Today marks the last Major League Baseball home opener at Turner Field, Atlanta's Olympic Stadium that hosted the world in 1996, a moment that proved our city's ascendancy as the next great international gateway.
Shame on the City of Atlanta and Fulton County and the Atlanta Braves for not working together for a more fruitful solution. Everything that is planned for the SunTrust Park Cumberland complex had been proposed and shot down by the greedy and myopic interests on all sides many times over the past twenty years. Now, Liberty Media is trying all kinds of stock and other financial hijinks, including gutting the roster of great marquis players to offset $16 million and $18 million operating losses over the last two years.
Last Thursday, I drove to Canton, Georgia for a meeting. That is forty-two miles north of where I live adjacent to Turner Field. I left downtown Atlanta at the tail end of rush hour. Traffic was still heavy but moving nicely at 7:15 p.m. until I got within five miles of the Braves' new SunTrust Park. It took me about 25 minutes to traverse the small distance to where one will eventually exit for the new baseball field. The Southbound side of the highway was equally at a standstill. There were no accidents to blame. This was four days before baseball season.
But yeah, tell me again how traffic was one of the big reasons for the move northward. All of those fat cat season ticket holders and luxury box owners might live north of Atlanta, but an overwhelming majority of them still work in Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown Atlanta. And, of course, the citizens and leaders of Cobb County maintain their decades-long rejection of a MARTA rapid rail extension to their ersatz idyllic enclave.
Until the franchise's defection announcement, I attended, at least, one-two Braves games per week. I wasn't a season ticket holder, but having fallen in love with the game 28 years ago when I worked for Ted Turner, I became a dedicated fan. Then they made The Announcement.
Most of all, I am heartbroken and bitter. I learned to love Baseball on my own as an adult. I loved the Braves at their worst and at their best. I actually watched the games I did not attend on TV, especially during those five years that I lived in L.A. When I traveled back to Atlanta on business during that time, I almost always attended a game. Before and since, whenever I was in my car, if the Braves were playing, I would listen to Skip Caray, Don Sutton, Pete Van Wieren and Joe Simpson call the game. I can't tell you how many times I walked in late to a meeting or rejoiced when someone else was running late just so I could sit in a blazing hot parking lot and listen to the end of an at-bat or an inning. It was a love I shared with my Great Aunt Martha who bequeathed her Bobby Cox-signed baseball to me.
The Braves' departure from Atlanta feels worse than breaking up with someone, possibly because there is so much injustice and the whiff of public corruption interwoven in the narrative of how it happened. So, no, I won't be at The Ted to watch batting practice on this opening day to take selfies above our sparkling field, but I will be crying a bit, not for the magnificent majesty of singing our national anthem or a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but because I've lost my partner in the love of the game.