This is your 48-or-so-hour notice. The Braves open for real at SunTrust Park Friday at 7:30. If you are planning on attending, leave now.
Excitement is building. More precisely, the excitement is the building.
That’s the slightly unsettling part of Friday – it’s bricks and mortar that has center stage, not the people housed within. They, as of Wednesday, comprise a one-win team that has taken the good spirits of spring out of the oven and watched them fall quicker than an underdone soufflé. Nothing to see here just yet.
It’s really hard to cheer for a building. A building doesn’t hit walk-off home runs. A building doesn’t sign a kid’s autograph. A building doesn’t win banners, it only provides them a convenient place to hang.
This grand opening all would have been so much more grand if only the Braves were in the midst of a long championship run, not coming off 67- and 68-win seasons (the lowest two-year total since 1989-90). And if the current team hadn’t left Orlando and spent the first week-plus of the season putting up the fewest runs and the worst fielding percentage in the Majors. The reviews of this play have been ugly; and frankly have taken a little of the edge off the excitement around the new playhouse.
But that is the truth of the Braves at the moment: It is more difficult to build a team than it is to build a $600 million ballpark (especially when there is no public referendum). Real estate is easy. Baseball is hard.
The key to enjoying this weekend, then, will lie in our ability to pay attention to all the shiny new stadium parts and overlook any unpleasantness on the field. Through this one weekend at least.
Maybe when the Braves get to their new home they will take some competitive comfort in the surroundings and spring to life. We’re counting on a lot from this building – not only to bedazzle the customers but to inspire the tenants. So Friday we expect the Braves lineup to magically grow teeth and their gloves to turn into gold. As a Cobb taxpayer, I will be satisfied by nothing less.
The Braves need to get better quickly. For this is going to get really expensive if they have to build a new ballpark every it’s required to distract the fans from the shortcomings of the team.