I miss Ted and crappy baseball

Growing up in Atlanta in the late 80’s, one thing was pretty much a certainty – the Braves would suck.  There were some good side effects to this of course – you could get cheapo tickets for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and the just walk down the aisle to much better seats.  No one really seemed to care, because you were pretty much the only folks in the stadium anyway.  Also, the Braves had these great “half-season” ticket packages where you could get like 20 or 40 home game tickets if you were too cheap to buy a full 81 game season ticket.  The fam-dam-ily I went to lots of Braves games in the late 80’s and early 90’s (with el hermano often taking a book to read – he wasn’t much of a baseball fan).

I used to like baseball a lot more than I do now.  Baseball was the one sport I was half-decent at, and it was kind of ‘my sport’.  Then I discovered football in high school, and when I went to Michigan the football obsession really took off.  Football is simply a much more exciting spectator sport.  However, in those halycon days of Braves baseball, I watched the Braves every night.  Dale Murphy was my hero, and I can’t tell you how many Andy Griffith re-runs I watched on TBS waiting out rain delays.  Thankfully, I didn’t know what Mormon meant when I was 8.

The point I’m trying to make here, other than rampant, blathering, nostalgia, is that I had a lot more fun watching the Braves when they sucked than I do lately.  Part of that is that I have gotten older and my attention span has shrunk (thanks, modern life!), but I think part of it is that the Braves don’t really feel like they are “our team” anymore.  Part of it is that they were owned by the local eccentric millionaire – and when you have as much money as Ted Turner, you get to be called “eccentric” and not “crazy”.  They were on ALL THE TIME, and there was a certain lovable-loser quality to the team.  Ted crashed ostrich carts on the infield and it was all a lot more fun.

Still, Ted loved the team and cared about them winning.  He was willing to invest not only money, but time and oversight to the team.  Slowly, he built a powerhouse franchise that this city loved deeply in the 90s.  This city absolutely worshiped not only Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux, but McGriff, Bream, Pendleton, Gant, Belliard, and Nixon.  Give me those guys over Sheffield, Teixeira, Lofton (remember that!), or any of the high priced guys out there these days.  At least Chipper still has that underdog thing going on.  He is the most underrated player in the MLB, IMO – but he isn’t a prima dona, so there ya go.

That feeling is gone.  Every week it seems like we get snubbed by some free agent or another.  The team doesn’t even really have the “professional” attitude it had in the mid 90’s.  It doesn’t really know who it is, and the city can’t really rally behind it.  It is hard to escape the feeling that the team is sliding back into obscurity.  I might be okay with that – maybe it’ll find its soul again.

4 Comments so far

  1. crackwilding on February 22nd, 2009 @ 12:20 am

    I don’t doubt that there are people here that love the Braves, but I still don’t get a city that leaves seats empty during postseason games. I lived for many years in a city (starts with a B) where, on any night during the season you can pick out a total stranger, ask them who won and chances are you’ll get the correct answer. That’s what I miss. Postseason atmosphere in a game against a cellar-dweller in mid-April. Raucous crowds for six blocks around the ballpark. I miss that.

    Maybe things were different around here in the 90s. I don’t know, but out of four major league cities and two minor-league towns I’ve lived in, Atlanta is pretty much the most un-baseball of all them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of things about Atlanta. But to me it’s really no surprise that Junior chose Seattle. I still can’t figure out how D-Lowe wound up here.

  2. bking on February 22nd, 2009 @ 1:06 am

    Well whoopee for you.

  3. jbaker232 on February 22nd, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

    The Braves have always been more of the South’s baseball team than Atlanta’s baseball team (See this map for an accurate depiction: http://www.unitedcountriesofbaseball.com/) I still have many friends that live in small towns all over Georgia and neighboring states that follow them religiously. This franchise still has a lot of steam left and is miles ahead in popularity compared to the other sports in town (Thrashers, anyone?). The Braves still have some marketable stars in Chipper, McCann, and Francoeur and are making some good changes to the pitching rotation this year. I would like to see a return to the early 90’s model of top tier pitching.

  4. james hervey (jeherv) on February 23rd, 2009 @ 10:07 am

    crackwilding, did you live in baltimore???

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