Rooting for the home team

As I die-hard Yankee fan, I was bummed when my Bombers lost to the Red Sox early in this year's MLB playoffs, but I was happy to turn my attention to Ian Anderson and the Atlanta Braves.  But last night, I'll be honest with you, I was actually rooting against the Braves.  Kinda crazy, right?
I can explain.
As a lifelong sports fan and resident of Albany, I'm all about rooting for Capital Region athletes especially those who make it to the next level, college, pros, or otherwise.
Whether it be Kevin Huerter on the Hawks, Dion Lewis when he was a Patriot, Emma White the Olympic medalist from Duanesburg, or Abraham Nova a high-ranking local professional boxer, I  want "our people" to crush it.
And that's how I became a fan of Ian.
When he was called up to the big leagues in the summer of 2020, I remember watching his first start against the Yankees and thinking about how special this was for him, his family, the Clifton Park community, and the entire Capital Region.

Anderson makes his debut

In his MLB debut, this young stud pitcher was absolutely throwing flames at Yankee batters, dominating them.  I loved watching his composure, his grit, his fire, and the way he carried himself like a 10-year-veteran, and not a young rookie making his first start.
And when Anderson pitched the Braves to within a game of the World Series last year, that's when I got really hooked, and I wrote a story about it (which I believe he and his family saw) from a parent's perspective.

My old man

My dad - come hell or high water - would come to every baseball, basketball, or football game I ever played.  Shit, he would watch me practice. 
He used to show up to watch me and my out-of-shape friends play in our annual Turkey Bowl Flag Football game.  He'd sit in the car with the heat on, watching from a street corner somewhere, sipping a hot coffee...just watching.
I get chills thinking about it.  But that's my old man.
I'm a dad now and I have a 6-year-old son who is starting to dabble in sports and I'm thankful for every ball he wants to throw and basket he wants to shoot. When I watch him throw (he's got a little cannon, btw) I get goosebumps. It's a high I can't explain.

Shen baseball and my boy

A few years ago, I took my son Brody to watch a Shen sectional baseball game.  We rooted for the green and white because we're friends with the family of the Shen catcher at the time, and after the game, the players (led by Jack Voce) gave Brody a baseball and tossed it around with him for a bit. It was beyond generous and Brody felt like a celebrity.
When the players left to go home,  Brody and I walked out onto the Shen field and played catch for the first time together on the same field Anderson played on just a few years prior.
That was one of the greatest little bonding days Brody and I have had.
I was becoming my dad.

The time I met Ian

I met Anderson one time.  It was back in 2016 when he was only a few months removed from high school and had just been drafted by the Braves with the 3rd pick in that year's MLB draft.
He and I were at the same charity function together, and while the encounter was brief, I remember thinking he was a nice kid - way taller than I expected - and his demeanor was chill, he was composed and not at all cocky.  I liked that.
My love affair with baseball runs deep and I can't explain it.
There's something about the ballpark, the sounds, the color of the grass, the pace of the game, all of it.  I just love baseball.
So naturally, like the rest of us, I got swept up cheering for the hometown kid and rooted as hard for the Braves during the playoffs and the World Series as I ever have for my beloved Yankees.

Game 3 of the World Series

When Rexford's Anderson took the mound for Game 3 of the World Series, I was sweating every ball and strike, clinging on every pitch, and cheering for him as my Dad would cheer for me.  The entire time all I thought about was how exhilarating this must be for his entire family, but especially his father, Bob.  And nothing against his mom, I'm sure she's a wonderful woman.  But, dads...
I mean, think about it; he pitched 5 no-hit innings and won Game 3 of a World freaking Series.  One or two steps above the Turkey Bowl, if I'm being modest.

Cheering for the Astros

So that brings me to last night, Game 6 of the 2021 World Series.
Admittedly and selfishly, I was indeed rooting for the Astros.  But I was doing so because if the Braves lost, Anderson would have started and pitched Game 7 and I guess you can say I didn't want the magical run to end.
I, like many in our area, wanted to see the kid from Rexford take the hill one last time this year, dominate the Astros, and lead the Braves to a World Series Championship using rocket right arm and sniper-like composure.
But the Braves didn't need Anderson last night.  They got great starting pitching from Max Fried and their offense came out guns blazing and they smashed the Astros 7-0  on their way to the MLB Championship.

The photo

 After the game, I saw a photo that Ian's dad, Bob Anderson, posted on social media.
It was father and son, all smiles, standing side-by-side on the field, together holding the championship trophy, and with it, a perfectly stated message from Bob that read, "Every Baseball Dad's Dream!  World Series Champions!"
Who wants to wake up and get ready for Game 7, when you've just lived out your dream in Game 6.  Not me, not anyone.
I may have joined this bandwagon a little late, and yes, I selfishly wanted to extend the journey for one more night.  But take a look at this photo below.
I think it's safe to say it ended exactly when it should have.
Congrats to Ian and the entire Braves organization on their World Championship.
Thanks for the ride!

LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

Gallery Credit: Peter Richman

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