Braves Win! Braves Win! 

Opening day at The Diamond

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

There were prepackaged bags of roasted peanuts available (from North Carolina — what’s up with that?), but the familiar, aromatic fresh peanut roasting machines weren’t anywhere to be found. One fan and her son and I wandered from concession stand to concession stand because each of the workers thought the machine was at someone else’s counter.

Stan Watkins, general manager of concessions contractor Aramark at The Diamond, says that the machines weren’t really made for outdoor use, and last season’s dampness “locked the motors up. We tried to find other machines for this season but couldn’t find ‘em.” The Tar Heel goobers had to do.

I don’t care if I ever get back.

You know who should come back to The Diamond? The excellent choral group that performed the national anthem, Camerata from Richmond’s Collegiate School. They sang it the way it should be sung in most circumstances — briskly, with pride. It just so happens that my office window faces The Diamond, and in the week before Opening Day, I had the unfortunate privilege of hearing solo anthem singers practice over and over in power-pop dirge-ballad style. Despite some PA fritzing and dropouts, Camerata was infinitely better.

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

Not even a question. I’m a Braves fan, as my Daddy is and my Grandaddy was before me. I saw Hank Aaron — without the aid of steroids — hit home runs at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. It still pains me to see Tom Glavine in a Mets uniform. Don’t get me started on the Cubs, Marlins, Phillies or Twins.

If they don’t win it’s a shame

Again, not an issue. It wasn’t the prettiest offensive game — only three Richmond singles, lots of broken bats, two errors by Louisville — but a solid effort.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

This was even more appropriate than usual — Richmond pitchers struck out 15 Louisville batters. That’s five full innings’ worth of outs on whiffs. Braves fans seated just behind the wall down the third base line posted a long line of K signs — the scoring symbol for a strikeout.

At the old ball game.

On this Opening Day it was a new game on a lot of minds — the controversy over the building of a new stadium in Shockoe Bottom, the coming changes in the R-Braves roster. The Diamond isn’t pretty to look at, and a view of downtown Richmond would be a vast improvement over watching cars, RVs and semis whiz by on the interstate over the left-field wall. And this team is sure to change, as many of the Braves’ best prospects are one level down in Myrtle Beach.

But given a cold Yuengling, some imported peanuts and good conversation, and the whizzing hiss of a baseball thrown hard to first, it would have been hard to make this old ball game better. — With lyrics by Jack Norworth

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