Though 2nd place Atlanta kept pace with the Mets last night while throttling Curt Schilling in the process, Turner Field’s overrun with visiting support, a situation alarming to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s Mark Bradley.

Monday night was another installment in a weird and distressing series, a night when the titular host was made to feel like a tourist. To report that there were more Red Sox fans than Braves backers at Turner Field would be a slight exaggeration. To report that the 20,000 Boston zealots shouted down the home folks ” at least until the old nemesis Curt Schilling got shelled ” would fall under the heading of distressing old news.

œSounded like more Red Sox fans, said Jeff Francoeur, who was asked if such a thing bothered him. œIt doesn™t when you™re winning.

Such a thing, as we know, has happened here often. It happened in 2003, when legions of Cubs fans celebrated a Division Series clinching. It happened in 1994, when Pacers people flew in by the planeload knowing there™d be playoff tickets available at the old Omni. It happens whenever the Cowboys or Steelers play at the Dome. Question is, will it ever stop happening?

This has been a big-league city for more than 40 years. That™s time enough for the local franchises to have imprinted themselves on the marketplace, except that ours remains the trendiest of towns. Our imprints are issued in washable crayon.

œIt™s kind of a bummer, said Mike Mills, the bassist/keyboardist/singer for R.E.M., speaking of the proliferation of Sox fans around him. (Mills has standing in the matter, being a longtime supporter of Atlanta teams and a Braves season-ticket holder.)

This baseball team has been really good for a really long time. Just because this ballpark doesn™t have a Green Monster doesn™t mean it shouldn™t brim with the same hometown fervor as the famous Fenway. But it rarely does, and whose fault is that?

Though I’m tempted to turn this discussion over to the REM-hating Charley Steiner, it should be stressed that Bradley is hardly the first observer to bitch about ATL’s casual support for their professional franchises. Though perhaps, just as a point of comparison, the next time an AJC writer chooses to castigate the populace for exercising their right to spend discretionary income on whatever they desire, said scribe can provide a list of exactly how many ballgames he or she attended on their own dime over the past year.