Sport is a beast of fickle fancies. It is a temptress, a tease, our best friend and ally, a locus of anguish, the nexus between long-lost dreams and hopes for the future. Sport gives us something to believe in, someone to root for, a team or individual on which to project ourselves. Vicariousness is a human necessity – at times, we need to be able to feel that we are something that we actually aren’t. And sport gives us that. Sport lets every child who has no chance of ever becoming a professional athlete believe that one day, he or she will stand alongside the greats. Sport lets us dream, it makes anything possible. And in times like these, the importance of such a thing should not be underestimated.
And it would seem that at the moment, the Atlanta Braves are doing the impossible. With their win over the Miami Marlins on Friday night, the Braves extended their current winning streak to 14 games, the longest since the Oakland Athletics won 20 straight in 2002.
The streak marks the fourth longest in Braves’ franchise history, eclipsed only by the 2000 Braves’ 15-game win streak, and the Boston Beaneaters’ 17 games in 1897 and 18 games in 1891.
Going into the All-Star break, the Braves seemed lethargic, tired, worn-down. They limped to the halfway point, going 6-7 over their last 13 games. The second half didn’t start much better; the team lost two of its first three games to the Chicago White Sox, dropping the series, and then spilt a four-game series with the New York Mets. And then Tim Hudson was injured.
Since then, the Braves have gone 14-1, dropping only the first game after Hudson’s broken ankle. The lead in the NL East is insurmountable, and the Washington Nationals are now in danger of not being able to make up enough ground to earn a Wild Card spot.
Streaks like this are what fans live for. The Braves have given their faithful something to believe in (not that they haven’t been doing so all season long). They’re winning for themselves, of course. But what they may not know is that they’re winning for countless others as well.
At risk of dipping too deep into sentimentality, performances like this inspire people, give them something to look forward to when they might be struggling with any of life’s many hardships. This winning streak isn’t just for the team, it’s for anyone who is willing to pay attention. Keep it up Bravos; in a time of dishonesty and downright cheating, you’re a shot in the arm for sport fans everywhere.