Sunday, April 15, 2012

This Is Why We Chop!

I loved everything about the Home Opener and this year, me and 50,000+ of my closest friends would have blown the roof off the Ted, if it had one!  "This Is Why We Chop" is the Braves new slogan and the chop worked it's magic again Friday night!!

Without checking stats, I would swear that every player got multiple hits.  Yes, those bats woke up with a vengeance!  Brian McCann became only the sixth Braves catcher to have a four-hit game.  It would have been five had it not been for a stellar fielding play by Ricky Weeks.  The fifth, which started with a Michael Bourn triple and included Matt Diaz's first home run since 2010, had the team batting around and they seemingly had the game in hand.  But the Brewers chipped away and tied it back up.  If not for a brilliant leaping catch by Jason Heyward, the Brewers would have taken the lead.  Jason even got the Superman music for that catch!  Dan Uggla sealed the deal for the Braves in the bottom of the eighth with a two run single.  Whew!

The only downside of the evening was that Chipper was scratched from the lineup.  I heard it on the way down to the ball park and I was so bummed.  I really wanted Chipper to play his last Home Opener.  From everything I read and I heard, he was extremely disappointed.  Knees are a tricky thing and I think this may happen a few more times throughout the season.  That said, Chipper was definitely shown a lot of love and appreciation during the
pre-game ceremonies.

For player intros, the team took the field from centerfield, amidst a flurry of fireworks, balloons and thunderous cheers.  In a sign of respect, the players let Chipper lead the way.  There's no way he didn't have a lump in his throat.  I know everyone in the stands did.

As is customary on Opening Day, everyone got a red foam tomahawk.  Before the game there was a presentation on the jumbotron, telling the tale of the tomahawk chop.  It was really fun to watch and hear players like David Justice describe how the chopping and chanting gave them that extra push when the tank was almost empty.  He said it gave him chills whenever he heard it.  He even mentioned how it helped the team during specific games...especially versus the Dodgers!  Chipper said whenever he hears it, it still makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up.  I don't know if watching that jacked the crowd up even more, but I haven't seen and heard chopping and chanting like that in a very long time.  In the post game interviews both Dan Uggla and Brian McCann commented on how great the crowd was and how much we helped the team come back.  Let's remember that folks!

I was very curious to see how Ryan Braun would be received.  In general, Braves fans aren't big booers.  Sure, put a Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa on the field and you'll hear some boos but I have never, ever heard anything like I heard Friday night.  And caps off to those who let their feelings be known.  They were loud and very creative!  The jeers lasted the entire plate appearance for each of Braun's five at bats.  In fact, they got louder and stronger with each at bat.  I believe there was a direct correlation between the quality of jeering and the amount of alcohol consumed!

So after a somewhat disappointing start to the season, the Braves are turning it around and sitting at .500.  The bats are awake and hopefully the starting pitching will go further into the game.  If Mike Minor's performance last night is any indication, we're in good shape!  

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