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.