(second in a series of diatribes from an ATL native)
A CITY OF FRONT-RUNNERS
Recently the Los Angeles Lakers came to town to play the Hawks. Philips Arena was filled — with Lakers fans. They chanted “MVP” — on behalf of Laker Kobe Bryant. They booed — when a Hawks player made a free throw.
We’re told this is due to the transient nature of our populace. Everyone’s from somewhere else. Perhaps, but I guarantee there weren’t 15,000 Southern California transplants in Philips Arena that night.
And no way are there 30,000 native New Englanders filling Turner Field whenever the Red Sox come to town. Most of them are, in fact, front-running trendoids (Red Sox fans since 2004). I despise them. Unfortunately, Atlanta seems to have cornered the market on their kind.
Now if you were, say, a Tampa Bay Rays fan, you could make the same argument, but that franchise is just a decade old. The Braves have been here since 1966. Same with the Falcons. The Hawks relocated from St. Louis two years later.
They might as well be expansion teams, considering the lackluster fan support. Yes, the Falcons and Hawks have mostly sucked. The Braves have not, but too many of the city’s fickle fans consider them disappointments. They expect World Series victories every season. They don’t know much about baseball.
Neither do the flaks who run the local baseball concern. In a city that doesn’t know it’s history, the Braves do little to promote theirs. Fans in St. Louis are treated to Stan Musial playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Opening Day; here, we get the VP of marketing from Kroger tossing out the first pitch. It’s become sadly fitting that an out-of-town corporation owns the franchise.
It wasn’t always so. In 1991, when the Braves went from worst to first, the city was electric. Everyone followed the Braves. We were, for one magical summer, just like Boston, minus insufferable Bostonians.
The 1994 baseball strike did much to curb that enthusiasm, but Atlantans as a whole have become increasingly addicted to instant gratification. If we can’t find it here, we’ll look elsewhere.
Hard to think of many cities as preoccupied with the “cool kids.”