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Bad news for a great guy

Oct 17, 2011, 2:58 PM EST

Mac Thomason

I lost contact with baseball for many years in the mid-to-late 90s. I followed it, generally, but I didn’t obsess. I rooted for my team, but it was fairly shallow. It happens to a lot of people in their 20s, even if they were hardcore fans when they were kids. Some of us find our way back. Some of us don’t.

One of the biggest reasons I found my way back was Mac Thomason. Mac is the proprietor of Braves Journal.  As Gleeman put it a few minutes ago, he’s one of the OG bloggers. Hell, he’s been around since before anyone was calling these things blogs. And it was by going to his site every day for Braves updates, analysis and fan chatter that I was able to make it all the way back from near-casual fan to the obsessive I am today.

Maybe worse than an obsessive for a while. Like a lot of people who find themselves reborn in some way, I was a bit too zealous for a little while there. By virtue of Mac’s comments section I let my vitriol regarding the late stages of the Braves quasi-dynasty run a bit too hot at times.  For example, after they traded Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada, I said that I wouldn’t watch the Braves anymore until John Schuerholz was “either fired or dead.” Oh, the things one says to a message board no one reads!

Except, people read Mac’s message board.  Important people. People like John Schuerholz, who actually quoted my comment verbatim, and the comments of several other Braves Journal readers, several years later when he wrote his autobiography. He quotes my intemperate words on page 71 in a section talking about how insane fans can be sometimes.  I apologized for that several years ago, but it still embarrasses me.

That whole episode is a testament to just how important and influential a great team-specific blog can be.  It can make and perpetuate fandom.  It can ruffle an organization’s feathers. Apart from wanting to get crappy players out of the lineup, Mac has never been one for crusades — and he has never been the type of team blogger who seeks to curry favor with the organization or get access — but he’s a smart, discerning fan who provides smart discerning (and often grumpy) commentary about his team’s travails on a day-to-day basis and that’s the kind of thing that institutions really don’t much care for. If I worked for the Braves I’d probably consider him a pain in the ass.  If I was Mac, I’d probably take tremendous joy from this.

I’m writing about Mac because today he shared some bad news with Braves Journal readers.  He’s been battling cancer for a while, but things have taken a bad turn.  He had surgery last week, but it was aborted due to the cancer having spread.  Here are Mac’s words from this morning:

From all appearances, the remaining cancer has entered a virulent stage. It is not likely to kill me directly; instead it will decrease the effectiveness of my organs by taking away the space they need to operate. The time frame is unclear, but basically I was told that the best measure if they don’t find a treatment is months rather than years.

We’re not giving up. We are, if we can, going to talk to the doctor in Indianapolis with whom I talked last year, and see if he has any ideas. There is a protocol in trials in Philadelphia which looks promising and applicable to my case. And dammit, a lot of people (including a great-uncle of mine) have lived for a long time with cancer hanging over them. Maybe it’s just the drugs talking, but I don’t expect to go any time soon. I fully expect to celebrate when the Braves lift the 2012 World Series trophy over their heads.

Great. The world’s foremost Braves blogger is depending on Philadelphia for treatment. And people wonder why I don’t believe in God.

OK, sorry. Humor and vitriol are how I deal with sad news, and this is pretty damn sad.  But, as Mac says, it’s not hopeless. And even if it was, I’m not going to give up hope because sometimes all we can do to keep our sanity in this world is to hold on to irrational hope. If not because it will make the situation better, then because it really, really pisses off the fates and dark spirits that seek to hurt us so. They want us broken. Don’t break. Ever.

If you pray, please think of doing so for Mac.  If you don’t, hold a good thought in your heart and mind.  If you’re able, please donate to Mac’s tip jar, on the right hand sidebar of the front page.  If none of those things work for you, at least consider starting ugly rumors about Fredi Gonzalez which may cause him to lose his job so that Mac doesn’t have to embark on his epic final showdown with cancer while annoyances like Fredi Gonzalez running his team float about.

I’m rooting for you, Mac.  Treat cancer like Chipper treats the Mets. Make it your bitch and then name your kid after the place it lives.

  1. Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I wish Mac the best.. His work is definitely important to us Braves fan, but I think we’d all trade in the chance to ever read another word on his blog if we knew he found a way to go on living for a long, long time.

  2. mdpickles - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    I hope Mac beats cancer like it owes him money…signed Phils fan

  3. stlouis1baseball - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    All the best Mac. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
    And like Craig says…”Treat cancer like Chipper treats the Mets.”
    “Make it your bitch and then name your kid after the place it lives.”

  4. pauleee - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Sorry to hear that. Best of luck, Mac.

    On a lighter note:

    “Maybe worse than an obsessive for a while. Like a lot of people who find themselves reborn in some way, I was a bit too zealous for a little while there. By virtue of Mac’s comments section I let my vitriol regarding the late stages of the Braves quasi-dynasty run a bit too hot at times. For example, after they traded Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada, I said that I wouldn’t watch the Braves anymore until John Schuerholz was “either fired or dead.” Oh, the things one says to a message board no one reads!”

    Ok Craig, fess up. You missed the good old days and HallidaysBicep(t) was just your trolling alt, right?

  5. 12strikes - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Very Tacky with the Philadelphia joke… I expect that in “several years” (if not already) you will be emabarrased for making that comment.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      Dude: for once — once — this is not about Phillies fans. Don’t make it that way. My goal was to say kind words about a friend and influence who will appreciate that wisecrack no matter what a certain self-absorbed fan base thinks.

      If you want to give me crap about something else later, by all means, do so. But let this one go.

      • bdawk20 - Oct 17, 2011 at 5:38 PM

        I appreciate the irony and humor in the comment (especially since your friend will appreciate it even more).

        As much as I will defend Philadelphia in sports because of the subjective nature of sports arguments, our hospital system needs no defense, which is nice for a change. UPenn and Jefferson do EXTREMELY well with Cancer treatments and CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) is the nation’s best pediatric hospital. Braves fan, Mets fan, whatever fan, you are actually in great hands in Philadelphia’s hospital system.

        UPenn does a lot of experimental cancer treatment, with the most successful being a personalized re-programming of your WBC to attack your cancer cells. I am sure there are plenty of others, but best of luck to him. It sounds like he has the right attitude, obviously we all are hoping/praying for the best.

      • A.J. - Oct 17, 2011 at 10:25 PM

        It’s a shame he’s not a kid so he can’t be treated at the hospital called “CHOP.” I think it would put a smile on any Braves fan’s face to go to Philly for treatment and find out the hospital is called (the) CHOP. I’d sure get a kick out of it.

  6. kaf39 - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Really sad news. In my prayers.

  7. Jonny 5 - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Cancer is a tough battle I wish I knew less about. After seeing many in my family fall to it. I’m now helping my cousin remodel his home to accommodate his wife as she recovers from a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, sadly she’s just 33. It’s one of the most depressing of illnesses to deal with since you never know for sure whether it will be fatal or not, or go into remission for good or not. There is never a time when these thoughts don’t swim in the back of your mind even after remission and that makes it even more sad, and more difficult to deal with. I’ve lost loved ones to this disease and expect to lose some more before eventually losing to it myself, It’s in the Genes…. I wish this Braves fan my best regardless of his misplaced fandom. This is a battle few people deserve to fight and this man seems to be one of them.

  8. El Bravo - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Always be an optimist, never a defeatist. This is a perfect time to employ this logic.

  9. Jonny 5 - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    In other news, Craig used to be an overzealous poster!! LMAO!!!

  10. kandh2004 - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    A die hard Phillies saying good luck to Mack. Cancer is the worst thing imaginable but if he can fight it just 1/10 the way he writes the blog he should be ok. Craig great joke about Philly, first time all year you made me laugh

  11. nygf - Oct 17, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    And even if it was, I’m not going to give up hope because sometimes all we can do to keep our sanity in this world is to hold on to irrational hope. If not because it will make the situation better, then because it really, really pisses off the fates and dark spirits that seek to hurt us so. They want us broken. Don’t break. Ever.

    I copied and pasted those words into a word document so I can access them easily. They really struck me, something I never really expect to happen on a sports blog. Well said. Best of luck and prayers to Mac and his.

  12. The Happy Recap - Oct 17, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    “Treat cancer like Chipper treats the Mets. Make it your bitch and then name your kid after the place it lives.”

    As a Mets fan I approve of this sentiment. All the best for Mac.

    • dondada10 - Oct 17, 2011 at 4:42 PM

      Same here, Happy Recap. I’m a die-hard Mets fan and I would like nothing more than Mac to make a speedy recovery. Which ever team he follows, his writing is quality.

  13. cur68 - Oct 17, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    When I start to feel sorry for myself I think about the people who are in this position. I hope all goes well for your friend Craig. None of us have so many friends in the world that we can afford to lose even one.

  14. baseballstars - Oct 17, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    My father’s cancer returned a few year’s ago. I helped take care of him for many years. I recently had to watch him pass because cancer had rendered his body incapable of fighting pneumonia.

    From one baseball fan to another, from one human being to another, I would like to let Mac know that my thoughts and prayers are with him.

  15. offseasonblues - Oct 17, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    Craig – sometimes you annoy me, sometimes you piss me off. Such is the life of a baseball obsessive.
    But this is my all time favorite of anything of yours that I’ve read. The human element can never be removed from baseball.
    Thank you, Shyster.

    F**k the stats, Mac!

  16. Mac Thomason - Oct 17, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Thanks to Craig, and to everyone, for the kind words and thoughts. Never give up.

    • Reflex - Oct 17, 2011 at 8:10 PM

      I saw this happen with a friend, and it didn’t end well. I wish you the best, its difficult, even if you beat the odds. Good luck and you’ll be in my prayers.

  17. frankvzappa - Oct 17, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    Somebody tell that man to check out Rick Simpson’s Phoenix Tears website…cancer has been cured, the government just doesn’t want you to know it.

    • Reflex - Oct 17, 2011 at 10:23 PM

      http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1162

      I love how you routinely prove you are a moron for us. Its entertaining.

  18. A.J. - Oct 17, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Blessings for Mac. I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma about 3 years ago and it was crazy to realize how I had cancer and could do nothing but consider myself lucky.

    The one time I was really scared was when I was just finishing treatment and I thought about how scary it would be if the cancer came back. Mac is living my greatest fear.

    This is the kind of cancer that makes my kind of cancer seem like a cakewalk. I often think back to how much support I got when I was sick, and think that I didn’t deserve it compared to these people who really had their lives on the line. It’s sobering every time you get a reminder just how bad it could be.

    • A.J. - Oct 17, 2011 at 10:44 PM

      I just wanted to add one thing. My cancer was diagnosed when I was a senior at Emory University in Atlanta, so I was treated at Emory Hospital right across the street from school.

      The greatest gift of my illness was realizing that through my 4 years of school I had been right across the street from people dealing with this stuff every freaking day. I got treatments once every two weeks, but had to go a few times between each treatment for immune system boosting shots and some of people I saw there seemed to be there getting nasty awful chemo treatments every single time I was there.

      Cancer is freaking scary, and I encourage everyone to do whatever they can to keep from living in fear and worry.
      But when you get a chance to do something for those folks around you in your community who are sitting in vinyl chairs 3, 4 or more days a week getting chemo pumped into them, take advantage of that opportunity.

  19. purnellmeagrejr - Oct 18, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    The arc of my interest in baseball is exactly as that described by Craig – what could I have been thinking about during my twenties? A career?

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