When the Braves put single-game tickets up for sale earlier this month, there was, as reported by Tim Tucker, a run on seats for the last regular season home game at Turner Field.
All I can figure is that some kind of morbid curiosity must have driven that rush. Or a misplaced sense of obligation. Yeah, that must be it – this is like a deathbed visit with a distant relative who frankly wasn’t all that great to you during his or her prime.
There is no honest, deep reason to show up on Oct. 2 and wish this building an emotional farewell before the move to Cobb. It has earned neither mawkish tribute nor eloquent obituary.
For one thing, Turner Field hasn’t been around long enough to become important (read that: It is being abandoned before its time).
We invest sentiment in buildings that last over generations, structures that hold the collective memories of grandfathers and grandsons, and beyond. Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, even Dodger Stadium – those are the ballparks that have the weight of history behind them. In its baseball configuration, Turner Field has enjoyed a lifespan (20 years) only a bit longer than that of a cockapoo.
For another thing, it’s not like the Braves turned Turner Field into a repository of great sentiment and stirring victory. Those walls and girders do not tremble with echoes of the home team’s triumphs.
The Braves lone World Series championship was won across the way in the parking lot. All of two World Series games were played inside Turner Field in its history – both losses to the Yankees.
The greatest year in its history was 1999 – the aforementioned World Series year – in which Chipper Jones won the MVP and Eddie Perez was the unlikely MVP of the NLCS. Is that enough to make us weepy and poetic?
The Braves won more than they lost at home during the long regular seasons – 921-618 – at home. And they lost more than they won when it mattered – 15-23 at home in the postseason. That never seemed to quite equal out.
Turner Field was the place where someone else always seemed to be celebrating a series-clinching moment: The Giants and Cardinals twice (one of those a wild-card aberration). The Padres and Diamondbacks and Astros all soiled the visitors’ clubhouse with sticky champagne.
It was the place where Jones suffered the final game of a Hall of Fame career. In that wild-card game loss of 2012, he committed a fatal error and went 1-for-5 while watching the Cardinals redefine the infield fly rule and the Braves fans stage a litter riot in protest.
It was the place where Arizona’s Randy Johnson threw his perfect game in May 2004.
It was the place that best served as a stage for celebrating old glories, seemingly unattainable now – see the number-retirement ceremonies for the likes of Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux, Jones and Cox. Which player who spent his entire Braves career inside Turner Field played to such a level? Andruw Jones, perhaps? That’s it.
If the Braves are wrapping up a 70-win season on Oct. 2 – against a stranger, no less, the American League’s Detroit Tigers – can Atlanta really work up a loud, sincere farewell to Turner Field?
The fitting goodbye, sadly, would be a sigh and a shrug.