Bobby Cox is a Hall of Famer. Today, December 9, 2013, a few minutes after 10am, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s expansion era committee voted to induct him. He is the 18th manager to get in (Tony La Russa and Joe Torre are also being inducted this year for a total of 20). He will also be just the 3rd person after Hank Aaron and Phil Niekro with an Atlanta Braves cap on their plaque in Cooperstown. That being said, it’s likely Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux will also join him this summer after their ballot results are announced in January.
Bobby has been there from the beginning, in my eyes at least. I grew up in the 90’s watching him argue with umpires. He’s the only manager I knew until 2011. I personally witnessed 30 regular season and postseason (not including a few exhibition games) Braves games under his watch – 18 of those were during his farewell 2010 season. (more…)
I hate the idea of expanded instant replay in Major League Baseball. Hate it. You could say that I’m a baseball purist. I also hate the Designated Hitter rule, Interleague Play, and the fact that the All-Star game counts for anything other than memories. The game is perfect as is, we don’t need to add anything.
USA Today is reporting that baseball could have fully expanded replay systems in place by as early as the 2014 season. Home run calls (fair/foul, fan interference, and over/under the boundary) have been reviewable since the 2008 season, but the proposed rule changes would add it to nearly every part of the game. Only balls and strikes (and presumably, judgement calls) would be off limits.
I understand that I have an unpopular opinion. Modern technology has infiltrated many aspects of the game already. There are a lot of good reasons to add full replay capabilities to baseball. We all know how terrible umpiring can be, especially over the last few years. From Jim Joyce’s blown perfect game call at first base in 2010 to Sam Holbrook’s infamous infield fly call in the 2012 Wild Card Game, there is certainly room for improvement. But replay is not the answer.
Turner Field has a fairly unique history among modern ballparks. It was built using zero taxpayer dollars as Centennial Olympic Stadium in 1996, then given to the City of Atlanta and Fulton County for the Braves to lease. It was renamed Turner Field after Ted Turner, the longtime owner of the Braves who played a huge part in their successes and promotion across the country. Ted has now overstayed his welcome at 755 Hank Aaron Drive. His name needs to go.
On Friday, October 19, 2012, Turner made horrific comments about our American troops on CNN’s Piers Morgan. After Morgan commented that it was shocking that more American servicemen and women have committed suicide this year than have been killed in action, Turner responded in a manner inconsistent with our nation’s values. “Well, no, I think it’s te-,” stopping himself short of saying ‘terrific,’ “I think it’s good, because it’s so clear that we’re programmed and we’re born to love and help each other, not to kill each other, to destroy each other.” One of the fathers of CNN, TBS and the Braves becoming “America’s Team” is pleased with our soldiers committing suicide.
The Atlanta Braves have a long and proud history of supporting our military, as do the vast majority of the American people. Politics aside, regardless of opinion about conflicts or wars, our nation has always stood behind the men and women that have answered the call. They frequently reach out to the military by visiting hospitals, arranging reunions with families, providing tickets and discounts, and even helping save lives through mental health. Emory University and the Braves have partnered to create BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative, an organization dedicated to support our veterans who suffer from PTSD and their families. This has been a major help for many service members who struggle after serving our country. The fact that Ted Turner has trivialized suicide by our heroes as an argument against war is despicable. These men and women are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. They deserve our utmost respect and sympathy as they struggle with mental illness.
I’m calling on Braves Country to support our troops by petitioning the Atlanta Braves and The City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority to change the name of our fine stadium. We owe it to our military to stand beside them and support them. There is no place for trivialization of suicide or any death, injury, or illness. Perhaps take a page from Chicago’s Soldier Field or Philadelphia’s former Veterans Stadium and name it in some way to honor our troops. Or simply take away the dishonorable Turner name and replace it with a classy Braves icon such as Henry Aaron. I can already hear it on a spring afternoon, “It’s a great day for baseball at ‘The Hank.'”
Turner Field’s record attendance of 54,357 was achieved in Game 5 of the 2003 NLDS. That’s the number of signatures I’m going for. Please go here to sign the petition for Ted Turner’s name to be removed from our ballpark. Spread the word. Don’t take no for an answer. It is the least we can do to show support for our brave troops that have suffered from mental illness. Ted Turner may have done a lot of great things for the Atlanta Braves, but there are some things more important than baseball.
There’s been no joy in Atlanta lately
I’ve been a Braves fan for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is the Braves winning the 1995 World Series. That’s a pretty good first memory. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened again since.
I still clearly remember the final out of the 1999 World Series when we were swept by the Yankees. I still remember crying myself to sleep that night.
Because the Braves haven’t won it all since I was five years old, every season since has ended in heartbreak in some form or fashion. We’ve lost in the playoffs, and we haven’t even made the playoffs five times in my life. For most teams, that’s not that unusual. For me, I grew up pretty much expecting success. I didn’t know anything different.
We haven’t won a playoff series since 2001. In 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, and 2012 we lost in the first round. Every year I’ve been hopeful, every year I’ve felt like my heart was ripped out. I know some folks don’t understand why its such a big deal. After all, its just a game, right? Yeah, its a game. But its so much more for me and countless others I know.
“Baseball is not necessarily an obsessive-compulsive disorder, like washing your hands 100 times a day, but it’s beginning to seem that way. We’re reaching the point where you can be a truly dedicated, state-of-the-art fan or you can have a life. Take your pick.” ~Thomas Boswell, Washington Post, 13 April 1990
Now, I’m biased, but I think baseball is in a league of its own. A baseball fan lives and dies with every pitch over a 162 game season. We pour over numbers and spreadsheets (that might just be me) to gain an insight on the game within the game. We even sometimes name our kids after the players we grew up watching (that’ll be a fun conversation with my future wife). We view the months of November-February as just filler until the next ballgame. No other sport can say that.
Tom Glavine has always been a hero of mine. I distinctly remember sitting in front of the TV with a Glavine baseball card in my hands as I watched him pitch. I had his poster on my bedroom wall touting his two Cy Young Awards. He’s the reason I first started putting my index finger on the outside of the glove. I think at one point I even dressed up like him for a school project. Unfortunately I only got to see him pitch in person once – a 7 inning, 4 K performance with a W over Cal Ripken Jr. and the Baltimore Orioles on July 13, 2001.
“I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” -Michael Scott, The Office
Over 42 Million fans have walked through the gates to take in a ballgame over the past 15 seasons – but perhaps none have been as unlucky as the (at least) seventeen men that have occupied one locker in particular in the clubhouse.
The Braves locker room is shaped like a keyhole – it was designed to allow for an open area while still being small enough to have a sense of community and unity. 44 lockers (a nod to Hank Aaron) are evenly spaced along the perimeter. You wouldn’t think there is anything too special about any one in particular just by looking. Sure, players have their preferences for prime spots – such as in a corner, but otherwise everything is identical. All are spacious, oak lockers with plenty of storage space. However, the locker at the bottom of the right side of the arc of the keyhole tends not to be a friendly place. (more…)