• Exclusives

    Fan Frustration Builds as Braves’ Winter of Discontent Continues

    Braves Wire – Budman’s Braves Beat

    Angst, Frustration Builds as Braves’ Winter of Discontent Continues


    By Bud L. Ellis


    ATLANTA – Thirty-eight days ago, running on short sleep and fresh off my first airplane flight in several years, I sat in a meeting room in Austin, Texas, locked into planning sessions for a day job I truly love.

    Then my phone started vibrating uncontrollably. After ignoring the first two or three alerts, I became alarmed and diverted my attention briefly to a bevy of text messages and tweets that started the worst offseason in the history of Braves baseball.

    And now here we sit, on a chilly Thursday night in the North Georgia foothills, two weeks away from Thanksgiving and not one bit closer toresolution of our winter of discontent.

    The news, or lack thereof, grew worse earlier in the day, amid rumors Major League Baseball’s ongoing investigation into alleged improprieties committed by the Atlanta front office – leading to the ouster of the general manager – may run into December.

    That information is the latest punch in the gut for a Braves fanbase that has endured more than its fair share of jokes, rips and criticism the past 5 ½ weeks. To be honest, it is starting to show in social media, as the frustration boils over the surface.

    And who can blame them? Consider:

    Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart will continue serving as general manager until a GM is hired

    Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart will continue serving as general manager until a GM is hired

    • The expectation was MLB would dole out punishment shortly after the World Series. Houston held its parade six days ago.
    • The rumors MLB required more interviews, with further reports of testimony that differed from one source to another.
    • The questions around who comprises the coaching staff, while other teams complete their coaching assignments.
    • The gaping hole in the general manager’s chair, days before the General Manager meetings begin.
    • The opening of free agency in what many viewed as a critical offseason in Atlanta’s rebuild.
    • The lingering questions around whether John Hart will remain a part of the front office (I am on record as saying he should have clean out his office yesterday).

    And now, today’s reports. A December resolution very well could send the Braves to the Winter Meetings – one of the biggest events on baseball’s calendars – in Orlando without any indication of punishment, and perhaps the inability to hire a general manager.

    For all the greatness of technology, there is nothing that replicates being in the same room, talking face to face. Hence why I was nearly 1,000 miles from SunTrust Park when news of the scandal broke. The GM meetings and the Winter Meetings bring baseball executives to one place, where late-night chats over cocktails and long sessions in hotel suites stoke the hot stove and fuel the rush to opening day – and for some, glory next October.

    But at this point, the Braves appear to enter the two most important weeks of the offseason with Hart as the top representative of a damaged franchise. There is no indication he even will have a job when spring training starts. There is no way of knowing what penalties MLB will impose on the team.

    And not a single word from the organization, other than an email I received from my season-ticket rep the day all of this became public. I get it. As several on social media have opined today, you do not pay lawyers big money to talk to the press – or your fanbase.

    If one subscribes to the theory that silence is golden, you get a sense of how bad this is going to be. There is little doubt MLB is going to make an example of the Braves, that no team ever will dare to approach the transgressions committed by this organization. This is going to hurt. Bad.

    As many of us can relate, this is like sitting outside the principal’s office, but we have absolutely no idea when that door is going to open and we are going to be summoned from the lobby.

    All we know is the outcome is not going to be pleasant. And the waiting makes it even more infuriating how this happened in the first place.


    Bud L. Ellis is a lifelong Braves fan who worked as a sports writer for daily newspapers throughout Georgia earlier in his writing career, with duties including covering the Atlanta Braves, the World Series and MLB’s All-Star Game. Ellis currently lives in the Atlanta suburbs and contributes his thoughts on Braves baseball and MLB for a variety of outlets. Reach him on Twitter at @bud006