For those of you who don't like following links, that's an update saying that Braves LHP Tom Glavine will be paying a visit to Dr. Andrews regarding discomfort in his left shoulder. Shoulder troubles ended Glavine's '08 season early, and made him ineffective in the starts when he was able to take the mound. And, we have to be honest here, our first reaction to the news was that we were glad Glavine wouldn't be eating up any innings for the Braves anytime soon.
Now, we don't wish any harm upon Glavine - or any player, unless that player be Coco Crisp - and we hate that a guy who just wants to do what he loves for another year is finding himself betrayed by an aging body. Glavine used to be a durable, 200-inning, 30-start guy, and he did it at a Hall of Fame level for many years. Now, though, his stuff isn't what it was, his control isn't what it was, and his body is breaking down. In our opinion, he is no longer a viable major league pitcher, injury notwithstanding.
So the question we asked ourselves is, was it wrong for us to be glad that Glavine may be hurt and have to miss the season? Can we, in good faith, disregard human decency in favor of what's best for the team? You have a guy in Glavine who was a mainstay with the franchise for what seems like an eternity. The Braves wouldn't have won a championship without him, nor, in all likelihood, would they have taken all those division crowns. We have no reason to dislike him as a person, and we don't like the fact that he might not be able to ply his trade anymore.
But Glavine, to us, is a piece of a greater whole - and we just so happen to really love that greater whole he represents. And we think that whole, the Atlanta Braves, would be better suited by replacing him with another, better piece. And wouldn't you know it - that better piece is right there. Tommy Hanson, one of the preeminent pitching prospects in the game, is on the cusp of the big leagues after dominating in the minors. He is younger, more talented, and possesses more potential both now and for the future than Glavine. That the Braves saw fit to sign Glavine again this offseason was disappointing to us as a fan because we want the Braves to perform as well as possible. And now, it appears that the injury bug has come and wiped out that mistake signing.
Which brings us back to our original point: is it ok to be glad that one member of the team suffers an injury if it makes the whole squad better? To which we say: sure. What it all comes down to in the end is that, much as we'd like to be, we're not part of the Braves. We can love them, hate them, whatever - they won't care. Some people (rightfully) question the sanity of sports fans simply because of this fact. And yet, to us as sports fans, the loyalty we show for our team isn't as one-sided as outsiders imagine it to be. There is an implicit contract in our fandom that the team will do its best to try to win. Whether they actually try to fulfill this contract is mostly up to the owners and general managers, but still. The idea is there that the goal of sports franchises is to win, thereby earning our love. Accordingly, we wish for events to transpire such that our team will be bettered; Phillies fans, we're sure, took nothing but delight from the Mets' collapses the last two seasons, despite the anguish Mets fans suffered (though don't let anyone tell you they didn't deserve it). Well, being happy that Glavine may miss the season and that Tommy Hanson may take his place falls in that category. We don't feel bad that Glavine suffers at the expense of the team because we as fans suffer - albeit not physically, at least in most cases - because of the team. We put up with the nadirs of losing seasons in exchange for the hope of the zenith that is a championship. That a marginal contributor to that goal misses the season in exchange for a better chance at attaining it...well, it's unfortunate, but we still tentatively offer a cheer for the future.
UPDATE: Of course, the Braves promoted Jo-Jo Reyes instead of Hanson. We'd rather have Glavine back.