For those of you who have been reading the blogs I have been posting recently, you may have noticed I am jubilantly anticipating this upcoming season. I have spent most of my days over the last couple weeks ready people’s expectations and watching archived games on MLB.TV. I can’t get enough of it. Last night I even got a pretty good taste of it as the reigning College World Series Champion, Oregon State Beavers kicked off there title defense with a 5-0 no-hitter against Hawaii-Hilo.
I mean we took care of the bullpen problem which was the main goal of the off-season. We now might actually have the best ‘pen in the Bigs. A ‘pen that should get us about 15-20 more wins that last year’s team gave away. We have, according to SI.com, the best catcher in the league in Brian McCann. I am going to call it now and say he will be starting the All-Star Game this year. We have Andruw back for at least one more year. Chipper will hopefully be healthier. Smoltzie will once again be solid, Huddy is looking to regain whatever it was he lost crossing the country and Mike Hampton is back for the first time since 2005. Franceour will settle in and become the All-Star everyone expects him to be.
Now that I have gone off on that tangent the real reason I am writing this post is to talk about what will be missing. Since he made his debut with the Braves in 2001, Marcus Giles was the heart and soul of the Atlanta Dugout. He always brought a fire and determination to every game. He was usually the first one dirty and the first one at the top step to cheer for a teammate. He brought life to a team at the turn of the millennium that had been business as usual. Giles always had a huge smile on his face and was usually the one sitting in the dugout with his are around a teammate cheering them up.
Giles reminded me of the annoy kid brother, you would tell on to get him to go away or the fly who keeps interrupting your picnic. He started the brutal punching and body slapping that became a Braves tradition after home runs. He would get the guys to play the silent treatment to the rookies when they were due for celebration. Oh yeah the guy running past the camera after that same rookie got initiated into the Majors with the customary Shaving Cream pie. Giles was the guy you knew everyone enjoyed playing with.
I saw it first hand last spring when I went down to San Francisco to watch 3 games of a 4 game early season visit. The one day the teams actually took Batting Practice, Giles you could tell was up to no good. Telling jokes with Chipper and trying to tackle Andruw and Franceour. He even put on a show in the cage trying to hit pitches back at the screen protecting the BP pitcher. He finally hit one out of the park on his last swing out his session and promptly rounding the bases. Getting in the way of guys taking infield and trying to high five everyone he ran past.
I was really disappointed in the way he was sent packing by the Braves after he had injected new life into this organization. But this has become the nature of the business. You can’t root for the players anymore you have to root for the jersey. I am glad to see that he landed on his feet in San Diego where he gets play in front of his hometown fans and along side his brother. I am sure Franceour and McCann and the rest of the kids will keep the liveliness going, but it won’t be the same with out Giles big smile. I just want to make sure he knows after the way the Braves showed him the door that he was greatly appreciated and brought something the team had been liking. Thank you for the passion you brought to the team and the scrappy way you played the game. You will truly be missed, Mr. Giles.