V Vernacular

04/07/2008 (8:29 am)

Good Day at Turner

Filed under: Field Trips

I was pretty unenthusiastic about getting out to Turner this year, as compared to years past. I missed the home opener, and we left for the field only thirty minutes before the game started on Sunday (in 2006, at the height of what could perhaps be called my Issues, I was fond of arriving for a night game at two o’clock in the afternoon). But once I got through the gates and heard the national anthem being sung out on the field, I went into frantic near-running mode and zipped through the crowd to make it to our seats before the first pitch. We sat in the Golden Moon Casino Level, and our section was great. We had a few Mets fans beside us, but they were old and cantankerous, and their miserable silence added to our joy.

The best part of the game was in the eighth, right before Tex hit the homer. A little kid a few sections over was screaming “Let’s go Braves!” at the top of his four year old lungs, and everyone in the surrounding sections was clapping along with his chant. The fake loudspeaker cheers only once attempted to drown this out, and failed. Generally the sound effects and awful music seemed less intrusive than it did last year. The players even had less annoying entrance songs. Heap’s was . . . interesting, and Frenchy’s was the usual hardcore country, something about watching airplanes.

The only real changes I saw to what used to be the Lexus Level were that they replaced Moe’s with a Chick-Fil-A, which is a good move, though I suppose Chick-Fil-A won’t be open for Sunday games (it’s still under construction at the moment), and there was an ice cream place that may or may not have been there last year.

Everything but the crowd seemed a little bit muted, which was needed and nice. The Braves girls were even prettier! They have an Asian one now! Though they still have that one really scary squad leader with the big hair who looks like she may lead the robot revolution someday. They also dumped Jeff Dollar for a slightly less offensive looking in-game entertainment dude, though he’s still a long way from eye candy for the ladies. I guess we’ve got the ballplayers for that.

A win on getaway day is always especially satisfying, and it was great just to hear the announcer declare Smoltz as the winning pitcher as we streamed out. I’m glad my first Turner experience of 2008 was such a good one. I’ll be back for the A’s series to hopefully cheer on a vengeful Mr. Devine — though I’ve got to admit, Kotsay is impressing me so far. Who knew?

09/03/2007 (7:05 pm)

Post-Labor Day Weekend

Filed under: Field Trips,Frenchy

I was there for the Friday and Saturday games this weekend (it was like being kicked repeatedly while a bunch of Mets fans said “Jose” in a whimsical manner), and I watched all of Sunday’s delightful reprise, and today’s game . . . and yet I feel completely out of the loop. It’s sad when you get excited about returning from a vacation because you can once again obsessively check things online. Comments! Email! Three day old quotes! Boring AP photos! What did I do with myself for four days, besides watching actual baseball games??

Apparently I missed a lot. Wicky got canned because he offended Prince Frenchy (among other things, obviously, but still)? A sandwich may or may not have been involved? Smoltz has declared the season dead (as someone who did the same thing after both the Friday AND Saturday games — it was dead on Friday, but it was deader on Saturday, or at least, it bore repeating — I can’t exactly blame him)?

Everyone, please fill me in. Assume I know nothing. I want every Cynical Joe rant, word for word, and of course a full description (with visual aide, if possible) of any significant looks and/or gestures exchanged in the dugout, and for God’s sake, someone tell me what the near Frenchy throw down looked like on TV. Yes, I was on my feet screaming “GET HIM GET HIM” (or something like that — it was a completely instinctive response, hard to recall exactly) because at that point I would have counted the weekend as a relative success if I’d just seen Frenchy clock a Mets pitcher in the face (I mean, they hit Yuney! He had to miss a game! And then Frenchy, and all we do in retaliation is throw at the feet of The Most Exciting Player in Baseball?? These are the Mets! Let’s take a few down with us, eh?).

Things you missed while you were not at Turner Field, watching them play like maybe they personally hate you:

–This was my first experience with the Braves shuttle. It drops you off in a pretty bad part of town. Thanks, Braves! Also, even if you’re on a late shuttle and the game is starting in five minutes, they have this weird barbershop quartet get on the bus and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I’m not even complaining, it’s just — what? On Saturday I got to ride the shuttle with about twenty extremely loud Mets fans, and their ringleader was — no exaggeration — falling down drunk at four o’clock in the afternoon. He could barely talk. Someone needs to tell that guy that college football season has started — he no longer needs baseball games as an excuse to start drinking at six AM on Saturday.

–The Friday game was stunningly bad, as you know. When we left to get the shuttle, the fireworks started up, and they were exploding right over the area where the shuttle was loading, so ash was raining down on us. This was actually the highlight of the evening. It improved my mood immensely, and I’m not even being sarcastic. Also worth the price of admission on Friday was David Faustino (from Married with Children) singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while quite clearly high, and my husband asking why he wasn’t in the Bud Zone.

–Worth the price of admission on Saturday was Frenchy and Huddy singing karoke on the jumbotron. Frenchy is frightening when he sings (again, I’m not really kidding, there’s something kind of dark about it), but Huddy was pretty funny. Huddy won the competition (based on votes texted in by fans) with 92% of the votes, while Frenchy only got 8%. They showed both of them in the dugout after the results where announced, and Frenchy tried to hide it, but seemed a little offended. I noticed this afternoon that my recent rage toward him has suddenly subsided. Couldn’t tell you why, really.

In other news, I got a job on Thursday, so pretty soon I’ll be working full time. I’ll try to keep up with the blog postings, but there may be a brief adjustment period. Also: I really need to scan the September picture on my Braves pet calender (for the love of God, someone tell me I’m not the only one who has this thing). It’s a picture of Heap with his dog, and they both look so over this photo shoot, which was unceremoniously done on the curb outside his house, making it even better — it’s hilarious.

07/30/2007 (8:55 am)

Attention, Atlanta-Area Fans!

Filed under: Field Trips

Not particularly fond of Barry Bonds? Sick of having the game you’re trying to watch interrupted so that the network can show live footage of Bonds popping out to the catcher (I missed one of Heap’s at-bats yesterday for this! On TBS, too!)? Now you can fight back! Martin at Talking Chop has an excellent idea: we should all wear head-to-toe black to the Giants series August 14-16, in mourning for our Hank’s legit accomplishment.

I think it would be a great statement not just about Bonds, but about Atlanta’s “Our Playoffs Don’t Sell Out!” fans showing up in big numbers to do something together. Spread the word! I’ll be there in black platform flip flops, maybe even holding a black posterboard sign with sparkly silver lettering: SHOULDA BEEN NICER TO HEAP AT THE A.S. GAME, BARRY, AT LEAST GRIFFEY TOOK THE TIME TO TALK TO HIM! — ah, or not, but I’ll be there, anyway, in black!

06/25/2007 (9:25 am)

More Adventures From Turner Field

Filed under: Field Trips

We went to the game on Saturday with some friends from out of town, one of whom was a Tigers fan. It was actually an exciting game, and I really felt like we were in it the whole time, despite the bad calls. It was cool to see Bobby tie the all-time ejections record, and of course seeing Heap get thrown out and walked back to the dugout by a sympathetic Frenchy was the highlight of the afternoon. Other things worth mentioning:

–Paronto is cool. We were up in the corner in the Lexus level, and he was down in right field throwing with Wicky, his BFF. Wicky left, and our Tiger loving friend waved to Paronto, who tried to throw a batting practice ball up to our level (300 level). It hit the balcony and bounced back down, so he tried it again, and missed again. Finally he got one up into the suite behind us on the third try, and the guys in the suite gave our friend the ball. It was funny; I think our friend was impressed with the fan-friendliness of my darling Braves — thanks Paronto!

–Salty took grounders at first during BP.

–Chuckie’s wife is featured on one of their ads right now, and we had a laugh about that. She’s very little and cute (Chuckie-sized, really), and in the ad he’s standing next to her and staring down at her adoringly while she reads the ad copy, too funny! We also saw the Chuckie edition of the five-questions feature . . . all I remember is that his favorite TV show is Walker, Texas Ranger.

–I was impressed with Atlanta fans for only throwing three water bottles (that I saw) when Bobby tied the all-time ejections record. Very classy show of restraint during a frustrating game on a hot day. The ejection happened in the ninth inning, when Heap lost it on Fairchild, who’d already screwed him on a call on a tag at the plate. It was something to get excited about — we were chanting “BOBBY” and of course I was screaming “YOU TELL HIM, HEAP!!” The whole bottom of the ninth really impressed me, as far as the fan reaction — people were complaining after the Sox fans invaded, but Atlanta fans were really into it, despite our recent struggles.

–That said, the freaking sound effects almost spoiled some authentic, fan-created cheers, which pissed me off. When we already have a loud, stadium-wide cheer going for a player, why interrupt it with the recorded “CHARGE” cheer? I was embarrassed by all the sound effects hoopla with my out of town guests there — it’s really over the top, and can kill real excitement and tension. Oh, and the Bloopers segment between innings MUST DIE. So stupid/irrelevant/redneck/embarrassing. Sports bloopers would be one thing, but do I really need to see “Ouch, My Balls!: The Movie” at a freakin’ Braves game? Why???

–Finally: I liked and recommend the Lexus level. It’s not that close to the field, and if you sit in section 331 you’ll be behind the foul pole, but you have an air conditioned, uncrowded concourse area with a variety of beers as opposed to the usual crap, and the bathrooms have balconies, which for some reason really impressed me. What I loved best, though: no vendors walking around and constantly blocking my view of the field with giant towers of cotton candy. I actually liked sitting up there better than in the 121 area around the first base line, though of course nothing beats sitting behind the dugout.

06/08/2007 (3:14 pm)

The Ushers Should Be Robots

Filed under: Field Trips,Langerhans

So I figured out who keeps starting the wave at Turner Field. It’s this one old guy, and wouldn’t you know it, he works there. Sort of.

Before I begin this rant, I’ll acknowledge that many people like old people who are “characters.” You know the old people I’m talking about. Around or over eighty years old, always trying to make cornball jokes and flirt with young girls — I’m aware that many people are charmed by this. Many people also like young children. Don’t get me wrong — some young children are adorable, and some old guys who make the occasional cheesy joke are great (I tend to like really cynical, cantankerous, reformed boozer old guys who tell cartoon ducks to shut up, and of course sweet old guys like Pete are wonderful). I’m even aware that some of you might know this usher and really like him. Some people in our section certainly did, and I’m sure he’s been there forever. I’m not calling for his resignation. I’m just saying . . .

GIVE IT A REST WITH THE DAMN WAVE.

I hate the wave. I had other issues with this guy (I can’t stand service people who feel like they need to add to your experience by sharing their personality with you. I know some people love this, but I personally just want my waiters to shut the hell up, bring me my food and get lost), but when he came down the aisles yelling “WE’RE GON-NA TRY AND START THE WAVE NOW!!” I wanted to physically harm him, I’m sorry. I was trying to watch the game, and yes we were losing, but only by three runs. It wasn’t a blowout that needed added entertainment for the fans, and as much as I love little video clips of Heap on the Jumbotron, telling us what his favorite kind of pizza is, part of me really agrees with Skip, that the parks like Wrigley who don’t need any of that crap to draw fans are heaven and every place else is just tolerable. I do understand that plenty of fans who pack into Wrigley and Fenway do it because they want to get trashed just as much as they want to see live baseball, but now I’m just getting off topic. I hate the wave.

I hate distractions, I hate cutesy crap, I hate those cotton candy vendors relentlessly prowling the aisles and blocking my view of the field every five minutes, and this is all coming from someone who adores the TBS Xtra broadcasts and reads Chop Talk magazine mostly for the gossip section and the pictures of players’ living rooms (if you’re wondering — they all have pretty bad taste. It’s delightful). I love goofy nonsense, goofy nonsense and sports go hand and hand, as far as I’m concerned, but goofy nonsense should be there when you want it and should be avoidable when you’re actually, you know, watching sports. When I go to a game, I don’t need a whole section of people standing up and screaming like idiots during a tense at-bat, for no reason, just to hear themselves make noise. It’s not fun, it’s not encouraging to the players (in fact I assume it would annoy them), it’s just ridiculous.

I was going to go on and do a whole post about Atlanta baseball fans and how we could possibly stop being considered huge douchebags as a whole, but this has already turned into a long-winded rant, so I’ll save that for another time. Suffice it to say: when I get a young, completely disinterested usher, I’m always so relieved. I’ve recently had a slew of older ones who want to chit chat, and that is not what I go to the park for. Unfortunately, these old veteran ushers have all the good sections, so if you shell out money for a good seat, you’ll probably have to deal with them. It is very likely that this doesn’t bother anyone but me, and that it’s just a sign that I’m turning into my parents more every day, becoming the type of person who can never go anywhere because someone somewhere might do something annoying at some point, but anyway. My solution is of course to have robots as ushers. If we’re gonna do the biggest screen in the world thing, what else could be the logical next step? I’m sure Langerhans has some relatives who need work. Heck, Langerhans might need work pretty soon.

06/05/2007 (12:35 pm)

Notes On An Evening At Turner Field

Filed under: Field Trips

My personal experience at the game last night:

–What is up with that first exit sign on 285 that says Turner Field but doesn’t really take you there?? I grew up in Sandy Springs, but we moved to Cobb when I was ten, and any trips into the city were usually not navigated by me, so I’m relearning all this stuff. It’s frustrating, because I feel like I can half figure things out based on memory from driving around with my parents when I was little, and/or going places downtown with my husband when we came home from college for the summer. But anyway, we forgot that you’re supposed to get off at the second Turner Field exit if you want to get on Capitol Avenue, and the signs after the first exit, with arrows “pointing” to Turner Field, just dumped us out on 75-S, so we had to turn around.

–We only got to see about 15 minutes of the Braves’ batting practice from our good seats, because they had that gate on the lower levels closed when we got there around five. Nothing too exciting: the press was all over Salty — apparently Frenchy is so last season. Salty was digging it — I didn’t really see him hanging out with any players, but he and Our Katy Temple (as the studio guy on Braves Live calls her) seemed to get along great. Our Katy Temple also had a funny little assistant dude who followed her everywhere and dialed her cell phone for her. Chuckie was the best with the fans, signing for what seemed like hours. Rent was pointing stuff out to Escobar, which was cute.

–Watching the pitchers who were leaning on the dugout railing interact was the most interesting aspect of that game, sadly. Though the bench-clearer was neat: to think, I was so close to having ringside seats for the Baby Braves’ first brawl!! Escobar was worth cheering for, and Rent of course, but the rest of them were on my nerves. Scooter, what is up?! I wonder if he’s still having ear problems?

–Most of the people in our our section (113) were fine, but there was a row of girls who showed up with a dude in the third inning, and the girls did not shut up the entire time. They had some vague idea that there was a baseball game going on somewhere, but they didn’t much care. Some of the things they said were actually pretty funny (on the Braves Girls: “Oh, yeah, I like to make judgmental comments about them.” Ha, at least she’s honest!), but the girl who talked the most had a very grating, put-on, mid-twenties valley girl voice, and eventually we moved to the end of our aisle to get away from them. I felt sorry for the guy they came with, who was actually watching the game, though he seemed to be able to tune the girls out better than we could. They did provide a few laughs during a depressing game, though (one girl, lamenting over the nachos she was guiltily eating, declared that “starting tomorrow” she was “only eating vegetables!”).

–The weather was beautiful, a nice change from the home opening series when I couldn’t feel my hands.

–Don’t park in the green lot if you’re going to stay until the end of the game. The traffic was pretty bad — the orange lot is much better. We’re borrowing a Lexus this summer, and I’m going to try the Lexus lot next time.

–Finally, a tip for my female readers: don’t wear a lightweight miniskirt to Turner Field on a windy day. Just don’t. Also, don’t make eye contact with Tyler Yates, or he will stare at you creepily for a few minutes.

–Oh, and I almost forgot: I nearly had the chance to sue Turner Field, haaa! Though it was completely my fault: coming to our seats, I was watching the field while I went down the stairs, and wearing big, wooden platform sandals, not a good combination. I took a spectacular fall on my ass, and the ushers freaked out and said they were going to have to “write it up,” but I was fine, so no lawsuit! Not even a bruise, so I was lucky there. And speaking of luck: we saw a grasshopper sitting on the dugout before the game, and thought it would bring the Braves luck, but so much for that. He must have flown off and landed on the Marlins’ dugout.

04/09/2007 (11:29 am)

First Place For Now

Filed under: Davies,Field Trips,Hampton

I’m so glad I went to all three games this weekend, and not just the miserable home opener. The other two were a blast: my throat’s all sore from screaming, I’m sunburned, and I somehow pulled a muscle in my shoulder, I think from throwing up my arms after Andruw made that catch on Sunday. There’s nothing like being worn out after watching them take a series from the Mets, but I’ll be happy to watch the series against the Nationals from my couch after suffering through that weather.

I’m surprised that only 24,000-ish people showed up to the Easter game — the crowd did look pretty sparse, but we were sitting behind the dugout, and everyone in our section was really into it. There were a few Met fans — one, notably, was wearing a dorky ass white golf cap, and some drunk Braves fans behind us (possibly the same ones who were behind us on Saturday) mistook it for a beret and started calling the guy “Pierre,” which was excellent. Anyway, it was a good crowd, with everybody on their feet for Wicky at the end.

Davies reminded me a lot of Chuckie on Sunday. He made his mistakes, got the hell over it, and moved on. And he was getting a lot of fly ball outs — the drunk guys joked at one point that everyone but Davies and Andruw could leave the field. I wonder how much of a difference having Heap catch him made? I know Pena was catching for him for most of spring training, and I like Pena, but I don’t think he’s anywhere near as good with the pitchers as Heap, and I get the feeling that Chuckie’s game strategy is just whatever Heap tells him, so it was interesting to see Davies doing a bit of a Chuckie imitation when Heap caught him (he even gave up Chuckie’s usual two home runs in early innings). Either way, it was nice to see Davies get over his mistakes and go on to have a great game. Mental blocks always seemed to be a problem for him, and it really looked like he conquered himself on Sunday.

How great was Heap going into McCanDoNoWrong mode there at the end? And Heap getting on base has lately brought out the best in Frenchy, who put together a very mature, smart at-bat to score the winning run. Now if only their elders could start hitting, but Chipper seems to be coming around, and I’m sure Andruw will, hopefully sooner rather than later. The Nationals are coming up, so maybe their pitiable pitching staff will kick-start him.

While we face the Nationals at home, the Mets are hosting the Phillies, who have been playing like the Nationals and could very well get swept again. It’s extremely early, but I’m excited, and I can’t believe we already have to suffer through another off day.

Oh yeah, and Hampton’s injured again, or something, whatever. I’ve gone back to forgetting that he’s on our team, anyway.

04/08/2007 (9:04 am)

That’s More Like It

Filed under: Davies,Field Trips,Wicky

If we looked like clowns on Friday, the Mets looked like amateur clowns yesterday. I guess it’s the wind messing with everybody, but all their errors were still appreciated by the crowd. Especially Shawn Green dropping that fly ball — the right field section actually started chanting “Shawn Green sucks.” I’m not sure if Mets fans or Braves fans started that one up, but I thought it was kind of tacky — a drunk Braves fan behind us took it up at one point, and a little kid in Braves gear turned around and told him to shut up, which was really funny. The drunk guy was pretty funny himself, taunting Mets fans as they streamed out toward the end — normally obnoxious, but it’s the Mets, and man, it was a relief to win that game!

The best part was Wicky’s entrance video. My goodness. It shows the bullpen door creaking open, with an eerie orange glow emanating from within, and it’s got Dracula music, and lightening bolts — it’s a riot. Wicky of course had to make the game a little interesting there at the end, but most of the crowd was on their feet for him after that video. Really good crowd in general yesterday: on the way back to our hotel, some random Braves fan stuck his head out of his car window and screamed ‘BRAVES! WOO!’ I hear ya, man.

We’re off to the third game pretty soon here — I’m worried about Davies, but we’ve actually got good seats today, so at least we’ll have a clear view if he’s awful. I hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised, though; I would really love to take this series!

04/07/2007 (8:22 am)

Now That I’ve Calmed Down a Little

Filed under: Field Trips,Frenchy

I’m glad we have Smoltzy going to the mound today, though our big problem yesterday wasn’t our starter, really — Redman wasn’t great, but I was counting on him to give up around three runs with that Mets offense, no big deal. But our offense didn’t show up at all, so it became a big deal. We should have killed Perez. Frenchy, who did all the quotes for the team after the game (except for a few terse words from Bobby), blamed the weather. I have to say, after that depressing evening, I’m kind of enjoying picturing everyone moping in the clubhouse and ignoring the press, except of course for Frenchy, all cheerful after his first home run of the season, volunteering quotes for hours. That’s our Frenchy.

That game was so not worth sitting through in the cold, but we had a pretty good time until around the sixth inning, when Woodward just watched Perez’s hit streak by without even moving toward it, a lovely addition to his sparkling performance. This is my problem with Bobby: his “give everybody their turn!” mentality, coupled with his need to have useless veterans platoon with younger players who consistently outperform them. There was no reason for Woodward to be in there. If you want to platoon the position, bring Prado back up. Hell, I would have rather seen Orr!

What was going on with Wilson missing that pop up in the first? And when I got to the bar, they were showing a replay of Chipper standing and watching a foul ball fall at his feet? Like he was chasing it and then just stopped and stared at it? Did I really see that, or had I already chugged my vodka tonic at that point? Was it some type of protest? I’ll have to go back and watch the game on Tivo, unless someone knows what I’m talking about and can explain.

Basically, we looked like clowns. Here’s hoping they can get over their anxious crap involving the Mets, pull themselves together and act like professionals today. Maybe Woodward is just some kind of voodoo curse and we’ll go back to playing like we did in Philly once he’s out of the lineup.

There was a middle school-aged baseball team sitting next to us in section 125 (which is a section I REALLY don’t recommend; I’ve never had so many vendors block my view of home plate from anywhere else in the park), and without those kids making fart jokes and antagonizing all the players equally, I probably would have really lost it. So that was enjoyable. The weather was less enjoyable — it was bearable until around the seventh inning, when my teeth started to chatter.

Their in-game promotions were identical to the ones they did last year: tool races, etc. They’re still featuring a long video memorial to that grand slam against the Nationals that Frenchy hit early last year. I was laughing when they showed it, saying “I bet even he’s sick of hearing about this by now,” but nope: I glanced into right field, and Frenchy was staring up at the screen with rapt attention.

I’m sorry to report that I didn’t recognize any of their entrance songs, except for Chipper’s “Crazy Train.” I don’t think the Braves and I listen to the same music. Rent’s was rap, Andruw’s was rap, featuring the line “this is why I’m hot,” Frenchy’s was VERY twangy, geeky country, Heap’s was rap, Wilson and Diaz’s were generic rock songs. If Woodward had a song, I didn’t notice it; I guess I was too busy ranting about how much he sucks to catch it.

Finally: I forgot how weirdly mesmerized I get by batting practice. Heap always seems to hang out with the coaches during BP, and when Chico abandoned him in the infield yesterday, he played catch with the bat boys. It was great.

04/06/2007 (9:32 am)

Off to the Park

Filed under: Field Trips

I’ll be at all three games this weekend, freezing my ass off for the cause. We’re staying at a hotel downtown, and they claim to have wireless access, so I’ll try to post after the games. Our seats are in the 120’s, along the first base side, but I may be upgrading to behind-the-dugout seats for Sunday’s game. Anyway, I’ll try to take notes and let you guys know what the players are using for their entrance music, and other important information.

I’m really excited about tonight’s game, and nervous . . . we’ve killed Perez in the past, but Redman doesn’t quite inspire confidence. The Smoltz-Glavine match-up on Saturday should be great, and it’ll be fun just to be at the park again. I hope they have a decent crowd tonight; I’m afraid people might wimp out on account of the weather. I’ve never been to a cold baseball game before, and I had a sun dress and sandals picked out to wear for opening night — so much for that. Maybe the chilly games this weekend will be a nice change from the last game I went to in 2006, when I almost passed out from sun stroke and acquired my lingering Francorner tan (my legs are still slightly darker from the knees up).

I hope they present Heap with his Silver Slugger award at some point this weekend . . . I haven’t read anything about it, though apparently there will be country singers and magnetic schedules and military flyovers and Easter egg hunts. Sounds like a regular circus — maybe it’ll even snow!