Let the memorable journey begin

While we don’t know where this journey will lead, those of us (fans and media members) who follow the Braves on a daily basis are seemingly guaranteed to enter this offseason knowing that they have witnessed something special. 

As Jason Heyward introduces himself to what appears to be a bright future, Bobby Cox prepares to say goodbye to a job and organization that he has loved since Ted Turner provided him his first stint as the Braves manager in 1978. 

Hank Aaron will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before this afternoon’s Opening Day game at Turner Field.  As the living legend stands on the mound and hears the cheers provided by a sold-out Turner Field, Heyward can dream of the day when he might be held in the same high esteem. 

But even when you consider how great Aaron was and how great Heyward might prove to be, I still believe that 20 or 30 years from now you could still argue that Cox was the most influential man in the history of a Braves organization that dates back to 1876. 

Those players who were part of the 1982 club that claimed the 1982 National League West crown appreciated Joe Torre’s leadership and recognized that the accomplishment was a product of the determination that Cox had displayed while serving as Atlanta’s manager the previous four years. 

When Cox returned to serve as the general manager in 1986, the organization had once again positioned itself to be the laughingstock of Major League Baseball.  But with the assistance of Paul Snyder and Bobby Dews, Cox changed the attitude and direction of an organization that still provides a blueprint that other organizations strive to follow. 

As this season progresses, criticize Cox just like you have in the past. He certainly doesn’t want to be treated any different during what many of us are calling his farewell tour. 

But when it’s time for Cox to say goodbye, the masses should recognize that no man has ever proven to be as loyal and beneficial to this organization and the city of Atlanta. 

After leading the Blue Jays to the 1985 American League East title, Cox jumped at the opportunity to return to his home in Atlanta to complete what he had started from 1978-81. 

This marks the start of the 25th season since Cox returned to serve as the Braves general manager and once again the city of Atlanta anticipates Opening Day with a sense of excitement and optimism. 

It seems only fitting that this journey would allow Cox to experience at least one more run into the postseason.  But even if he and his troops fall short of this goal, Braves fans will still have reason to look back on this year and realize they had the opportunity to follow the end of a historic run.   

For the first time in recent years, I think the Braves truly have positioned themselves to be a playoff participant.  In fact, I think they have what it takes to possibly overthrow the Phillies as NL East champs.  But as we’ve been reminded over the past few years, you really never know what you will encounter over the course of the marathon known as a 162-game season. 

BRAVES OPENING DAY LINEUP
Melky Cabrera 8
Martin Prado 4
Chipper Jones 5
Brian McCann 2
Troy Glaus 3
Yunel Escobar 6
Jason Heyward 9
Nate McLouth 8
Derek Lowe 1

41 Comments

Thank God this season is here! I’m really excited to kick off the 162-game-six-month-marathon that is baseaball season. I talked all about the biggest stories of the spring on my blog, read and enjoy!

http://bravesblogbyjake.mlblogs.com/

I agree, this team can win the NL east this year. They need to take care of business right now if they are going to do it. A tough April lies ahead.

I like the look of this opening day lineup, even with McClouth in the 8 spot. No reason this lineup won’t produce more runs than last year and with this pitching staff, that should be all we need.

I share the excitement with all my fellow Braves fans. I hope this season will be memorable and I’m looking forward to see the Braves take once again their place among the elite teams in MLB. So the best is yet to come! Go Braves!

Eh there’s the underachieving Melk Man…I hate anyone who takes the bat out of Diaz’s hands.

STOP YOUR B*TCHIN AND LET’S PLAY BALL!!!!!!!

And so grows the legend…….WoW

Wow. That’s still about all I can say. This is my 10th year on the beat and I’m going to have to say that the Heyward HR might have been the greatest moment that I’ve witnessed. Before this, I would have likely ranked McCann’s HR against Clemens in the 2005 DS as the top moment.

What the heck, Lowe? Already?

Sorry. Positive. Melky got a walk. Come on Prado…

WELCOME TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES JASON HEYWARD!

JASON FREAKING HEYWARD!!!!!!!!!

Wow. Think I got a little teary there.

Jason, I think I’m in luv!!!!

I think Zambrano is about to blow an engine

The swing looks like it had the ease of hitting a golf ball out of a trap, but with the force of a flat bed tracker trailer barreling down the highway at 120mph.

*tractor trailer

I’m surprised that they didn’t give him the patented Braves Dugout Silent Treatment. I don’t think they could have pulled it off after that though. Hell I even love you now, Viva. :) I’ve got a grin from here to ATL. Now let’s get Derek going. Nice play Yuni.

Two good plays showing better than average range from Yuni – average from him. I remember him being a little slow last year.

But maybe I’m just excited because JASON HEYWARD just crushed a ball and put us back up on top..

Does Glaus know that it’s always a force at first? My dog is wondering why I am jumping from couch to love seat and back. He IS wearing a Braves hat for the opener though.

Nice catch by McLouth. Made up for striking out on a really ugly pitch.

Is it just me, or has the MLBlogs server been eating comments?

All right, we’re back. Good on Glaus to get off the schneid.

Eric Hinske with a TRIPLE????
Hey, I had to step out for a minute during the 6th inning. So the umpires really didn’t overrule that McLouth “diving catch?”

Take that Phillies. You think a measly 11 runs against the Nationals is something to cheer about???? We are so far ahead the ump is calling anything that doesn’t hit the backstop a strike. Hinske spanked that one.

The look on Hinske’s face when he got up at third was priceless.

Team-Cycle in game one. Beautiful. Hinske Triple? Wow.

And I think we all know that – unlike Schafer’s first at-bat homer last year – Heyward is going to take us places, and fast!

Is it safe to say that B Mac enjoys hitting without glasses, he has been on fire, and its carried over to the start of the season.
But I can’t help but comment on the new “Hammer” for Atlanta, Jason Heyward. Holy cow, this kid is incredible. Just imagine the outfield we will have if Schafer realizes his potential…

If you had asked me this morning what my perfect Braves opener would have looked like, I wouldn’t have shot this high. I mean what I love about this lineup is it’s incredible home grown core. Prado, Yunel, Heyward, McCann what a nucleus to build around. These guys maybe the best middle of the lineup in baseball and with an avg contibution from Chip and Troy we will be playoff bound. Lowe looked like the last half of 2009 unfortunately but he might win 18 with this lineup. This team is gonna hit, and then hit some more. The only trouble will be when Yuni and McCann become FA eligible, but thats a problem for another day. Espn Baseball tonite is talking about hitters, Ryan Howard, Jason Heyward and Albert Pujols. God has this kid created some incredible hype early. Please dear god don’t put him on the SI cover. Don’t call him “the Natural”. Calm down sports shows.

Like Viva, I DID get teary-eyed seeing that. Jason’s Dad is one proud man, you know it. I got teary-eyed again watching the video clip after the game. The broadcasters on ESPN said that Bobby was quoted as saying something to the effect of “After all the circus hype, was there any doubt he wouldn’t do that?” I remember thinking to myself as he approached the plate for that first AB, “If anyone deserves to hit a HR in his first MLB at bat, it’s Heyward.” I think that’s what made my eyes well up. I was just as proud of him. Hell, my son only patronizes me with my love for the Braves. He’ll say “cool” when I tell him we won and act excited. So, I’m officially adopting Jason as my son who shares in my love for the game and this great team lol.

On a side note, did anyone see the play of the year by Mark Buehrle? That was one amazing play. Check MLB.com for the story link. If you can’t find it, use your mlb.tv subscription to watch the top of the 5th. You’ve seen the diving catches, running up the outfield wall, a shortstop going into shallow left and throwing against his body to nail the guy at first, but you’ve never seen a play like this.

I don’t think that Lowe looked like Lowe of last half at all. In the first, he was the victim of a tiny strike zone. Hence, he made adjustments and worked his way through it. Don’t forget he got Ramirez and Soriano out in that inning, Lowe from last half of 09 would have given up five in that inning. And no one, including billreef, will be able to convince me that Ramirez was not the biggest reason behind the second HR. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a great hitter. Fact of the matter is that Lowe got a TON of groundball outs and his pitches had a lot of movement. Now, I’m not going to say that Lowe was perfect or even ace status yesterday, but he was dealt the hand of a small strike zone and worked through it like a tough veteran. Lowe was in such a bad funk at the end of last season, he probably only would have lasted two innings.

I think the Cub’s should be much more concerned about Zambrano, than we are about Lowe.

Zambrano didn’t blow up and act like a baby, but he went to the complete other side of the spectrum and just looked like he didn’t care. I don’t condone acting like a fool, but I would much rather you show me there is some fire in your belly, instead of being ho hum after throwing the ball 15 feet over the third basemen’s head and allowing another run to score.

Yeah the first HR Lowe gave up, the pitched moved back over the plate. The pitch on the second HR hit it’s spot perfectly, but unfortunately, Ramirez hit his spot even better.

most important outcome of the game was mclouth getting a base hit and showing range in the outfield – he really needed a good opening day to get back on the right track.

My high point was Yunels 5 RBI’s and nobody’s even talking about it. Great clutch hitting, as usual, and career high RBI day for him. He just picked the wrong day to do it with everyone fawning over Heyward. He had a good day in the field too. He and Prado are turning into a tandem, I think we are gonna see some glove this year from those too because they have had some time to get used to each other. Look for some special flashy Latin style DP’s from the tandem.
And like dylan above I too was glad to see McLouth show some range in the outfield. It was a pleasant change from last year when he wasn’t running down much of anything. As to his hitting, the 8 hole might do him well. Take some pressure off and let him grip and rip a little. I don’t think Nate will ever be a top of the lineup hitter, he hasn’t shown that kind of avg in the bigs. I think it was a little unfair to him to put him at the top of what was a struggling lineup last year and expect him to excel. This lineup is gonna be too good to let a .260 hitter sit at the top of it.
Glaus looked like he was pushing it a little yesterday, I hope he can settle in, realize he doesn’t have to carry the team and start finding his big stroke again. This team is gonna hit a lot of Home Runs…… The launching pad is baaaaacccckkkkk.

I have a feeling the guys on the team are pretty high on Heyward as a person. When he hit that ball it looked like every single person immediately jumped out of the Braves’ dugout.
I think Braves fans tend to overlook what Yunel does because we know that he is behind only Hanley as the best SS in the NL.

Yunel is on track to have 800 RBIs this season. I think he can pull off at least 600.

I agree, Yunel showed how clutch of a player he is. . . . how nice is it to have him hit 6th. If Glaus/B Mac can’t drive it in, you know Yunel will. Don’t forget about that amazing play Yunel and Prado made on the double play last year. I love this team, its going to be a fun season.

And Chipper is on pace for 162 SB this year. I’m calling it! You heard it here first!

Also, in their first game of the season, Soriano beats Mike Gonzalez in the 9th inning. Really wish that was the other way around.

I think the thing that most excites me is seeing how everyone else is excited about Braves baseball this season. Seeing the Ted packed out yesterday was awesome and seeing about 40 comments on this post just really makes me feel like this is the season that the fans will help lift this team back on top. Don’t underestimate the part a packed house can play in a division title run!

Apparently the opener was the 4th largest crowd at the Ted.

I’m excited to hear about the capacity crowd, and I think this team has the chance to be really special… however – After last season’s opening series against the Phils, I will reserve my giddiness for now. It was a very quick fall to mediocrity last year. Not to be a downer, but I don’t want to get my hopes up too high just yet.
With that being said – Heyward’s blast was EPIC. We’ll be talking about that for decades.

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