“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): A Lost Year for Atlanta

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, the Atlanta Braves.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins would play a regular season game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In most years, one would think this would mean the Marlins were giving up a home game. However, it’s the Braves who are.

And that seems fitting for Atlanta, a team that will be going nowhere this season as they turn their eyes almost entirely to the future. Defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons is gone. All-Star pitcher Shelby Miller is gone. Guys like Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel are now distant memories. The acquisitions by the Braves this off-season have either been entirely aimed at the future (former Number 1 pick Dansby Swanson, for example) or meant to fill a spot and keep the team from being a complete joke. Oh, Freddie Freeman is still there… although you can bet there will be talk of him possibly being traded, even if it could end up as just that: speculation.

The plan is clear: After this season, the Braves will move to the wealthier suburbs up in Cobb County, playing in a new stadium called SunTrust Park. The first year or two there, the thought is, will be a honeymoon, as people will go there just because it’s new.

The Braves hope that by the time the honeymoon ends, the team will be good enough to get people to come to games to see a winning team.

Only time will tell if they are right. But I don’t think it will take much time for the 2016 Braves to stink up the joint. It could get ugly really fast.

 

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30 Teams, 30 Posts (2015): A Haiku About The Braves

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, I lazily reduce the entire Atlanta Braves into a Haiku.

 

Atlanta Braves Team

No more Heyward or Justin

Markakis there now

 

 

Famous for Something Else Repost: Urban Meyer

Today, Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes will play in the Sugar Bowl in an attempt to reach the College Football Playoff Championship Game. So, here’s a repost of his famous for something else post.

Did you know that Urban Meyer, head coach of Ohio State’s football team and former coach of the Florida Gators, had a brief minor league career? It’s true! He played two seasons in the low minors in the Braves organization.

Here are his stats:

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB HBP SH SF IBB
1982 17 -2.9 Braves GULF Rk ATL 20 61 53 6 9 0 2 0 5 1 2 6 9 .170 .267 .245 .512 13 1 1 0 0
1983 18 -2.0 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk ATL 24 77 57 13 11 2 0 1 6 1 1 16 15 .193 .365 .281 .646 16 0 3 1 0
1983 18 -2.4 Pulaski APPY Rk ATL 15 41 32 8 8 2 0 1 4 0 0 8 9 .250 .400 .406 .806 13 0 1 0 0
1983 18 -1.5 Braves GULF Rk ATL 9 36 25 5 3 0 0 0 2 1 1 8 6 .120 .324 .120 .444 3 0 2 1 0
2 Seasons 44 138 110 19 20 2 2 1 11 2 3 22 24 .182 .321 .264 .585 29 1 4 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/20/2014.

Now, as you can see, he didn’t do very good, but, according to a recent episode of Real Sports, it was a defining moment for him. Frustrated by his struggles, he told his father he was going to quit and come home, enraging his father, who told him that he would have no losers in his family. This would fuel a long obsession with winning that would define his career for years and ended up forcing his family to have him sign a contract to make sure he didn’t essentially abandon them for coaching.

One interesting thing to note, by the way, is that Urban Meyer played alongside Ron Gant and Mark Lemke during his 1983 stint in the Gulf Coast League.

So, anyway… now you know!

Famous for Something Else: Urban Meyer

Did you know that Urban Meyer, head coach of Ohio State’s football team and former coach of the Florida Gators, had a brief minor league career? It’s true! He played two seasons in the low minors in the Braves organization.

Here are his stats:

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB HBP SH SF IBB
1982 17 -2.9 Braves GULF Rk ATL 20 61 53 6 9 0 2 0 5 1 2 6 9 .170 .267 .245 .512 13 1 1 0 0
1983 18 -2.0 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk ATL 24 77 57 13 11 2 0 1 6 1 1 16 15 .193 .365 .281 .646 16 0 3 1 0
1983 18 -2.4 Pulaski APPY Rk ATL 15 41 32 8 8 2 0 1 4 0 0 8 9 .250 .400 .406 .806 13 0 1 0 0
1983 18 -1.5 Braves GULF Rk ATL 9 36 25 5 3 0 0 0 2 1 1 8 6 .120 .324 .120 .444 3 0 2 1 0
2 Seasons 44 138 110 19 20 2 2 1 11 2 3 22 24 .182 .321 .264 .585 29 1 4 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/20/2014.

Now, as you can see, he didn’t do very good, but, according to a recent episode of Real Sports, it was a defining moment for him. Frustrated by his struggles, he told his father he was going to quit and come home, enraging his father, who told him that he would have no losers in his family. This would fuel a long obsession with winning that would define his career for years and ended up forcing his family to have him sign a contract to make sure he didn’t essentially abandon them for coaching.

One interesting thing to note, by the way, is that Urban Meyer played alongside Ron Gant and Mark Lemke during his 1983 stint in the Gulf Coast League.

So, anyway… now you know!

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 7): Best Case/Worst Case for… the NL EAST (with Getty Images)

We reach our last installment of Best Case/Worst Case… with, of course, sometimes irrelevant images from Getty.

Here we go:

Atlanta Braves:

Embed from Getty Images

Best-Case Scenario: World Series. I mean, look at that pitching staff! Look at the young hitters! They should at least make the playoffs, right.

Worst-Case Scenario: Well, unless their pitching gets hurt. If that happens, there could be big trouble.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Whoops. It’s already happened.

Washington Nationals

Embed from Getty Images

Best-Case Scenario: The World Series comes to Washington for the first times since the 1930s, while Bryce Harper makes a great leap forward into near-Trout levels of awesomeness, bro.

Worst-Case Scenario: Stephen Strasburg’s arm spontaneously combusts during a game.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Harper stagnates, Strasburg and Friends get hurt, Matt Williams is not a good manager, etc.

New York Mets

Embed from Getty Images

Best Case Scenario: Everybody stays healthy and they don’t embarrass themselves too much before Matt Harvey returns next season from Tommy John. Maybe some of the prospects, like Noah Syndergaard, make their first appearances.

Worst Case Scenario: This is the Mets, so you should imagine your worst case scenario for them then multiply it by 500.

Worst Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: This is the Mets, so you should imagine your worst case scenario for them then multiply it by… 499.

Philadelphia Phillies

Embed from Getty Images

Best Case Scenario: The Fountain Of Youth hits the Phillies and they do one last run.

Worst Case Scenario: They are a bunch of old guys who play like it, and Ruben Amaro still acts like it’s the last years of the previous decade.

Worst Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above.

Miami Marlins
Embed from Getty Images

Best Case Scenario: Giancarlo Stanton hits lots of dingers, Jose Fernandez is awesome.

Worst Case Scenario: The above doesn’t happen….

Worst Case Scenario That Might Actually Happen: See above.

 

Next Time: The Previews Continue…

The Andrelton Simmons deal is genius

When is it alright to pay a 248/.296/.396 hitter at least 58 million dollars for seven years?

When he’s Andrelton Simmons, who’s bat is secondary but who’s defense is beyond the realm of mortal man. Yes, the Honkballing shortstop for the Braves may only have played 206 games, but already, he may rank amongst the greatest defensive SS in history. No. Seriously.

Consider, for example, last season he made 49 more plays than the average shortstop would have made, and how only 22% of the Braves’ opponents were able to reach first when hitting a ground ball left of the 2nd base bag. He also prevented 41 runs from being scored, if you go by the Defensive Runs Saved stat.

Or, if you don’t have time for advanced statistics, just watch these 25 minutes of awesome:

The only post about the Braves’ move to reference “Back to the Future”, Doctor Who and Joe Mauer in the first two paragraphs

I need a time machine. Now. Or, well, I guess later would work as well. That’s the thing with time machines, after all. Still, I need a time machine. And when I have it, I intend on going back to Las Vegas in 2010, and tell them that I wanted to place a bet that by Opening Day of 2014 the Atlanta Braves would have announced plans to move from Turner Field and Joe Mauer would become a full-time first baseman.

I then would have hopped into my DeLorean and/or TARDIS, travel to today, and cash in enough money where I could buy a small nation, because that’s what happening. And, while many could read the tea leaves about Mauer, nobody saw the death of Turner Field coming, and for a very good reason:

It goes against almost every single thing we know about stadium movement. Most teams move towards the center of their cities, the Braves are moving away from it. Most teams flee old stadiums, and while Turner Field isn’t young anymore, it’s less than two decades old. Most teams don’t keep their moving plans total secrets… but the Braves did.

Now, to be fair, the Braves do have some good points: most of their season-ticket base is from the suburbs, and their new Cobb County facility will be closer to them. That, in turn, would likely increase in-stadium attendance, a  And, yes, they are getting a good deal from Cobb County, essentially letting them get a whole new stadium for the same price (as far as the team’s own funds) as what they would have spent if they renovated Turner Field entirely out of their own fund. And, at least in theory, the new stadium would be better located logistically, near two major interstate highways.

But, well, it still goes against most conventional wisdom, especially when one takes into account various caveats about the Braves’ good points. For example, the traffic in the areas north of Atlanta is infamously bad, and I myself remember being stuck in traffic during a family trip down there back in 2008. There is no mass-transit to Cobb County, for various reasons (some of them ugly), which would presumably have helped alleviate that traffic problem.

But, most of all, there is the general bad taste that is left in people’s mouths as a post-Camden Yards stadium is replaced for the first time, even as the Athletics and Rays are stuck in fields from a bygone era. And, perhaps even more worrying: virtually every stadium opened since Camden Yards changed the landscape of baseball stadium design was built with platitudes about them being able to carry their franchises “well into the 21st century”.

And yet, come 2017, not even a fifth of the way through the century, one of them will be replaced.

While Turner Field has always been something of an oddball amongst the post-Camden Yards boom (more brought about by the 1996 Olympics than any type of real plan), one worries about what sort of precedent that might set.