Atlanta has never felt like this. It’s almost surreal to come into this ballpark and this city and face this Braves team. Well, more like the team formally known as the Braves.
No Smoltz. No Glavine. Maddux has been gone for a while.
Chipper is still here, but he is the only scary bat in a lineup dotted with names that neither strikes fear nor familiarity. The Marlins have never had a three-game sweep in Atlanta. Not even the ’97 World Series champs, who marched through here on their way to the Series when the games were still being played at old Fulton County Stadium.
The 2003 Marlins were 4-6 here before winning it all, and before Tuesday, the Marlins were only 42-80 in Atlanta, including 2-4 this season. Only one Marlins team has ever had a winning record here, the ’97 team went 4-2 in Atlanta and beat the Braves 8 out of 12 that summer.
But if the Marlins ever needed a sweep it is now against the most vulnerable Braves team they have faced since Florida started playing in the big leagues in 1993.
The Braves don’t even win at home any more.
They started the season winning 27 of their first 40 at the House that Ted Built, but they entered Tuesday’s game only 7-18 in their last 25 home games.
And this crowd. It was anything but crowded. It’s a rainy Tuesday, so there wasn’t much of a walk-up, and the Braves began the day 15 ½ games out of first. There were a few thousand in attendance, the smallest crowd I’ve ever seen in Atlanta. The announced paid attendance was 17,539 – the second smallest of the season. But there weren’t close to 17 grand at the ballpark.
But these are the lean days; the days no one ever thought would come for the best franchise in baseball. How else to you describe 14 titles in a row?
John Smoltz said years ago that no one would realize what those Braves teams had done until they stop doing it.
“I don’t think people will appreciate just we have accomplished until it’s over,’’ Smoltz said
They can embrace it now.
Well, look out at those thousands of empty seats and at a lineup that ‘s pretty beatable and a Cy Youngless staff and a team that’s fighting for headlines (and losing) with the Georgia Bulldogs.
No, this doesn’t feel like Atlanta at all.