Good Day at Turner

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?

A Bleak End to a Bleak Series

One run, extra-inning losses. Hampton strains a boob five minutes before game time and this is what we get: more of last year. Let’s hope Eliot was right about April being the cruelest month. If this is how we look against the Pirates at the start of the season, imagine what we’ll look like when our perennial nemesis June rolls around.

Hyde from That 70’s Show tried to liven things up at one point by charging the field. I don’t know if anyone else caught Joe reminiscing about the days at Yankee Stadium when the security guards would just kick your ass instead of sending you to jail (who knows if this is even accurate, or just some Joe fantasy), but he was disturbingly nostalgic about it, true to form.

The only really shining moment, for me, was Matty’s hilarious take out of Jack Wilson. Who knew he had it in him? Matty just gets more impressive every day.

Meanwhile, Ted Turner envisions the end of the world. I think he just read The Road, had a drunken nightmare and immediately called a press conference. Nevertheless: Ted. We miss your money. Though our bargain bullpen isn’t the entirety of the problem at the moment, clearly.


Two things that are kinda breaking my heart right now:

1. The idea that we don’t have too much longer with Skip on the radio. He’s cutting back his travel due to health reasons, and it’s forcing me to think about years ahead, when we won’t even have him for home games. I’m much more sentimental about Skip than I am about any Braves player (with the possible exception of the Lemmer), and when he did his “a fan from Douglasville comes away with a souvenir” bit last night, it seemed like okay, now the season has begun (even when he went on to bust my balls for being a blogger who doesn’t like Glavine, haha). One of my favorite Skip memories is from late 2006, when we were well out of the races. I was working on some research for my thesis with the game on in the background, my husband was out with some friends, and as the game got shittier and weirder (it was the night of Heap’s first ejection), Skip and Pete just threw caution to the wind and starting talking about the old radio call in show that Skip did, which I miss so much. They basically just dissolved into laughter for five minutes toward the end of the game, and I was cracking up along with them, remembering the rednecks who used to call in, and how Skip would unapologetically tell them they were idiots. I’m really grateful that he’s broadcasting at all in 2008, and I really hope he’ll be back next year.

2. This bullshit:


“Mistakes Were Made”

Here’s a quote from Heap in the AJC article about last night’s game:

“We made some mental mistakes on the bases early . . .”

We, Heap?

That game had a surreal feeling to it. Things went a little too perfectly for the Nationals on the night of their new stadium’s opening and in the presence of the President, and we looked like a bunch of clowns (save for Huddy, who was fantastic). And to cap it all off with a walk-off homer by Zimmerman? Psssh. I demand a full investigation!

What was Chipper doing during the national anthem? Crossing himself? Since when is he Catholic? I did enjoy his typically forthcoming therapy session with the press. “Zim put us out of our misery” is a particularly excellent Chipper quote to start the season.

Opening Day Eve

Apparently we’re actually carrying three catchers this season. I don’t know why, but I like it. Probably because it reminds me of a line in Major League II, but that’s true of most things I approve of in baseball.

So, the Braves are likely settling into their hotel rooms in Washington D.C. right now, maybe stepping out for dinner, anticipating playing the first game of the season in a brand new ballpark tomorrow night. Exciting! Here are three AJC pictures from today’s game, the last of spring training, which I found to be potentially portentous:

1. An umpire pointing toward the heavens with grim accusation.

2. A few resilient fans huddled miserably in the outfield, two lucky sevens visible on the electronic scoreboard.

3. Heap picking his nose.

What does it all mean? Only the coming months will tell. I can’t shake the weird feeling I have about this season. It is of a mostly bad nature. Prove me wrong, Braves!

Semi-related note: I saw Smoltz interviewing Frenchy on CSS today. For the love of God, Smoltzie, AJC reporters, everyone: quit referring to the McFrenchy wives at their “new roommate[s].” I cannot handle it. Thanks in advance.

Frenchy Media Goodies

As you can see, Frenchy is not the only thing that got wider in 2008 — I’ve made the blog fat so I can post bigger pictures. I just thought I should address that, in case anyone was startled.

I stayed home from work this afternoon to watch the game. Oliver Perez did his best to seriously injure himself (I was expecting a lightening storm to blow in after the face plant and his troubles with navigating those tricky dugout stairs didn’t faze him), but otherwise it was pretty dull, though they did interview Bobby, Frenchy and Glavine. Bobby seemed pretty annoyed to have to deal with the ESPN “personalities” while he was trying to watch the game and make important backup catcher decisions, and actually, shockingly, so did Frenchy! I’ve only seen a few 2008 interviews with Frenchy, but he seems kind of cynical and over it, still polite, but not as enthusiastic about answering the same Smoltz/Tiger/golf questions 10,000 times as he has been in years past. I can’t blame him for that.

I am kind of disappointed that he obviously had his wife write this for him (she’s an English teacher who used to write his papers for him in high school). It could have been really funny, but I suppose he is a busy guy with a lot on his mind.

Opening/Bitch About Japan Day

The A’s played the Red Sox in Tokyo this morning. BASEBALL IS OFFICIALLY SOULLESS! Or just kind of ridiculous on occasion, which is not exactly news.

Now for some increasingly irrelevant spring training pictures!

One of the reasons I took so long to post these is that, looking back through them, I realized that most of my pictures look like this:

Which makes for a fun game of Guess That Butt, but not for scintillating photographic journalism, which I am of course known for. But here they are, all the same:

The first game we attended was a home game against the Dodgers, and we sat right by the Braves dugout, which was fun. We had a nice view of Matty chewing on his hand, for example.

We also had a close up view of the national anthem lineup. This is one of my favorite pictures, Frenchy reminding me of a little leaguer during the anthem.

Peter Gammons hung out in our section for awhile, then left to have a very serious discussion with a camera guy.

The antics of Moylan and Kelly.

I could crop this picture better before shrinking it, or I could just throw caution to the wind and see if I can remember who the hell these guys are!

1. Mystery butt
2. Shafer, closely examining a bat
3. Some guy named Falco.
4. Miscellaneous infielder
5. Tex
6. Matty! I’d know that posture anywhere.

Let’s see how many I got right:

1. Mystery butt was Kotsay. Maybe that’ll be his new nickname.
2. Shafer consulting Falco about his bat
3. Falco offering the bat his full attention
4. Chipper!
5. Still Tex
6. Most definitely Matty

The undisputed star of spring training, Yuney.

One of two worthwhile pictures I took during the second game we attended, against the Astros, also at the home field. All my other pictures that day were of Hunter Pence.

Wholesome McFrenchy goodness. There was not enough of it during spring training. Let’s hope that the fragile transitional period is over — bring on the meaty regular season. Which I guess has technically started, in Tokyo, but that American League foolishness isn’t real baseball anyway, so to hell with the whole thing. The new year begins on Sunday.

Like Heap Has Ever Had Wine

I’m trying to save money and cut back on drinking, so here’s Heap to make me feel guilty for not spending money on booze. Figures! Maybe someone will get me a case for my birthday. Thanks to Karen for the link. I need a “Heap endorsing liquor” tag.

I’m back from England and way behind on everything, for a change. I can’t believe Frenchy got hit in the face with a pitch and I didn’t offer my commentary. But I guess it wasn’t really a big deal, thank goodness. Even when DOB mentioned that Bobby told Frenchy this meant he couldn’t have sex for a few days, well. What could I possibly add to that that would not be eventually misconstrued as libelous? I was looking forward to seeing a swollen Frenchy lip on the broadcast tonight, but all reports indicate that the swelling has gone down. Boo! Though I suppose that means the sex is back on. Live it up, Frenchy, spring training is almost over.

And thank God for that! Spring training has really bored me this year, aside from the two games we saw in person. Maybe that spoiled me for keeping up with the games at home — I haven’t watched or listened to a single one! I am excited about seeing tonight’s game, maybe because the season is getting so close.

Finally, here’s a joke only two of my readers (unless there are more MST3K people I don’t know about out there) will get:

“It’ll be dark soon. The master would not approve. It’ll be dark soon.” My husband just thinks they hadn’t filled their quota of Frenchy stories for the day, so had to post the same one twice.

The rest of my spring training pictures will be posted this weekend, if anyone still cares. Soon we will have AP pictures of real baseball! Rejoice!


Hampton is injured again, a day to day kind of situation. It’s gone way beyond being funny, and I just feel sorry for him, honestly. I know what’s it’s like to be determined to do something, physical reality be damned, and to find out it’s impossible. Hopefully it’s not a big deal, and not something we’ll have to see again and again throughout the season . . . though at this point, I would be a fool to hold out for either of those things.

I’ve really, really overbooked myself this month, and won’t be able to post my spring training pictures until around St. Patrick’s Day, which is lame, I know. I have friends arriving in town tonight, they’re staying through Sunday and we’re flying to Cambridge at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon and staying for a week. Plus I’m sick, and things are crazy at work, and blah blah. I’ll be back, hopefully to a mostly intact roster.

Back to Reality

We had a great time down at spring training — next year we’ll definitely do a full week and try to make it to five or six games. We went to the February 29 game against the Dodgers and the March 2 game against the Astros. The Braves won both. Hampton pitched the second game — I nearly fainted when it was announced, having expected him to remain frozen in carbonite* for at least two more weeks. He looked good! Jarr Jurgens looked less good on Friday.

I got a ton of pictures, but I’ll have to size them down, and I’ll try to post them on Wednesday. Here’s a little preview:

I had forgotten how happy Heap’s hair makes me. After he came out of the game on Sunday, he was jogging around in the outfield with his hat off, and his hair was ridiculously fluffy and blond and just a delight. Frenchy was as impressive with the fans as ever, signing autographs and tossing a random shouter his gloves when he couldn’t stop to sign. Javy was also friendly with the fans, and he hit a home run, which I missed because I had just realized Peter Gammons was standing two feet in front of me.

I’ll post more about my experience along with my pictures on Wednesday, but here are a few quick observations:

–Jordan Schafer is hot as hell in person, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.
–Kotsay didn’t speak a word to any of his teammates and seemed very standoffish in general. Shades of Wicky!
–At one point I saw the back of Bobby Dews’ jersey and thought he was Devy. It was a bittersweet moment, because I miss Devy, but I do love Bobby Dews. He was sitting by the on deck circle on Sunday and everyone chatted him up while they waited to hit . . . except Kotsay.
–There was a moment on Sunday when the second or third batter Hampton faced hit one right back to the mound and he reached for it — the whole crowd gasped in terror. Fortunately he did not lose an arm. I think he ought to take a duck and cover approach to that situation for the rest of spring training. No one would hold it against him.

Oh, and the Frenchy contract drama has officially begun! Did anyone not see this coming? I love it, particularly this Molly woman who holds the title of “one of Francoeur’s representatives.” I’m guessing he has at least six, including one who exclusively handles endorsing sunglasses. And there has got to be one who is in charge of The Teeth. Someday Frenchy is going to see a picture of those veneers in profile and fire that guy.

*My husband gets credit for this joke.