Interview w/ #Braves ownership shows depth of cluelessness

“The Braves have been a great asset, great for Liberty, and we are happy owners,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said.

And we are unhappy fans. To us, the Braves are not an asset but a big part of our lives since we were kids. They mean something to us. To Liberty, they are an asset to be monetized.

“I think there are a lot of great things ahead for the Braves, starting with the new stadium, but (also) longer-term potential,” he said, citing baseball’s rising TV and digital revenues. “I think there are a lot of ways the Braves continue to be a very interesting business for us, as well as a great team.”

Winning or losing doesn’t really matter to Maffei, though he dubiously claims he watches “as many games as I can” on TV and has been to Turner Field “many times.” Not surprisingly, he’s unaware (or, more likely, uninterested) that most Braves fans long for committed, local ownership.

“I only read the AJC occasionally, so I don’t (see) as much of that as some people do,” Maffei said. “But I would say: Look, we are people who believe in the team, but we don’t manage it day to day.

“We have experienced, accomplished, dedicated management who runs it on almost every decision.”

Besides, he said, “for all intents and purposes, there is local ownership.”

“There are a couple (decisions) that we usually assent to, but on pretty much everything day to day this team is run out of Atlanta.”

As for the asset, er, team’s every-shrinking payroll, don’t blame Liberty.

“What happens is, we have a budgeting process where the Braves’ management brings us a budget, a payroll budget included. And I don’t think we have once changed the number,” Maffei said. “It’s not like we come and say, ‘Nah, you got to cut that.’ I don’t think that has happened in the nine years that we have been involved.

“Really the management sets the direction on what they think the right place to invest is, the amounts they want to put in what parts of the operation, including payroll, and we have assented every year.”

Clearly, Maffei thinks we’re stupid. But although it’s easy, and therapeutic, to hate on Liberty, the brunt of your ire belongs with The Used Car Salesman, aka The Worst Commissioner Ever, aka Allan “Bud” Selig.

While Bud didn’t open the door to corporate ownership he certainly welcomed it like never before. We saw Fox buy the Dodgers and Disney take over the Angels. And, as is almost always the case (see CBS and the Yankees), corporations make lousy owners.

The Braves have spent the last 15 years under the thumb of two corporations, and here’s what they have to show for it:

  • Worst local TV rights deal in the game
  • Steadily shrinking payrolls
  • Bland, focus-grouped game day atmosphere
  • Ignorance of market
  • A move to the ‘burbs that’s already alienated a significant portion of fan base.

They could’ve easily had a local owner that sucked, or, worse, Jeffrey Loria. But at least we’d know who to hold accountable. At least they would care, even if for the wrong reasons.

Liberty could care less. Apathy breeds irrelevance, and increasingly the fan base is following the ownership group’s lead.

Thanks again, Bud.

 

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4 thoughts on “Interview w/ #Braves ownership shows depth of cluelessness

  1. So the Braves “continue to be … a great team?” Well, I guess by the metric of being 1 game ahead of the 1962 Mets’ pace after 16 games, that’s true. Of course, that means in the years since the expansion Mets in which a full complement of games was played, the National League has had 630 similarly great teams. Never mind that the Braves’ .250 winning percentage matches the Mets’ mark for the full season, or that the only team in the majors to finish below .300 since 1962 was the Detroit Tigers in 2003. This is a great team, because it’ll get a participation trophy.

    And I’m sure that had Braves’ management presented Maffei with a budget proposal that included enough payroll to sign a free agent who was coming off a good season on the field and not coming off an injury, Maffei not only wouldn’t have replaced them on the spot, he’d have given them raises.

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