This is really the state of America in 2020

No matter how much I never liked to admit to feeling it, now that the faucet’s been turned, it seems like not a day goes by where the words don’t pass through my lips, and it doesn’t make me feel any better verbalizing it now as it did when I first came to the realization that right now, America sucks.

Talking with a friend about the state of the world, I found myself saying things that I’d never said before in regards to how I felt, mostly because I’ve been isolated, and mythical wife and I try not to talk about things too much because they really are that depressing, but what came out of my fingers in text is that I don’t think it’s ever felt so physically possible to feel just how much our country is letting us down, the way America is completely and utterly failing the American people on a daily basis right now.

It really is becoming impossible to keep up with all the ways things are fucked up, at least for me, who likes to jot down notes on a daily basis so I can remember the things happening in history for another day, especially in case I feel inspired to write about them at some point.  But it’s downright sad and pathetic the things that emerge on a daily basis about the state of America in the state of the world currently, and I realize that it becomes a little more difficult every day to not grow more jaded and nihilistic about how things are, which are definitely things I don’t want to be happening when I’m in a period of my life where I’m trying to enjoy and savor the time of new fatherhood and spending time with my baby.

It’s kind of not fair that America is in such chaos and forced to hunker, when all I want to do is show my kid the great big world and can’t, because neither of us want to get the coronavirus that’s fucking everywhere and risk our lives.

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Well, at least it’s no longer called ScumTrust Park

Shocker of the century: Truist Park becomes the name of the new stadium after the merger between SunTrust and BB&T

Welp, nobody saw that one coming.  And by nobody, I means every single fucking person in Atlanta with a pulse knew that it was going to be Truist Park in the end.

No matter how great it would’ve been if Waffle House swooped in and usurped the naming rights to the stadium, and called it “The Waffle House, home of the Braves.”  Or if the ballpark decided to honor the greatest power hitter of all time and called it like “Hank Aaron Field,” everyone and their mother knew it was going to end up as some soulless, corporate stooge of a name, and once it was announced that the merged bank was going to be called Truist, it was only a matter of time before this obvious news was going to be announced.

The best part is that in spite of the obvious, these corporate stiffs all took the time and resources to make an event of it, justifying the claims of obvious corporate circle jerking.  As if an unveiling was actually needed, anyone with a brain knew the name and what the logo was going to look like before any sort of curtain was ever put on a pedestal.

The sad thing is that no matter all the clowning that Citi Field got when they unveiled, Truist Park is worse.  Sure, the Citi Field logo looked like a Domino’s logo, but at least it was still somewhat attempting to look like base paths and relate to baseball.  Truist Park looks like an Epcot reject with an emblem that looks like the ominous symbol seen on the episode of Black Mirror about the White Bear.

And no clever nickname can be applied to something as lame as “Truist.”  Or ScumTrust for that matter.  Turner Field was often referred to as “the Ted” based on the original ownership, but nothing can really be applied to these bullshit corporate names.

Regardless, in spite of the dunking I want to do about Truist Park, at least when the day is over it’s no longer called SunTrust.  Despite the fact that the bank itself isn’t necessarily dead, the lack of identity helps mask their bullshit, and I can probably stomach actually going to a game in the future once my kid gets here, and daddy wants to take his daughter to her very first baseball game.

Profit ≠ Championships

I feel like I’ve been in a little bit of a writing rut lately, but at the same time I never like to go too long without having written something at all.  When times like this, I tend to fall back onto topics that are easy for me to ramble about like wrestling, or in this case, baseball.

No, it’s not about the Astros and their cheating scandal, although it seems very foreboding for the franchise, due to the overwhelming amount of evidence that backs it up, not to mention the fact that former pitcher Mike Fiers literally tattled on them to the press.

I was reading this article about how a current president, CEO and investor stooge-slave of the Atlanta Braves, Mike Plant, is all optimistic about the future of the Braves and their future success, and as is often the case whenever I read bullshit like this, it makes my eyes roll, but at the same time, it occasionally inspires words to formulate in my head, and then through my fingers and then into a word doc.

Of course Plant is going to say a bunch of optimistic shit to quell investors.  Why would he say stuff like “ehh, the Braves are going to be a perfectly adequate .500+ team, but realistically speaking we don’t have the pitching to compete in the playoffs, nor the talent to carry us beyond the NLDS?”

Instead, he extols the positive bean counts of how well the attendance and television ratings were, and the sponsorship revenue, and the overall profits that the organization is raking in, but not turning around and spending on the team itself.

Somewhere along the lines, the Braves appear to have forgotten that success isn’t really measured in spreadsheets and profit, but in championship banners and Commissioner’s Trophies; and that succeeding with the latter typically results in massive successes with the former.  I would wager money that the Cubs blowing open the bank in 2016, the Astros ponying up in 2017, the Red Sox spending like they always do in 2018, and the Nationals paying their pitchers what the Braves spent on their whole team in 2019, result in way more ROI than the Braves have done, playing it safe and by their completely unnecessary corporate spending limits.

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Same shit, different year

In the shocker of the century, the Atlanta Braves were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.  For those keeping count, this is like the 5th or 6th time that the Braves dropped the deciding game of the NLDS at home, and somewhere around the 169th time that they’ve failed to make it out of the first round despite making it into the playoffs.

I’m long past the point of where I get upset about it anymore, because I would’ve bet my house that the Braves were going to lose to the Cardinals when the playoff field was initially set.  There’s just something about history, and something about the Braves vs. Cardinals matchup that was a foregone conclusion that another heartbreaking loss to the Cards was all but inevitable, and as much as I would’ve loved to have seen the Braves exorcise the demons of the past and advance, I’m just as satisfied with being right about how the Braves would simply collapse and fall apart – like they always do.

However, this year was a little bit different in the sense that at one point, the Braves actually captured the series lead, when they stole game 3 in St. Louis and for 24 hours, held a 2-1 lead on the Cardinals in the best of 5.  Television was nice enough to do the research for me and explained that it was the first time since 2002 that the Braves carried a series lead in a playoff series, and despite the pessimism, it did birth a sliver of hope that this might be the year that the Braves make it out of the first round.

Naturally, when the Braves squandered their lead in game 4 and inevitably lost in extra innings, I knew right then and there that it was over.  History was just far too strong, and the Cardinals are just one of those teams that are far too charmed, that there was absolutely 0% chance that the Braves were going to win game 5.  Sure, I had hope that maybe they would break the glass ceiling that they erected unto themselves, but the reality was more likely that they were going to choke again, especially when the pitching matchups were set up, with Jack Flaherty going for the Cardinals, and the Braves countering with the once-exiled to Triple-A Mike Foltynewicz.

All I knew was that the Braves were going to win 10-3, or the Cardinals were going to win 10-3, but there was going to be no close game, and it was going to be a blowout.  When the game ended 13-1, I was the last person in all of Atlanta that was remotely surprised at the outcome, and there’s even a part of me that’s relieved that the season is over for the Braves, because I have to pass ScumTrust Park on my commute, and I would no longer have to worry about any future playoff game traffic getting in my way.

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Unsurprisingly lame

BB&T and SunTrust banks choose their united name: Truist.

I mean, I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised that this ended up being something as lame as this.  Fewer things in the world are as square and soullessly uncool as the entire banking industry.  I mean, it’s an industry that’s basically built on storing the money of people that are not themselves, and finding every single possible way to take cuts and slices from them in order to profit.

I even yawned heartily while typing out that line, that’s how lame the whole concept of banking is.  I can’t believe I worked in the industry as long as I did, and in some degree of retrospect, I kind of have to thank them for being the tools they are and laying me, as well as my entire department off, because they kind of did me a favor of getting out of the banking industry.  I mean seriously, it paid the bills pretty well, and I would’ve have free parking for years during Dragon*Con, but I have to say that it wasn’t a whole lot of fun saying I worked for SunTrust; as large as it was in Georgia and the eastern seaboard, it was still a regional bank and it was the equivalent of saying that I worked for like, Habib’s Fuel & Automotive in the grander spectrum of the world.

But back to the point at hand, with the name of the unholy union being established, that means that without any further question, the home of the Atlanta Braves is soon to become Truist Park.  I had to wiki it to make sure that it was going to be the de facto lamest name in all of Major League Baseball, but since I’ve completed my quest to visit all 30, I’ve fallen a little to the wayside when it comes to ballpark names.  And as gargantuan-ly lame as Truist Park is, I think there is some stiff competition when it comes to comparing to Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago White Sox, replacing “The Cell” US Cellular Field (the worst park in MLB)) and RingCentral Coliseum (Oakland A’s, who are always plagued with bad names).  Ultimately, it’s like comparing herpes to chlamydia and gonorrhea, because no matter which name you have, it sucks.

Given the propensity of the Atlanta Braves to always go in the direction of profit > style, it’s no surprise that they’re going to be perfectly at home playing at a place called something as boring, vanilla and lame as Truist Park.  But damn if they aren’t going to get rich cashing in on those naming rights, despite the fact that the product on the field isn’t going to benefit one iota from said proceeds.  A bunch of old white guys need to take their slice of the pie first, as well as their seconds, before the Braves have any chance at possibly getting a little bit of forward investment to maybe succeed. 

I hear winning is pretty lucrative, but the risk-averse Braves don’t really seem the type to risk possibly finding out.  But misery loves company, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that pretty much any team not the Houston Astros seems pretty content on sitting on cruise control and cashing in on revenue sharing, and if they happen to win, great, but if not, that’s perfectly okay as well.  Fuck that, and fuck Truist Bank.  Need to figure out a simplistic and punny name for the new park, because “ScumTrust” is running out of time.

I’d be all in if this actually happened

All.  In.  If the Braves were to rename the ballpark after Waffle House.  100%.  Maybe even get a season ticket package of some sort.  It would be the perfect catalyst for anyone to go balls deep into, or back into Atlanta Braves fandom, because the time couldn’t possibly be more appropriate given the talent movement going on with the club right now.  I just need a little push, or a little nudge.. or just that slight positive association of the greasy spoons where I’ve never had a bad meal in my life where I could feel comfort knowing that the restaurant I like to go to the most after drinking is partnered up with the sports franchise that makes me want to drink.

Although the possibility of something like Waffle House Field coming to fruition is like as likely as my job not sucking any time soon, the logic behind the really is a solid.  I didn’t think for a second that upon the collection of ScumTrust by BB&T, that the conglomerate would even consider for two seconds to give up the naming rights to ScumTrust Park.  I just, and still assume that whenever the transition is complete, it’s just going to remain something as soulless and corporately square like “BB&T Park” and continue existing as the vanilla mass of land in which baseball is occasionally played while they soak in accolades and praise from equally square and vanilla white people who think they know something about architecture with character.

But imagine a world in which the Scum&T blob decided that paying the Braves millions of dollars to slap their name on a stadium that exists outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Or the Braves actually growing a spine and deciding that it would be nice if their ballpark were named after an actual Georgia company, instead of a banking company that turned tail and ran towards the money.  What better business would there be to take the keys to the ballpark than Waffle House?  Sure, Coca-Cola comes to mind, as does Delta Airlines or The Home Depot.  And as Oprah-rich as those businesses are, they’re still businesses that some people still have to stop and think about to remember that they’re companies based out of Atlanta.  Waffle House is definitively, a symbol of the south, which is something that the Braves often try to declare themselves, regardless of the cultural clash between representing the south versus hoarding money like a true Wall Street grub.

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It’s hard to care about a team whose management doesn’t care about it either

At the time I started writing this, the Braves had just finished getting swept by the Phillies to open the 2019 season.  Prior to the start of the season, Braves fans were treated to an offseason where the Braves performed their standard song and dance of crying poor and pretending like they don’t have the necessary money in order to pursue logical free agents and improve their chances at winning baseball games, but then business reports emerged that showed that the Atlanta Braves organization as a whole, had raked in record profits throughout the 2018 calendar year. 

In typical Braves fashion, instead of just coming clean and admitting that the ownership has little interest in investing money into the team, they sent their stooges out blab a whole bunch of corporate-ese about the importance of financial responsibility, and extol their profits as if Bubba in Habersham, Cletus in La Grange and Ricky Bobby in Valdosta are going to give a flying fuck about the organization’s financial standing, when the team is losing games that they’d have a better chance at winning if they had some competent players.

And basically, personally, I’m at my wit’s end with it.  As much as I feel like I’m always on the cusp of swearing off the Braves and declaring a disdain for them, I never really fully pull the trigger, because I like having a local team to root for, and when the day is over, I do want to see the Braves win and find success, even in spite of the fact that the organization itself is flagrantly ambivalent and doesn’t appear to care whether they win or not, just so long as they’re making investors money.

But as for this year, all it took was three games for me to confirm that this team is dead in the water, and to not really hold too much hope that there’s going to be anything remotely better than a first-round playoff appearance, at the very, tippy top best possible scenario.  The Braves Way, an agonizingly cliché phrase the team uses to applaud the team’s tendency to favor and acquire over-the-hill veterans or post-injury reclamation projects at reasonable costs is the modus operandi of the team, and has pretty much been the case in almost the entire time that I’ve followed them, and they rarely drop any big money on anyone.

I understand that the last few times they’ve done so, they’ve ended up with stiffs like BJ Upton and Mike Hampton, but the unfortunate truth of professional sports is that every single team on the planet has dealt with free agent busts, and that it’s more of a surprise when a free agent deal doesn’t go sour, and that at least from a WAR standpoint, they don’t lose too much money in the life of a deal.

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