You felt it first on Opening Day, and again in the back-from-the-dead rally against the Phillies in April, and again and again in the last-at-bat victories since. And you felt it Monday night, when a big crowd showed up to behold Stephen Strasburg and saw the home side win again. You felt, for want of a better word, electricity.
Electricity at Turner Field. Electricity at a Braves’ game. Electricity not felt at this venue this millennium. Electricity for a Braves’ club unlike the Braves we’d come to know and take pretty much for granted.
Larger gatherings. Tougher-minded players. And — oh, yeah; this, too — more victories.
It began with Jason Heyward hitting a three-run homer on his first big-league swing, but it has become a roster-wide thing. From Martin Prado hitting everything to Troy Glaus crushing everything to Tim Hudson re-inventing himself to Derek Lowe finding himself to Eric Hinske becoming more than just a pinch-hitter. From Kris Medlen to Brooks Conrad to Johnny Venters. From a team that had fallen on mediocrity to a club that keeps clinging to first place.
For 15 seasons the Braves won so much we got bored with the winning, but there’s no tedium to this bunch. This feels closer to the worst-to-first crew of 1991 than its more lordly successors. This team feels like an underdog, which it was when the season commenced and surely still is. This is a collection of old and young, of the unsung and the unassuming. You wouldn’t take this everyday eight over Philadelphia’s, but this everyday eight leads the Phillies by 3 1/2 games.
For 15 seasons the Braves came to own first place, and then, in 2006, they lapsed into mediocrity. They’re not mediocrities any longer. They’re in first place, and they’re fun to watch, and this has already been the most exhilarating season since the old ballpark was demolished. And it’s not yet the Fourth of July.