Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 29: Turner Field

All photos of Atlanta and Turner Field available on Flickr.

The beginning of Week #5 brought us back to the Peach State to catch a Sunday night game in Atlanta. I was really not looking forward to sitting in the Atlanta sun at an afternoon game, so I was glad the game was moved, even though it seems like the Cardinals, Braves, and Tigers are the only three teams ever on Sunday Night Baseball. We left the rest stop around 1030 and arrived in Atlanta five hours later. We met up with Erik's friend Beth at her house a few minutes from the park and moved in our bags, and after about a 90 minute discussion about who was all going to the game, Erik and I left around 4:30 to have our 2nd tailgate of the trip.

The park was a lot nicer than I thought it would be. Turner Field was formerly the Atlanta Olympic Stadium, and was converted to a baseball-only field following the 1996 games and opened for business in 1997. I expected to be a very symmetrical, ordinary stadium, but it is actually done in the brick style as so many other parks have been done in the past 15 years. One thing I did expect that was true was that the park was incredibly corporate, since it is owned by media mogul Ted Turner - for instance, there is a very large kids area sponsored by Cartoon Network. The inside isn't incredibly flashy, but I was very impressed with the exterior. The stadium does have a few unique features on the inside though: a giant Braves tomahawk drum, the world's largest jumbotron (72' x 79'), and an area called the 755 Club, which is very similar to the .300 Club, for those of you Brewer fans out there. One of the people we went to the game with scored us passes up here. The view from the seats in left field was amazing and there were no blind spots, but it did kind of suck that we had to leave the area to get food (we did keep a tab at the bar there though).

Overall, the game was very slow because it was on national television, but it was my first Sunday Night game and it was a cool experience. I was surprised that there were so many seats available, but as Erik indicated, people in Atlanta probably don't really care about the Braves until the postseason since they've made the playoffs 16 of the past 17 years with 15 division titles. It was a very comfortable night for watching ball, which the Cards ended up winning in our first extra-innings affair of the tour. It was notched up at two in the 10th, when the unreliable pen of the Braves gave five runs, including homeruns by Skip Schumaker and Scott Rolen. Both starters only tossed into the 6th. The highlight of the game for both of us was that both recently-acquired Julio Franco and the man with the longest name in baseball history, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, both got the start on this evening. Julio Franco is the oldest player in baseball at 47, and is in his 3rd stint with the Braves after being cut by the Mets last week. Saltalamacchia is 25 years younger (actually younger than my brother) and got the start at catcher, giving Brian McCann a day off.

Tomorrow is our first day off in two weeks and breaks our streak of 12 straight days of watching a ballgame. We're off to Memphis for two days and look forward to tying one on at Beale Street, where the bars close at 4 AM!

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 7
views from park - 4 (can't see out from where we sat...can see the Olympic Torch from the upper deck)
view to field - 9
surrounding area - 4 (relatively close to downtown)
food variety - 7
nachos - 8
beer - 9 (good variety in the 755 club)
vendor price - 5
ticket price - 10 (ours were free, upper deck is $6)
atmosphere - 6
walk to park - 2
parking price/proximity - 8 ($10)
concourses - 5
team shop - 5

best food - the buffet that we missed at the 755 Club looked pretty tasty
most unique stadium feature - Braves drum
best jumbotron feature - three different types of "shuffle"
best between-inning feature - tool race

field dimensions - 330/400/330
starters - Mark Thompson (STL) v. Jo-Jo Reyes (ATL)
opponent - St. Louis Cardinals
time of game - 3:25
attendance - 39180
score - 7-2 L
Brewers score that day - 7-5 W

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