Saturday, August 14, 2010

2007 Roadtrip Stop #3: Southern Hospitality in Atlanta

I have a lot of loose ends left here on this blog (as EK sometimes reminds me), so I may as well utilize the Dodgers' annual visit to Atlanta's Turner Field in order to finish up chronicling my 2007 baseball roadtrip. Longtime readers may recall that in 2007, Delino and I (along with a couple of guys that were hitchhiking in Florida) did a three-day, three-stadium roadtrip which started Friday night in Miami, with a night which was so bacchanalian that we barely made it to the Saturday game at Tropicana Field.

After gunning across the state of Florida in a large gas-guzzling rental car, we decided the best way to hit our final stop, the Sunday game in Atlanta, was to fly from Tampa Bay to Atlanta. Southern convenience store proprietors wept at the decision, but honestly it was the only reasonable way we could have made it to see the Pirates at Turner Field on July 15, 2007. The Pirates, helmed by Jim Tracy, ended up with an unsurprising loss, even to a Braves team that ended up in third place in the NL East.

This roadtrip, the most recent baseball roadtrip of many, allowed me to pick up what was at the time my 25th current MLB stadium (which has now receded back to 23 thanks to the two new New York ballparks).

As a Dodger fan, I grew up hating the Braves, our divisional archrival before the three-division realignment. But I had to admit that Turner Field was a pretty nice ballpark. There is nothing really fancy or extraordinary about it, and no notable architectural characteristics such as Petco Park's Western Metal building or Camden Yards' B&O Warehouse. But there are some nice touches about Turner Field that honor the Braves' history, and some small features that show that care was taken when designing this ballpark.

Entering through the season ticket gate.

We were lucky to get seats from an Atlanta local who hooked us up on the club level, accessed through an air-conditioned concourse and then well-positioned under an overhang to keep us out of the sun. (The Atlanta friend also was thoughtful enough to summon a cold cooler of beers for pre-game tailgating, so by 10.30a were were already rallying at a pretty nice clip.) The Atlanta humidity can be smothering at times, but these seats were pretty posh; when a cold beer wasn't doing the trick, we could step back onto the concourse and cool down quite easily. Win.

Delino's got a gameday program!

Coca-Cola dominated the ballpark's skyline (and even the adjacent iconic imagery).

Entering the Lexus Level. No riff-raff here (I'm surprised they let us in!).

Boy, that's a lot of pennant flag icons. Yet only one World Championship!

Opposing centerfielder Nate McClouth gets the full ESPN-fonted logo treatment (or maybe that's Blade Runner? Which means perhaps McClouth is a replicant?).

The game gets under way, now that the Braves have donned their alternate red home jerseys.

Nice details on the ironwork of the seat armrests at the aisle.

Holy logo infringement!

We probably spent the least amount of time watching this game out of all three stadia this weekend, just because there was more to explore now that we were in a non-football, non-catwalked locale.

The 755 Club, which sounds like a strip club (which wouldn't be out of the question here in Atlanta), but actually didn't have any pole dancing.

Actually, the legendary Brave Hank Aaron casts a pretty big shadow of nobility over the 755 Club. As it should.

We then jaunted up to the Coca-Cola Sky Club to get views of the field and stadium from high atop left field.

Welcome to the Sky Club.

Towering over the Sky Club plaza is a huge Coke bottle, made of baseballs, baseball gloves, bases, jerseys, bats, and other memorabilia. A little weird, but okay.

The view of the field from the Sky Club. Man, we're high up there.

Attack of the Kiss Cam! It's a trans-continental phenomenon!

Up here at the Sky Club, there was also a kids area that reminded me a lot of Angel Stadium of Anaheim; fun places to occupy the kids for those parents who want to take their kids to a theme park while a perfectly reasonable baseball game is being played. Delino was not too thrilled with the distractions, which oozed of Time Warner networks branding.

Delino curses and flicks off the commercialized pavilion, stunned kids and parents be damned.

We completed the circuit by passing back through right field and catching a late inning, before returning to that glorious air-conditioned concourse and cooling off a bit more.

The view from right field.

Since the trip was over three years ago, I can't exactly recall all the rest of the hijinks that ensued that weekend. Flying to Atlanta to avoid the long roadtrip from Tampa was a nice luxury that I couldn't have afforded to do ten years ago, but it allowed our group to hang out a bit longer in Atlanta with my friend (who has a dog named Maddux, named for the former Dodgers pitcher (who may have played for another team too, come to think of it)).

All in all, a fun stadium and a nice way to end a three-day trip that might have included a couple of ounces of alcohol here or there. In fact, by the end, the two hitchhikers, Delino, our Atlanta friend, and I had all become pretty simpatico. One might say that we even had similar expressions on our faces...


Kyle Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyle Baker said...

Wait, Nate McLouth was pitching?

Steve Sax said...

@Dusty: DD? This is Sax!

Steve Sax said...

Good catch on McClouth

Kyle Baker said...

Sorry Sax...misread it before I put me glasses on this morning!

Kyle Baker said...

Damn, Sax, I will never accuse you of starting something you didn't finish. Nice work.

DD, I will continue to accuse you of starting things you don't finish.

Kyle Baker said...

I, too, shake my fist at all the commercialization you captured from your trip to Turner Field. On the other hand, I'd sure like to buy some players that are more than just LHWGs, and such commercialization could provide new revenue streams.

Steve Sax said...

Agreed, Dusty. It's not like we haven't tried commercialization. It's just that that money has gone to pay for the seventh and eighth houses' mortgage payments.

Kyle Baker said...

We could have a Lexus Level and a Lowrider Level.

karina said...

"that's a lot of pennant flag icons. Yet only one World Championship!"

That's a piece of info I never get argued about!

This is very nice, thank you!

Delino DeShields, Sr said...

@db .... my wife is pregnant. So some things I start, I do manage to finish :-)

Delino DeShields, Sr said...

Sax...ah, the memories.

That one bar was our own private kristalnacht (german for night of the broken glass).

As a known braves hater, my misplaced rage was not shocking.

Steve Sax said...

Delino: Three years later, I'm still trying to excrete the remaining traces of beef lips from my system.

Kyle Baker said...

If you lads ever need any help with in-person Braves hate/rage, please count me in.