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Braves hit this - if you can
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Entering Thursday, the Braves had played 22 home games so far this year, winning 14 of them. And even though their record is great, their offensive performance at the plate has been anything but.

Overall, the Braves are hitting .244 this season at Turner Field compared to .281 on the road. Scott Thorman is leading the group with a lowly .182 batting average, while Andruw Jones is only hitting .203 in 74 plate appearances. Chipper Jones is batting .250, and newcomer Kelly Johnson is hitting .253.

Without question (hopefully), the Braves will eventually come around with the bats. But Atlanta has been winning at home this season because of its pitching. Combined, the pitching staff has a 3.23 earned run average in 198 innings pitched, and is holding opponents to just a .248 batting average.

As I sat in attendance Wednesday night watching Atlanta lose to New York, 3-0, while only managing five hits, I pondered the question repeatedly over and over in the back of my mind: Why are you guys struggling so much at the plate, especially here of all places?

And after Andruw Jones struck out for his second time in the ballgame (53 strikeouts overall), it suddenly dawned on me who - or what - to blame.

Mitsubishi Electric.

Yes, the company who is a recognized leader in the research, engineering and manufacturing of electronic equipment is clearly at fault; the same company who successfully built the world's largest outdoor high definition screen (5,600 square feet) and then dropped it smack dab above the centerfield fence two years ago.

The display is so big that it set a Guinness World Record in 2005. It is 71 feet tall and 79 feet wide, weighs 50 tons and has approximately 5.2 million LED lights.

The screen is an amazing spectacle - absolutely stunning. In fact, I keep finding myself watching the screen almost as much as the live action on the field whenever I attend the home games. How could one not? It's got 266 panels (each contains 20 lighting units) with enough modules to reproduce one billion colors, and can be watched from almost any angle.

In addition, player statistics are listed on the screen, including what a player has done during the current game. It's great for fans, but as a player it has to be somewhat disturbing.

Atlanta pitchers are performing at home because their backs are turned to the gargantuan screen. (Well, that and the fact that the Braves have a stacked pitching rotation, especially when compared to last year.)

Now, I'm not making any excuses for why the Braves are struggling with the stick; these guys are professionals and are groomed to excel in any given situation, regardless of whether or not his gigantic mug shot is plastered for everyone in downtown Atlanta to see. I'm just merely presenting one of several factors which are hindering them from swinging like they are capable of hitting. How could someone possibly hit a 95 mile-per-hour fastball with his large picture profile looming down from behind the pitcher?

On Wednesday, I counted at least a hundred times where a Brave or a Met would look up at the screen to see if he got a hit or made an error in the field, or even if he just wanted to glance at how good looking he came across on the enormous screen. (And now I realize how pathetic it was of me to be literally sitting in one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the country, yet counting how many times a professional athlete was stealing a peek at himself on a screen, nonetheless.)

Personally, there is absolutely no way I could hit knowing - much less seeing - my face enlarged to such an enormous capacity bigger than King Kong, especially with my current statistics littered throughout the screen eligible enough for an astronaut in outer space to read.

In addition, the worst is if you have a ridiculous looking head shot (i.e. Jeff Francoeur). Or if you're Johnson, who looks like he just woke up from a nap before the photographer snapped his picture. (For those of you who have been to a game this year, you know exactly what I'm talking about.)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the reason why fans went to the baseball games was to watch the action - live - on the field?

Unfortunately, I'm partial to the colossal display; it looks amazing and is fun to view, but at the same time it's inappropriate. The screen is just too distracting, whether or not a player wants to admit it.

But it's not going anywhere any time soon, so players and fans like myself need to learn to live with it - or the infamous Turner Field "Kiss Cam" will hunt you down and post your picture for the entire universe to view.