You knew it, I knew it… we all knew it.
Back on that mid-November day in 2013 when the Braves announced that they would be leaving the city of Atlanta for a brand new facility in Cobb County, it was a foregone conclusion that the final season at Turner Field would be a throwaway.READ MORE: Nourish + Bloom Market, World's First Black-Owned Autonomous Grocery Store, Opens In Fayetteville
Oh sure, there are going to be a whole assortment of ceremonies and remembrances galore to send the still relatively new edifice off with a bang, but it’s all going to be window dressing — mere pomp and circumstance to simply distract from the dubious team of players who’ve been assembled to take the field for the Braves in 2016.
This organization touts itself as the longest continuous running Major League Baseball franchise in history. And for good reason. Established in 1871, and part of the National League since 1876, the team has called home to a number of various venues over their vast existence, as well as been known by a variety of different names.
Originally the Red Stockings, then the Red Caps, Bean Eaters, Doves, Rustlers and Bees before finally settling on and sticking with Braves, they’ve taken their last licks at Boston’s South End Grounds, Congress Street Grounds, Fenway Park, and Braves Park, along with Milwaukee’s County Stadium, and then Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Turner Field… and soon to be Sun Trust Park.
So yes, the franchise that’s been situated in three different cities and played in seven separate venues — with an eighth in the not so distant future – once upon a time ago exhibited the classic signs of going through an identity crisis.
But today, there can be no mistaking who the 2016 Atlanta Braves really are: an amalgamation of pieces — both old and new — who currently represent nothing more than a stopgap to the future that 2017 and beyond will bring.
Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Mallex Smith, Sean Newcomb, Aaron Blair, Touki Toussaint, Tyrell Jenkins, and others represent nothing more than hope. Their success at the major league level has been predicted and anticipated by hordes of so-called experts, but in no ways guaranteed.
John Schuerholz may be slowly riding off into the sunset, but John Hart and John Coppolella, along with the likes of Derek Schiller and Mike Plant, are thick as thieves in the planning stages of what lies ahead in their vision for a brand new world of Braves baseball and entertainment.
Make no mistake that part of their blueprint for overall success relies on the young names mentioned above maturing into quality and productive players for the Atlanta Braves. But a year-round gathering spot centered around hotels, restaurants, bars, concert venues, and even a zip-line doesn’t need to rely on an accomplished baseball team from April through September to operate in the black.READ MORE: Family Of Vincent Truitt Files $150 Million Lawsuit Against Cobb County, Police Officer
Thus, the most important thing to remember is that this is about big BUSINESS, not big league BASEBALL. From the day that AOL Time Warner wrested control of the Braves away from Ted Turner, the importance of baseball took a back seat to the magnitude of making money for those who have been in control. And it only got worse when the team was “sold” via a stock transfer with Liberty Media. Chairman of the Board Terry McGuirk may be the common thread that runs back in time to Turner’s regime, but his marching orders today from John Malone are a far cry from those of what Terrible Teddy once barked out.
Now, surely Turner was about making money. To claim that one of the great businessmen of the late 20th century wasn’t would be utterly ridiculous. But Ted Turner was also about the competition because he was a sportsman through and through. Winning for the city of Atlanta was something that drove him, whether it was the Braves, Hawks, or even the Thrashers.
As this final season at The Ted gets underway, I can’t help but remember one of my favorite occurrences ever at the ballpark. It occurred on the opening day of its first campaign as a baseball stadium. Then team president Stan Kasten laid down the edict that no outside food or beverage of any kind would be allowed to enter through the ballpark’s hallowed gates, and it was a hot topic amongst the still fever-pitched chopping fans of Braves Country. As a form of protest, 790 The Zone hosts AJ Cannon and Mark Gray donned Hot Dog and Hamburger costumes and proceeded to stir the pot even more outside the gates that day… and it worked, as Kasten backed-down from the policy and relented on the food flap.
And there have been other memorable moments and times at Turner Field. The Braves winning the 1999 NLCS over the Mets in Game 6 thanks to a bases-loaded walk that forced in the game and series winning run. The highlights and milestones by the likes of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones in their Hall of Fame careers. The Braves carrying Bobby Cox off the field after clinching the Wild Card in his final regular-season game as manager in 2010.
But in its totality, Turner Field has been more of a house of horrors for the Braves and their fandom.
Did you know the Braves never won a World Series game at The Ted? They lost the only two they ever hosted, to the Yankees, in 1999. Or that they were a combined 15-23 during the post-season on their home field?
Making matters worse, opposing teams celebrated series-clinching wins on nine different occasions during the Ted’s tenure. The Marlins started the trend by winning a deciding fifth game of the NLCS back in that inaugural season of 1997, with the exact same thing happening the very next year against the Padres. In 2000, the Cardinals took their turn to dance on the Turner Field diamond after securing the NLDS, and then it was the Diamondbacks in the 2001 NLCS, the Giants in the ‘ 02 NLDS, the Cubs in the ’03 NLDS, the Astros in the ’04 NLDS, and the Giants in the ’10 NLDS. And of course, most recently, the Braves were eliminated from postseason action on their home field in 2012 by the Cardinals in the infamous Outfield Fly Rule game.
I guess the good news is that Braves Country won’t have to worry about that sort of ignominy happening THIS season, though.
So don’t get all misty-eyed when you go out to the ballpark this season and think about all the good times and how much you’re going to miss The Ted. After all, there haven’t been that many.MORE NEWS: Atlanta Police Dept. Hosts Regional Law Enforcement Leadership Training
You know it, I know it… we all know it.