Here it is, Opening Day! The new Braves take the field versus National League East nemesis Philadelphia. Ready or not, Braves fans will have an infield without Chipper Jones, someone other than Brian McCann behind the plate, and no daily game of “Where on the Field is Martin Prado”.
What is the same is the old reliable Tim Hudson on the mound. At 37 years old, you can count on Hudson commanding the cutter, just as you can count on the “War Eagle” for the former Auburn star. Hudson has lead by example since joining the Braves in 2005. Do not mistake his laid back nature and often comical interviews for lack of killer instinct. Anyone that has watched the veteran compete knows that while he may have us laughing of the field, on the field there are no laughing matters. (Well, there was that time he fell off the mound versus Baltimore. As someone who frequently embarrasses myself in similar manners, if you cannot laugh at yourself, you are the only one not laughing.)
You have heard how Jason Heyward has stepped up in the absence of Chipper, and you are all anxiously waiting to see for yourselves. What you should hope for is not a new leader, but the youngsters that may or may not have won on Monday because of where they may or may not have been on Sunday, have matured enough to take hints from the guy who shows them how it is done whether he tells them or not. Hope that they have learned to take responsibility for bad outings and to work that much harder not to repeat mistakes; to feed off the success of teammates, but not be dependent upon it; but most of all, work hard and enjoy ever second and never take for granted being a ball player.