The Atlanta Braves celebrated the 100th anniversary of their 1914 World Series championship Saturday night with a turn-back-the-clock themed game against the Oakland Athletics. It was just too much for Braves slugger Freddie Freeman to handle.
That night, both teams wore retro uniforms reminiscent of 100 years ago, when the Braves' franchise played in Boston and the A's in Philadelphia. Hot dogs sold for a dollar, and Cracker Jack went for a quarter. The Braves also made over Turner Field like it was 1914 — which meant they softened the introduction for closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel's intro usually includes the playing of "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses, a hard rock anthem accompanied by a video of flames on the Turner Field scoreboard.
But the MTV was turned off because Axl Rose wasn't even a glint in his grandpappy's eye in 1914. Instead, Braves organist Matthew Kaminski played the GNR, as he played all of the ballpark music that night. Atlanta won the game 4-3 with Kimbrel nailing down the save, but it just didn't feel right to Freeman.
Freeman noticed the changes. He was not happy — especially with Kimbrel on his way to record his 36th save in the key game.
The Braves first baseman motioned to the stadium press box area several times with his arms raised wanting to hear Kimbrel’s theme music to pump up the crowd. He shook his head in obvious dismay. Following the game, Freeman expressed the reason for his concern.
“My issue is when, I don’t mind using the uniform, I love the throw-back uniform, but when the atmosphere is taken out of the game,” Freeman said. “Fans are coming here to have an experience and there is nothing on the Jumbotron, no music is playing. I’m looking in the stands and people’s heads are down. It kind of takes the energy out of the stadium, especially when the best closer in the game comes in and there are not flames (on the scoreboard), nothing like that."
Kaminski has a top-notch reputation as an organist, and is known for coming up with clever riffs for player at-bats, but he just couldn't rock Freeman's world enough by tickling the ivories.
It wasn't about taste, though. Major League Baseball players just tend to be creatures of habit, and many are exceptionally superstitious. Even ones who aren't that obsessive stick to a routine, doggone it, and everbody knows it. Some of the comments of the AJC story acknowledge this, but other fans haven't been sympathetic to Freeman, who earns millions of dollars to play baseball and can't seem to cope when a music video wasn't played. At least one fan complained that he hasn't been to a game in years because of "Loud, crappy music blaring out of the speakers nonstop..."
This commenter, despite being an Off-My-Lawn curmudgeon, sort of gets to the point: The Kimbrel intro without the Loud Rock Music is just not what Freeman and today's ballplayers are used to. All they know is stadiums with the volume turned up.
The next time the Braves are partying like it's 1899, here's what Freddie needs to do:
Grab a boom box and play Kimbrel's song for himself.
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