My favorite month in the year has indeed begun and my exhilaration is even more heightened this time than in the past. Of course, the reason for my joy is the onset of post season MLB and though my Braves are for a second year in a row not involved (which is actually, sadly a relief for the 2nd year in a row too), I’m still thrilled about watching the teams who are, as is my 2 year old son who loves nothing more than he loves baseball (thereby proving that God does indeed exist).
The month did not get off to a great start for me though as TBS has the rights to the Division Series and NLCS games this year and also had the rights to the instaclassic playoff game between the Rockies and Padres Monday night, except no one at my cable provider Charter seemed to be aware of this, as the game simply wasn’t carried. Locally in Atlanta what used to be TBS will now be “Peachtree TV” and TBS will become a nationally syndicated channel only and the change took place on Monday which was more than Charter was apparently prepared for. The online options both desktop and mobile for keeping up with sports scores are plentiful fortunately, and I used MLB Mobile for the iPhone because my preferred way to do this via Pickleview wasn’t keeping up with the game either?
Anyway, the father/son connections in the TBS broadcast booth will be especially meaningful for Braves fans, since anchoring the telecasts will be Ernie Johnson Jr. and calling the play by play, Chip Caray. These highly talented and affable sons of longtime Braves announcers Ernie Johnson Sr. and Skip Caray are probably along with my own son’s budding interest, the key to my level of excitement as I love listening to both. TBS began this new era by first ending the era of Braves only telecasts which started back in the 70s. Chip, who once inherited his late grandfather Harry’s spot in the Cubs play by play booth, has now inherited his father’s spot in the Braves booth, so it was only fitting that in the final Braves TBS telecast this past Sunday, father and son were paired together. At the end Chip whose enthusiastic delivery is more like his grandfather than his father said the kinds of things to his father that every father hopes one day to hear, and punctuated it with a kiss on the cheek for dear old dad. Skip who is famously stoic and cynical, then had difficulty keeping his emotions in check (as did I), but eventually managed to give his standard and final TBS salute of “So long everybody”. Highlights of all the signature moments on TBS followed and included Skip’s unforgettably emotionally unbridled radio call of Sid Bream sliding in safe to win the 1992 NLCS.
The last conversation I had with my own father was in October of 1998 about the Braves blowing it in the 98 NLCS to the Padres (not unhappy to see them get eliminated Monday night as you would expect) The first post season baseball I ever watched with him that I can remember was game 6 of the 1977 World Series, the game Reggie Jackson hit 3 homers for the soon to be (and even back then it was the 21st freaking time) World Champion Yankees. Most every October since then I’ve been locked in and of course 1991 was the year when it got truly serious for me. 1992 I remember with great fondness as well, and October of 1993 began with the Braves winning the last great pennant race, sending the 103 win Barry Bonds lead Giants home to their pre-wildcard era fate. It was this day 14 years ago that I traveled with a friend to see game 1 of the NLCS in Philadelphia’s Veteran’s stadium. Curt Schilling started for the Phillies who would win in extra innings and set the tone for a series that other than the Yankees beating us in the 1996 WS, is my most bitter baseball memory. We truly had the best team in baseball that year and I would rather have won it that year than in 95. Cubs fans can certainly curse me (pun intended) for saying something so frivolous and of course the Phillies are today playing their first post season game since that memorable year, so I guess I should be grateful.
I don’t remember much of that last conversation I had with my father in October of 98, but I do remember thinking at the time that there was no other person I would rather have been talking to. Of course my own son won’t remember any of our first conversations about October baseball this year, but, speaking of being grateful, I can promise you his father will.