While fans stayed 6 feet away from one another inside Truist Park in Cobb County, and enjoyed to their hearts delight at Battery Park outside, Braves pitcher Max Fried took to the mound as the Braves competed in the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2001. Fried, who was born in Santa Monica, is one of only a dozen Jewish ball players in Major League Baseball, and one of only two competing for the pennant. Growing up in a somewhat observant household, he attends services for high holidays and became a bar mitzvah, and eventually played at the Maccabi Games for the U.S. during high school.
While Fried is only one part of the Braves’ bullpen, his start helped Braves’ fans get into the groove of watching their team play 800 miles away in Arlington, Texas, at Battery Park.
Coming into the series, the Braves were clearly the underdogs against the often-ranked best team in the league, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers were able to get a 3-1 lead in the series before two losses forced a game 7 with the Braves. While it may not be the series Braves’ fans dreamed of, the Braves have shown the depth of their roster as they faced the Dodgers, and fans at Truist Park got to watch the games outside, staying late into the evenings over the past week.
In Truist Park, the Braves opened up the stadium so fans can get a taste of the playoff experience with the Braves during away games despite COVID-19, including concessions. For those wishing for a more unique experience there is an on-field option.
All fans entering the stadium are required to wear masks when not eating or drinking, and have their temperatures checked when entering the stadium. For $10, fans can watch the game on the stadium screen from the lower level of seating, or for $200 fans get a pod for four on the outfield to watch the game in social distanced pods. Suites are available as well, but the unique experience of on-field viewing is the newest option for Braves fans. While this COVID-19 safe setting allows fans to view the Braves games while ensuring their safety, outside of the stadium it’s as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist.
Outside of the clubhouse entrance, close to a thousand fans sit cramped in a tiny area watching a large screen projection of the Braves game. With only a few people wearing masks, and the familiar smell of beer at a Braves’ game, there were people screaming and yelling, drinking and partying in the bars and restaurants that line the streets surrounding Truist Park.
While the AJT observed that only some of the fans wore masks, the vast majority did not. The one COVID-19 precaution that the AJT witnesses was being taken by restaurants and bars, and that was limiting the number of patrons inside their establishments.
The bars appeared only slightly less busy than a normal Braves’ game day, and the situation showcased a larger reality of COVID-19 locally. While outside of the park crowds, largely composed of young adults, people walked around without masks and appeared as though there isn’t a pandemic.
While inside Truist Park stadium, there are stringent COVID-19 protocols taken to protect fans and employees. The AJT witnessed a safe environment inside that allows fans to enjoy an on-field experience. The normal rituals of a Braves game have continued on, with the Braves’ mascot Blooper entertaining fans and the in between inning activities such as Racetrac’s Beat The Freeze.
The Braves playoffs didn’t go as far as many hoped, fans will remember this post-season for years to come. Facing an unprecedented situation, the Braves went to the National League Championship Series for the first time in almost two decades, losing in game 7 to arguably the best team in baseball. While fans were unable to see the Braves play in Atlanta, they were able to get a unique experience at Truist Park this post-season.
- Atlanta Braves
- Nathan Posner
- Truist Park
- Cobb County
- Battery Park
- Max Fried
- Maccabi Games
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- social distancing
- Mask mandate
- Beat The Freeze
- National League Championship
- Professional Sports