THE BOYS OF SUMMERHILL

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I fell in love with her the summer of ’86. Powder blue seats, my tiny hand in my dads, I was head over heels. Time and time again she broke my heart, but hope springs eternal, and every Spring I was back, heart in hand, asking to get stepped on again. Always thinking, “This time will be different”. And yes, this time may be different indeed- This time may be for good.

Confusing and gut wrenching, our Atlanta Braves have booked their White Flight- a one way to Cobb Parkway. A cowardly cash grab to the bright lights of chain restaurants and the promised land of strip malls in a sea of concrete- our boys of Summerhill will soon be gone.

In a spineless, hurried press conference on the steps of the very community they are turning their back on,  they claim this is all they can do to survive. They claim the blight around their current home is no longer livable.  Confusing to most Summherhill/Mechanicsville residents, since its long been known to them that the Braves have never wanted development, as crazy as that sounds. But it’s actually quite simple, they hated competition. The KFC, a soft infield fly from the plaza food court, was strangely razed years back. I know of two successful bar owners who separately inquired about the vacant bomb shelter shops along Georgia Avenue and were simply told “no”.  The street vendors along Hank Aaron Blvd selling merchandise a third of the price that’s sold inside those arrogant gates- ushered out by the city with the bloodsucking corporate Braves as their puppet master.  The Braves wanted your money inside, not outside.

All too ironic that the Braves on the field for the last decade have been frightened of competing just as much as the fat cats in the front office- so very brave.  Yes, this seems very nickel and dime, especially for such an elite and proud organization.

But it’s time to accept the fact that the Ted Turner version of the Braves that we grew up with is dead. Replaced with a grim, soulless corporate owned mediocrity of a team that will always be just good enough to be profitable, but never good enough to ever be truly proud of. It’s fitting that the zombie Braves are lurching towards the suburbs, where the other dead-eyed walking corpses that have given up on life are.

Like big chickens they’re soon to be peers with, they’re off for suburbia. But the Braves and some Braves fans argue that we can finally have a ballpark atmosphere with bars, restaurants, and excitement of the safe variety all next to the new stadium. It will be just like Fenway, Wrigley, and all the other new stadiums *that have moved inward*. But those parks are a tad different; they have very minimal parking, are in historic or downtown neighborhoods, and have mass transit. So no, Henry County Braves fans, you are not allowed to chime in on how to develop land.

There is nothing to convince me that the 3rd rate Braves and Cobb County wont completely drop the ball in this mixed use development. It will be handled with the precision of bricklayer Brooks Conrad and a ground ball with playoff implications. This will be a polished Disney-esqe, generic turd of a ballpark and atmosphere.  The neighborhood bar & grill will be Applebee’s and Margaritaville, not Wrigleyville, Cobb Parkway is not Yawkey Way, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond is not the Cask & Flagon.

A tasty nugget of excellence from Cobb Count Chairman Tim Lee, speaking of some sort of factory that must have a strong union, given that it has such solid transportation options, “So let’s say you go to Cumberland Mall and you’re having dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and you want to go to the game,” Lee said, “Instead of driving over there, you leave your car where it is, you get on the tram, and it goes and drops you off right in front of the stadium, and at the end of the day you go in reverse.”

Some sort of train that moves masses of people? Yes, go on. So we know how he’s getting to the game, not sure of everyone else.

And it’s quite poetic that he ends his ridiculous quote with “at the end of the day, you go in reverse”

Reverse indeed, Mr. Chairman. All the way back to the 1960’s.

More comedy and hypocrisy from the Altanta Braves- they claim another reason for the move is because of the congestion of cars getting to the stadium… and that they need more parking. It reminds me of the Woody Allen joke, “This food is terrible… and the portions are small!”. So the Braves will fix their concerns of traffic by moving to the top end of 285, to a county that took much pride in voting against TSPLOST and have successfully kept MARTA out for 40 years. Maybe the Keystone Cops will direct traffic on game days for this comedy of errors. At Cobb County’s expense, no less.

Head of the Cobb GOP Joe Dendy has it figured out though, “It is absolutely necessary the solution is about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.”

And still more confusion from this comedy/tragedy. This farce will be mostly financed by the home of Newt Gingrich, the Mecca to all Tea Party freedom fighters. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars will be handed over to a parent company with revenue of 18 billion a year. Their CEO, welfare queen John Malone makes more annually than the entire Braves payroll. This money will appear magically even after Cobb County couldn’t find 9 million and had to lay off teachers. Where’s the Tea Party when you need them? Most likely looking for parking at the Cheesecake Factory before they hop on an imaginary tram that will take them to Candy Land. Taxes are fine, just as long as they benefit the right people. You know, not the type of people that would have to come in on a train from Atlanta.

Atlanta is a world class town. But it’s our southern drawl that is charming to people- our southern sprawl is what people find disgusting. Our city is amazing despite that fact that some peoples backwards thinking try to have us move “in reverse”. This is an absolutely mind blowing, tremendous deal Cobb has handed to the Atlanta Braves. It’s the deal the Braves have been wanting ever since Ted was ousted by his buddies at Time Warner. But just as the name “Atlanta” comes before “Braves” on the 755 Hank Aaron Way stationary; my allegiance follows the same way. I root for my city before my team. Uncle Ted would’ve never let this happen.

Imagine if the concrete parking lots that sit at Turner Field now were redeveloped into a mixed use area, with a couple parking decks, a MARTA spur, bars, condos, and a beautiful diamond of a center piece of green space around the old Fulton County field highlighting where Henry Aaron broke the home run record. All this gently mixed into the Gold Dome of the State Capitol, GSU, Grant Park, Summerhill, and Mechanicsville. It’s actually not hard to imagine because there have already been 3 conceptual plans drawn up by the Braves and the City. Something that’s been hushed over because the egos involved can’t come to terms because the Braves wanted full control. And because all the money has already been sucked up by fellow welfare queen Arthur Blank. This is exactly what the Braves have wanted for the last decade. Well played, boys.

This new ballpark will have about as much real culture as the stucco mural of Sicilian grapes in a Conyers Olive Garden. And this is what stirs the blood the most. The In Reverse thinking of the 1960’s that will have this White Flight of corporate greed full steam ahead to clean and pure suburbia. The close mindedness of the heat map that the Braves released, which is basically just a map dotted with where white people live in this town. And if you can honestly say this move doesn’t have racial implications, then brother, I’ve got a ballpark in Summerhill I want to sell you. I’ll even throw in a bridge in Brooklyn.

Atlanta is the birthplace of Civil Rights, with Hank Aaron as the pinnacle of integrated sports in ’74 when he broke the homerun record after surviving, scars and all, what he had to endure as a black man in the south. There’s something about a privileged country club kid coming in from his gated Duluth community and seeing a little black kid his same age out there hustling $1 bottled water to fans coming into the game.

Baseball is different. It’s romantic and sentimental. It’s our national pastime that has helped us through 2 World Wars, integration, and even 9/11.  It has an elegance of brains over brawn. And with its history, more so than other sports, it has the magic and saying to someone, “I was there when…”

The summer of ’86 was a long time ago, and my heart has taken a beating. The Spring of 2017 won’t feel eternal.  Sad that one day I won’t have my son’s tiny hand in mine and be able to say, “This is where I saw Chipper and Maddux. This is where I watched baseball”

The boys of summer are leaving, and they’re leaving the boys of Summerhill behind.

-J. Winter

42 thoughts on “THE BOYS OF SUMMERHILL

  1. my favorites:

    … the suburbs, where the other dead-eyed walking corpses that have given up on life are.

    This will be a polished Disney-esqe, generic turd of a ballpark and atmosphere

    Where’s the Tea Party when you need them? Most likely looking for parking at the Cheesecake Factory before they hop on an imaginary tram that will take them to Candy Land. Taxes are fine, just as long as they benefit the right people. You know, not the type of people that would have to come in on a train from Atlanta.

  2. “It’s fitting that the zombie Braves are lurching towards the suburbs, where the other dead-eyed walking corpses that have given up on life are.”

    This is the exact kind of open-mindedness Atlanta has to offer!

    • Well I guess in theory, suburban corporate tit suckling IS the new(?) American culture so yeah, sorry for being so close minded. I’ll just put my college education and interests in art, music, and contemporary culture that stretches past national barriers away. Sorry about that.

      • Ha and I bet you’re against “classism” too. Not everyone can find employment in an urban center. Not everyone can afford a quirky bungalow in Candler Park. Some people prefer big yards. I’ve even met a few people in the suburbs with extensive college educations. Weird how a city having merits doesn’t make the suburbs completely meritless.

      • I have a college education, and a passion for art, music and contemporary culture, and I have traveled across the world on multiple occasions, and my God you’re full of yourself. Keep to your East Atlanta provincialism if you wish. Write about it on blogs all you want. It helps me make the measure of exactly the kind of people the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Ponce” surrounds himself with: Hive mind, hatred for “the Other” that lives outside his little bubble, and with a complete lack of fairness or charity towards the wealth of interests and issues surrounding the Braves move to the Galleria area.

        Your intense hatred for people outside the perimeter is a projection of the self-loathing you must feel for yourself.

  3. Oh quit your bitching and shove that pompous attitude of yours up your ass. Quit rooting for them then. I’m a Braves fan for life. Regardless of where they play.

  4. Dead eyed zombies, huh? I live in Marietta but I spend my time in town seeing rock shows (appx 75 a year) & eating the good stuff. From the bottom of my black soul, suck my white cock, buddy… It loves it.
    Truth is, the Braves have always been behind the 8-ball because the city owns the park. It justifies the concept of wanting to be the only dog on the block Fiscally, it was their only option. That neighborhood SUCKS anyway. It’s dangerous & intimidating & not where I’d choose to hang out if I have my druthers.
    Also, not mentioned, was the idea that Kasim Reed is a black guy & baseball is traditionally not as “black” of a sport as Basketball & Football. Both of which are a feature of that shining star that is Centennial Park. They have always been outsiders in that regard & the idea that the Braves might not have been as important to Chocolate City should also be addressed.
    Finally, everyone should realize that this whole article is about the team moving 12 miles. TWELVE MILES!!! Since we are so good about casting dispersions, let me do one: The Mayor of Ponce is a fucking DIVA BITCH… I’d rather be dead-eyed & milquetoasted that a reactionary crying bitch, crying over a whole buncha nothing. All this butthurtness & pussy-whining is about a move from one side of town to the other. The address is still Atlanta. It’s right up the road. I know. I drive it multiple time a week.

    • 12 miles of aggravation, sir. If they moved it the ~10 miles to Doraville, there wouldn’t be this kind of adverse reaction from in-town fans. Why? Because there is infrastructure in Doraville…the jackasses coul keep battling 285 traffic on their solo commutes, while others could take the train.

      In summary, your comment is a joke.

      • Yeah, use CUNTISH, instead, next time… It’s more Feng Shui.
        And do your homework. CCT is Cobb County’s very own mass transit system. We don’t need to glom onto Marta.
        In retrospect, I do wish I hadn’t resorted to name calling. It solved nothing & didn’t feel good upon further review. I had just hit my limit with all the bitching & gave a little back. For this, I apologize to the distinguished Mayor.

  5. Enjoyed the read and mostly agree, but this thing has the feel of a divorce for irreconcilable differences. The Braves wanted out, and Reed and company had no sense of urgency about keeping them.

    One final note, I remember those summers of ’86 (well, ’88 for me actually), but the seats were orange, not blue in those days… Still, I remember the advent of the Ted in ’97 as a sight to behold for a starry-eyed kid just enjoying taking in everything baseball with my dad and knowing it was a home I’d fallen in love with.

    • My brother, the seats in the lower bowl were dark blue and baby blue. Upper deck was yellow and orange. I remeber all too well Andres Thomas tossing many throws from SS into the baby blues seats! But yeah, you make a great point about the divorce… This thing is beyond differences. Maybes its best they part ways.

  6. this is so well put that I’ve sent it to my west coast family that can’t imagine how completely bass ackward the south still remains to be.
    well done, sir! well done indeed!

  7. Totally agree. I’ve lived in Atlanta since the 1960′s. I remember my late father mowing our lawn listening to the Braves on a transistor radio! “This new ballpark will have about as much real culture as the stucco mural of Sicilian grapes in a Conyers Olive Garden.” Where is our sense of historic preservation in this city? Yep, it will be Cheesecake Factory and Applebee’s. Awful. Can anything be done at this point?

  8. I believe that the Atlanta Braves’ decision to pull up stakes and relocate before the 2017 season is wrong and short-sighted: this decision will diminish the City of Atlanta in myriad ways, but more so, will diminish the Braves by undermining the organization’s ability to attract and retain fans, enter into advantageous ticket sales and licensing deals, and compete against other MLB clubs.

    I would not be too surprised if, 13 years from now, we begin
    to hear murmurs of Atlanta losing its MLB franchise to Charlotte or another city that will swallow the 15 years left on the Braves proposed lease.

    If it’s not clear: I oppose to the Braves’ decision completely and will do what I can to reverse it.

    But this. This…piece. Goodness gracious, Mayor. With all due respect, this is the worst piece of shiiii t I’ve read in a long time, on the Braves or any other topic.

    If I didn’t read your stuff, I’d be convinced this was written by someone dying for the Braves to relocate to Cobb County. Please take this down and replace it with something about your favorite experience at a game, a “fan experience” enhanced by nothing more than some peanuts or a beer, an experience that required only your presence during a Braves’ game to witness a memorable play, a memorable game, a moment shared as part of the community of fans gathered together.

    Don’t leave the this piece up. It is not just that it misses the mark – attacking the bogeymen that have so very little to do with the reasons we’re in this situation, while ignoring the difficult and nuanced phenomena and real facts that have forced us here – the piece factually wrong.

    Someone posted this on Facebook. Please take it down. I didn’t intend this to be an insult to you or your writing – I like your writing – but I know it reads like one. You’ve got my email address. I’d be happy to offer my thoughts on how, even if it can’t reverse the course, good journalism can slow it down. At thebleast, don’t leave your audience with misguided beliefs about who and what is driving this move.

    Losing the Braves could be a terrible loss, but we haven’t lost the Braves yet.

    • Im not a journalist, Im sure that can be told with my grammar, and this isnt intended to be some expose. I think they’re many reasons they are moving with plenty of blame to go around for all. So what am I getting wrong here? A 750 word comment (which I actually appreciate) and you failed to mention that.

      But I actually like the idea of telling some Braves game stories. Im a season ticket holder since 96, and have drank enough booze in that place to fill it up to about the mezzanine level-so ive got some doozies.

      • In my opinion, you got only one simple thing wrong in this piece. Unfortunately, you got it so incredibly wrong that it makes me absolutely hate an otherwise very well-done essay.

        I don’t know who from the suburbs hurt you. I don’t know why, in your 17 years as a season ticket holder, you absolutely despised so many of the Braves fans sitting around you at Fulton County and Turner Field. I mean, surely you must know that as a matter of physics, let alone economics, not every person of social merit in the state of Georgia can live in Atlanta. Beyond the fact that it’s physically impossible to fit al the decent humans in Georgia within the city limits, not everyone can afford it. Since you’ve had season tickets for 17 years while living within Atlanta, I can assume you and your family are at least relatively well off financially. Unfortunately, my dead-eyed, soulless parents had jobs up in the vast hellscape that is Cobb County and couldn’t afford a nice house in Atlanta. Let alone private school. Why did they doom me to a life of worthlessness?

        It’s funny, because me and a lot of my friends have plenty of Braves game stories ourselves. Hell, in kindergarten Steve Avery lived in a subdivision directly across the street from my school and as a class project we’d write him letters. He even came to talk to our class one day to thank us for writing. We had no way of knowing that despite pitching for our beloved Braves, he was an Applebees-loving piece of shit.

        Look, I live in Atlanta now and I get it. There’s always going to be some dislike of the suburbs. We’re Lester Maddox Bridge trash. And I don’t expect you to ever see the other parts of Cobb County (a county that’s only 56% white, by the way) besides rich, white East Cobb. You have a mustache and wear a bandanna and that would be beneath you.

        It’s a shame, because I’m completely against this move. I think it’s wasteful and I’m a sentimental guy. I too would’ve wanted to take my son to the same park I had so many great times in. But after this kind of bullshit sentiment that you and many others have expressed about the absolutely worthlessness of any person who didn’t grow up downtown, I kind of hope they name it Dockers Field at Cheesecake Factory Stadium and have a Starbucks in the visitors’ bullpen just to piss you smug assholes off.

        Personally, I’d be at Opening Day 2017 if they built the stadium in Dahlonega.

      • Basically, I’m just here to say I’m with Adam. The smugness and superiority of the people naysaying this move is repelling. It makes me not even want to come to East Atlanta or Midtown or wherever you uncharitable, hateful dickheads reside in numbers.

        I don’t like the move, either, but for Christ’s sake. It makes SOME sense. I don’t like public coffers being ripped open by power mad councilmen, shot through a firehose at private enterprise. I don’t like stadiums that are in perfectly good shape being replaced every 20 years, like the Georgia Dome or the Ted. I don’t like that the plan doesn’t seem to have a plan for traffic.

        But I don’t like you more. You glom onto an issue like this and project your own provincially elitists tunnel vision on it, and totally destroy any bit of fairness you could give to another way of looking at things. I’ve been a Braves fan longer than you, and I will be at the Galleria stadium in 2018 cheering my team on, and looking at my fellow Braves fans in the stands and cheering right alongside them. You? Stay the hell where you are. You obviously don’t get along well in groups where you don’t get your way.

  9. Folks, we aren’t even talking about the most important reason why this decision is beyond RIDICULOUS!!! Turner Field is 16 YEARS OLD!!! 16 freakin’ years old!!!
    Last night, I watched USC upset Stanford at the Los Angeles Coliseum. You know the LA Coliseum don’t you? Just like Turner Field, it started out as an Olympic Stadium. The only difference is, one was built in 1932, the other in 1996. Now 81 years later, the LA Coliseum is still a vital part of the Los Angeles community, while Atlanta plans on tearing down their Olympic Stadium after 21 years in downtown. ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME??? Talk about waste!!!
    I would be against a new stadium NO MATTER what they decided to build it. It was unbelievably wasteful and completely unnecessary.

  10. Pingback: The best thing you’ll read about the Braves move | Rowland's Office

  11. sorry that your bummed out by losing your team. Don’t go hating on cobb county though as it was a big surprise to us as well. Ive lived all over the metro area and cobb is nice,not as sterile or uncool as you would have folks believe. I remember when they built that shopping center just south of L5P,people thought their hip neighborhood was going down the tubes, but in reality it seems to have drawn more people down to that area without compromising the area’s hipness.
    You write well.. keep up the good work!

  12. I grew up in Cobb and I now live in Atlanta. I will preface this by saying that I couldn’t wait to leave Cobb County….the hatred towards anyone not white, straight and conservative, the constant fighting over everything with our surrounding municipalities, the just general close minded ness. I left at 18, vowed never to come back, and when the best job opportunities ended up being in Atlanta I told my husband I would move back only if we would live Intown…which we have for 15 years.

    I love Turner Field…I ride my bike there with the kids. I love the city view. And I love seeing just about everyone Intown in a Braves shirt on the weekends.

    So please understand if I was dismayed by last weeks news. I feel betrayed. And while rationally I know Cobb has changed a lot, and the move may make sense for the Braves, and this may actually be a catalyst to turn that sea of parking into a really nice new community and turn the Summerhill area around…it sucks.

    I tell myself that I need to get over it and I’ve supported the Braves all my life. And that Cobb is different and it’s not that horribly hush hush racist area I grew up. The county that didn’t get any Olympic events because of their anti-ordinance. The one that’s vehemently opposed to working with their neighbors on any regional solutions. The one that was almost secessionist in its I HATE ATLANTA war cry? It’s different right?

    Well if it’s different and I want to believe it is, why no outcry of the outrageous comments by Cobb GOP chair on not wanting “those people” from Atlanta using rail to get to the game? I mean, that’s outrageously offensive and if you want to be the new home of the Braves y’all need to start acting like you actually give a sh’t about the rest of the metro area. And believe me, it’s not just intowners complaining about effing Cobb…bad behavior by your leadership has not made you popular. Just go ask folks in Sandy Springs.

    But now that it’s your tax dollars at stake, Cobb, y’all need to be a bit more welcoming or else a very large chunk of the metro area, most of whom won’t find your new stadium easy to get to, won’t bother coming. And that would be a shame for all of us if you stole away a winning franchise and ended up causing the Braves to leave for Charlotte.

    So you have them now. I want to see you acting like a mature regional leader and make sure this doesn’t completely blow. Hire good transportation managers, make the area more pedestrian friendly and for heaven’s sake put a muzzle on your politicians.

    • This is perfect. Well said. And I understand I was being a bit dramatic with the “dead-eyed zombie” line, that’s just anger of putting up with years all those people saying they’ll get mugged in our war zone city. And then you have quotes from leaders of Cobb saying things on record that are unbelievably racist.

  13. For an outsider I would compare this to what is happening in City of Toronto with Rob Ford. No city district voted for that crack smoking lout but rather the outlaying suburbs carried him into office. The main motivator for the suburbs was “we just want to fuck everyone over and damn the consequences” which seems exactly the case here. This will hurt Cobb County and this will hurt Atlanta and for what benefit? Do you think Cobb County will have an economic upswing with new traffic deteriorating their roads and new Mcjobs? Fuck no.

    There is no trickle down effect, had it existed the middle class would be drowning in money at this point. You are simply giving tax dollars to a billionaire because you want to fuck over Atlanta and damn the consequences. Shame on anyone who stupidly defends this, it is not enough for people to live in a 1950′s fantasy they have to shit on anyone who wants differently out of spite.

  14. The old Braves stadium is going to be a great spot for a new Wal-Mart! I hope it’s open 24/7. Fine article, would read again. Nice one MOP!

  15. One of the problems when doing any sort of development in Atlanta, everyone has their hand out . . . Not to help but for payoffs. My family business suffered because everyone wanted to get paid. I lived in Grant Park for a few years. Thank God for shotguns.

  16. FYI- You stance has you in bed with the Tea Party now. Better not forget the reach around or they may try to shut you down like they did the government….

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