I must admit, I’ve been a sour-puss this spring. It must be the pollen. Perhaps I’ve been reading the best pessimist in the Bulldog Nation post-Munson, T. Kyle King , too much.
Ucheedawg and I have had been debating on the blog and in person on Jason Heyward. I have been guarded in my enthusiasm about the J-Hey Kid. I know he is a stud. I know he is a man child. I know he is a true ballplayer.
And I know he is different than Jeff Francoeur. But from 2008 until last July 10th of last year, Jeff Francoeur was a BAD cuss word in the Corbindawg household. If you mentioned his name in my presence, you would have to literally and figuratively pardon your French.
February and March were insanely busy at work, and it required a lot of traveling. I got to listen to a lot of 680 The Fan, and in case you haven’t heard, they are the new Braves flagship station. Those of you in Middle Georgia that listen to Bill Shanks know he talks a lot of Braves. All I heard was how great Jason Heyward was going to be. He was becoming something of a tall tale, and each story seemed as if it were larger than life.
Bobby Cox compared him to Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron gushed over him with praise. Chipper Jones and Derek Lowe praised him. While these men have forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know, I thought to myself, “No player can live up to this much hype.” All I heard for weeks was how great he was going to be, and all I could think about was this:
Francoeur: The “F” word in my house
Even last Wednesday, while traveling and listening to The Buck and Kincade Show, I cringed when I heard Buck Belue announce that there was a glowing article about Heyward written by Tom Verducci in this week’s Sports Illustrated. Heyward maybe good, even great, but the hype that was being made about a 20 year old was so extreme, I didn’t think anyone could live up to it.
I have been a Braves fan longer than a Bulldog Fan. Some of my earliest memories of elementary school was Braves Day. Mom made Tomahawk sugar cookies with red sprinkles. The Dawgs had Ray Goff. I was allowed to stay up and watch the World Series against those bastard Twins.
But being a Braves fan, even with the success of the 1990s, there were great moments of disappointment thrown in.
Like a lover scorned, I refused to let myself get sucked into the Jason Heyward hype. Partly because I didn’t think he (or anyone, for that matter) could live up to the lofty expectations. But it was partly because I didn’t want to subject myself to the pain of disappointment again.
All that changed Tuesday night. That homer he hit in the bottom of the 9th did it for me. Running the bases in 18 seconds, acting like he had been there before, was truly amazing.
I am a believer. I caught J-Hey Kid Fever. He is, for lack of a better word, awesome. Just AWESOME. What impresses me the most is he looks like a 10 year veteran out there. The J-Hey Kid is becoming the J-Hey Man before our very eyes.
The next time I walk past the Heyward t-shirts in the store, I’m not passing it by.
I am sorry I doubted you, Jason Heyward.