Open thread, 8/11, #Braves vs. Apathy

We’ve written plenty about the Braves’ sagging TV ratings and drop in attendance (about 3,000 a game), but until last night, I had no idea how little enthusiasm exists for this team.

Sunday’s announced attendance of 18, 191 was bad enough — I’d put the actual crowd around 13,000.

 

The atmosphere was downright funereal, like something you might have experienced at Fulco in 1987 or in Tampa today, though Alex Wood’s performance did eventually excite the crowd. And the booing of Bryce Harper was heartening.

Still, if a high-stakes game against your division rival cannot attract 20,000 fans don’t expect much better the rest of the way. Liberty may not care about wins and losses but they’re sure going to notice decreased revenues. And someone will likely be held accountable. Hopefully.

Of course the Braves could still surprise and reach the playoffs. The Dodgers series doesn’t look as daunting as it once did, as the Braves will avoid Kershaw and Greinke. Plus, Hanley Ramirez is on the DL.

On top of that, BK is hitting 8th, with Bonifacio leading off at SS. We’ll see what happens when Andrelton returns, likely tomorrow.

The line-up:

Bonifacio 6, La Stella 4, Freeman 3, JUpton 7, Heyward 9, Gattis 2, Johnson 5, BUpton 8, Teheran 1 

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9 comments

  1. Casual fans don’t get turned on by good pitching. The games Harang, Santana and Wood have been throwing are lost on them.

  2. I try to look at the positives. With no lines, I can use the bathroom and get a fresh beer between innings and never miss a pitch!

  3. Who wants to watch 10-15 Braves strikeouts and poorly coached players unwilling to play sound fundamental baseball?

  4. Major league players shouldn’t need “coaching.” Coaching and managing isn’t the problem. It’s the roster. Wren assembled a bunch of guys who strike out a lot, who have defensive limitations, much of the rotation got hurt before the season, two good lefty relievers got hurt last year and we’ve been generally unlucky with the bullpen. Outside of closers and maybe a setup guy, bullpens are a lot about luck. Who knew O’Flaherty would be worth a damn? Or Venters? Russell’s been bad, but who else is there to use? Fredi can’t make a reliable relief pitcher magically appear. He can’t turn Chris Johnson and BJ Upton into disciplined hitters. He can’t make Gattis suddenly get hot.

    I heard a guy on 680 the Fan the other day, stand-in host Brandon Adams, yapping about how Fredi has to find “creative ways” to get Kimbrel into games. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Bring him in in the sixth inning? When you’re down by one in the 7th? OK. Then if you get the lead, who pitches the 9th?

    Fredi ain’t Bobby or Whitey Herzog or Tony LaRussa. I get that. He should stop hitting BK leadoff. He bunts too much.

    But to heap ALL the blame on him for this lackluster season is flat-out absurd. Stank Wren is the architect. He ignored plenty of warning signs and gave BJ Upton the biggest contract in franchise history. That’s hamstrung the team financially, cost who knows how many games, and will continue to cost on the field and in the bank account for another three years. That’s by far a bigger blunder than anything Fredi’s ever done.

  5. I went to The Ted Monday night for the first time all season, and I can report it was the deadest atmosphere I’ve seen at a Braves game since 1990. Granted it was the first Monday night game since school started throughout the metro area, but we are playing for our season against one of the best teams in the league. But the Braves were listless and the crowd such as it is feeds off that vibe. I understand the business and on the field reasons not to re-sign McCann and Hudson, but for the first time in ages we don’t have any credible team leaders. FW keeps Uggla around and signs BJ for a fortune and we jettison two players that were leaders on the field and in the clubhouse, and related to the fan-base. Our defense is shaky, our hitting inconsistent. It was clear that Fredi thought a laboring Teheran was better than anyone he could call on in the ‘pen, and that was certainly the case. This team is a lot closer to the the mid 1980 Braves than any version since 1990. Even Turner Field was off it’s game, as there were no out of town scores posted or replays shown. I don’t anticipate that part of the experience to improve over the next two lame-duck seasons, either. This is a hard team to love.

  6. I fear that the most productive (or at least, potentially productive) years in the careers of Freeman, Simmons, Heyward and Teheran effectively will be squandered amid a fairly long slide into mediocrity fueled by disastrous choices on player contracts, over-devotion to the Schuerholz “stockpile pitchers” credo, a farm system that isn’t producing enough capable position players, unimaginative-at-best managing, bad luck with pitcher injuries, absentee corporate ownership and the rest of the crap you already know.

  7. Charlesad, I don’t see anyone around here laying all the blame at Fredi’s feet. This isn’t the AJC blog.

    As you say, roster construction and injuries are the key reasons why this team is at .500. That’s pretty clear. In the world of sabermetrics, strikeouts don’t matter for hitters; Wren put together a team that should put that theory to rest. The players don’t compliment one another. Rather, they heighten one another’s deficiencies. This is a team that is less than the sum of its parts.

    It doesn’t help matters that from a hitting standpoint, this team is poorly coached. Hitters aren’t executing the fundamentals of moving runners over. The hitting coaches, whom Wren hired, bear some responsibility. The organization bears some as well. Simmons, for example, appears to have had little minor league instruction. The pitchers, who are mostly home grown, can’t bunt. If MLB players didn’t need coaching there wouldn’t be coaching staffs.

    There’s an ’80’s-like malaise setting in as Rob points out and it’s no wonder. Who wants to watch this? Someone will pay. I can see Fredi going under the bus. It wouldn’t be fair, but if that means I don’t have to watch him pinch bunting in the fifth inning of a tie game with a guy who can’t bunt, I won’t complain.

  8. Amen to your comments Roadrunner. Roster development is Wren’s domain and he bears the primary blame for the Braves woes. I mean, if he couldn’t figure that having seven players in your lineup capable of over 100 strikeouts might be a problem, what can you say? The fact that Fredi is an unimaginative manager with puzzling lineup choices doesn’t help (Fredi is this generation’s version of John McNamara). If Fredi gets canned, I can see another manager doing a better job, but I don’t see that manager necessarily being a lot more successful because of the club’s inherent flaws.

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