I'm about ten days late with this, but I drove out my sixth game in six days (after watching the Braves finally beat the Red Sox!) and headed straight for my vacation. I'm finally back and have a free moment, so I want to add my final thoughts on my Six Games in Six Days journey.
First, I've learned that I will probably never be a season ticket holder, at least not the kind that goes to every game. When you live 40 miles or so from the stadium and have a full-time job (along with a part-time teaching gig and sports blogging to do), six games in six days is exhausting! Now, I can imagine nothing better than having a job that paid me to go to every game, but until then I don't think I'll be making it to the ballpark so often. That's not to say that I won't be watching on tv or listening on the radio though, so don't think I'm not still as diehard a Braves fan as ever.
That leads me to what I wanted to write about today: being a diehard fan. First, let's all admit that the people who can call themselves diehard Braves fans in this city are scant when compared to those who follow the Yankees or Red Sox. If you haven't figured that out yet, then you didn't go to any of the six games. As a matter of fact, you probably didn't listen to any of them on the radio or tv either, because I hear they talked at length about the presence of masses of Yankee and Red Sox fans at The Ted those six days. What you missed were chants of "Let's Go Yankees" or "Let's Go Red Sox" and a litany of other chants by the Yankee fans and the Red Sox Faithful. At times I was sure there were more of them than there were of us, but it was obvious they had at least equaled our numbers.
Forget your disappointment in Braves fans for not showing up in full force or being louder. Forget how much you hate those obnoxious Yankee fans yelling in the stands. Those six games were the six best games of the season at The Ted. Those six days and nights were baseball at its best, even if the Braves were not. People came early and tailgated. People went in the ballpark two hours before the game. Virtually everyone who came into the park was wearing something with a team logo. The stands were nearly full when the game started - and the same was true when the game ended. Nearly 50,000 people came through the gates of The Ted everyday for six straight days. For those six days, Atlanta was a baseball city.
Having lived here my entire life, I've always been a Braves fan. I've also never cared if there were 5,000 people in the park or 50,000. I've only left two games early in my entire life, and I think I've only missed the first pitch once. I've never cared if anyone else was a diehard fan because it didn't matter - I was and am. That all changed in 2001 when I visited Fenway Park for the first time. My father has been a dual Braves-Red Sox fan for as long as I can remember, so I have as well. But it wasn't until 2001 when he and I visited Fenway Park for the first time that I really formed my bond with the Red Sox. Going to a game at Fenway is like stepping back in time. They literally roll up metal gates to start letting people into the ballpark. I went on a tour and sat in the same dugout where Babe Ruth and Ted Williams once sat. I saw the names of hundreds of players scrawled on the wall inside a door out on the Green Monster. I sat in the same cramped confines that so many have before me and watched the game unfold before me. And it wasn't just the ballpark - it was the fans. There is not a single Red Sox fan who comes into that stadium that doesn't have something on with a Red Sox logo, whether it's a shirt, a hat, a pin - they're all sporting something with the logo. It is an amazing experience for anyone who loves baseball, whether you like the Red Sox or not. Being a Red Sox fan just makes it that much better.
Ever since then, I have found fault with my fellow Atlantans for not caring more about the Braves. I know our team doesn't have the history here in Atlanta that the Red Sox have in Boston, or the Yankees have in New York, but you have to admit that we have a lackluster fan base for a city this size. As embarrassing as it was at times during these last series against the Yankees and the Red Sox, nothing was more embarrassing to me as a Braves fan than the last time we were in the playoffs and we couldn't even sell out the stadium.
I don't know how you repair this problem, or if anyone else even really thinks it's a problem, but what I do know is that those six games felt like I think baseball is supposed to feel like when you go to a game. If you missed getting to one, you really missed out. Regardless of the fact that the team didn't play the best baseball, they were the best games of the year in terms of being a fan in the crowd. I may have been exhausted, and it may be easier to say now that I'm rested again, but I enjoyed every minute of those six days and nights, from the time I got to the ballpark (two hours before the game, of course) until the final out. And even though I'm an admitted Red Sox fan as well, I was proud to be a Braves fan those six days!
For my thoughts on this and more, you can now follow me on Twitter @BaseblEconoMiss!