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Mudville: September 18, 2021 1:03 pm PDT
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Truist Park

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was to keep swinging.” ―Hank Aaron

 

The Braves were cool when I was a kid. Really cool. Dallas Cowboys cool if you lived anywhere in the country outside of the Northeast United States.

Even then, there were a couple too many Braves fans imbedded in high schools, malls, and boardwalks. The big white A. The tomahawk.

It was cool until the Yankees decided to break their World Series drought and start a dynasty in the mid 90’s. The 1996 Yankees won two of their four mid-nineties World Series vs Atlanta, sweeping them in. Oh, to be a kid growing up in New Jersey during this time was glorious. It seemed like the Yankees went 162-0 every year and swept through the playoffs with ease. Those were the days, and every kid in America was a Yankee fan or a Yankee hater at some point. All of them. John Smoltz is still mad about those two Yankee rings, and he lets us know every time he broadcasts. He’s salty.

10,000 spices in the world and he chose…

Is there no end to your corniness?

**Insert Field of Dreams game joke here.

Touché. I made that too easy. Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that the 90’s Braves were unreal. The pitching was some of the best ever assembled in a single rotation. The bats were deadly up and down the line up. They were fast, fun, and flashy.

They had Bobby Cox, one of the greats on the steps of the dugout and they had Turner Field. Turner Field was loud and as soon as you heard the repetitive beating of the drum you knew that just shy of 50,000 people would raise their arms and tomahawk chop in unison. It was deafening, intimidating even; I can still hear it. Honestly back then it was pretty cool, and I always wished I could have been there in person to see it live. 15-year-old me didn’t have the same luxuries I do now, plus my mom probably wasn’t going to let me travel to Atlanta to see a baseball game on a school night.

She sounds like a tough lady.

Firm, but fair. No complaints on this end. She raised a pretty good man and she’s a big reason I’m even #thefoodguy writing this column and chasing all of this amazing food. Food was huge in our house and mom cooked it all, every night and from scratch. Mom taught me more about food than anyone I know, and to this day I still learn from her. She taught me how to cook before I was in professional kitchens, she was a huge Yankee fan with my dad growing up. I owe both of them a lot because if I had my way as a little guy, I would be a Mets fan today – but that’s a different story for a different day.

Save that one for Citi Field- They aren’t ready for it.

For once, we can agree on something. This is more of a scatter-brained ramble than a column, but there’s still time to turn it around. Maybe Jefe won’t read it and kick it back before it goes live on Monday. So fast forward a few years and Turner Field is now the home of the Georgia State Panthers baseball team and the Atlanta Braves play in a fancy new stadium called Truist Park.

It’s not a bad ballpark, but there’s nothing special here either. They did a great job honoring “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron and the other greats who played for the Braves. The walk-through museum was awesome, and the memorabilia was second to none. Bats, balls, jerseys, gloves, and old champagne bottles line a double-sided walk through which ends with a giant statue of Henry Aaron and a commemorative 755 bat display celebrating the real all time home run king. They did a really good job with this, but the rest is just blah. An oversized cow statue in the outfield. Yawn. An outfield bridge. Pittsburgh did it better. A giant kids park in the back walk though of the entire outfield. Obnoxious, really.

But I was here, and the Yankees were in town and both teams were riding nine game winning streaks before the Monday night game (We all know who won that one) so you could say the atmosphere was pretty electric. It was a split crowd, as we all know how well the Yankee fanbase travels helps even the worst teams pack a stadium – I’m looking at you LoanDepot Park.

The chicken and beef tacos.

Come on man. Get to Choppin!

That’s where the story ends, my friend. I heard the drum. The lights went down and the arms went up and the fans started to chant, “Oooooooooo….oooooooo…..oooooo” but it only lasted a few seconds before it was drowned out by the away team’s fanbase who broke into a louder  “Let’s go Yankees” chant. Man, I love baseball.

This went on throughout the game with Yankees fans starting it up and Braves fans booing. Then it was Braves fans starting it up and Yankee fans overtaking the crowd with their own hometown call. I love a meaningless, late August interleague game that feels like a playoff atmosphere.

The rest of the trip was great, and I really don’t have any complaints. The food was good – especially the tacos – and the people were kind for the most part. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the “Behind the Dish” friends in person, Chef Molly Barton and she was nothing short of amazing. I moved around and checked all of the seats – this place has a few bad ones. Standing room is limited versus the number of tickets they sell for it. Overhangs and poles block the action in several different spots so be careful where you grab a ticket. The high seats (300’s) give a great view of all the action and they have a huge social gathering area called “The Battery” for pre and post-game celebrating.

What about the parking?

Don’t get me started on the parking. 0/10 Worst parking situation in MLB.

But you liked the tacos.

I did like the tacos.

#staytuned #stayhungry #thefoodguy

Truist Park: 755 Battery Ave. SE Atlanta, GA 30339

Rating:  The “Take me Out” – Traditional food, but nothing special. Way too many Chick-Fil-A stands, some “NY Style” pizza and all of your traditional ballpark foods. Nothing crazy this go around.

Major League Teams: The Atlanta Braves

Minor League Teams: Gwinnett Stripers (Braves AAA affiliate)

Other Baseball: Rome Braves (Braves A affiliate) Rome, GA / The Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum, The Savannah Bananas

Shout Out: To the Braves fans who rewarded me a banger of a tweet with the pathetic “Let’s go Red Sox!” chants as you left Tuesday night. You hate to see it. And also to Chef Molly Barton who made a guest appearance this week!

The pulled pork sandwich.

The “Stadium Food Scale” for ballparks in 2021 (from worst to first):

  • Dumpster Fire – On the menu or in the bowl- this shit stinks.
  • School Fair – Everything is greasy, everything is fried — Limited options.
  • The “Take me Out” – Traditional food, but nothing special.
  • Fancy Pants – Sushi, Steaks and monocle wearing worthy menu options. Fancy.
  • The Babe Buffet — Everything you need and a bunch of things you didn’t. This is the end all be all of stadium food. Limitless options and so much food, even George Herman Ruth would tap out.

Father, husband, runner, and food guy. Baseball traveler, stadium food connoisseur, and podcast fill-in. Just here for the hot dogs.

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