A month or two ago, we Braves fans were riding high. Now we are sweating out the last few games of the season, hoping to slide into the playoffs as the National League wildcard.
Most recent years, we've been able to write off our team fairly early. It didn't make the losing any easier, but at least we didn't remain in suspense for months. We knew where we stood.
This year everything seemed to be different. We had hot rookies, breakout stars, and ace pitchers. Just like the old days. It was Bobby Cox's last year in baseball, the manager we loved leaving the organization we loved him. If we could make a run at the playoffs this year, what a sendoff that would be, wouldn't it?
And so here we are at the end of September, decimated by injuries, down to a shadow of our All-Star glory, trying to eke out a few wins to back into the playoff spot that once seemed to be ours by right. Every night I watch Noel's face out of the corner of my eye as he watches the game on his iPad, riding the ups and downs. Right now the magic number is three; by the end of the night, if the Giants and/or the Padres lose, it could be two or one.
When it's zero, you will hear a sigh of relief from our house. But that's just the prelude to the long in-drawn breath of the playoffs. No matter how much we tell ourselves not to hold out hope, that our star-studded disabled list can't get us past round one, we'll be hanging on every pitch. Again.