Sure, the Cobb County taxpayers are probably getting a bad deal for the benefit of the Liberty Media Group, and the Braves will be an Atlanta team in name only. (City residents can at least take solace that their local politicians did not put corporate welfare ahead of taxpayers.)
But let’s focus on the positive: Turner Field’s days are numbered. That ballpark has been a house of horrors for the Mets almost since it opened. The two teams split the first season series in 1997, but it was downhill from there.
The Mets lost every game at Turner Field in 1998. In 1999, the Mets claimed victory in the first game they played at Turner Field, but lost the next five regular season games and all three NLCS series games played there. It wasn’t until 2006 – the tenth year the ballpark was open – that the Mets finally won a season series at Turner Field.
Overall, the Mets are 50-94 in regular season games at the ballpark, and 0-3 in playoff games. I know that the Mets’ lack of success has more to do with the relative strengths of the two teams than anything about Turner Field, but I’ll still be happy to see the ballpark follow Fulton County Stadium into the history books.
Perez pitched for the Pirates, Braves, Expos and Yankees during a career that lasted from 1980 to 1991. His lifetime record was 67-68, one game under .500, but he was an All-Star for the Braves in 1983. For a time, he was credited with a no-hitter – the first in Veterans Stadium history – but the five inning rain-shortened game was later removed from the record books.
But I won’t remember for wins and losses – I’ll remember him for his comical eephus pitch, guaranteed to make someone look foolish. It usually got the better of hitters, but a batter can hit one really far if he’s expecting it. I’ll remember Perez for throwing the ball between his legs on pickoff attempts.
But most of all, I’ll remember the story of how he got lost on the way to the ballpark.
Pascual Perez, recently acquired from Pittsburgh and just up from Richmond, was scheduled to start on a Thursday night in August. His new team had lost 19 of 21 to fall four games behind the hated Dodgers. Only just outfitted with a driver’s license, Perez went literally in circles, stopping only because he was almost out of gas. A guy at the service station recognized him and spotted him a splash of petrol — Pascual had forgotten his wallet, too — and by the time he arrived at the old stadium Phil Niekro was on the mound in his stead.