will bounce back from the early season struggles and become the playoff team that many predicted them to be.

While the New York Yankees may be the current frontrunners in the East, one cannot discount Joe Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays since no team has done more with less over the past five seasons. Photo R. Anderson

While the New York Yankees may be the current frontrunners in the East, one cannot discount Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays since no team has done more with less over the past five seasons.
Photo R. Anderson

The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles certainly cannot be ruled out as well in what is often the most hotly contested division in all of baseball.

Traveling further down the geographic standings brings the focus on the American League Central where the usual suspects seem to be doing the usual things early on.

The Detroit Tigers will likely continue their reign atop the division while fighting off the advances of the Kansas City Royals who continue to improve each season.

The Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians will likely string together some impressive victories throughout the season but it is unlikely that they will rise to the top of the standings based on their early sample of work.

Out in the American League West the Oakland Athletics are in first place and the Houston Astros are in last place.

No real surprises there.

While the Texas Rangers will look to return to postseason play in the post Nolan Ryan era a more intriguing thing to watch in the division will be whether the Astros can break their streak of consecutive 100 loss seasons.

Early indications point to another long season for the Houston Astros. Fans can take comfort in the return of the view of the skyline however. Photo R. Anderson

Early indications point to another long season for the Houston Astros. Fans can take comfort in the return of the view of the skyline however.
Photo R. Anderson

Early indications certainly point to it being another very long season in Minute Maid Park but at least fans have a view of downtown again to entertain them during lopsided losses by the home team.

The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will look to get some bang from their hefty payroll bucks and should easily finish higher than the Astros but it is doubtful that they will break the grasp the Rangers and Athletics have atop the division.

With the American League shaping up with few surprises it is time to look at the National League and any potential surprises or unexpected trends from the early parts of the season.

The National League East has the Atlanta Braves in cruise control atop the standings. With their days in Turner Field numbered it would be nice to see the Braves give the Ballpark a final taste of postseason play before it is reduced to a pile of rubble.

The Atlanta Braves look like the team to beat so far in the National League East. Photo R. Anderson

The Atlanta Braves look like the team to beat so far in the National League East.
Photo R. Anderson

The Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies will try to keep things interesting but the division does seem to have a heavy “tomahawk chop” feel to it with the Braves going the distance.

The Miami Marlins hold their familiar spot at the bottom of the standings showing that a Ballpark without payroll can lead to a very long couple of seasons.

The National League Central is shaping up to look like the division normally looks with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals near the top and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs near the bottom.

It is likely that the 100th Anniversary season at Wrigley Field will end like many of the previous years with the Cubs shut out of the postseason.

The Cincinnati Reds will likely hold their familiar spot in third place in the division although Billy Hamilton will certainly give the Reds’ fans something exciting to watch as he scorches the base path with his base stealing speed.

Current Cincinnati Red Billy Hamilton stole a record number of bases in the Minor Leagues  and became immortalized as a bobble head. The real life version is likely to entertain Reds fans for years to come. Photo R. Anderson

Current Cincinnati Red Billy Hamilton stole a record number of bases in the Minor Leagues and became immortalized as a bobble head. The real life version is likely to entertain Reds fans for years to come.
Photo R. Anderson

As for the National League West the Los Angeles Dodgers are leading the pack with the Arizona Diamondbacks currently having the worst record in all of baseball.

The Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres will keep things competitive but the West has a feel of Dodger Blue as long as they don’t implode down the stretch.

While the standings in all six divisions are likely to change through the course of the season early indications do seem to point to a postseason filled with the usual suspects.

Of course there are no guarantees in baseball. Teams will need to battle through injuries and other factors as they approach October.

The only peak the Astros are likely to see this season will come in the form of Tal's Hill in center field. Photo R. Anderson

The only peak the Astros are likely to see this season will come in the form of Tal’s Hill in center field.
Photo R. Anderson

The teams that peak at the right time are the ones that win it all in the end. For some teams that peak occurs on Opening Day and lasts the whole season long. Other teams are more slow burners and need to build up to their peak.

Then there are the teams who are stuck in the valley where the only peak they see is the pitcher’s mound or in the case of the Houston Astros, Tal’s Hill.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about peaks and valleys has me craving a mountain view.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson