How to Lose Fans and Alienate People: The 2016 Atlanta Braves

It wasn't long ago the Braves had a young core, which included Julio Teheran. (via Arturo Pardavila III)

It wasn’t long ago the Braves had a young core, which included Julio Teheran. (via Arturo Pardavila III)

The Atlanta Braves are rebuilding, and they’re nearly unwatchable. They can’t hit or field and most nights they can’t pitch. They opened the year 4-17. Three weeks later, they fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, which hardly reassured fans that they knew what they’re doing. By nearly every measure they are the worst team in baseball.

This is their last season in the city of Atlanta; next year they’re moving to suburban Cobb County. But if they’re not careful, they could lose fans in the process.

“The product they’re putting out is insulting,” says Jim Tremayne, the editor of DJ Times magazine, a trade publication for disc jockeys. “It definitely feels very cynical to me. The entity that owns this club, it doesn’t feel like they’re interested in winning. At the end of the day, that’s what fans want.”

And, from a practical level, the team’s approach seems self-defeating, because Atlanta is a college football town with a decided fair-weather approach to its pro teams. “I think it’s really shortsighted,” says Cliff Harpe, an attorney in Cordele, Ga. “In Atlanta, if you have a superb product you can make superb money. But if you have a mediocre product, you can’t even make mediocre money.”

The team has taken a rapid plunge. In the 2013-2014 offseason, the Atlanta Braves were in an enviable position. The previous year’s team had won 96 games and a division title with the equivalent of a team full of sophomores: lineup anchors Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons were all 23, and the rotation was equally fresh-faced, led by 22-year-old Julio Teheran, 25-year-old Mike Minor and 27-year-old Kris Medlen, and the team had a 25-year-old ace closer in Craig Kimbrel.

Braves brass believed the future was bright, and brought in former Indians GM John Hart — the man who in the 1990s in Cleveland helped to pioneer the practice of handing pre-arbitration extensions to young stars — and signed extensions with five of them, committing $280 million to Freeman, Simmons, Kimbrel, Teheran and Heyward.

That future is nothing but a hazy memory. Since Opening Day in 2014, the Braves have gone 158-212 and gotten rid of nearly everyone who was on that division-winning team. Among players who played a single inning for the 2013 Braves, only three are still on the 40-man roster: Freeman, Teheran and Eric O’Flaherty, who signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending the last two years elsewhere.

For many fans, the Andrelton Simmons trade was the absolute nadir. The Braves traded the best defensive shortstop in baseball, to whom they had recently handed a long-term, team-friendly extension, to the Angels in exchange for two risky pitching prospects. They also made sure to ask for Angels shortstop Erick Aybar in return. By WAR, Aybar has been the worst player in baseball this season.

And now their ballpark is in its last months as home of the Braves. After 20 years in Turner Field and 51 years in the city of Atlanta, the Braves are building a stadium in the suburbs that they hope will be easier for fans who live outside the city to reach by highway.

But anyone who has ever driven in Atlanta knows the city’s highways are so nightmarishly congested that, as Chris Gigley recently wrote here, “Fans who must take I-285 or I-75 to the game will never make it for the first pitch of any Braves game. Ever. They’ll probably miss the entire first inning. And probably the second.”

A lot of old-timers are reminded of the bad old days in the 1970s and 1980s, when the team was frequently one of the worst in baseball. But back then, the team had heroes to worship like Henry Aaron, Phil Niekro and Dale Murphy. They see nobody like that now.

“They were sort of analogous with the Falcons,” Tremayne said. “I grew up in Columbus, Georgia, so you had a lot of kids who couldn’t bring themselves to root for the crappy Atlanta baseball and football, so they would root for the Cowboys, or the Reds, or the Pirates, or even, later into the ‘70s, the Yankees… You actually believed that they may not be good in your lifetime. I believed that.”

Tremayne grew up in Columbus and started rooting for the team in 1971. “It got to the point where it was a little depressing,” he says. “The only thing you had to root for was individual accomplishments. Aaron, obviously, hitting 715. Or Niekro winning that 20th game. Or Buzz Capra winning the ERA title.”

But Aaron’s chase won the team new fans across the country. “I think I was the only kid in the state of Connecticut who followed the Braves,” says Chris Nicholson, who is now a real estate developer in Concord, Mass. “Hank Aaron, he was chasing the record… and I just thought, he was my guy.”

The “R” in WAR
How a person can be a hero by being a zero.

Joel Kauffman had the same experience in Mount Union, Pa. Discovering the Braves was almost an illicit thrill. His father gave him a radio one day, and he started listening to it after bedtime, searching for stations.

“I stumbled on WSB, and there was a Braves game on. I stopped there. And this guy named Hank Aaron stepped to the plate and hit a home run,” Kauffman remembers. “So I listened to the rest of the game, waiting for him to come to the plate again. The next night, I went there, and — there was another game on! That’s how I got hooked.”

Ted Turner‘s TBS Superstation played that role for a lot of fans. “I didn’t really come from a family of baseball fans, but I watched the ’95 World Series and I was hooked,” says Karissa Marken, a schoolteacher who grew up in central Virginia. “I call myself a TBS fan — they really were the only team I could get.”

The Braves often like to point out that they are the oldest continuously operating franchise in major league baseball, a direct descendent of the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869, the first professional franchise in baseball history. A large contingent from that team moved to Boston — the Boston Red Stockings of 1876 were a charter member of the National League — and the franchise then went to Milwaukee in 1953, then to Atlanta in 1966.

But in their long history, the Braves have won only three World Series, one in each city: 1914, 1957 and 1995. Between pennants in 1958 and 1991, the team made the playoffs just twice, with division titles in 1969 and 1982, getting swept both times. With those two exceptions, the Atlanta Braves were pretty terrible for most of their existence.

“The Braves have sort of always been an underdog,” says Rhett Thomas, who grew up watching the team in Sebastian, Fla. “As bad as it was, I felt like, this is my team, and they need somebody, they’ve got me. And they were on TV all the time. One hundred thirty games a year. If you were a baseball fan you watched the Braves.”

For some, being there for the lean years was a point of pride. For others, it was simply a matter of fact.

“I’ve been a Braves fan for a long time, ever since there’s been such a thing as the Atlanta Braves, and there’s been a lot of lousy teams and lot of lousy seasons,” says Tim Floyd, a law professor at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. “And this is right up there with the worst of them. That expression, ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect’: They hadn’t invented it yet, but I lived it.”

Attendance is always higher for good teams than bad teams. The team is betting on the belief that once the team wins again, fans will come in droves to their shiny new stadium.

By way of contrast, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Mark Bradley points out that “there weren’t many Braves fans” in the 1980s, before the worst-to-first season of 1991 changed everything. He remembers a court case from the 1980s that a colleague of his attended:

It was a guy from TBS. They got free Braves tickets, because nobody wanted them. This guy got free tickets and saw ten to twelve games a year.

One day, he drove to the game and went the same way he always did, and got ticketed by the Atlanta police for a wrong turn. He goes before the judge and my colleague is watching.

And the judge says, “You go to 12 games a year?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Is this gonna be an insanity plea?”

However, Terry Pluto, a Cleveland sportswriter who has written extensively on the Indians, thinks that the benefits of the new stadium may not be quite as great as the Braves would hope. (I quoted his book “The Curse of Rocky Colavito” in April.)

“The Braves are not going to be able to cash in” on the new stadium, Pluto believes, because the contrast with Turner Field is simply not that great. “It’s not like they’re going from a place where the plumbing didn’t work.”

Both the Braves and Indians went from extraordinarily bad in the ’70s and ’80s to extraordinarily good in the ’90s. But they were also fortunate to be the only good show in town: The Browns had left Cleveland, the Falcons were mediocre, and the Cavaliers and Hawks were middling. “When they came in, the door was wide open for them to plant the flag,” Pluto explains. “That’s not the case in Cleveland now, and I don’t think that’s the case in Atlanta.”

Through their first 40 games, the Braves used 21 pitchers. They have the fifth-worst ERA and sixth-worst FIP in the National League. Two of their top pitching prospects, Mike Foltynewicz and Aaron Blair, have respective FIPs of 4.48 and 4.64 in the majors this year. (Foltynewicz’s ERA is 3.95; Blair’s is 7.59.) Blair, who just turned 24 on May 26, was sent back to the minors after a horrendous May 17th start in which he gave up nine runs and recorded just four outs. They may develop — old-timers remember that Tom Glavine put up a rookie ERA of 5.54 in 1987, and John Smoltz had a 5.48 ERA as a rookie in 1988 — but being young and struggling is not a particularly good predictor of whether a pitcher will go to the Hall of Fame.

Watching the team fail so spectacularly, and seeing the front office blame the manager for losing with a roster that Babe Ruth and Joe McCarthy couldn’t save, raises a disturbing question: is the team being torn down and rebuilt by people ill-equipped for the task?

On May 1, the Braves tried to call up Emilio Bonifacio, a player they’d released in spring training then re-signed to a minor league contract. It turned out he was ineligible due to a rule that teams must wait 30 days to call up players whom they have cut and re-signed, a rule the front office had overlooked. “They bungle these little things,” says Bill Smith, a disability benefits specialist in Chattanooga. “You wonder if they know what they’re doing.”

Worse was the team’s blockbuster trade for Cuban defector Hector Olivera. Team scouts and then-manager Fredi Gonzalez loved him and pushed the front office to trade young pitching and prospects for the 30-year old third baseman, who was in the Dodgers’ minor leagues at the time, getting back into playing shape after two years moving through the administrative process of defection. Shortly after the trade, the Braves announced that he was moving to the outfield because they didn’t believe he could stick at third.

In early April of 2016, he was arrested on domestic violence charges and placed on administrative suspension by major league baseball. Before the league announced his punishment, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that the team was trying to trade him, only to find — predictably — that he is perceived around the league as untouchable. On May 26, the league handed down an 82-game suspension, announcing that Olivera will be ineligible to play until August 1. There is a chance that he may never play another game by the Braves.

“It feels like every move has backfired,” Tremayne says.

The biggest problem, as the team builds its new suburban stadium in Cobb County, about 15 miles from their downtown digs at Turner Field, is convincing the fans that it will all be worth it.

“There’s nobody really that you can pull for,” says Tim Denman, the cybersecurity learning director at Defense Acquisition University in Huntsville, Ala. “I know the players are playing hard, but there’s no part of the game that, as a fan, draws me to them right now.”

It’s hard not to draw a conclusion about how the team feels about its rooters. “The lineup they throw out there every day is as bad as anything I’ve seen,” says Floyd, the law professor. “They don’t seem to care that much about the fans or the product on the field.”

If the Braves win again, they will probably find a way to fill the stadium. But some Braves fans who have been with the team for years may not be with them. There’s a serious empathy gap, and a sense of profound loss.

“I hate that they’re moving it to a mall in some horrible suburb,” says Nicholson, the Massachusetts developer. “Not that I’m tied in with Atlanta or any connection with the South, but I feel I should be rooting for a team that’s in a city, not in a mall, with a bunch of players who come and go.

“I think Bobby Cox cried the day he traded Dale Murphy. Well, okay! That’s my general manager. He feels the way I feel. I think [GM John] Coppolella traded Simmons to show everyone he could do it.

“I hate these guys.”

References & Resources

  • Chris Gigley, The Hardball Times, “If You Build It, They Will Bottleneck”
  • Phone interviews with nine commenters from Braves Journal (a site that I manage): Tim Denman, Tim Floyd, Cliff Harpe, Joel Kauffman, Karissa Marken, Chris Nicholson, Bill Smith, Rhett Thomas, and Jim Tremayne.
  • Phone interviews with Mark Bradley and Terry Pluto.


Print This Post
Alex is a writer for The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.
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Brian L
Guest
Brian L
I think you could talk to a subset of nearly any fan base (maybe not Cubs, Royals, Giants) who would say the team is trash, the FO is terrible, and the whole franchise is a disaster. That subset is probably largest with the Braves right now but in my experience that level of pure negativity and “I hate these guys” is not close to the prevailing view. Obviously people complain about the terrible MLB team, and rightfully so, its unwatchable. But most people recognize that some amazing trades have been interspersed with the not-so-great ones, people still love Freddie and… Read more »
Tim
Guest
Tim

I agree I’ve been listening to the Braves since they moved to Atlanta, I’m 60 now. We get they’re bad Liberty doesn’t care if they win or loose. The front office appears to be clueless .
But if I can cheer for guys like Biff Pocoroba ,Sonny Jackson, etal then I can cheer for these guys.
If games were still on TBS I would watch every damn one.
I will not apologize for being a fan.
Tim S

John Jackson
Guest
John Jackson

The front office and management does care, and they are going to spend money on the team but it’s going to be a year maybe two yet, this is a rebuild like none have ever seen before. Personally the only bad move they made was firing Fredi G, made absolutely no sense.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

“Personally the only bad move they made was firing Fredi G”

Whaaaa….??

Bonney Mack
Guest
Bonney Mack

Atlanta need more non white players. Look at the other good teams. They find ways to get rid of good non white players or not sign them. Christian Betancourt will become a star. Remember what Lonnie Smith said about John schourholtz

Fred Owens
Guest
It’s past time to get off of this rant, unless you specifically mean African American players whose numbers across the majors are shrinking the roster matches up in non-whites as any. On the 25 man roster – Julio Teheran, Alexi OGando, Arodys Vizcaino, Williams Perez, Ender Inciarte, Daniel Castro, Mallex Smith, Adonis Garcia and Erick Aybar On the 40-man – Mauricio Cabrera, Jose De la Cruz, Tyrell Jenkins, Manny Banuelos, Dario Alvarez, Paco Rodriguez and sadly Hector Oilvera Among their top 30 prospects not on the 40 man roster – Ozzie Albies, Touki Toussaint,Rio Ruiz, Zachary Bird, Ricard Sanchez, Ronakld… Read more »
lol
Guest
lol

lol….are you guys really debating this?

Carl
Guest
Carl

John Stearns, Willie Montanez, Doug Flynn, Frankie Taveras, Wayne Garret, Joel Youngblood, John Milner, Lee Mazzilli, Swan, Falcone, Zachary on the mound, Lockwood out of the pen.

Growing up a Mets fan, can assure you that this too will pass, and turnarounds are possible.

Bob
Guest

Agreed, too many Braves fans wetting their pants. Teams historically go thru cycles. Maybe success of the 1990s plays into this. Funny many of the same folks scream that Hawks should be torn down due to consistent mediocrity.

Josh
Guest
Josh
I think some of these commenters missed the main point of the article – it isn’t that fans quoted in the article lack perspective (clearly, they have tons of it. Most of them have been fans of the Braves for decades.); no, the problem the article tried to get at was that the Braves as a business operation are doing horrible things to their fanbase. That is dumb from any business standpoint you can think of. That’s why fans are losing faith, because they do not appreciate their love of the team being taken advantage of by the business side… Read more »
Bryan Cole
Guest
Bryan Cole
While I agree with you that Liberty Media has mistreated their Atlanta fans and pulled a fast one on the Cobb County taxpayers, I disagree with your last sentence. Liberty Media bought the Braves in 2007 for $450 million. Forbes’ 2016 valuation (which isn’t perfect, but still) has the Braves at $1.175 billion. That’s about 2.5 times higher in a decade that oh by the way featured a global financial meltdown. As far as Liberty Media is concerned, the current ownership group is AMAZING at running a sports business. So long as the numbers are going up, none of the… Read more »
Butch
Guest
Butch

Which is the point! They don’t care about the product or the fans or anything as long as their investment grows. That is the problem with corporate ownership and the Braves will never be the same until there is a new owner who wants to actually own a baseball team not an investment vehicle.

Ryan Waggoner
Guest
Ryan Waggoner
The problem isn’t Liberty Media. They have already stated that they will never make a single baseball decision and the money the Braves make is the money they can spend; neither are negatives. The problem is that the big spenders spend big because they have lucrative TV contracts and the Braves don’t. LM isn’t responsible for that; Time Warner is. Time Warner were the ones who signed a 25 year, non-negotiable, TV contract right before the TV contract bubble exploded; all because they wanted quick cash before they sold the team. It has already been said countless times that their… Read more »
Benjamin Lovelace
Guest
Benjamin Lovelace
John C Malone is the current chairman of Liberty Media, is a huge baseball and Braves fan. From all that I have read he seems to like owing a baseball team and genuinely cares about its success. Just because he leaves day to day operation to those more expert, doesn’t mean no one above Terry Mcquirk cares. I say “more expert” because I listened to an interview with Theo Epstien who said he believes the Braves currently (in just the last 18 months) have accumulated more total baseball talent in their organization, though not at the major league level, than… Read more »
Mike
Guest
Mike

By law, that of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and that of MLB, Liberty Media cannot and will not EVER receive a dime due to the operating expenses of the Atlanta Braves. No one in the Braves front office answers to Liberty Media as to the day to day operations of the club. They look at the numbers, say here are your payroll constraints, go run the team.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

“Liberty Media bought the Braves in 2007 for $450 million. Forbes’ 2016 valuation (which isn’t perfect, but still) has the Braves at $1.175 billion. That’s about 2.5 times higher in a decade that oh by the way featured a global financial meltdown.”

To be clear, that spectacular increase in valuation was NOT brought about by anything that Liberty has done. ALL sports franchises are skyrocketing in value, primarily because they are a super-scarce good for the “price is no issue” set.

E-Gaz
Guest
E-Gaz

This is pretty much the perfect summary for how I feel, thank you.

Brian L
Guest
Brian L

The stadiums are like a 20 minute drive apart and the new one is barelyyy outside Atlanta proper, right next to the perimeter. Symbolically sure there’s meaning, but the actual hassle is way overblown, as is “killing the Atlanta” in the Braves. The Braves fanbase was already much much more than just Atlanta proper.

Not defending the move, I just think the attack against it should be from a taxpayer / financial standpoint and not this whole Atlanta vs. Cobb fan thing.

ASR
Guest
ASR

I mean, they’re 20 minutes apart if there are no other cars on the road. And the difference for a fan coming from, say, Decatur is quite large.

SBS
Guest
SBS

If they actually were coming from there…the attendance is abysmal and the majority of the fan base was outside the perimeter from NW to NE. You have to go where the money is…just a fact in today’s sports environment.
Plus, Braves now own land and can lease the property and have a vibrant social life around the stadium 365. Blame Kasim Reed. He wouldn’t work with them.

Bob
Guest

Anyone who attended games at Turner Field over the past 5 years saw the neglect of surrounding areas. The park benches directly across from stadium were destroyed, broken bottles, etc. No development (other than a mini golf course) for fans. As for stadium, the City alienated the fans, Braves are taking the PR hit by making a sensible move.

Mike
Guest
Mike

The tax money for the stadium was drawn from the Cumberland Community Development something or another (forget the exact name). It was voted on by this group comprised of area businesses. If you don’t want to support the Braves in Cobb County, don’t shop in the Cumberland area. The Braves aren’t pulling tax dollars from schools.

Chief Nocahoma
Guest
Chief Nocahoma

You forgot boring, bland, cookie cutter, looks much like Turner Field stadium.

Bob
Guest

..and you time travelled to the future to experience it firsthand? Tell us, did Heywood ever hit .260 again?

ArtieMacon
Guest

Bob’s right. And you should have predicted it coming, Chief.

John Jackson
Guest
John Jackson

That’s funny the “fan base” you speak of hasn’t shown up for “their” team in 10 years probably the worst fan base in baseball. Fine you don’t want to watch don’t, but don’t say their isn’t talent just a year or two away, go watch AAA and AA clubs 2-3 years is nothing for a rebuild.

Jeffrey
Guest
Jeffrey

Perhaps Atlanta is a different type of sports town but if the Pirates can sell tickets after putting garbage on the field for 2 decades, anything is possible. These comments do sound a lot like what people in Pittsburgh had to say in the late 90s-2012 though.

Butch
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Butch

Didn’t a change in ownership help turn the Pirates around?

J Frank
Guest
J Frank
Thank you, Alex Remington, for summing up feelings that I haven’t actually been able to put into words. I’m disgusted by the team that Atlanta has been saddled with for the past two seasons. I was born and raised in and around Athens, Georgia, and I’ve been a Braves fan my entire life. I’m in my mid-thirties, and as a kid, my step-dad and I went to games at the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Being a sports fan growing up in the Atlanta media market, Dale Murphy and Dominique Wilkins were the only sports heroes I could have (okay, I’m… Read more »
Ryan Bruce
Guest
Ryan Bruce

Just go. If you don’t understand that a team can’t win every season, you aren’t paying attention. GO root for the Nats. If tough times get to you that badly, you’re not needed as a fan.

J Frank
Guest
J Frank

Do you lack reading comprehension skills, or are you just a troll? Read what I wrote, specifically about the Braves versus the Falcons. I don’t expect a team to win every season, but I do expect the team’s ownership and front office to, at the very least, appear to be trying to put a winning team on the field. That isn’t happening with the Braves. Why should anyone continue to root for a team that isn’t even rooting for itself?

Ryan Waggoner
Guest
Ryan Waggoner

What exactly do you think they’re doing right now? They have decided to invest in the future and, by god, they’re doing a whole heck of a lot to make that happen sooner rather than later. If we have to endure a couple of years of losing for ten years of prosperity, count me among those who have the patience to wait. In the meantime, if the team loses I’ll root like hell for them to win. If they don’t, oh well.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman

The fact that “the Nats” are your example of a team that wins every season suggests maybe you’ve only watched baseball for 3 of the last 12 years.

Bob
Guest

So you are not a fan, as one would use that term in other cities. Cubs -Philly- Sox etc, fans complain, scream, cry, but in spring they show up. Maybe the media is right about Atlanta sports fans. If so, you can’t alienate what you don’t have so why not pursue an alternative business model.

Ryan Bruce
Guest
Ryan Bruce
Have you actually considered talking to some baseball people, as opposed to DJs and school teachers? It’s called rebuilding, and it takes more than one season. The Braves were awful in 2014 with all of our good major league talent. Hart put it best when he said that we weren’t breaking up the ’27 Yankees. Upton and Heyward were going to walk for free and we got excellent returns for them. As great as Andrelton was with the glove, he was equally bad with the bat. This is where we were heading, and frankly, it should have happened long ago.… Read more »
Ryan Bruce
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Ryan Bruce

*ignorant

Sam
Guest
Sam

Simmons was garden-variety bad with the bat. He was transcendent with the glove.

John Jackson
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John Jackson

Absolutely agree

Reed Storm
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Reed Storm

Oh so your the kinda guy that thinks the Ozzie Smith trade was a good idea. In 2016.

Ninja
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Ninja
I have been a fan since just about birth. So, pretty much since 1965. Every realistic Braves fan watched as the farm system became depleted under Frank Wren and knew this would have to be done. Is it hard to watch? Absolutely it is, but the avid fan sees what is coming and will tolerate the losing for a season or 2. While Coppy tried to put on a brave face, no pun intended, during the off season, they and the fans knew this would be bad. I don’t know if we expected epically bad, but we had no delusional… Read more »
Ryan Bruce
Guest
Ryan Bruce

Well said.

BrockJ
Guest
BrockJ

This is a really one sided article…so basically, you had not a single interview that offered insight…just some fans complaining. I don’t understand how anyone who has actually been to a game at the Ted who can disagree with moving the team. It is in a run down part of town, my car got broken into right down the road, and traffic is horrible without the move to Cobb. This is possibly one of the worst articles I’ve ever read…terrible interviews….a teacher, a real estate developer from Massachusetts, and an attorney. Wow. Those guys are bound to know baseball.

John G.
Guest
John G.

Fortunately, some random guy posting as “BrockJ” is here to balance out the Braves fans who were quoted in the article. Wow. That comment is much more credible.

Burns
Guest
Burns

A lot of Braves’ fans born around the 80’s 90’s have never lived through a bad Braves team with the 13 straight division titles. That’s what is making it so hard for Braves fans to understand any kind of rebuild process

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
I have several issues with this piece, so let me lay them out as simply as possible. First, what was the alternative with the roster? This team is terrible this year, but they always were going to be. Heyward and Justin Upton were leaving. Medlen and Minor’s pitching arms failed them. Simmons cannot hit. The team has a limited payroll and until last year, they had no farm system. Yes, the Braves could have gone all in for the 2015 season, but what would that have netted? A division title? Maybe. A playoff win? Unlikely. The bullpen would still have… Read more »
lambert white
Guest
lambert white

fantastic outlook on the team…..you sir, are a great American!

Bob
Guest

Agreed, Remmington out, Kyle you’re in.

ArtieMacon
Guest

Yes, Alex, please cut Kyle’s reply out and paste it to your wall. It’s called critical thinking, not just being Katie Couric-like and selecting quotes to fit your purpose.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

So that’s the secret! “Stances I agree with” = critical thinking. “Stances I disagree with” = Katie Couric (?!)

I thought the article was even-handed. Showed lots of fans are generally frustrated with the current direction of the club but many of them having pretty good perspective about it. Then again, I lack critical thinking skills because I’m a Katie Couric clone (or…something?)

E-Gaz
Guest
E-Gaz
“The mid-2000’s in Atlanta are also to blame for the team’s current plight. The pursuit of 14 consecutive division titles and then 1 last hurrah for the old guard was short-sighted, and robbed the team of some very good prospects for rentals on teams that were not good enough to win the World Series. Was 1 excellent season of JD Drew worth the career of Adam Wainwright? One year of Teixeira, with 6+ WAR, worth 5 prospects that ultimately put Texas where Atlanta wanted to be, the World Series? These Braves teams were not merely a piece away, but the… Read more »
Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Not exactly. Schuerholz and Cox are still involved, but Copplella and Hart are pulling the strings. For proof of this, look no further than Fredi finally getting fired.

John G.
Guest
John G.
OK. You’re a Braves fan. We get it. The biggest issue with these sorts of hot take responses is that a few vocal members of the fan base get so worked up over how wonderful their team is that they fail to grasp the basic point of the article (*perceptions* of the team’s actions in this case, as opposed to whether or not the actions themselves are or will be the greatest decisions ever made in the history of MLB), and instead they just spew off-topic vitriol at the author and anyone else who doesn’t unconditionally praise the Braves for… Read more »
Clinton
Guest
Clinton
I was going to make similar points as Ryan Bruce but he speaks for me. Go tell me how that loaded roster of 2014 is actually doing today. They are collectively terrible and the Braves were able to restock their severely depleted farm system in under 18 months to make it a top 5 farm system. It’s actually a miracle they are at where they are in terms of future talent and will climb even further ahead of the pack after this crop of international signings and high draft picks. Also, this idea that the new stadium is so far… Read more »
DailyPlung
Guest
DailyPlung
I’m 37. I was born in Atlanta. I grew up outside of Columbus. I went to the first ever World Series game in Atlanta. I live in Florida now and watch most of the games. I don’t care if they play games in Stone Mountain. I never had any great affinity for Turner Field where they have a 15-22 postseason record. It’s a converted Olympic Stadium with nothing of interest going on around the park. It’s a pain in the ass to get to the park and there’s nothing to do around the park. It has a great skyline. I… Read more »
Daniel
Guest
Daniel

My feelings towards the Braves are summed up by the quote
“Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
Were we built for the long term? No. Did we need a rebuild? Yes.
The problem is that ownership/management mistreats fans and cities. Remember “parallel paths” and “we are a better team”? The team has driven up prices while slashing payroll. They have fleeced cities for stadiums (http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-atlanta-braves-stadium/). They will not admit to mistakes. They need to tell the fans we are bad, we know it, and we make mistakes instead of tooting their own horns.

Amru
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Amru
You know what makes this team watchable for me? Even in the midst of a historically poor season, there are still flashes of brilliance. The Andrelton trade was tough for a lot of reasons, but I’d wager to say that Ender Inciarte is about as close to Simmons as it comes in defensive ability, tenacity, and baseball acumen. Win or lose, his effort is always all-out, which is more than can be said of a few unnamed players on the roster. He’s already won over a lot of fans. Mallex Smith is still incredibly raw and often overmatched, but he’s… Read more »
tengopreguntas
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tengopreguntas

“Teheran and Wisler are two of the top pitchers in baseball. ”

Uh, what? By fWAR Teheran has been the 32nd best pitcher and Matt Wisler is 47th.

W.C.G.
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W.C.G.
Thank you for writing this, Alex. I’ve been feeling exactly this way for the last couple years. Some of the commenters here are focusing on what I think is the wrong question – the question isn’t “was this rebuild strategy necessary and will it work?” The question is “what relationship does this organization have with its fans?” And all evidence points to the idea that they see us as idiots with wallets, which isn’t a good look. Since that playoff loss where Fredi kept Kimbrel in the bullpen, the organization has: – sprung a secretly-negotiated publicly-funded stadium deal out of… Read more »
Brian L
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Brian L

Hinkie got fired for being honest. You’ve already solved why Coppy & co. have to be optimistic and basically lie. They can’t see their plan out of they’re fired midway through.

Windu
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Windu
The rebuild was necessary. Their farm system was horrible, they had no money, they had key offensive players leaving the next winter and their rotation was a mess. They were either going to be a .500 team in 2014 and really bad for many years to come or really bad for a shorter period of time with cheap talent and payroll flexibility on in the future. The minor league affiliates have been fun to watch, lots of pitching depth and after this draft and international signing period they should have the unanimous #1 farm system. The future is bright with… Read more »
phil
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phil

Fans being upset their team is bad. I’m flabbergasted.

Jason B
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Jason B

On the contrary! Some think they’re in the midst of the greatest rebuild IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. (See inexplicable comments above.)

Bob
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Bob
As a resident of the city of Atlanta and also as a Braves fan for 20+, I can say this article pretty much sums up how myself and how most of my fellow baseball friends feel. I know I can’t speak for everyone, but it hits on my personal experience perfectly and the same could be said of those that I know. It’s not just simply the recent rebuild, either. All teams have rebuilds. No, this has been a long, drawn-out, relentless, ~10-yr emotional beat-down of the fans… and that’s something that a lot of us are never coming back… Read more »
Dick Enz
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Dick Enz
I now live Florida. I have been a Braves fan since 1953 when I lived in Wisconsin. I tend to agree with the writers that claim that the Braves Front Office does not care about the fans is not truthful about wanting to improve the team. They trade away good players for players like Aybar, Inciarte, and Olivares. To fill the roster they sign castoffs like Franceur, Johnson, Pierzinski, and Stubbs. I don’t see Why the Braves keep Aybar and continue to play him. He can’t hit. he can’t field, he can’t throw, and he makes bad decisions. The Braves… Read more »
Tommy Poe
Guest

For what it’s worth, his name is Olivera.

And they also got Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis in addition to Erick Aybar. They didn’t trade anyone to acquire Aybar. They wanted Newcomb and Ellis.

And they also got Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair in addition to Ender Inciarte, who is every bit the player Shelby Miller is (if not better).

Bob
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Bob
This article pretty much unreadable for me. How do people not grasp the fact that our young core from a few years back weren’t actually that good. We sold high and did very well with the returns. Our future is much brighter right now and that isn’t even counting this year’s IFA’s and 2016 + 2017 draft (#3 overall pick and probably another top 3 pick). I get that people are upset with this year’s team and feel anger with the front office about the product being put out on the field. Those same people, for the most part, aren’t… Read more »
Steve
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Steve
Our minor league system is one of the best in baseball now. In the next few months when Albies, Newcomb, Jenkins, and Swanson etc get called up, how high will our minor-league system rank then? A good GM would have been able to find a way to keep Heyward for home discount, not get rid of the only Lefty in our rotation Alex Wood, and not trade Simmons who was the most exciting player I’ve seen on the field since Andruw.. a good GM would have been able to do all these things and build our minor leagues at the… Read more »
Jimmy
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Jimmy

As soon as the young prospects gain a little seasoning at the major league level, will we trade them to rebuild for future again?

tengopreguntas
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tengopreguntas

@ Steve -Found a way to keep Heyward at a discount? This isn’t a video game, you can’t force things. Which gm has been able to do the things that you suggest. Your post is wrong for so very many reasons.

Sleepy
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Sleepy
Steve Cole
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Steve Cole
The first casualty of the re-build was Tommy LaStella, who could actually put the ball in play. Fans clamored long and hard for him to be brought up to replace Uggla. When he finally was, he became practically the only Brave who could get a hit. He’s now on the Cubs major league roster. I frequently see his name in their box-scores. The Cubs are probably the best MLB team, so LaStella’s presence on their big team speaks well of him. Who do the Braves ultimately have now in their system as the result of shipping LaStella to the Cubs?… Read more »
tengopreguntas
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tengopreguntas

they traded lastella for vizcaino.

Steve Cole
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Steve Cole

Oh! Well, I guess that’s sorta OK, then. Thanks, tp! (Still, though….he could move runners around with timely hits. Oh, well.)

MNewton
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MNewton

You mean the guy that hit .251/.328/.317 with a -.04WAR and 85 WRC+ when he played for ATL? He’s currently sporting a BAPIP 40 points higher than his career norm. Don’t think that he’s all of a sudden morphed into a different player because he’s on the Cubs now. His defense is still suspect and when he regresses back to his norm he’ll still be the same fringe starter/utility player he always was. Trading him for someone who has turned into one of the best closers this year was a no brainer.

Ben T. Mause
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Ben T. Mause
Good article. But what yall need to get is this is a REBUILD. It isn’t supposed to be pretty. It’s not fun. But the Braves front office has done and looks like they will continue to do what NEEDS to be done for this team to not only contend, but win a World Series. You said it yourself, the Braves only have three titles. I admire the front office for doing what they have to do to build a World Series winning team, even though they know the process to reach it stinks, and that the fans would hate it.… Read more »
Caleb T.
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Caleb T.

I’d be interested to see where this writer stands in a couple of years when the Braves are thrashing through the National League, like the Cubs – a team that suffered through several years of awful product. If Braves fans are as fair-weather as we’re assuming, myself not included, then they will be flocking to SunTrust Park when they’re winning with extensive pitching depth and all-star middle infielders Swanson and Albies. Let’s go ask some more people that have no knowledge of how franchises build winning teams and see what their expert opinion on the matter is.

Ryan Waggoner
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Ryan Waggoner

Alex will then write 2000 word articles on how great the Braves FO is.

Jason B
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Jason B

“I’d be interested to see where this writer stands in a couple of years when the Braves are thrashing through the National League”

Eehhhhh…..

Stinky
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Stinky
Good article. I watched some horrible 70’s and 80’s Braves teams that never even sniffed of the likely 120 losses that the 2016 edition of my favorite team is likely to endure. Those teams were bad. This team is putrid. My confidence in the front office is shaken to the point that I keep imagining that I smell ostriches. (Anyone remember the Braves ostrich races in the 70’s?) Anyway, the smell of a bad front office / ostrich is in the air and it permeates everything. We supposedly have a top 3 farm system (with lots of pitchers who had… Read more »
Jeremy benischeck
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Jeremy benischeck
Let’s look at the players they got rid of and see if we are doing the right thing J-hay yet to hit a homerun this year and is batting around 230-240 Justin upton having the worst year of his career Shelby Miller trade some calling it the most lopsided trade ever and with him having a terrible season u start to see a trend here We do have one of the best farm systems in baseball due to the trades we are basically doing the same blueprint as the Cubs and Astros but we did it much quicker with this… Read more »
Col. Edwin
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Col. Edwin
Sure hope there’s going to be a follow-up article telling us more about the throngs of Braves’ faithful who spent 1974 rooting for Buzz Capra to win the ERA championship. I see that his home starts after the first of September drew an average of almost 3700 fans. How else did their enthusiasm manifest itself? Did they stop by Chief Noc-A-Homa’s tent and get buzz-scalped? Did they sit in the upper deck with a giant slide rule and recalculate Buzz’s ERA as opposing batters paraded back to the dugout? If a guy who edits a magazine for disc jockeys says… Read more »
John G.
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John G.

If a random guy posting as “Col. Edwin” misinterprets a quotation of a Braves fan, it must be the new true meaning of that Braves fan’s comments. After all, he’s a Colonel.

Chris Maurice
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Chris Maurice

Hey Alex, how about interviewing one person from… Atlanta for your expose on the despair of the Braves fan.
To me the last quote with the guy from Boston, with no ties to Atlanta, complaining about the team moving to Cobb County perfectly sums up the stadium moving experience. People from the northeast talking down about it while atlantans are happy because it is going to improve the experience.

Brent
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Brent

Some of these posters (as well as the author of this garbage article) do not remember the rotten years. The 1991 team had no chance either.

Spencer Swinson
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Spencer Swinson

If this is how you feel then you aren’t a real fan and don’t understand that for every hill (The 90s/early 00s) there is a valley. Went to the game today and it still feels like my first Braves’ game everytime. The new front office has performed magic setting up the organization for a lot of future success.

Bob
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Bob
Everyone has their own opinion of the Braves, but it really just comes down to what your expectations are of an organization. Ever since Ted Turner left, there’s been a growing segment of the fanbase that feels the organization hasn’t made a good faith effort to put the most competitive team possible on the field. That bothers some people and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for closely watching the last 15 years or so and being turned off… and if someone genuinely feels that way, it wouldn’t make any sense to invest their time, money, emotions, etc. It’s good to be… Read more »
Ryan Waggoner
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Ryan Waggoner
If there are fans that think the Braves haven’t made an effort to win since Ted Turner left then they haven’t been paying attention. They traded for JD Drew, they signed Gary Sheffield, they traded for Mark Texieria, they signed Lowe (The 2nd best FA pitcher that offseason), they brought up Heyward and Freeman early, they traded for Dan Uggla. The Braves have done quite a lot in order to win, while having payroll constraints the entire time. The fact that, prior to the rebuild, they had only 2 losing seasons since Turner sold the team speaks to the fact… Read more »
Bob
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Bob
Well, the primary reasons they had to overpay on that 4th year to Lowe, hand three years to Kawakami, and trade for Vazquez that offseason was because they’d gone cheap on the rotation for years and were literally starting to panic on whether or not they were actually going to get enough innings from their staff to complete a 9 inning ballgame. For years the rotation had been cobbled together with journeyman middle relievers like Jorge Campillo and Buddy Carlyle. They were more than content to trot out pre-arbitration JoJo Reyes for 100+ innings. They weren’t that far removed for… Read more »
BuccosFan
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BuccosFan
Fans have a right to be upset. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t a “real fan” if you are upset with the product on the field. As a Pirates fan, I was beyond fed up with hearing that line. The Pirates fielded dreadful teams for many years that were, as this article put it, unwatchable. I hope the commenters that made points about how quickly the Braves appear to be rebuilding are correct. I wouldn’t want the Braves fanbase to suffer through 2 decades of losing like the Pirates. But we Pirates’ fans were told many times over… Read more »
Luke
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Luke
Being upset with the product on the field can be just as thoughtless and myopic as unconditional optimism and support. If you understand the value of prospects and the situation the organization was in at the end of 2014, there’s no reason to feel despondent over what’s happened since then. Certain moves have been questionable, but it’s terribly easy to cherry pick bad decisions over a long enough time period. It kind of sucks watching the Braves right now. It’s impossible to approach the MLB Braves without a scintilla of cynicism. They’re horrendous. But that’s not because they traded for… Read more »
Elliott
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Elliott
With all respect, this article is one of the most Bravey things an (assumed) Braves fan/sympathizer could write. I think there are real important conversations to be had about Liberty Media’s ownership, public stadium financing in general, the traffic issues that will exist around the new field and the general inability of this offense to score runs right now. However, you seem to try and coalesce all of these moot, minor, debateable gripes (failure of Olivera trade, despite Wood being equally terrible in terms of value over the same stretch, trade of Simmons, who’s on the DL anyway and still… Read more »
Curly McLain
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Curly McLain
As a Braves fan who suffered through a lot of losing seasons, I occasionally wondered why I spent so much of my time this way. Then finally, I did it! I cut the cord! I quit following them. Quit reading the box scores every morning. Quit tuning the games in on the radio. I had moved away and didnt have cable and didnt see other people every day who talked about the team or saw the headlines in the paper. I could go several days without wondering how the Braves were doing. Maybe check the standings once a week. I… Read more »
Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider
I have mixed feelings about this whole thing. First, some of the comments and fans, generally, seem obsessed over the evils of “corporate ownership.” While I have no great love for corporations or Liberty Media, in particular, let’s not romanticize the benefits of individual owners. How would you like a team owned by Peter Angelos (O’s) or Jeffrey Loria (Marlins) or, until a couple of years ago the Dodgers (I can’t remember the names). Fans are seduced by the idea that individual owners automatically want to win and will do whatever it takes. Well, that’s not necessarily true and, even… Read more »
MG
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MG
I’m not even sure what the point of this article was besides some basic rehashing of well-known shortcomings the Braves have had this season. Braves still have a very good farm system, two very tradeable players in Freeman & Teheran, and are poised to have a very high draft pick along with spending big on the international markets this year. Fans in Atlanta are simply fair weather fans when it comes to all sports but college football for several reasons with the most notable one being the high degree of transplants to the area. Atlanta has lost 2 NHL hockey… Read more »
Bob
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Bob

Most fans I know aren’t put off by the rebuild… or the present short-comings of the team. Has more to do with the last 15 years and a perception that the front office is complacent.

Not everyone shares that view, but that’s to root of the negative opinions.

Bob
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Bob

*the root

mike
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mike

Did not the taxpayers pay for the new stadium and not ‘the Braves?’ Further, they did not win 14 straight division titles, they won three, nobody won in ’94, and then they won eleven. Impressive, but not 14 in a row.
The team will get better eventually, but fleecing taxpayers to replace a stadium barely twenty years old is wrong, problems with the surrounding area notwithstanding.

Jwillie
Guest
Let me say this. I have been a Braves fan since 1956. I use to crawl up on the counter top in the kitchen when my parents were sleeping to listen to night games, so I have a extensive history. The current status is sad and unbelievable. This management group has destroyed the Braves. For the price that is charged for the experienced, these people need to look in the mirror. 1# this management group needs to be compensated on performance or fans in ATL need to protest until they are replaced. I now live in Florida so I have… Read more »
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