Joining the Major Leagues
January 15, 2016
The Braves finally seemed secure with their 8-5 eighth-inning lead against the Marlins.
There were five ties or lead changes in the first five innings, but lefty reliever Andrew McKirahan had eighth-inning duty. He’d been solid since returning from his performance-enhancing-drug suspension.
So my lead was safe, I reasoned, and now I could fine-tune the rest of my 22-inch gamer.
But then McKirahan walked his first batter, Ichiro Suzuki.
Then Adeiny Hechavarria beat out a sacrifice bunt on a defensive miscommunication.
“Oh gosh,” I thought. “It’s going to be one of those innings.”
It was. Five minutes and five batters later, Miami had tied it at 8-8.
Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete. Goodbye, lead.
Earlier that day Ray Cox and Thomas Stinson, two of my editors at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, joked that this game ought to be a blowout already decided in the sixth inning.
“Just watch. It won’t be decided until the very end,” I responded.
Looks like I was right.
I was totally prepared for this, though. During my summer internship with the AJC I primarily served as a Braves beat reporter, aggressively covering the team with pregame notes, pregame features, sidebars, off-day stories, breaking news, immediate web gamers and minor league check-ins.
But tonight I was a one-man band, so I was writing the in-depth gamer along with the immediate web gamer.
My fingers rested millimeters above my keyboard in the bottom of the eighth, ready to crank out a new lead and details about the game’s hero.
Enter Atlanta’s Eury Perez, who singled in the game-winning run with two outs.
All right, it’s go time.
I had four outs to finish my 22 inches. My fingers darted from keyboard to game notes and back. I could hear all my colleagues in the press box frantically typing right along with me and I couldn’t help but crack a smile.
Here I was, a young reporter taking on the entire Braves beat during one of the more hectic home games of the season. I was having the time of my life. I was experiencing exactly what I imagined when I first learned how to be a reporter from professors like Alane Lockwood at San Diego State.
That last out came within seconds, it seemed, and I filed all my content and hustled down to the clubhouse for quotes.
When I returned to my laptop, I noticed a new email from Ray, my head editor.
This email didn’t have any content. Just a five-word subject line.
“Welcome to the major leagues.”
Matt Bain (journalism senior, expected graduation May 2016)
Photo Credit: Kendall Tramell