Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Flashback, Endlessly Looping




I was a mere three-year-old wood sprite the season the Braves franchise moved from Milwaukee to the Confederacy in Atlanta in 1966.
I have a damn good memory, and I still have a clear mental picture of the hippies across the street scaring my mother and father with their antics, likely fueled by a little LSD, as it still was legal until June 6 that year and evidently very easy for them to get.

“Lookit what the goddamn hippies are doin’!” Mom would hiss as she sneakily parted the curtains to spy on the young buggers. “Jesus Christ!”

I think about the strangest things the teenagers were doing was sitting on their front porch, making tie-dyes and listening to The Peanut Butter Conspiracy. Mom was a little uptight, to say the least. Maybe she should have tried a dose.

The hippies didn’t weird me out back then as much as the screaming, mohawked Indian on the Braves’ uniform sleeves, and when the 2006 team wore them last night to mark the 40th anniversary of the move to the rising-again South, it inspired these flashbacks. This shouldn’t be an uncommon phenomenon when a Phillies fan watches his team play the Braves, because every season since 1995 has been a flashback – and a bummer, at that.

The Braves have had a lock on the National League East Division since they were issued a transfer from the West in 1994. You might remember 1994. That was when the season was washed out by a strike. In effect, nobody won anything that season.

So we’re talking about an endless loop of Braves dominance since 1995.

The 2006 Phillies have been a team verging on a nightmare that might be saved by a little old-fashioned LSD therapy. Or by some clutch hitting. Last night, they won their…ah…second game of the season after the Braves carted out some living relics of 1966: Phil Niekro, Felix Millan, Denis Menke. They found all the old farts they could pile into vintage Corvettes and drove ‘em around the edge of the playing field before the game. Then the team lost to the Phillies, 7-5.

Our heroes finally were able to manage their first four-run inning of the season in the second frame, and that was a minor miracle, because rally-killer David Fucking Bell popped up with two runners on base to make the second out before the four runs scored.

But eight-hole juggernaut Mike Lieberthal saved the day with a lucky two-out double to get the party started. Two runs scored. Hitting is contagious, and even Pat “Vacant Stare” Burrell, who had what Harry Kalas called “the ignominy” of making two outs in the four-run inning, came up later in the game to perform his specialty, the solo homerun. New centerfielder Aaron Rowand, looking more like Ron Cey every day, hit a two-run homer in the same inning for insurance.

Braves catcher Eric McCann hit a solo homer, too. If it were 1966, that crazy Indian Chief Noc-a-homa, the team mascot, would have pounded a drum and jigged a war dance in the left field bleachers to celebrate the occasion. Of course, back then, real Indians weren’t demanding the white guy stop acting like such an ass.

Then again, LSD was still legal 40 years ago.

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