Atlanta’s Ballpark Has What PNC Park Lacks – A Winning Tradition and Atmosphere

As great as the Buccos keep insisting PNC Park is, it isn’t all that different from most other stadiums. But what happens once the ball gets pitched in places such as Atlanta is another matter entirely.
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One of the distinctive features at Truist Park is the bank of lights behind right field supported by poles adorned with commemorative pennants, a collection that’s a little confusing initially and at the same time a statement-making display about the standard of expectation when someone takes you out to a Braves game.

There are 40 years represented, different colors to designate different levels of postseason achievement. And while the organization has gone way over the top in including accomplishments from the late 1800s when the franchise played in Boston and was known as the Red Stockings and the Beaneaters, the point gets made all the same.

The Braves are about winning.

Division championships, National League championships, World Series championships, a combined 20 of those since 1991, not including the 2010 and 2012 seasons, when the Braves made the playoffs as a Wild Card but didn’t win a playoff series.

To the left of the franchise resume there are three flag poles behind centerfield, Old Glory in the middle flanked by the state flag of Georgia and one proclaiming the Braves as the “2021 World Series Champions.”

That alone makes the view from behind home plate at Truist better than the one at PNC Park.

As for what takes place within the confines of the diamond – this just in – the Braves and Pirates are playing different games.

It was recognized in this space recently as a sign of progress for the Pirates when they fielded a lineup featuring six rookies and actually beat one that included seven Braves All-Stars. And it was, as was the Bucs’ ability to win two in a four-game series against Atlanta that was played Aug. 7-10 in Pittsburgh.

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But a side trip to Truist Field on the way to the Steelers’ preseason finale against the Falcons confirmed – this just in – progress is relative.

For the Pirates, progress is not losing 100 games, and perhaps finishing a season with a winning percentage north of .400.

The Braves are how the other half lives.

The Braves took the field on Wednesday night against the Mets with the best record in baseball at 81-44.

Then they pounded the visitors, 7-0.

Atlanta’s lineup only had five All-Stars this time, but the Braves also had Charlie Morton (remember him?). Morton, now 39, struck out 11 in seven innings. And the Braves’ combustible offense eventually got to Jose Quintana (remember him?). And Ronald Acuna Jr. looked like Roberto Clemente again, even when getting thrown out trying to steal or not quite making a play in right field.

An announced crowd of 35,674 drank beers and ate food and took it all in with an air of expectation that was seemingly as thick as the heat on an 89-degree evening.

The other half lives well.

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They have their destination stadium, with suites and cheap seats and everything in between. They have merchandise to buy and historic exhibits to admire, everything from a majestic statue of Hank Aaron to the knee brace worn by Sid Bream when he slid home with the run that won the 1992 National League Championship Series and at the same time shattered Pirates fans’ hearts.

But mostly, Atlanta has a team.

Everybody, it seems, has a great place in which to play (well, everybody except Oakland and Tampa), either a modern-day palace or an iconic venue (Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium).

But the Braves have figured out it ought to be more about the ball than the ballpark.

The Pirates aren’t going anywhere – this just in – until they reach the same conclusion.

Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section