...This isn't exactly what I had imagined it would be like, but for what it is worth, I cannot really complain.
Greetings, Rowbots (may I call you that?). No, I'm not here guns blazing, trying to save face for the Braves, while only inadvertently losing more, for my hometown boys. I'm not here to troll, and I'm certainly not here to stir up any trouble. Regardless of what your opinion of Atlanta Braves fans in general are, I don't play those games. I say this with sincerity, that I am happy for you guys.
I come to Purple Row, calm and relaxed, with a desire to share my thoughts and experience of an amazing night with those whom might appreciate it the most.
As the subject of my intrepid story reads, yes, I always wanted to see a no-hitter live. I also aspire to travel to every Major League Park (you'll inevitably hear from me again when Colorado appears in my crosshairs), and I want to get autographs and photos with umpires Tim McClelland and Tom Hallion. And tonight, one of those lofty goals, has come true, with Ubaldo Jimenez's inhuman no-hit owning of my Atlanta Braves.
Congratulations to a truly phenomenal performance by an amazing, young, hard-throwing talent. I'm truly happy for you Rowbots and other Rockies fans for getting the joyous privilege of seeing one of your own boys achieve the truly rare. Hats off to the Rockies tonight.
But enough of the complementary words there, otherwise I come off sounding too lame (inconceivable!). Instead, because I know as a sports fan, there is a small sadistic pleasure in the ache the opposition feels when they're losing, I share to you some thoughts going through my head as the night progressed.
It was after the end of the 4th, when after Troy Glaus struck out for the 431st time this season with one out with Chipper Jones on third base, and then Yunel Escobar tapped harmlessly to third, that I said it: "No hitter alert!" Naturally these kinds of superstitious jinxes work best when it's one of your own, seeking the glory, but I figured, what the heck - It was still quite early in the game, and Jimenez was a little wild, and had walked a batter in every inning prior, and as we all know as baseball fans that WALKS. KILL., there was no way Jimenez would be able to play with fire all night and not eventually get singed. No way.
The next thing I know the 6th inning was over, with Jimenez making quick work of Mr. 14-game hit streak Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann. I texted my best friend (who is a Nationals fan and has little vested interest in either of our teams) "jimenez no hitter thru 6" This is where I told myself, that I was going to leave when the Braves broke up the no-no. And then a chill went down my spine - if they broke up the no-no.
In the 7th inning, I watched Troy Glaus clobber a pitch into the gap in left center, and everyone at Turner Field is on their feet, and you can hear the collective gasp in the park as the no-hitter was about to be broken. But instead, Dexter Fowler sprawls out onto the grass, and comes up with the baseball. Cue collective grown throughout Turner Field. At this point, I'm texting to my friend "you know how every no hitter has a highlight catch" and before I can finish out my message, Fowler makes a sweet running grab of a Yunel Escobar flare to shallow center. "dexter fowler just made two," stated my revised text message. Seconds later, "no hit through 7 105 pitches," to which his response was simply "Interesting."
Not going to lie. With Melky Cabrera, likely and confirmed, Eric Hinske, and Nate McLouth due in the 8th, there wasn't much surprise to their eliminations. "through 8 114 pitches" To my friend nearby I say that I can already hear the ESPN montage in my head now.
So now we're in the bottom of the 9th, and I'm standing because I can't sit anymore. I'm kind of in a no-lose situation here, because either the Braves break up the no-hitter, and save some face, or I witness a little bit of history, and the least likely of my baseball fan aspirations. I know I'm supposed to be rooting for my boys to win, but let's face it; we have a joke that the Braves can only score runs for Derek Lowe (as evidenced by the previous night), regardless of his overall statistical mediocrity, and all the other pitchers were kind of SOL. So the thought of some 9th inning magic to the tune of at least four runs just didn't feel that likely with the way the Braves were playing that night.
Martin Prado, and his ridiculous .400+ batting average, along with a 14-game hitting streak on the line. He nursed two walks, but struck out looking his third time up. Certainly our most reliable hitter thus far can break up the no-no? Instead, he pops to 2nd.
Not going to lie, there were actually people unaware of the situation, and began to get up and leave at this point. And there were people so dedicated to the Atlanta Braves, that they couldn't bear to see them get humiliated by yet another no-hitter in their home park in the last six years, who began filing out - which makes me question myself, am I not as big a fan as I think I am, because I find myself a little giddy starting at the possibility of the excitement of the Braves getting no-hit?
Regardless, now Ubaldo is up against Chipper Jones, whom despite a little bit of a slow start, should still command some respect in late-innings. But there was obviously some killer-instinct adrenaline going on there, because Chipper flied out to left without much difficulty.
Brian McCann, arguably the best catcher in the National League, and second to only Joe Mauer in all of baseball. Surely, our sweet-swinging hometown hero could pull through; after all, there was this one occasion where of all players, Jason Bergmann had a no-hitter through seven innings, only for McCann to break it with a homer. Instead, McCann grounds to Barmes, Barmes to Helton, and the celebration is on.
And here's a small pictoral montage of the celebration from the nosebleeds - sure, they suck and pale in comparison to the AP photos that are going to be surfacing in the next hours, but hopefully you guys'll see the "personal" touch behind them.
Icing on the cake? A small clip of the fan-reaction of the occasion. Lots of booing, but believe me, there was certainly a lot of clapping from the baseball fans that know a rare feat when they see one, myself included, once the camera stopped rolling.
As for the Braves, I'm not mad about the loss, and I'm not mad about being on the wrong side of a no-hitter. Losing is a part of sport, and I have accepted, and been capable of handling it better this year. I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed.
I want to end this diatribe by saying "there's always tomorrow," and "we'll get you next time," but that's not exactly the case anymore. No-hitters are the exception. Such a rare feat, that they'll always stand out amongst the great pitcher vs. team stories in history.
The Braves and Rockies will inevitably face each other again in Colorado at some point this year, and there's no question that the Jimenez no-hitter will be mentioned within five minutes of the first pre-game and telecast. As I'm sure you guys are aware, there are lots of predictions pegging the Rockies to win the NL West, and face the Wild Card Braves in the NLDS. No matter if even the Braves win out the rest of the games against the Rockies, Ernie Johnson, Chip Carey, Cal Ripken and the rest of the TBS crew will speak of the Jimenez no-hitter, and the rigors and unpredictable danger of the short series. No matter what happens to Jimenez's career in the future, if he stays in Colorado, or goes elsewhere, whenever he pitches against Atlanta, the Jimenez no-hitter will always be mentioned. Whenever I'm in a [urinating] contest with other sports fans about almost witnessing a no-hitter, I'm always going to win, because I was there, when Ubaldo Jimenez no-hit the Atlanta Braves in twenty-ten.
There's history for you, folks. It's a beautiful thing. Thanks for reading.