ATLANTA -- The sign on the elevator that runs from the ground level of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to the third floor, where the auxiliary press box is located for the National League Championship Series, clearly reads "Maximum capacity: 12 Passengers -- Strictly Enforced."
And, most of the time that rule is strictly enforced. That is, unless the Braves owner, Ted Turner, and his fiancee, Jane Fonda, want to be the 13th and 14th people to board.
So they hopped aboard the elevator around 2:15 p.m., and you guessed it: The elevator stalled, with the former "Mouth of the South," and his fitness queen, adorned in tomahawk earrings and a clingy black jump suit, sweating it out with the huddled masses.
"I've been here a thousand times, a million times and this has never happened," said Turner. "Of course, we've never won a game in the postseason before either."
Turner quickly began barking out orders to the assemblage, none of whom worked for him.
Meanwhile, ever the entertainer, Fonda, an Academy Award winner, tossed out a few remembrances.
"I think I've been in a scene like this before," said Fonda. "I think it was 'The Streets of New York.' "
After a couple of minutes, Kamon Simpson, a writer with the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, climbed up the elevator shaft and yelled for help.
Two surprised security guards were able to open the doors, about a foot short of the floor opening and let the passengers out.
Turner and Fonda crawled out first, and with a "See ya, guys," were off like a shot.
* BY THE NUMBERS: Three of the previous four teams to take a 3-2 lead in the NLCS since the format was expanded to a best-of-seven in 1985 have won the series. Only San Francisco, which led St. Louis 3-2 in 1987, has failed to clinch after leading.
Pirates shortstop Jay Bell already has tied the record for most hits (10) in either a six- or seven-game series, and is just three off the NLCS mark set by San Francisco's Will Clark (13) in 1989.
* YOUTH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG: Folks say that Steve Avery, the Game 2 winner who will try to keep the Braves in the series tomorrow night, pitches a lot like former Philadelphia great Steve Carlton. Avery, who is 21, would love to accept the compliment, if he knew who Carlton was.
"I really don't compare myself to anyone. I've been told I throw like him, but I've never even seen him pitch," said Avery.
* WHERE'S BARRY? It would suit Pirates leftfielder Barry Bonds just fine if he never had to see the Braves again.
Bonds, who hit 25 homers and drove in 116 runs with a .292 batting average to nearly nail down his second straight Most Valuable Player award, has virtually disappeared in this series.
He is hitting just .150 for the five games, with just three hits in 20 at-bats. The Braves intentionally walked Bobby Bonilla twice to get to Bonds yesterday, and while he would like to make Atlanta pay for its disrespect, his bat has been stilled by Atlanta's lefthanders.
"Basically, if I don't hit home runs here, I don't do anything," Bonds said of his Atlanta experience. "That's how I've always gone against them."
The explanation is fine, but taken with last year's well documented cold snap in the NLCS against Cincinnati, one might conclude that the fall is not a good time of year for Bonds.
"If we're sitting here waiting for BB to do it by himself, then we've got the wrong idea," said Bonilla, his closest friend on the team. "Mr. Bonds will be back."