Read the opposing argument from Sports Geek.
As a lifelong Braves fan, I’ve been excited for some time now about the arrival of Jason Heyward. He’s essentially a hometown hero, having grown up in McDonough, Georgia, which is about 25 miles south of Atlanta on I-75. Once he was drafted in the 2007 MLB draft and later signed, the buzz started building. The hype hit a peak this Spring when he littered the players’ parking lot in Spring training with home run balls. It actually forced the Braves’ hand and made them make plan to install a net in front of the parking lot. Yet through all of this, there was still some doubt that Heyward would be on the opening day roster. If the Braves left him off the opening day roster, they would have had control of him for an extra year as far as his contract goes. Fortunately for the Braves and Braves fans, they decided to not only keep J-Hey (as he is often referred to) on the roster and slot him in as the starting right fielder.
Making his debut at a frenzied and sold out Turner Field on April 5 against the Chicago Cubs, Heyward homered in his first at-bat, drilling a Carlos Zambrano 2-0 pitch 446 feet deep over the right field wall. That helped lead the Braves to an opening day 16-5 victory. That was only the beginning, as the seal has just broken. Taking a quick look at the Braves first 19 games, Heyward has had a big hand in many of the Braves games thus far and has already established himself as the leading candidate for National League rookie of the year.
On April 18, with the Braves trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth to the Colorado Rockies, Heyward went opposite field with the bases loaded to knock in two runs to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Just two days later, against the Philadelphia Phillies, Heyward tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a home run. It’s a game the Braves went on to win in extra innings. Those are two games in the past nine days are games that the Braves likely would not have won without the services of Heyward. Ironically enough, those are the only two games in the past nine days that the Braves have won!
Heyward’s also brought buzz to a city that has been itching for its baseball team to return to greatness. Granted, the Braves are currently 8-11 and in the midst of a six game losing streak, but are somehow only three games back in the NL East. And yet, the talk of the town is fixated on Heyward. Attendance is up at Braves games, which is saying something as attendance usually does not pick up in Atlanta until school lets out for the summer. He is drawing comparisons to Ryan Howard, who, in case you haven’t heard, became very rich yesterday. I have friends who check the box score just to see how Heyward did. Braves fever is catching back on! If the Braves turn it around on the field and get in a pennant race this summer, you will really see this thing take off.
The bottom line in this debate is that you cannot worry about what happens five years from now. I’m a firm believer in that those things tend to take care of themselves. That’s an issue for another day. Today, it’s important to focus on winning. Having Jason Heyward in the lineup gives the Braves the best chance to win.