V Vernacular

02/02/2008 (8:55 pm)

Turner Field

Filed under: Preseason

It occurred to me last month that I’ve already been to more hockey games this season than the number of Braves games I went to last year. I’m a very casual hockey fan, I rarely watch on TV, and wouldn’t recognize anyone on the team (except for Lehtonen, cause of this, and Exelby, cause, that hair) if they walked up and slapped me. The hockey games are such a fun experience; if I could afford it I would buy season tickets in a heartbeat. The fact that the daiquiris they sell in Phillips Arena are asskickers while the ones at Turner Field are 99% ice and 1% food coloring notwithstanding, I really enjoy the experience of a live Thrashers game so much more than a live Braves game.

This is partly because Atlanta Spirit or whoever works on the Thrashers in-game programming does a good job, but mostly because the in-game programming at Turner Field sucks. Yes, they both show the same soul-crushingly unfunny blooper reel. I guess that is just unavoidable outside of Wrigley and Fenway. But I brought a couple of friends from out of town to a game at Turner Field last summer, and was actually embarrassed by all the ridiculous sound effects and other bullshit.

There are some in-game things I enjoy: I like “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” because it’s just awful enough to be fun. Anything involving karaoke on the giant TV is usually amusing, and making the players participate was a stroke of genius last year (probably Frenchy’s idea, though. He wants to be a singer only slightly less than he wants to be Dale Murphy. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he really wants to be Dale Murphy). I also like it when they play “Do Right” to taunt the opposing relief pitchers.

Everything else is obnoxious. Hot girls are always a fan favorite, but I’m so fucking sick of the t-shirt canon and that shitty musical accompaniment. The Braves need to take a cue from the Thrashers and have their hot girls perform important maintenance on the playing surface before the game. To hell with this t-shirt crap: the Thrashers give their girls in short skirts a list of tasks that all involve bending over. I mean, if you’re gonna employ hot girls, don’t fuck around. I don’t care if they start stripping during the seventh inning stretch, I don’t even mind if they do so while simultaneously shooting t-shirts into the crowd, but the current pre-game t-shirt throwing routine is uncomfortably lame, and has got to go.

Even worse are the video segments meant to get the crowd pumped. I understand the purpose of trying to get the crowd pumped; God knows Braves fans often need it. But I’m pretty sure whoever puts together these videos secretly hates the Braves. It may in fact be Mark Wohlers. Nothing pisses me off more than when we’re down by five in the ninth and they show some goddamn “HAY GUYS REMEMBER THIS ONE GAME WHEN THEY SCORED SIX RUNS IN THE NINTH” video. It’s called a jinx, for one thing, and shut the hell up, for another. The pre-game “entrance” video is depressing, too. I don’t know why this shit works for me at the Thrashers games (they have similar, less awful videos) and not with the Braves. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive about the seriousness of baseball. Maybe the Braves just need a new video editor.

In general, there is something special about going to Phillips that I’ve never really felt at Turner. Part of it is that the fans who actually show up for the Thrashers are into the game from start to finish. I hate to trash talk Braves fans, because there are those of us who aren’t more interested in eating our quesadillas than watching the game, but I’m beginning to accept that we’re in the minority. Even in the dugout level last year, there were people who made me wish I was just at home watching on TV without having to listen to a detailed description of their new dieting resolutions. I actually walked all the way to the back of the mostly empty 400 level to watch the last game I attended in 2007, and it was the best experience I had at the field all year, by far. Save of course for the roaming children who stampeded through briefly, bored with the game and pretending to be dinosaurs. I could do a whole post on how horribly behaved and disinterested most kids are at Braves games, but I guess there’s nothing the in-game entertainment crew can do about that, except be even more obnoxious in an attempt to entertain them.

Hopefully Turner will leave a better taste in my mouth this year. I have had great experiences with awesome crowds at Braves games, but I can’t rely on that to happen every time, or even often, like I can at Thrashers games.

Unrelated but necessary: the fact that Dave O’Brien thinks he deserves to have a Hunter Thompson tattoo kinda ruined my day.

02/01/2008 (9:42 pm)

Pitchers, Catchers, and Frenchy (and Andruw)

Filed under: Frenchy,Heap,Preseason

Today is the one year anniversary of this blog, and it’s also the first day of voluntary “show up at Turner Field and dick around” day for the Braves. Well, that’s not true: the pitchers and catchers are there doing important work to prepare for spring training and the 2008 season. Frenchy, on the other hand, just showed up because he heard the AJC would be taking pictures.

But hey, that’s why I love Frenchy. I’m excited about the new season, and it’s fun just to think about the guys working out at the field while Roger furiously takes notes in his little diary. There are so many preseason issues to discuss, I don’t know where to start. All I can think at the moment is:

Heap . . .

Don’t let Frenchy cut your hair.

I’ll be posting every day from here on out, and I have a lot I want to talk about before spring training starts. But to commemorate this blog’s first full year in operation, I think just posting the first Frenchy ‘n Heap picture of the season is appropriate. (That’s Frenchy’s butt on the left.) Perhaps the first picture of These Two can be looked upon to determine the quality of the season ahead. If so: Frenchy’s butt, Heap with dorky hair. I’m not exactly sure, but I think that means we’ll get the Wild Card and lose the NLCS to the Reds. BRING IT ON.

01/29/2008 (7:08 pm)

Semi-Apocalyptic Trade News

Filed under: Preseason

I wasn’t really paying attention to the Santana hoopla, assuming the Yankees would get him and generally not giving a shit about the American League, but apparently the Yankees Jr. have struck a “tentative deal.”

So they’re spending wildly to get one of the best pitchers in baseball and we’re bringing home old guys who we’re nostalgic about. Neat.

I don’t even have the energy for a Glavine disclaimer. But here’s one anyway: I know many love him and are optimistic. I hope to join you in that happy place soon.

03/31/2007 (8:17 am)

That Looked A Little Familiar

Filed under: Preseason

How happy did Orr look last night, knowing he made the 25 man roster? Kind of makes you want to slap him, eh? He had a decent spring, and Prado would be wasted on the bench, but it’s still sad to see him get sent down in favor of our little Canadian pal. I’m starting to think Orr is Bobby’s illegitimate kid from the Toronto coaching years or something.

So, our first game back in Turner Field is a one-run loss. And Huddy had his trademark “one bad inning” in his last spring training start, resulting in a loss to the Indians. But hey, I’m still optimistic! Chuckie gave up his requisite two home runs in the game last night (though one just barely stayed in for an RBI double), but otherwise looked good. Frenchy swung at the first pitch, uh, a lot, if not every time — there was one point where they hadn’t even come back from commercial yet and he was already flying out to center. But Chipper hit a homer. Redman is starting the home opener, but Cormier’s shoulder is coming along fine. It’s going to be okay! It’s all going to be okay . . .

How interview-heavy are all these broadcasts so far? ESPN and Sports South both love dugout interviews right after a player is yanked — I’m still wondering if they’re going to try to pull that off during the real games. Incidentally, I’m pretty sure last night was the first time I heard Chuckie speak, but I felt like I’d heard him a million times before, because he sounded exactly like I expected.

03/29/2007 (12:34 pm)

BREAKING NEWS

Filed under: Frenchy,Preseason

Frenchy just WALKED.

First one of the spring! During our last game in Florida, naturally.

Also, he’s the team’s player rep? Apparently? I find that funny. Maybe it’s the kind of thing the older guys just schlep off onto the most gullible youngster.

03/28/2007 (10:49 am)

When Your Batting Coach Laughs In Your Face . . .

Filed under: Frenchy,Gonzo,Preseason

You know what, Terry, when Frenchy comes up to you and says he wants to improve his plate discipline, your response probably shouldn’t be “yeah, right.” You can think it, I don’t blame you, but damn. As if the press isn’t giving him enough of a (deserved, but still) complex. How many times now has he had to repeat that he looked at tape of Heap in the offseason? I wonder if he regrets admitting that yet.

Did anyone else see the random hot blond sitting next to Bobby in the dugout at the start of the game last night? She was wearing a jersey and everything. She disappeared pretty quick, but I had a couple conspiracy theories in mind when they were playing like the What The Hell Did You Guys DO Last Night? Braves for a few innings there.

Everybody go read Talking Chop’s interview with Gonzo, it’s a masterpiece. And don’t forget to watch the game against the Mets at 1:00 on ESPN. And check out this Dugout about the A’s if you’re so inclined. It’s my favorite of the spring training strips so far.

03/26/2007 (4:46 pm)

The Team That Looks for Teeth Together . . .

Filed under: Diaz,Frenchy,Heap,Preseason

Great image from Dave O’Brien’s blog today: Diaz lost part of a tooth during batting practice, as I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, and here’s Dave’s description of the ordeal:

He was knocked to the ground by the impact, but got up and finished his round of batting practice as teammates and others looked for the bottom half of his damaged tooth, though it was doubtful that anything could be done with it.

I know the news about Cormier is depressing, but dude, they helped him look for his tooth! That’s fuckin’ teamwork! I’m so proud. And who are these “others” who pitched in? There were just random people hanging around who volunteered to look for part of poor Diaz’s tooth? Well, heck, that seems like a good sign, too.

I want to know who made the “You really look like you’re from Lakeland now!” joke. Because (as someone who went to school down there and really loves the area, mind you) that guy is my new favorite. Dave tastefully declines to identify him, simply quoting him as “another Brave.”

I’m going to have to disagree with Dave’s estimation of Frenchy as the new “Golden Boy,” rather than Heap (who he gives “no offense” props to). I do think Heap is the Golden Boy in the eyes of most fans at the moment — Frenchy is like Golden Boy’s slightly evil but still mostly likable sidekick. Like maybe he defected from the bad guy’s camp and we’re not quite sure he’s on our side all the time? But probably he is? Something like that.

03/26/2007 (12:34 pm)

You’re Kidding Me . . .?

Cormier just came out of the game with some kind of injury. Something happened on his right side, or possibly to his right arm, haven’t heard what yet . . .

And I was just wondering what sort of omen Diaz getting his tooth chipped while watching batting practice was. A bad one, apparently.

Update: It’s “shoulder stiffness,” according to Pete. So who knows.

03/25/2007 (3:19 pm)

“Chico and McCann”

Filed under: Pete,Preseason

Man, how badly are these spring training games starting to drag? It’s going to be a long week, but at least we’ll have the real games soon. I can’t even get excited about this Aybar drama, personally.

Chuckie did well today against the Nats, Huddy was good against the Tigers yesterday, and Hampton is ahead of schedule, now projected to return around May 7th. I wish they had televised the game today, because I don’t think I’ve seen Chuckie pitch all spring, and Diaz was involved in a run-down with “five players” on the Nationals trying to tag him at one point, according to Pete. I would have liked to see that.

They’re advertising something called the Braves Leadoff Luncheon on the radio broadcasts. How great is the look on Heap’s face in that ad? But anyway, for a hundred bucks you can have lunch with the Braves — sort of. They’ll be in the room, at least. It looks like you have to pay $1000 to guarantee that they stick one of them at your table — but if you shell out $500 more, you get to pick the player, “based on availability.” I think I would pick Renteria, since he’s kind of quiet and mysterious. Though watching Paronto eat might be fun.

The title of this post was stolen from Pete, who made a “Chico and McCann” joke when Heap came up to bat against the Nats’ starter. Ha ha, Pete.

03/23/2007 (4:52 pm)

Baseball: Best Enjoyed In Your Boxers, With Donuts

My notes from the game on ESPN today (we beat the Phillies 7-4), and explanations:

Chipper mohawk? — Did anyone else notice that Chipper was rocking this kind of half-mohawk thing? The hair on the side of his head was shorter, and on top it was pointed in kind of a v-shape. Is that just how his baldness pattern is working out or what?

2 ESPN announcers said Braves would win the NL East! — They sounded a little cavalier, but I thought it was funny, since ESPN seemed to really revel in the end of our division winning streak last year, and many mainstream media predictions had us finishing third even at the beginning of spring training. Suddenly we’re getting talked up a lot — I still credit Gammons for setting that trend.

(In other news, this is only the second Braves broadcast I’ve watched on ESPN, and I already want to strangle John Kruk, which is unfortunately impossible, as he is not currently in possession of a neck).

Brett Myers – hidden away – HA! — Apparently Myers was afraid to pitch to us today, thinking he would give away some of his opening day magic, and pitched in a minor league game instead. Jesus. There has been a lot of talk about the Phillies’ weak bullpen, but I’m not too worried about their starters, either.

Frenchy: Heap — boxers — donuts — I hope everyone saw that little in-game interview with Frenchy. Asked about his amazing rookie year, he told Kruk and friends he had a “horseshoe up [his] rear end” that year, and told them Heap was at home watching the game in his boxers and eating donuts. C’mon, Frenchy, we all know he was watching the game while swimming through his Scrooge McDuck-style pile of money and eating caviar. Seriously, though, funny to think that Heap was watching that ESPN broadcast from his couch like the rest of us, donuts or not.

Gonzo licks his fingers a lot — Self explanatory, I think.

Also: bye, Tony Pena. I was pleasantly surprised with you this spring, and I’m glad we got pitching for you. Sorry it’s Kansas of all places.

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