My review of Turner Stadium is remarkably biased. I am incapable of separating the stadium from the team I despise. I despise the Braves for their shady scouting practices (ever wonder how Jayson Hayward slipped all the way to 14th in the draft), how poorly they represented the NL East in the playoffs, and how they are then biggest obstacle to a decade of Nationals domination.
Turner Field is a direct mirror to the city of Atlanta. That is to say, very generic, little charm, and a terrible location. Coca Cola and Chick-fil-A billboards are everywhere and mediocre bar-b-q seems plentiful. Unlike virtually all successfully designed stadiums that integrate or define a new neighborhood, Turner Field is located in the middle of a parking lot near, not in downtown Atlanta. So far, attempts to develop the area around the stadium are mired in bureaucratic city planning nonsense (let’s build a ferris wheel or another convention hotel)
It appears there is some kind of informal dress code which goes as follows: Women: Cut off jeans and cowboy boots, lots of makeup and an Upton Shirsy. (I couldn’t find anyone who was positive if they were wearing B.J. or Justin) Men: Wear a shirt, unstuck it, and never actually watch the game. Only watch the roughly 1000 TV positioned around the stadium and talk on your cell phone.
A month ago Chipper Jones parked in the visitor parking lot and ambled into the Nationals locker room at Turner Field. He and Adam LaRoche sat down and watched film. This was shocking to many at the time because Chipper is a OTHOF (one team hall of fame). LaRoche came up through the Braves farm system and he and Chipper have a friendship that transcends laundry (as Seinfeld would say). What ever Chipper did or said seems to have worked. LaRoche has had a torrid pace in the month of May.
In April, LaRoche was the worst 1st baseman in baseball. In May, according to WAR he is 4th behind Votto, Chis Davis, and Goldschmidt. Votto is batting .424 AVG. LaRoche is probably the poster boy for regression to the mean.
I think we are starting to witness Ian Desmond‘s emergence as the leader of the this Nationals team. Davey, moving Desmond up to cleanup spot in the order and his ability to deliver on Wednesday seems like a significant moment for the 13 Nats. As the game ended yesterday and Desmond completed the 6-3 to cap off Soriano’s eighth save, I noticed Desmond untuck his shirt just like the closer.
For the last few years Desmond was mentioned by Rizzo as one of the team leaders. I remember the surprise from the beat reporters a few years back when he was included in a meeting of obvious team leaders his second year in the majors. Then, after the team lost Tuesday, Desmond was seen going locker to locker at Turner Field telling his teammates to hang out after the reporters left. The implication was that the players had a meeting and Desmond led it.
Chipper Jones, life long Brave, and future Hall of Fame player parked in the visitors parking lot at Turner Field and worked with the Nationals struggling 1st baseman. It was overheard that they were talking about driving the ball to the opposite field. LaRoche’s first at bat he hit a single to left field.
Remember, LaRoche was a 29th round draft pick of the Braves in 2000 and came up through their minor league system. Adam and Chipper were teammates 04-06 and then again on 09. Thanks Chipper. Which reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld quote about fan loyalty.
Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify. Because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city, you’re actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it. You know what I mean, you are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt, they *hate* him now. Boo! Different shirt!! Boo.
The early season 12-1 Braves have suddenly and quietly transformed into a 15-7 team by losing 6 of their last 9 games. A 15-7 record is still impressive, but the Braves past week and a half should put to bed the premature “let’s overreact to everything that happens in April” narrative that Atlanta will run away with the National League East.
The Braves are a quality team. So are the Nats. This will be a six-month dogfight.
In 2009 the Atlanta Braves, which unlike most MLB Franchises happens to own their own AAA franchise moved the Richmond Braves to a new stadium built in Gwenette a suburb of Atlanta, now know as Coolray Field. The move was curious at the time because, while the Richmond Diamond was not the most modern of facilities, the team always was an average AAA draw and the affiliation with the city was long standing. In fact the Richmond Braves used to be the Atlanta Crackers before the the franchise from Milwaukee relocated to Atlanta. The best comparison to DC would be moving the team to Leesburg, Manassas or Germantown. This move was less financial decision, more a deliberate strategic retrenchment plan the Braves organization developed . That is for another post.
The stadium is a generic minor league Populous design. It was built in the middle of an empty field with ample parking, It has none of the charm or sense of place that most of the successful minor leagues stadiums have. The Continue reading “Review: Coolray Field”