Chuck Williams

These Atlanta Braves are worthy of a boycott

These Braves are awful, and could possibly be the worst team to ever wear an Atlanta uniform.

And that covers a lot of ground.

Maybe we should all boycott the Braves this season.

Before you think I am taking some political stand, please think again. I don’t care where the Braves stand on “religious liberty.” Last week, Sen. Josh McKoon, the champion of “religious liberty” legislation in Georgia, said he was going to boycott the Braves because they stood with those against such laws.

He can do that. No problems here.

But what I care about is where they are in the standings. A week into the season they are 0-5, already 3.5 games back and at this pace could be mathematically eliminated by Father’s Day.

Jeff Schultz, the fine columnist for the AJC, put it best in a recent blog: “Welcome to the dog days of August. Problem: It’s only April.”

Great observation, but the problem runs much deeper than the product the Braves are putting on the field. I went to the home opener last Monday with a group of friends. It is well documented that this will be the team’s final season in Turner Field after a 20-year run. They are fleeing for the suburbs of Cobb County.

Granted, it is obvious there is a minor-league product on the field. But there also was a minor-league experience inside the stadium. And the problem with that is you are not paying minor-league admission and concession prices.

Over the years I have been inside Turner Field as a spectator or a working journalist 30 or more times. The experience is usually consistent. Not this time.

We left Columbus more than three hours before first pitch. Even when there is a sellout, that is plenty of time to park, get into the stadium, buy a hot dog and cold beverage, find your seat and stand and remove your cap for the National Anthem.

Not this time.

It started trying to park. There were road barricades on streets next to the stadium where I had never seen road barricades before. It was almost like the City of Atlanta was pulling a Chris Christie on the traffic patterns.

Then when you finally did park, there were still 10,000 or more people outside the gate in the third inning. It was nuts.

Once inside the stadium, it wasn’t much better. The concession and restroom lines were long. And it wasn’t just the restrooms. I was buying two sandwiches from a vendor on the main concourse, and he had no change. He had chicken sandwiches, and he would sell them to you if you had $5.50.

And this is not just me. Others have had similar experiences.

“I was at the game Sunday,” a friend of mine posted on a story about the Braves. “Vendors ran out of regular coffee and hot chocolate and were in no hurry to restock either, and when they did it was watered down slop at the regular inflated price. Half the park seemed to be Cardinal fans. I suspect we'll see a lot of empty seats at the Ted all season long.”

I suspect we will, too.

It is obvious the Braves have a foot in Cobb County, but they should care about the people who are still paying to go to games at Turner Field.

At the end of the day, they got us. Their product is not just a game, it is the timeline some of us use to measure events in our life. It is something we pass to our kids, making sure they know something as trivial as men playing a kids’ game is important.

And it is a place you go with good friends to share a few hours away from life’s problems. That is what baseball is.

And the Braves need to know we are still paying top-dollar for it — if they care.

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