Rome Braves

I took the wife and kids to Rome, Georgia over the Memorial Day weekend to check out the Rome Braves, the Atlanta Braves single-A affiliate. One thing that strikes you right away whenever you talk about any of the Braves' farm teams is that every sentence starts to look like it was being colonized by the word "Braves," on account of the team's freakish fixation on branding. To wit: the Braves' farm system consists of the Gwinnett Braves, the Rome Braves, the Mississippi Braves, the Danville Braves, the Dominican Summer League Braves, the Gulf Coast League Braves, and the Carolina Mudcats. The Mudcats have been part of the Braves' system for about six months. Give them time, they will be the Carolina Braves.

Not to be a dick, I'll start with the good. The ballpark in Rome is better than, say, the waiting room at a muffler place. Outfitted with plastic butt-shaped seats with drink holders, it's never difficult to sit in the area I like best (just back of the 1st base dugout, where you stand the greatest chance of being beaned by a foul ball), and It has one of those berms that all new minor league parks seem to have, which is a good-ish thing I suppose. Berms are not a comfortable place to spend a whole game, but kids love 'em. The team is solid and professional, but unless you're following a minor league closely, the quality of play is not the most important thing. These guys move up and down too frequently to complain or praise much on this front. It was a good day for a game — not too hot and just cloudy enough to offer an occasional respite from the sun. The single best thing about the park is the tiny oasis of interpretive displays detailing the history of baseball in north Georgia. This feature is located out in front of the souvenir shop and receives as much attention from the fans as is necessary to avoid running int it.

The average: The food is ok. Standard ballpark fare and nothing particularly interesting to report. I don't recall seeing a single vendor down in the seats, but maybe I just wasn't paying attention since I didn't have cash.

The bad: Before I get to the aspect of this place that really annoys me, let me just say that it costs a fortune to go see a ballgame at this park. $5 to park my car, $11 each for four tickets, and then about $40 worth of mediocre food. That's almost a hundred bucks for a minor-league game. I could probably get out of Turner for less than that, though admittedly I'd be watching the game from a height that would allow me to see the curvature of the Earth.

What really cheeses me off about the Rome Braves, however, is the incredible sameness between what they are doing and what the Atlanta Braves do. They work from the same script — same music, same scoreboard graphics, same between-innings shenanigans, same goofy cheerleaders, same featureless, symmetrical field. And it's like this up and down the Braves' organization. They are quite honestly the McDonalds of baseball. No matter where you go you get exactly the same product.

This is not good for baseball. One of the things that makes minor league ball enchanting is the local color, and in the Braves system you get none of it. I'm not really even sure Rome has any local color, though it does have a nice downtown. But whether it does or not, the Rome Braves are a page right out of some Atlanta-based CEO's cookbook. It's boring and I'm pretty sure I won't be back.

Rome Braves
Atlanta Braves, single-A

  • Ballpark, comfort: 7
  • Ballpark, character: 5
  • Presentation: 1
  • Food: 5
  • Cost: 4

Overall: 4.4