Monday, July 21, 2014

Atlanta Braves

The book that will chronicle the fantastical road trip that this blog covers is now 40% funded via Kickstarter cloud funding. You can be part of history and help bring "Gone to the Dogs" to print by visiting my kickstarter page. At least watch the video and see how handsome I am.

They say life is a journey and not a destination. If this is true then it is the passengers on your journey that make it special. On Sunday I visited Turner Field which was the 30th and final Major League Baseball park for the season. I have now officially had a dog in all 30 MLB parks. And it was a close call. I met my buddy Troy Clarida at the park. Troy and I were shipmates on the USS Waddell (DDG-24) back in the early 1980s. We were integral parts of one of most fearsome weapons teams to sail the seas. Troy worked on the large calibre 127mm guns and I on the missile systems. Plus we drank a of beer together and ate food we could not identify while gallivanting around the South Pacific. It was a real privilege to down my last MLB dog with an old shipmate...even if he did smuggle in his own gluten-free bun. 

The skies above Turner Field were pretty damn gray when I arrived. There’s some history to this. During the past 3 years I have tried to catch a Braves game with Troy twice...both times we were rained out. It was looking like a third time in a row, just what I didn’t want for my final MLB stop. We were able to snag what the Braves call “Skyline” tickets. They are called such because they are high up and on the side that offers a skyline view of downtown Atlanta. They go on sale 3 hours before game time and cost ONE DOLLAR. Bravo Braves, bravo.

That dollar gave us entrance to the the mainly red brick edifice that bears the name of the former Braves owner and its wide main concourse. Turner Field was one of the earlier “retro parks” and it has a great ambiance, dog selection, location, and pretty much all that I love in a ballpark. So what do you do with a venue like that? Blow it up. Despite Turner Field only being about 15 years old, the team is building a new facility in the burbs that is slated to open in 2017 or so. A shame really, as it is a great park. And after 15 years nearly new. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, by comparison, are both over 100 years old. Who knows what they will do with the “old” park. Can I have it?

Bun-my bun was laden with gluten and delicious.
Killers Tom and Troy, Destroying Dogs
Taste-the National Deli frank was decent, but I have had better.
Toppings-you have to ask for onions as the counter, and they give you PLENTY. Grilled peppers are also available.
Price-$4.25 is not anything to brag about, but nothing to complain about either.
Portability-a nice paper wrapper, complete with the Braves logo.
It Factor-there is a stand it the main food section that offers up a great selection of specialty dogs.

Location-downtown Atlanta.
Access-walk, bike, MARTA, drive...all modes of access available.
Another Ballpark Chaser. Read His Shirt
GA Ticket Price-3 hours before the game there are a limited number of tickets available for ONE STINKING DOLLAR! Braves win that prize.
Cleanliness-nice and clean.
Fans-you mean the fans that made the wave mainstream in baseball and invented the tomahawk chop? Top score.
Ambiance-looks and feels like a baseball venue. I have no idea why the Braves want to replace this gem.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price5
It Factor5Fans5

La Familia Norton
And the rain? It drizzled until about the 5th inning, then it really poured. The tarp came out and I am sure the game was called. It lasted 5 ½ innings, enough to call it an official game. Troy and I dodged a bullet on that one.

After the game I met another old friend. Weary Hot Dog Explorers do get tired of food on the road and in ballparks. Amy and Steve Norton (I know Amy from when I had a real job...which I did at one point in my life) invited me to their home just outside of Atlanta for the two things road trippers cherish the most: a home cooked meal and a shower. Amy served up some fantab lasagna (I had almost forgotten what Italian food tasted like) and I was entertained by the terrific twosome of Claire and Cale (ages 5 and 2 ½). It is encounters with folks like Troy and the Nortons that make the trip bearable at times. Seeing old friends while completing the MLB portion of my quest made the rain seem insignificant.

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