Excitement returns to the Ted

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Fully recovered from the madness that was Opening Night on Monday, I’ve survived to write about what turned into a 4 ½-hour game that lasted 12 innings and stretched into early Tuesday morning. Oh, those crazy Atlanta Braves.

After years of attending the Braves home opener with friends, this had to be the most exciting game yet. To see the enthusiasm of the fans last all 12 innings – at least for those who remained – was also pretty touching and a sign that we’re hungry for the Braves to return to their post-season form.

David O’Brien, the Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, did his usual top-notch job of covering the game, which was a demonstration of the Braves slugging prowess as much as it was a reminder of how the bullpen has kept this team out of the play-offs for two consecutive years. He also dissects the bullpen here.

A couple of observations from the game:

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Though the traditional jet fly-over (my favorite) was scrapped for some unexplained reason, the pre-game festivities hit a hit a high note when Javy Lopez (also my favorite) was introduced to throw out the first pitch. Lopez, a former All-Star with the Braves, was cut last month, ending his Spring Training bid to rejoin the team. Lopez has since retired from baseball.

On Monday, he was in tip-top form, looking like a Latin pop star in a black jacket, dress shirt and jeans with black leather shoes. The crowd treated him like one, too. John Smoltz showed that he’s a class act when he caught for the former catcher’s ceremonial pitch.

Ironically, Corky Miller, who beat out Lopez for a backup catching spot, ended the game when he flied out in the bottom of the 12th.

Tom Glavine returned to the mound for the Braves for the first time since 2002. The starting rotation is aging, but it’s nice to see the veteran back in Atlanta.

Even with roster changes over the years that dumped Lopez, Marcus Giles, Mark DeRosa and Rafael Furcal, the Braves still offer some eye candy. There’s Yunel Escobar, Mark Teixeira, Jeff Francoeur, Mike Hampton and Jair Jurrjens.

Even with the loss, it’s nice to have the Boys of Summer back at the Ted.

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