Went to my first Braves game of the last several years last night (or at least most of it -- Atlanta's amazing traffic turned a journey of a few miles into an hour-plus) and really, without "Chipper" Jones in the lineup, it's difficult to work up much vitriol toward the team -- I've become so disconnected from baseball, aside from the Cardinals, that I don't know who many of these guys are. I was vaguely cheered up to see that Brian Jordan's still playing at age 52, and I know who Francoeur is because some things are unavoidable even when you ignore local news, but beyond that -- where's Len Barker? Where's Chris Chambliss? Where's Bob Horner?
The stadium was packed -- probably one of three times it will be all season -- and with accidental sobriety in effect (they don't take credit cards at the beer stands and there were about two ATMs in the whole place), I was a bit irritable. But beyond the lack of amenities, and the crowds of frat guys around, Turner Field was really nice -- I had lousy seats the last time I was there, but last night's upper deck seats had perfect sight lines. Lotsa cute girls, too.
I was a diehard baseball fan back around junior high or so, the kind of guy who could tell you who played second base for the Padres in 1976 (whether or not you asked), who would spend his lunch hour reading Bill James. I didn't date much, obviously. That's long since passed -- music, hockey, girls all took precedence -- and ever since the World Series got wiped out, my interest has flagged considerably. It was good to get out there last night, but I'll probably wait to do it again for a good lazy afternoon game, when Turner draws a minor league-sized crowd, and I can sprawl out in a field of empty plastic Miller Lite bottles.
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In news from the sport that I spend every waking hour thinking about (but also never really watch), the Canadiens obviously don't read this blog, and failed to lose last night. That just about guarantees that the Lightning are the Thrashers' only hope. It'd be good to see Tampa Bay properly mark the 10th anniversary of the Devils' 1995-96 season, when that club failed to make the playoffs at all in defense of their Stanley Cup run. I'm confident Pavel Kubina and Evgeny Artyukhin have enough sense of history to make that happen.