Bring it, Chipper!

Sorry, Chip, had to watch replay of the Buffalo-UGA tilt on TV and then catch up on all the high school games I DVR’d.

Actually, the announced attendance of 16,686 was far from the worst in baseball Tuesday night and, considering how poorly they played, the Braves should be happy there were few witnesses.

On the other hand, the Rays drew about a 1,000 more, albeit with the Yankees in town and a division title yet to be decided. I’m sure 15,000 of them were rooting for the Bombers.

Golden Age, eh Bud?

Braves attendance tough to figure

The Braves drew the smallest crowd of any home team Sunday, and that’s saying something because the Rays were playing at the Trop. Also-rans Kansas City and Seattle attracted more fans than the streaking Braves, who won their 7th in a row before just 23,382.

This comes after the local nine failed to sell out their July 4th contest against the Cubs and attracted a capacity crowd in just one of the three games vs. the Yankees.

Despite that, attendance is actually up 132,697 from this same point last year, for an average of 29,968 per game, according to Baseball Reference.

It just doesn’t feel like it.

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Off the field annoyances

The list is growing, thanks to the FSN Twitter chick. Perhaps she and Chip will be involved in an embarrassing, Bobby Petrino-esque incident that will get them both fired. Chip’s singsong narrative is driving me to drink (more).

I won’t even bother to wish for an end to Mark Owens’ obnoxious between innings patter or “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” in the 7th. But it sure would be nice.

 

 

So much for the warm fuzzies

Very disappointing night at the Ted. It should’ve been all about the greatest team in Atlanta sports history and the city’s most beloved announcer but tributes to both seemed little more than afterthoughts. Between innings it was the usual noise, with the overly enthusiastic Down’s Syndrome guy cheering on the saw and the other usual distractions. Why show a highlight of the ’91 team when you can play “Way down yonder on the Chattahooch” for the millionth time. Would’ve liked to have heard Ernie’s voice more than once as well but instead we got John Denver. For the millionth time. Hell, even the trivia question wasn’t about the ’91 Braves.

Whoever rescues this franchise from the inanimate corporate rod that owns it should, as their first act, fire the promotional hacks who seem intent on turning the ballpark experience into one that could be had at any amusement park or suburban megachurch. You guys suck worse than Derek Lowe.

And Derek Lowe sucks.Time for him to become baseball’s best-paid mop-up reliever.

As for the 10,000 overbearing Little Bears fans … I could go on and on. But why waste time on those losers when I can post the greatest rant in sports history. By the way, Lee Elia now works for the Braves.

Another stupid promotion

If you’re going to the Atlanta Braves game on July 2, bring your glove and your hoop skirt.

The Braves, the Atlanta History Center and the Margaret Mitchell House are teaming up for “Gone with the Wind Night” to celebrate the novel’s 75th anniversary. Fans who show their July 2 Braves ticket stub at the Atlanta History Center or Margaret Mitchell House afterward will receive $5 off admission to either venue.

So should black fans dress as Mammy? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Would someone with a clue please buy this team.

There’s no politics in baseball

At least there shouldn’t be. But the geniuses within MLB’s promotions office don’t agree, setting aside June 14 to commemorate Ronald Reagan‘s 100th birthday at various ballparks around the league. The Braves will mark the occasion thusly:

    President Reagan’s favorite treat, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, will be given away to the first 10,000 fans to attend the game;

Aim for Selig's head!10,000 fans at the game;

    Stewart McLaurin, Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation’s Centennial Celebration, will serve as Honorary Team Captain;
    National country artist Tim Dugger, member of the Reagan Centennial National Youth Committee, will sing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch;
    A Major League Baseball Video Tribute to Ronald Reagan will be shown; BravesVision will show Reagan trivia between innings.

How ’bout Braves Vision feature baseball trivia! I go to Turner Field to be distracted from life’s various irritants, not reminded of them. Please tell me Blockhead Hannity won’t be throwing out the first pitch.

What exactly is the point, injecting a divisive figure into a nonpartisan gathering? I suspect the event will attract as many fans as it repels. And before conservatives throw a fit, I’d be just as opposed to a day honoring JFK.

Can’t wait for Glenn Beck bobblehead night.

Rob Neyer’s Turner Field experience

I was surprised at the many thousands of empty seats. I was impressed by the huge video board. I was distressed by the volume of the P.A. system, which must have been set at 11, and dismayed by the between-innings “entertainment” that reminded me of a Tuesday night in the Midwest League.

Who does he think he is, besmirching the Midwest League like that?

Today’s read

Nice story in the AJC about the great Walter Banks:

Chatting recently with a family of five from Cincinnati, Banks suddenly noticed that the stadium clock read 7:14. He pondered this for maybe a millisecond before saying, “Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, which you probably knew. But did you know that Jack Webb’s badge number on “Dragnet” was 714. Matter of fact, Tim Hudson was born on 7/14.”

He let this sink in before adding, “Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews both hit their 500th home runs on 7/14, although one year apart, both against the Giants, incidentally, Mathews on 7/14/67, Aaron on 7/14/68.”

CD and I had a great conversation with Mr. Banks at a Braves function a few years back. Wish the team would bring back his trivia questions between innings instead of foisting loud obnoxious guy on us.

The Braves organist is taking requests

Matthew Kaminski, the best thing about Turner Field besides the Braves, is interacting with fans and even taking some requests on Twitter.

Atlanta Braves vs. Detroit Tigers – Don Kelly will get the Godfather theme ;-) about 11 hours ago via web

Atlanta Braves vs. Detroit Tigers – Blitzkrieg Bop for Ramon Santiago about 13 hours ago via web

The megachurch of baseball

Could the Braves promotional crew be less inspired? As you may have heard it’s country and western night at The Ted, which is perplexing since they beat you over the head with that crap every other home game. Of course there’s few things more entertaining than seeing a photoshopped picture of Melky Cabrera in a 10-gallon hat projected  on the giant screen. I’m sure that brought in thousands of new fans.

Look, just because we root for the Braves doesn’t mean we have the same musical taste as Chipper Jones. Would it kill them to play a song without a twang every now and then? The Braves play here, in Atlanta — not Alabama. Is an occasional Outkast tune too much to ask? Hard to understand the benefit of promoting a bland, inoffensive experience at the old ballpark (ixnay on the baseball-ay …).

And why not promote the game for a change? When’s the last time fans got to cheer Otis,  Avery, Frankie or Sid at the Ted? Instead, we get Travis Tritt.

Take away the on-field action and you’d be hard-pressed to note much difference between an evening at the Ted and opening night of the GOP convention in Orlando. Can’t wait to see Todd Palin throw out the first pitch on Real American night.

Cocktails at Azar’s revisited

Today’s AJC has an article on the lack of nightlife around Turner Field — the subject of my first Rowland’s Office post almost five years ago.

We celebrated the win with a bunch of other Braves fans on the deck of Azar’s, where the spirits are as lively as the conversation. All that revelry got us hungry, so we ventured across Georgia Ave. to the upscale Chinese eatery, Fuhwah. I can still taste the Happy Family. Wanting to work off the pounds from that late night snack, we decided to hit the links at the Fanplex. Nothing like a round of miniature golf in the heart of a big city.

Remember when our city fathers and mothers promised a revitalization of the neighborhood around the Ted, post-Olympics? To be fair, they did leave us with that hideous metal contraption next to I-20 where the flame once burned (along with the deserted mini-golf course referenced above).

Our city’s progress keepers have now turned their energies to bringing a NASCAR museum downtown. Nothing like another unnecessary distraction to hide all those broken promises.

Say hey, it’s Jay Hey

Those who were at The Ted today will tell their grandchildren they saw Jay Hey‘s first home run. I wasn’t at Game 6 of the ’95 World Series, but I haven’t heard a crowd this turned on since ’92. There were Cubs fans in attendance, but you wouldn’t know it. They were silenced after Jay Hey’s 442-foot dinger. Meanwhile, Braves fans never let up.

Jay Hey was electric, but don’t overlook Yesco’s five ribbies, Nate’s two (okay, 1 and 1/2) fantastic grabs and Wagner’s splendid ninth (hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun twice).

This could be the year.

Keeping it real(istic)

My boss has taken to mocking my optimism about the upcoming season, but I’m not wavering. However, no one’s going to confuse me with Pollyanna — especially when it comes to the ballpark experience.

I’d like to see a Braves icon throw out the first pitch tomorrow, but I’m not expecting it. I’d like the organization to realize not everyone at Turner Field is a fan of Rascal Flatts, but I’m expecting to hear more of that abominable modern country between innings. Stop playing to the tractor pull crowd — baseball fans are a much more diverse lot.

It’s one sport that doesn’t require distractions. Nonetheless, I’m expecting more at the Ted, not less. And I’d bet my life savings (granted, not a sizable wager) that we’ll be forced to endure more of that godforsaken John Denver song during the 7th inning stretch.

The good news: the on-field product should overwhelm the off-field clutter. Bobby will get his 2,500 wins (plus 4) and the Bravos will return to the playoffs.

(Remember when this song, as interpreted by the Doodletown Pipers, was the centerpiece of the Braves’ marketing campaign sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s? Sorta like Michael McDonald covering Motown.)

A Michael Bay production

I have a proposal for fellow Braves bloggers and their readers: Let’s take back our ballpark experience. A petition, a protest, whatever, but let’s do something to let the hierarchy know we’re not pleased.

First, fire the deejay. Or at least take his meth away. There’s three sound effects for every foul ball, each one on the nose. Opposing pitcher walks a Brave — cue The Proclaimers. Pitching change, “Call Me.” Silence, and spontaneity, is the enemy. Baseball games aren’t Michael Bay movies.

There’s way too many other frills besides the ongoing soundtrack, few of which have anything to do with baseball (I’m looking at you, Mark Owens). Invite Braves greats and loyal fans to throw out the first pitch, not some fat corporate exec from Verizon. Play clips from classic Braves games between innings. Enough with the incessant shilling.

And if you’re going to have a post-game concert, see if you can get someone besides a Christian rock band or Creedence Clearwater Reunion. Who’s next, Smoghat? Steely Doug?

To sum up, stop trying to attract the casual fans at the expense of those who really like baseball. BRAVES baseball. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were watching a game in Arizona or Houston. Or, God forbid, Boston. Baseball is not a distraction. Stop treating it that way.

Who’s with me?

–CB