A call to arms for Atlanta Braves fans


"McCann's Cans" are die-hard supporters of Brian McCann and the Braves. (Jenni Girtman/AJC)

I had planned on posting about the current Braves team and how their offseason moves were truly effective and will make a huge difference on the team moving into the season, but The Braves’ March writer Jamie Shoemaker beat me to it.  So instead, I’m going to talk about something else that came up during the offseason, and I feel it necessary to broach the topic before the season starts.

Earlier this year, ESPN writer Rob Parker wrote an article saying that the Falcons didn’t deserve to win a playoff game against the New York Giants, not because the team didn’t deserve it, but because Atlanta as a sports city didn’t deserve it. Needless to say, I read that article and it really ruffled my tomahawk feathers. Now, Parker is obviously a New York fan, and if you didn’t already know, they tend to think any New York team is the best without question. In fact, Parker goes on to say the Yankees are “the standard for excellence in baseball,” which is enough for me to dismiss any claim he makes.

But he does make a good point.

Atlanta fans, and specifically Braves fans, have a tendency to be pretty fair weather. I don’t include myself in this group, because I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was 10 years old, but even I remember people talking about how no one was a real fan before 1991. Since then, many Atlanta fans are ready to write off the Braves if they can’t go deep into the postseason.

To be fair, Atlanta is the kind of city where new business brings in new residents from all over the country, which is evident at many home games. I’ve seen Braves fans outnumbered by Cardinals fans, Red Sox fans and Cubs fans. So it’s hard to be critical when there are so many people who didn’t grow up here the way they do in New York, Boston and Chicago.

All that said, Atlanta still went to the postseason 14 years in a row. In a row. Not even the Yankees can make that claim. In fact, no other team in professional sports can make that claim. If Braves fans want their team to be the kind of team that can afford big-name sluggers, they need to go to games. It’s really that simple.

But is that really what we as Braves fans want? Atlanta has, arguably, the best farm team in the major leagues. Our young talent is easily among the best in the game, and many teams have profited from young Braves prospects (let’s just say the Rangers owe us a little bit). Right now, our roster includes Chipper JonesBrian McCannJason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. Those guys have never worn anything but a Braves jersey. That’s something to be proud of. Which is better: to have a group of young, able talent that suffers a late-season hiccup and loses their playoff chances to the dark-horse team that goes on to win the World Series, or to steam roll through the regular season with superstar players and perform poorly in the postseason and lose? I would argue the former. The Braves currently have a youthful team that has the chance to become a dynasty for the next 10 years, instead of expensive stars brought in to make a playoff push.

This article started as a simple discussion about Atlanta and its fans, but I’ve decided to make it a call to arms. This is a challenge to Braves fans, and the challenge is simple: Are you a real Braves fan or just someone who wants some postseason action in your city?

The question: Where do you stand?

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  1. Idareyou – You know, I really have a good feeling about this season and I think all this chatter about “Is this Chipper’s last year?!?!?!” could be easily answered if the Braves win the World Series…

  2. MC – Thanks for reading and I really appreciate the response. I would definitely argue a few points, but I’m going to include some of them in my next article. I will certainly approach more of my articles with more objectivity, but I felt like making a statement with the first one. Besides, I think some Atlanta fans need something of a push – we have a team to be proud of and the support really helps. Thanks again and I hope you keep reading!

  3. As a Braves fan since before most of your readers (and you) were born, honesty compels me to admit that the Braves not only don’t have the best farm system out there, as you state, their minor league system is starting to inch toward the bottom half of all the minor league pipelines in baseball, particularly those in Kansas City and Texas.  The reason?  The natural ebb and flow of baseball prospects has pitching now almost commonplace among many clubs.  Look at the starting staffs waiting in the wings in Kansas City and the young hurlers in systems like New York and Seattle.  It’s amazing.  So what has always seemed to be an Atlanta strength is now anything but exclusive.

    Hitters are, on the other hand, at an absolute premium.  And the Braves simply do not have any hitting prospects in the minor leagues.  Any at all.  Their top positional prospects, including Simmons, Bethancourt, Lipke, et al, are all terrific young athletes and excellent fielders whose hitting abilities in the opinion of many scouts remain suspect. 

    Meanwhile, the Braves are loaded with pretty good pitching prospects, but only two of them really have the markings of top of the rotation greatness.

    What’s more, there is literally no plan B at any position on the big league club.  Injuries and/or slumps will literally kill the Atlanta Braves this year, especially in the case of Freeman, Bourne and McCann.  There’s no one ready or able to step in at any position on the field.  What’s more they need Prado and Heyward to play not just like good players.  They need them to become virtual All Star caliber performers for them to have any chance at an extended run in the post season.

    And on top of all that, if you take away six weeks in the late summer of 2011, Uggla’s contract has the look and feel of a big time mistake and a potentially budget-sucking albatross.

    I remain a Braves fan, and I will root for them.  But I’ve also been around long enough to know that barring some major deals for an infusion of young hitters, the team has a tiny window of opportunity to win.  In fact, they might just need to win this year, because in two years Chipper Jones will be retired, Bourne will be a free agent, and McCann will have that much more mileage on him and will become all but unsignable to a mid-market club like Atlanta — if indeed, as a catcher he’s still able to produce at a high level.

    (And God forbid if Freeman’s knee weakness turns out to be chronic.)

    Keep up the good work, Joseph.  You’re a very good writer and have lots of great insights.  But please, once in a while try to write and think as much as an analyst as you do as a fan. 

  4. Ive been a Braves fan since 1982. I found a Dale Murphy baseball card laying around and the braves were always on TBS. That was the good ol days with Murphy, Bob Horner,Rafael Ramirez,Glenn Hubbard I could go on and on. Then came Smoltzy via trade and Blackness and Maddox well we all know what happened from there. My main point is since the streak of 14 straight playoff appearances the fan base has fallen. I think this is pitiful. Chipper Jones and other lifetime braves don’t deserve that treatment from the fans. I can’t wait for this season to start. Myself id rather see a homegrown Braves team win the world series than a free agent bought team. Chipper deserves another title and I have a good feeling he’s going to have a shot!!!

  5. Fish Fan, you have had it so much worse than us, I hear you. And also true about those New England teams – especially since those fans will be the first to turn on a team when they don’t perform. I could argue the farm system thing all day with you, but maybe another time!
    It does my heart good knowing there are Braves fans in all corners of the country, though. Thanks for reading!

  6. erm016, I’m glad to hear you’ll be here. I remember that Twins series, there are still some serious conspiracy theorists talking about that one. Did you hear about the maintenance guy who came out and said he was in charge of changing the direction of the fans in the stadium in Minnesota to change the flight of the ball?
    Atlanta will get better, I’m sure. Especially this season, I have a good feeling about it.

  7. Ryan, I’m so glad to hear it! It’s nice when you’re in the situation where your team outnumbers the home team while on the road. But it bites when you’re at home…Keep watching, I think this year’s going to be a great one!

  8. Stimbot, to be honest, I had heard that on a sports show, but Wikipedia shows a handful of NHL teams have longer postseason streaks, but hockey’s not my forte. Cheers!

  9. Being a Marlins fan, I know what it’s like to sit through a game with more opposing fans than hometown fans. Sux. I went to a Braves game at Fulton County Stadium back in 1993 in the middle of the summer on a weeknight and the game was sold out. Winning does that. I also remember watching Braves games in the Bob Horner-Dale Murphy days thanks to TBS. They sucked, sure, and the stadium was empty, but it was baseball and it was on TV. That’s what being the first nationally broadcast team can do — build a national fan base. I can understand that wide appeal. What I can’t understand is how the Phillies and Red Sox, who used to be regionally appealing at best when they weren’t winning, now have huge national followings. Bandwagon jumpers. There are Braves fans in all corners of the US who have been Braves fans for years simply because of TBS. Too bad more of them don’t live in Atlanta! As for the comment about the best minor league systems, that’s a bit of a stretch. Top 5 maybe, top 10, yes, but not the best.

  10.  I wish I lived in Atlanta so I could go to more games. I live in Oregon, and I am a die hard Braves fan. Everywhere I go I see Braves fans walking around. It makes me sad to watch games where there are more visiting fans than Braves fans. I did go to the Braves-Mariners games in Seattle last season, and I was pleasantly surprised that there were actually more Braves fans than Mariner fans.

  11. ~J, this is awesome. As my friend I am so proud of you. You truley are gifted in so many areas. And to top it off a great guy.

  12. Jamie, I have to say, I love Braves country. TBS really did this city a service by broadcasting Braves games all over the country and I think as a whole, the Braves have one of the absolute best fan bases in the major leagues. I just can’t stand it when I go to a game and feel outnumbered by fans of the opposing team.

  13. I’m a Braves fan through and through since they lost to the Twins when I was something like 7 or 8. But in general, Atlanta is one of the shittiest cities in America when it comes to their fans.

    More people only care about college sports. Which is fine. 

    I just wish I was closer so I could go to more games. But I’ll be there April 28th

  14. Joseph, I agree with you. I read that same article and it upset me at first to read it (In a nutshell: Atlanta fans are the worst) and it disturbed me. 

    Like you mentioned, for the Braves, they have a very WIDE fan  base. Thanks to Ted Turner and TBS, their are fans all over the country. 

    It’s an unfair statement against the Braves, but I have been told by a few people that live in Atlanta that they agree with the article. Most people in Atlanta just don’t care. I don’t know if that is true though.

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