LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — In the past few days here at Braves camp in Florida — or possibly North Dakota, sometimes I can’t tell with the weather — I’ve tried to mix some off-beat blogs in with the normal stuff. And so, we brought you closeups of the parking lot where rookie Jason Heyward has been crushing the cars of team executives and the new massive $5,000 tattoo on Eric Hinske’s back.
Today, we bring you the football brilliance of Brian McCann. Yes, that is McCann behind the sunglasses and wearing a converted wrestling heavyweight championship belt. (True story: I had to help him get the belt on. It made me feel like a member of his entourage. Suddenly, I had the urge to yell, “You’re the champ!”)
It’s a Sunday. So this is kinda timely. McCann won his football fantasy league. It’s comprised of 12 Braves players. He stomped Tim Hudson for the championship. He bragged about a key late-season trade that brought him Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson. If McCann can learn the nuances of the salary cap, I’m sure he’ll be line to replace Thomas Dimitroff in Flowery Branch.
Anyway, McCann was so excited about his title that he went onto eBay and typed, “championship wrestling belt” into the search window. Then he bought one. For $350.
“There were a ton of them, ranging from $350 to $15,000,” said McCann, who apparently went on the cheap. “Every year I have the worst team. So I knew if I ever won the championship, I was going to let everybody know it.”
The word “wrestling” was on the belt. So McCann had somebody grind it down. Then he replaced it with the letters, A.B.F.L. (Atlanta Braves Fantasy League). You see, he’s not low-keying this. The belt sits on top of his dressing cubicle at spring training. I’m pretty sure it can be seen from China.
Here’s something else: The Braves in this A.B.F.L. are so into this thing that when the NFL and MLB seasons overlap, it’s not unusual during Sunday baseball games to have somebody keep up on the football scores.
Said Chipper Jones, “Whoever is sitting on the bench and not playing, they are summoned to check out the scores. It’s like, ‘Hey, did Drew Brees throw any touchdown passes?”
Jones quickly added that this happens only in “very isolated” situations. Yeah. Sounds better.
Not surprisingly, smack talk is big in this league, particularly after the baseball season when the players communicate on a message board.
“We lost some of the funniest banter when [McCann's] little brother left,” Jones cracked, referencing Jeff Francoeur. “When Frenchy and [John] Smoltz were in the league, I wouldn’t turn on the computer until 12:50 because of how bad it was.”
Earlier posts from Braves’ camp: