FanPost

THIS IS BRAVES COUNTRY - The Opening Day Recap

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Look, there's hardly anything that hasn't been said that I can add to it, but I'm going to try anyway.  Like many of you, I'm still on that cloud nine from Opening Day, and I'm going to ride that wave of awesomeness and try to steer it into somewhat of an amusing post.

For those of you whom are unfamiliar with my photo posts, be prepared, as there will be a lot of imagery.  If for whatever reason you do not have a high-speed internet connection, I pray to Pujols for mercy on your soul.  And these will happen frequently throughout the season, too . . .

Firstly - props to TCers who showed the courage to reveal themselves; ryan c, Rhyno18, Gage23, heap16, and 10-4, whom I've met like 50 times now, but that makes a new record of a gargantuan six people to actually show up to a TC gathering.  The best part was that gondeee would've made seven, but he decided that he valued the standing room only shade more than actually meeting any of his own blog's contributors, so I told the others that they had the green light to rip into him, and I would ignore all flags and warnings in regard (cue jokes about how I do that already).

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The day started early for me, and as much as I wish that I had taken the entire day off, I'm a slave to the hourly wage, and opting to be on side of financially responsible, I decided that going into work for at least half the day should suffice.  And then I started getting text messages from gondeee where he referred me to the Braves twitter feed, where there were already pictures of lines at the $1 ticket window where I had hoped to cheap my way in, which completely deflated me, and then the itch to GTFO of work really began to set in.  I was out the door at exactly 1 pm, and was mortified to see that the roads were already getting really bad, for a 4:05 pm game.  Thankfully my knowledge of Atlanta side streets and back roads got me to the vicinity in not a whole lot of time, and I was parked and on my way to the Ted in no time.

Tailgating

I met up with gondeee, and we walked around the parking lots for a little bit, where we mooched beer off of 10-4 (if you ever tailgate again, let me know, and I'll contribute), and watched the festive swarms of people playing tailgate games, and drinking very, very heavily.  But the best part was, among the throngs of people that were converging onto the Ted, not nearly as many of them were decked out in Cubbie blue as I had predicted, and this was one of those cases where I didn't mind being wrong.

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We finally made our way into the Ted, where a Beatles cover band was playing in the Pavilion.  The place was packed, and as mentioned above, there wasn't nearly as many Cubs fans as I had feared there would be; perhaps the recent article in the AJC about (the Hawks) how other teams' fans are getting way too comfortable in Atlanta has actually made some strides, and has rung true with the Braves fanbase?

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Here's a shot of the new out of town scoreboard, which I do like.  The old one was fine, but even the most savvy baseball fans don't know the number of every pitcher on every other team in baseball, which was the only information given on the former board.  The new board better shows the inning, the pitcher, runners aboard, as well as the outs, and in full, pretty shiny, HD color.

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Now where gondeee and I ended up planting ourselves, we weren't quite aware, but it turned out to be right behind the players' family/friends/Braves employee section.  I saw this guy repeatedly, and it didn't take long to deduce connection to actual Jason Heyward, but I didn't think it was really his dad.  But in the entire 201 section, it was practically all of Henry County, because everyone there was clearly there to support the Haymaker.

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Also spotted in the section was Brian McCann's mother; easily recognizable after the season of washouts last year, resulting in the repeat showings of Brian McCann: IN MY OWN WORDS, and showing his still pretty mom repeatedly.  I also got a glimpse of McCann's dad, but he vanished until the 9th inning.  The whole rest of the game, gondeee and I were joking about how he was in full sweats, in case Bobby Cox needed another pinch-hitter, and how he was likely the overbearing, yet supportive Southern dad, chiding little Heap that his Silver Sluggers and All-Star selections meant absolutely dick in the big picture.  And that his absence throughout the whole game was probably a result of him pumping iron in the Braves' weight room during the game.

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Finally at the Top of the Chop's Bud Zone, they finally decided to get rid of the ratty yellowing sheet that they draped that used to say "Andruw's Brew Crew," and replaced it with a nice clean white "Bobby's COX BOX," which yes, sounds kind of gross, but at least it will only be around for this year.  Can't win 'em all.

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Oh yeah, if you ever want to work for the Atlanta Braves, apparently first requisite is to be light-refracting smoking hot, and female.  And it helps if you look ridiculous in business suits, high heels, and create halos of light around you when you walk.  Anyone who's seen them walking around Turner Field, or been to a public event where aside from meeting players, they try to seduce you into buying season ticket plans, knows exactly what I'm talking about.

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Here's a shot of the field with the Braves unveiling their saying for the 2010 season:

THIS IS BRAVES COUNTRY.

Y'know, since the Braves have so many fans outside of just Georgia.  At first, I thought it was lame, but compared to former sayings (Welcome to the Bigs, Experience the Magic of Turner Field) it wasn't at all that bad.  Jokes about John Mellencamp's "This is OURRRRR country," and how the saying works so well in conversation were made, and there's 161 more games for all of us to throw it out there.  When Takashi Saito struck out Derrick Lee, I screamed out "SIT DOWN, this is BRAVES COUNTRY!"

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I'm a superstitious fan, weary of any signs of excessive hype - and as cool as this was to see, I'm not going to say I wasn't petrified by it.  But still, watching Hank Aaron throw the ceremonial first pitch out to Jason Heyward drew chills down my spine.

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This is for all you weirdo Chino Cadahia fans.  Maybe it's just distance, but the FUPA doesn't look so prevalent here; perhaps he discovered the magic of P90X as well, and is ITBSOHL?

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Obligatory Opening Day shot of the two teams lined up on the baselines.  Always looks great, no matter who the opposing team is.  And the skies were clear, blue, and gorgeous this year, as opposed to last year's gray and miserable home opener.

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Here's Bobby and Frank Wren presenting Baby Jesus with his Silver Slugger award for being awesome throughout 2009.

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Get ready for the year of "one last's."  Here's Bobby Cox, for the final time, approaching the Umps on an Opening Day to give the lineup card.  Like natural adversaries in the wild, I can't help but wonder just how many times the nostalgia factor is going to save Bobby's ass from getting tossed this year?

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Well, here's the View From MY Seat.  And technically gondeee's as well, since he was standing right next to me, but it's the moment just before impact of the greatest home run of 2010.

Now we've all gushed about how awesome it was, but I just have to say it; I've seen my share of home runs live and in person, but I'm having a great deal of difficulty in finding one that stands out more than this one.  Chipper's 400th, Mark Teixeira's debut, hell even Brian McCann's first.  Maybe it's the fact that I was right behind the Heyward family and posse, who were exploding and screaming and rejoicing.  Maybe it's the hundreds of complete strangers who were yelling and screaming right with them, and high-fiving each other like they just got an N64 for Christmas.

But Jason Heyward's first home run was pure magic.  The clichéd stuff that dreams are made of.  The sports moment that dads and some moms will fondly reminisce and tell their children about.  Capturing the imagination of sports fans everywhere.  History in the making.  Thank you, Carlos Zambrano.

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This is a beautiful sight - After the first go-around of the lineup, seven guys were rocking 1.000 batting averages.  Granted, Chipper and Heap hit some hail marys into the Bermuda Triangle, but they're still hits too.

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Baby Jesus reminds us that the Braves are still his team to inherit with his own power homer to stretch the lead to greater heights, and to effectively chase Carlos Zambrano.

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The official number of the day was 53,081.  Often times, I dog on the city for its poor attendance, but I can say with great pride, that it was a proud day to be a Braves fan yesterday, and to be one of 53,081 lucky people to have witnessed some history in the making.

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As well documented by thenightstallion's fanpost, Jason Heyward merchandise was prohibited until he played his first official game.  I.E. five full innings of fielding, and when the game became official, then it was on, to be the first ones to get Haymaker stuff.  Personally, I know I'm going to be around a lot, so I'm in no rush, although it would be nice to know that a Heyward shirt/jersey would at least last for the next five years or so.

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It was only a matter of time after the Braves opened the gates of hell on the Cubs.  Escobar knocked in five total, Heyward smacked a screamer that did the pitcher a favor and bounced off the mound into straight center, instead of his shin for another RBI, Moylan, Saito, and Wagner each logged their first of 90+ appearances for the year (and all were straight filthy, I might add), and the Braves capped off a memorable Opening Day with a no-nonsense ass kicking of the Cubbies.

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As I was leaving the game, wedged uncomfortable in a large crowd trying to go under the Connector in the same direction, I thought of a few other things to point out:

  • With one swing of the bat, Eric Hinske's RBI triple essentially surpassed all of Greg Norton's offensive output from 2009.
  • With Chipper Jones returning to the Ozzy Ozbourne version of Crazy Train, instead of Trick Daddy's Let's Go, along with Hinske coming out to Pantera's WALK, and Billy Wagner coming out to Metallica's Enter the Sandman, the team's badass quotient has just skyrocketed, about 63%.  Nothing against hip-hop, but it was getting to the point where it was ALL that Braves players were coming out to, and it was getting old.  Anyone else remember when 90% of D.R./Venezuelan/Columbian players came out to Daddy Yankee's "Rompe?"
  • I noticed the struggles against Marshall and the lefties too, hell gondeee told me he was going to point that out on the site, but I'm not that concerned in the long haul
  • Saito's intensity in an "unnecessary inning" of work was greatly appreciated.  So fundamental, but still really effective - get ahead of batters, and then try to tempt them to chase, and then get them to ground out.  And his battle against Derrick Lee, where he fell behind, but then struck him out on three filthy pitches was a thing of beauty.

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And with that, there's really little else for me to say.  I can't think of any new superlatives to how great Opening Day 2010 was that anyone else has already covered, but I will reiterate that seldom is anything more sadistically pleasuring to me than seeing Cubs fans miserable.

It's only the first game of the season, but if this is any indication of the fun that lies ahead of us all in 2010, we're in for an exhilarating ride.  It will have its ups as it will certainly have its downs, but I for one, sure love the feeling of starting on the up.

Thanks for reading, and here's to more great baseball to come.

This FanPost does not express the views or opinions of Talking Chop.

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