Monday, September 24, 2007

I Heart Brian McCann

I wonder if the door to Heaven looks something like this...

(Kidding, kidding.)

By now, you see as many #16 shirts and jerseys as #10s when you go to Turner Field. Brian McCann has rocketed to stardom in the last two years, thanks to John Smoltz naming him as his personal catcher in '05, two All-Star nominations, and a Silver Slugger award. I'm proud to say I've loved him from the beginning.

I've always loved catchers. They don't even have to be Braves. Dale Murphy, Greg Olson, Javy Lopez, Brad Ausmus, Joe Mauer, Jason Varitek...the list goes on. People will argue forever about who you should build a ballclub around -- a cleanup batter, a clubhouse leader, a future HOF pitcher -- but as far as I'm concerned, the catcher is where it all comes together. If you have a good, smart guy who studies up on his opponents, calls a good game, and isn't afraid to sacrifice his body to stop a sliding runner from scoring, you can do great things.

Back to Baby. Okay, I should probably explain why I call him that, in case someone who knows him is reading this. :) I don't call him that because I think he's my "baby". The "Baby" nickname comes from his babyface. He now wears the beard, which looks nice when it's groomed and definitely doesn't make him look five.

My adoration for him is tough to explain. First of all, he was born the same year as my little brother, so I can't see him in a Hubba Hubba way. Second, from all the reports and interviews, he's happily engaged to Ashley Jarusinski. They've been together since 10th grade; how can you NOT root for them?

Finally, I don't actually want to jump him or anything. I just want to feed him cookies.


I dragged my dad to the Braves Winter FanFest on a freezing, wet Saturday in '06, hoping to maybe meet a few of the guys and run around the field. I donated $20 to the Foundation to get my autograph wristband, but by the time we got to where Brian McCann was signing, they weren't taking any more people to see him. Boo. He looked cute in his yellow shirt, though.

The next year, everyone wasn't surprised he was elected to be an All-Star, and the Silver Slugger was expected all season. He had an outstanding rookie year, and if it wasn't for the ankle injury, may have finished tops in the race for the batting title.

I had the opportunity to meet him at a charity function the following October. He was much friendlier than I imagined, and even made a crack at Jeff Francoeur, even though Frenchy wasn't around. He was very modest about his accomplishments and, when asked by another volunteer, said his wedding date was set for December 1, 2007 (14 months away). He's an excellent golfer and he finished 6 under par, if I recall correctly.

This year's FanFest, I opted against standing in line for an autograph. I already met him, he introduced himself, asked my name, and put his arm around me and pulled me in pretty snuggly for a picture. We did head over to the area of the 755 Club where he was signing, and my brother and I ended up in the background of a picture in Chop Talk Magazine. (I was so excited about that -- I took it everywhere with me for a week or two.)

This season hasn't been Baby's best. He's put on a good bit of weight, he looks tired, and he'll have to have surgery in the off-season for a bone spur. In spite of those, he's still performing better than most catchers in the league. Next season will be even better, I'm sure. :)

I'm automatically defensive of the Braves I love, and you'd think that a picture like this, or this (that's...not his fiancee), or reading in the Braves 2007 Yearbook that his favorite magazine is Maxim would freak me out and make me not cheer for him anymore. But no. I still ::heart:: Brian McCann.

PS -- The Maxim thing, though? That has to be a joke, right? Frenchy? Huddy? Who snuck that in there?

PPS -- See? Cute!


Anonymous said...

The Drunk Heap picture! It never gets old.


Lauren T. said...

I don't think I will ever tire of that pic. :D He's so cute in that shirt.

You Don't Know Braves..... said...

Maxim actually isn't that bad of a magazine. It's not a smut magazine like Playboy. It's like a guy's version of Cosmo.

I'm a girl and I read it sometimes because it's pretty informative.

Lauren T. said...

I know -- I'm just giving him a hard time. :) At least he's being honest! (Well, I hope so...)

jennifer said...

I love catchers, too! I was a catcher in softball, so it's a natural affinity of sorts.

Just reading from the bottom up. :-)

Much Braves Love,