The last time I was at Turner Field, it was August 2013 and the Nationals were in town for what turned out to be a violent series. Bryce Harper was drilled multiple times, and Stephen Strasburg was ejected in the first inning of the second game I attended. The experience gave me a bit of a sour taste for the Braves and their fans. But on Monday I returned, fearless, sporting my Marlins orange ready to watch some baseball.
Turner Field opens at 4:30 for the 7:00 games, and I got to the stadium right around 5. I made my way to the left field seats and was ready to snag. Because I had tried to pack light for this trip, I did not have my glove trick. But I would not have been able to use it many times even if I had brought it along.
The left field seats were not too crowded when I arrived, but the Braves hitters were not very helpful. There were a few home runs hit right down the line, but I was hanging out in the left-center gap so I had no real shot at much.
Shortly after I arrived, the Marlins piled out of the dugout and started stretching. I decided to head down there to see if any players were friendly enough to at least acknowledge an out-of-town fan, but no luck. So I headed around the the field to the seats in right as a group of lefties started hitting.
I did bring my sunglasses on this trip for this exact purpose-to track BP home runs. Except I forgot to put them in my bag before heading to the stadium so I was out of luck. No Braves lefties came through for me, and when the Marlins started hitting I was still empty-handed.
It was either Garrett Jones, Christian Yelich, or some other lefty that finally drilled a home run into my section. It landed at the far center field end of it, and bounced over a row between some seats. I was already running over there, and I scampered down the steps and grabbed it just before another fan could.
A few minutes later, Christian Yelich was batting and hit a shot right at me. I was standing on the staircase, and I backed up one or two steps, trying to keep my eye on the ball as it lined in my direction. I tried my best to shield the sun with my glove (I’m a spoiled outfielder who is all-too-used to the luxury of sunglasses) and maintain my footing. At the last possible moment, I reached for a backhanded grab while the un-blocked sun momentarily terminated my ability to track the ball. It didn’t hit my pocket, but got just enough leather that I could hold on. And I had my second ball of the day.
That was it for BP (I actually gave up a tad bit early because I was tired and hungry). But I was confident with my ticketed seat in section 206. It looked to be fairly decent foul ball territory for lefties on the third base side of the plate.
Before the game, the Braves were a bit mean to a few unsuspecting fans. They performed a segment called the “Oblivious Cam” where they put a fan on the jumbotron until he or she noticed they were being shown. However, each fan they chose had their back to the scoreboard, giving them a seriously unfair disadvantage for this disturbing game–if you want to call it that. The first guy was on for about 2 minutes before he noticed. But as I learned first-hand later on, the Braves are not sympathetic towards any disadvantaged spectator.
As I said, my section was in decent foul ball range. In fact, I was on an aisle, looking right down the right field line, just on the net-less side of the home plate screen. The Marlins’ first batter, who happened to be Yelich–a lefty, hit a nice, low foul ball just to my right as the game began. I was talking to my dad at the time and unfortunately got a late jump on it. By the time I got into the aisle, the ball was on the other side of a stupid railing that impeded my further advancement towards it. It landed just out of my reach and hit a lady who was walking down the stairs. A guy jumped out of the row on the other side of the dumb railing and reached for it, boxing me out in the process as I tried to maneuver around the railing. But the ball was out of his reach and the lady it hit ended up picking up the souvenir. Bummer…
Garrett Jones put the first run on the board in the second inning with a solo shot into the right field bullpen. And the Braves did not tally a hit until the fifth inning. Things were looking good for the Fish.
Sometime in the middle innings, the “Kiss Cam” entertainment segment came on–a staple for many sports venues. Some teams do things differently though, and show either an opposing player or fan for the last subject as a joke. I should have seen this coming, but I was a sitting duck chilling out in a row by myself with a bright orange Marlins shirt on and relatively close to home plate. They displayed my lonely self as a laughing stock for the final Kiss Cam spot, and the Braves fans behind me went nuts. They were so happy to be on the jumbotron, and I didn’t even care. I just laughed at the screen and pretended like I had some respect for the Atlanta baseball organization.
The Braves just put me on the kiss cam…alone. Kinda walked into that one w/ marlins shirt. But still #HateTheBraves
— Steve Miller (@smiller_96) April 22, 2014
The Braves scored two runs before Craig Kimbrel entered the game to pitch the ninth inning and idealistically close out the match. Things did not go as planned for Atlanta. After Jarrod Saltalamacchia (longest and best name in the majors) walked to lead off the inning, Adeiny Hechavarria reached on catcher’s interference (the rarest of the seven ways to reach first). Derek Dietrich, a graduate of Georgia Tech, came up to bat. After falling behind 0-2, he battled back to load the count before he sprayed a liner into left-center field. It split the Uptons and rolled to the wall. Reed Johnson, the runner on second, got a bad jump and rounded third with Hechavarria right on his tail. Since Hech had to slow up as to not overtake Johnson, he was unable to score and the Marlins settled for one. Miami then committed one of baseball’s cardinal sins by not driving in the runner from third with fewer than two outs. The next three batters all struck out swinging and the game was tied heading into the bottom of the ninth.
This Chop House music is satanic. I’m fairly certain it’s what the sith would have played at Darth Vader’s funeral procession. #letsgofish
— Steve Miller (@smiller_96) April 22, 2014
As fun as this game was, I was not on a baseball trip. I was scheduled to meet some people at Georgia Tech the following day who would help me make a final college decision. I told my dad we could leave after the top of the 10th, and we did just that. The Marlins didn’t score, but we saw fireworks as we left the stadium on the bus. Evan Gattis had hit a walk-off, two-run shot to win the game for Atlanta in the bottom of the 10th. It was a dismal end to an eventful evening, but it was good to see the Braves play and not intentionally hit any opposing batters.
Note the above ticket is not mine, I actually found it in the MARTA station.