Posted: 9:19 pm Thursday, August 21st, 2014

On Braves, McGuirk and repairing baseball 

By Jeff Schultz

Three members of the Braves' hierarchy (from left): Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Frank Wren. (AJC photo)

The Braves’ hierarchy (from left): Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Frank Wren. (AJC)

Should Pete Rose be allowed back into baseball, and therefore become eligible for the Hall of Fame? (Yes.)

Does baseball, which is losing a generation of fans and is suffering from long games in the regular season and late starts in its signature event, the World Series, need to make significant changes to improve the product? (Yes.)

Should the 162-game season be preserved? (No.)

Those are some of the issues (and my answers) I’ve addressed in a MyAJC column that you can read here. Commissioner Bud Selig is retiring and Rob Manfred will replace him, so this is a prime opportunity for the game to make changes. Even Braves CEO Terry McGuirk, whom I spent some time with Thursday, believes a certain amount of repair work is in order.

I’ve listed my 10 suggestions for Manfred. Give them a read and let me know what you think.

McGUIRK SPEAKS:  The Braves’ highest ranking executive this side of owner Liberty Media gave me some time Thursday. He addressed many of the issues that I believe are on the minds of most fans about the team, including what the expectation level should be and whether there will be accountability if the Braves don’t make the playoffs.

As you would expect with six weeks still left in the season and the Braves in a playoff race, McGuirk was guarded on potential plans. But I still found him pretty candid on a number of subjects and I think you’ll be interested in reading his comments. The column and a full Q-and-A will be posted sometime tomorrow and appear in Sunday’s Journal-Constitution.

NO GAIN IN THE EAST: The Braves defeated Cincinnati 8-0 Thursday night for their sixth win in seven games. Their problem is the Washington Nationals can’t lose.

Washington extended its winning streak to 10 games with a 1-0 victory over Arizona. The Nationals won in their final at-bat for the fifth time in six games, and their starting pitchers have a collective ERA of 1.34 during the 10-game streak.

So the Braves still trail Washington by seven games in the National League East. With each day, it becomes more likely the Braves’ only route to the postseason will be with a wild card berth.

 Some recent ramblings (free links)
– MyAJC: Baseball repair list: Pardon Rose, quicken pace, shorten season
– Blog: Braves find a groove, but so do Nationals
– MyAJC: Mike Tice has a challenge — and he knows it
– Blog: Bobby Petrino, Todd Grantham reportedly feuding already
– Blog: Falcons can survive without Baker, not others
– Blog: FSU No. 1, Georgia No. 12 in poll of insignificance
– MyAJC: Trent Miles trying to change attitudes at Georgia State
– Blog: With Braves six back, is ‘Fat Lady’ singing?
– MyAJC: B.J. Upton, Braves continue their zombie walk
– MyAJC: Cancer didn’t slow Michael Cooper
– Blog: Braves’ attendance reflects lack of confidence
– MyAJC: Falcons showing humility, lack of comfort — and that’s good
– Blog: Braves being hurt by shortage of leaders
– MyAJC: Can ‘Power 5′ conferences handle this power?
– Blog: Who’s most to blame for Braves’ fall? (vote in poll)
– Blog: Roddy White lost Twitter ‘bet’ and paid off in a big way
– MyAJC: Paul George’s injury shows risk of NBA players in tournaments
– MyAJC: Paul Johnson needs to impress his new boss at Georgia Tech
– Blog: Dan Uggla rejects demotion and is out of a job again
– MyAJC: Pruitt winning over Georgia in ways Grantham didn’t
– MyAJC: We’ll find out how right or wrong Frank Wren is
– Blog: It’s trade deadline day…and it’s quiet here
– MyAJC: Braves hamstrung by finances at trade deadline
70 comments
BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

McQuirk in that Sunday article sounded like the first to be hung out to dry if things go south anymore is Frank Wren................they need to look at the guys who scouted Uggla,Lowe,Kawakami ,Mclouth and BJ Upton too!Especially the guy who suggested signing BJ Upton............if he is not gone he should be fired immediately!

BobStrickland
BobStrickland

I agree with almost all of Jeff's suggestions.  I do not like the DH in either league, because it violates the first rule of the rule book "1.01 Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each..."  


Some of these suggestions could be phased in, such as 5 warmup pitches instead of 8. Time between pitches could start at 15 seconds when no runners are on base, 20 seconds with runners on base.  Only 2 visits to the mound by the catcher per inning, otherwise a ball is called.  That will teach them to get their signs down before the game.  Start the season April 1, and start it in the southern states to take advantage of the better weather.


Contract issues need to be addressed, but I don't see the players' union agreeing to that. 



sea8491
sea8491

Here is the harsh reality, the Braves do not have the Where With All to compete financially in this day and age and if the current team did have the money, they do not have the management talent necessary.  Just Look at their record.


John Schuerholz is the most over rated executive in all of baseball.  Mr. Schuerholz has done a remarkable job of promoting himself.  Accomplishments?


If I owned the Atlanta Braves, I would replace them all and of course Fredi Gonzalez.  Any manager who continues to play a .205 hitter that leads both leagues in strikeouts should not be managing anywhere in America.  Fredi is out to lunch.


Braves fans, do not spend your money on such mediocrity.  Let John Malones seats remain empty.


For the first time in my life (been a Brave since 1957) I can not watch the Atlanta Braves anymore.



Biff_Pocoroba
Biff_Pocoroba

I think Braves baseball would be better off without these three. 

Kane337
Kane337

I agree with all of your answers. Especially this one.... Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. 


He bet on baseball? So what. He's served his time. 

AlaskaBravesFan
AlaskaBravesFan

Jeff:  You're wrong on Rose, but right on the other two issues.


ABF

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

McGuirk answers a lot of questions without actually answering the question, so what he says doesn't hold much merit to fans who actually know who he is.  He got to where he's at today by riding John Schuerholz's and Stan Kasten's (when he was here) coattails and reaping the rewards of their work.

Regarding Pete Rose and the season.  I say let Rose in the HOF.  Yeah, he's probably a huge @$$hole but that guy could play and there's no real reason he shouldn't be there.  And the season should probably be shortened as well.  No matter how well the Braves are doing, most fans in around the south don't give a rip anymore once the calendar turns to September and the start of football season.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Being that the current surge has been against 3 teams that have a combined record of 6-24 in their last 10 games, McGuirk SHOULD be candid. This team is going nowhere. TM should be arranging an Al Capone dinner party for Frankie and Fredo, complete with a baseball speech about "enthooosisums"

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

Like him or not Pete Rose is in the hall of fame just not a member.  If you go to Cooperstown there are multiple large displays thoughout that detail the careers of basballs greatest players some like Hank Aaron have individual rooms but many like Pete Rose have large sections that tells the story of their career and since he is the all time hits leader his is pretty large.  


The HOF is not run by Major League Baseball.  Yes they work together but they are 2 totally different originations so the hall of fame can make Pete Rose eligible without the consent of MLB, all they have to do is change their by-laws.


From the BBWAA election rules:

E.  Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.


Remove this and Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose are eligible but make them go before the veterans committee for consideration.

Telllikeitis
Telllikeitis

Mr. McGuirk probably has a better pulse on baseball than most fans even the so called informed fans, but his opinion on the subject of Pete Rose, needs to have a caveat before that happens.  I have been of the opinion that Pete should not be in the HOF that he broke the most sacred rule in the game, but current history has changed my mind to a degree.  The steroid gang has changed the mentality of who should or should not get in the HOF. Even though I feel that the steroid gang should never get in the HOF, we all know that at some time there will be a steroid gang member elected.  The caveat I mentioned earlier should be that when Pete goes in he goes in with Joe Jackson and before the first steroid guy enters the hall.

Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

Mr. McGuirk is a very nice fellow, preppy guy from Middlebury, who stepped in it as Ted Turner's go-fer. What he actually does for a living is a mystery. Is he responsible for the Braves awful TV deal? Was he the brains behind the move to Cobb? Does he call Frank Wren in and bark at him for all those signing busts (and to thank him for getting Justin Upton)? Probably not any of those things.


He just shows up for big games, press conferences, photo-ops. Everything but parades. We haven't had one of those under his leadership.

highfive
highfive

Eliminate the DH. It's not baseball.

Eliminate guaranteed contracts. Adopt the NFL model. If the union doesn't like it, then lock them  out until they do.

No to Pet Rose in the Hall. If Joe Jackson can't  be cleared and included, then no way does an admitted gambler on baseball get in.

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

The high strike at the letters would speed up play 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

First, on Pete Rose: NO WAY!!!!! He agreed to the deal, presumably to keep even more damaging evidence from going public. They need to clean up the game, not sink back into darker clouds of corruption.


DH: NO WAY! Eliminate it, or leave it as-is. I would never move to an AL city of my own accord.


There needs to be more focus on the FAN. Baseball is designed to be played outdoors in the daytime, but night games during the week are fine as they accommodate workers. Couple of weeks ago they started a rain-delayed game after 11 pm, I believe - about as disrespectful of the paying customers as it can possibly get. The playoffs and World Series are almost unwatchable even for life-long die-hard fans due to the TV scheduling.


The best change they could make is capping long-term contracts, but that is highly unlikely. Otherwise, don't tinker with the game on the field.

all_i_am_saying_is
all_i_am_saying_is

To speed up the game, then put up a pitch clock (like a shot clock) and make it visible to the batter, pitcher, and home plate ump giving, say, 10-15 seconds for the next pitch to be delivered or the batter gets a strike incurred or the pitcher gets a ball incurred.


Regular season should be cut back to 154 games given the additional playoff rounds added.


All World Series games should have their first pitch delivered no later than 7:10pm so most kids can watch some of the game prior to their bedtime (assuming those still exist).


MLB should establish baseball academies in the U.S. like they have in Dominican Republic.  Create three (Southern California, Texas, and South Georgia).  Make it possible for kids to attend starting at 8th grade.  Earn their high school diploma and spend the rest of their time playing and learning baseball.  Target U.S. born kids from households earning less than 50K annually. 


Peter Rose bet on baseball, lied about it for years, and bringing him back into the fold is not going to increase interest.

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Jeff,

Major League Baseball isn't doing itself any favors by treating its paying customers like violent criminals or terrorists and having Junior TSA screeners humiliate them by forcing them to empty their valuables from their pockets into filthy cereal bowls ands do the "perp walk" through metal detectors at the ballpark gates.

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

To make it interestng for this generation ?

Aluminum Bats

Colored Balls

PED's maditory

Remove protective helmets

Remove netting and screens

Random landmines

then...

The game would resemble the video games they were nursed on.

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Jeff,

Billy Ripken called.

He wants the lame ideas you stole from him word-for-word returned.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Shorten the season, that will solve many of the problems with the lack of urgency to win every game.  So often we see one or two of the best 8 position players on the bench, with the Braves that is most every night.  Guaranteed contracts are killing baseball.  I know that will be hard to get away from with the Union resistance, but it is what makes the NFL more exciting, you go to an NFL game, no one plays because they are owed lots of money.  They let their folks go when they are done, so the product on the field is the best guy they can fill the position with this week.  You can feel the intensity to win, you don't in baseball, there is always tomorrow.  Mr. X is going to get it going tomorrow, for sure.


DrPhill
DrPhill

See "How Baseball Has Become Unruly" by Dr. Hunter Thompson for some good suggestions on how to speed up the game. My favorite is, replace the pitcher with a pitching machine, controlled by the catcher, that pops up from the mound. This would cut one hour off of the game time and eliminate the time consuming, Kimbrel-like drama associated with a pitching change. Does McGuirk read this blog or even watch Braves' games? In case he does, Terry you really must do something about Wren. Do you know he blew 75 million on the worst player in MLB, and many fans are angry and hurt about this. Just look at the gate receipts if you don't believe me.

HoosierAaron
HoosierAaron

Great article and ideas.


*Rose is a big time punk...but he needs to be in the HoF.

*Starting WS games after 8:30p ending after midnight during school nights and we can't figure out why young people aren't interested. Dodger fan or not...seeing Gibson's home run...you never forget it...unless you're in bed like 95% of the kids at the end of the WS games.

*The batter needs to stay in the box...readjusting batting gloves after every pitch...even when they didn't swing....stay in the box.

*Start the season in warm weather cities or indoor cities. Scheduling opening day in Minnesota, Denver is just dumb.

*I'd like to see double headers come back - to a certain degree. That was always fun as a kid getting to see two games on one trip.

*More interleague games...love them. Facing King Felix...who doesn't wanna see that more. (Except the hitters, of course).

*I'd like to see less games within the division..playing the Mets, Fish...19 times..too many.

*I don't like playing 6 games vs the same team (in the division) in 9 days. If you have a guy on the DL for 15 days...he can miss 6 games.If you play each team in your division 12 times...you can play them 3 times per month (one series) - rotating home games each month.Fill in the schedule with American League teams.


midtown-Mark
midtown-Mark

With regard to Pete Rose, whatever his faults as a human-being (and they probably pale in comparison to the faults of Ty Cobb as a human-being), Pete Rose played the game of baseball with more integrity than just about any other player of his or any era.  He hustled and gave his 100% all on every single play he was ever involved in.  What other player can that be said of?

As for fixing the game of baseball -- I think the game has been hurt by interleague play, the wild card and I also think the game has been hurt by free agency and arbitration.  Interleague play has created greatly unbalanced schedules which grant a competitive advantage to the teams which through luck of the draw, end up playing the weaker teams from the other league.  As well, interleague play greatly diminishes the point of even having separate leagues.  It used to be that not only were people fans of a particular team, such fans were also loyal to the league their team was part of.  That's hardly the case anymore with few fans particularly caring anymore about their respective league.

I particularly despise the wild-card.  While it's increased the number of teams with a shot at post season, it's done so by effectively relegating any seasonal races to teams which are slightly better than mediocre.  Great teams are no longer a part of any meaningful races as the wild-card ensures that a great team will always make post season. The kind of pennant race the Yankees and Red Sox had in 1978 would not be possible under the wild card.  The same for the Braves and Giants back in 1993 when the Braves won 104 games and the Giants won 103 games.  Instead, the wild card has led to a situation where great teams basically are ensured of post season, with the remaining slots being fought over by mediocre teams.

I think free agency and arbitration have ultimately ended up hurting baseball because it ensures that most smaller market teams will ultimately lose their best players, as well as a situation where it's rarer and rarer for any player to remain with one team for their entire careers, or over 7 years for that matter.  It used to be that fans of a team that never won were still emotionally connected to their team because they felt emotionally connected to the players on such team, players who were there year after year.  These days, there is no emotional connection for fans of the weaker teams as the players don't stay long enough for such connection to develop.  Thus, without such emotional connection, what's the point of coming back year after year to root for a perennial weak team?  Once the emotional bond is lost, then what we're left with is an aggregate fan base for all of major league baseball which are little more than fair-weather fans as there is no reason to care unless your team wins.  That's kind of the whole point of the wild-card as it manipulates fans of mediocre teams to retain interest as there is no longer the emotional connection to ensure such interest is maintained, outside of the wild-card offering such fans hope that their team can still win.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Or....shorten the game to 7 innings.  That would make games more exciting.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Lots of great suggestions....Especially the ones involving quickening the pace and shortening the season.  Its asinine they play 162 games.  Even the players get sick of playing so many games.

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

U want my opineon? Fire the loosing managar. They nevery shuld of had of hire him in the fist palce. I was aginst it then and still am now. He had a loosing record so what do U thing was gonna hapen? The Barves can still save the seeson if they go a head and fire him now!

WillieCoyote
WillieCoyote

I say let the league with the better inter-league record have home field advantage.  Then you don't have to worry about schedule inequalities between the two WS participants.

abraves31
abraves31

Pete Rose should NEVER be in the hall of fame.  He accepted a lifetime ban from baseball in exchange for baseball halting their investigation into his gambling activities.  Lifetime means lifetime...no exceptions.  It doesn't really matter that he never bet against his team (as some have posted).  Think about this...if he bets on the Reds to win 3 straight nights, and then skips a night, what is that telling the bookies, he thinks the Reds will probably lose.  Since I was a bat boy many years ago, I have had the opportunity to be in several baseball clubhouses.  There are always signs warning against gambling, and advising of the consequences (lifetime ban).  Rose thought he was above the rules and choose to ignore the warnings.  He needs to pay the price.  Baseball d*mn sure better not let Pete Rose in and keep "Shoeless Joe" Jackson out.  Jackson was found NOT GUILTY in a court of law and still received a lifetime ban.  Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Sosa should also never even sniff the hall of fame.  They are a disgrace to the game.


As for the game itself, they need to speed things up.  As has been suggested already, penalize the batter or pitcher for excessive delays by calling strikes or balls when they take 30 seconds to go through all of their rituals.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

Jeff,  I agree with your points on pace of play.   Craig Kimbrel has got to be one of the worst offender of the 12 second rule with his constant walking around the mound rubbing the baseball after every single pitch and then finally he will get into his wind up position and look a the catcher.  The one problem I see with the elimination of warm up pitches is what will all the players do during the TV timeout?   Like it or not but like all sports baseball sold it's soul to the TV devil many years ago and there is no way the owners are giving up that money.    


My only disagreement is that the Commisoners office needs to stay as far away from the MLB Hall of Fame as possible,    Actually they should have nothing to do with it.   If the voters want PED users in then they should vote them in.  Now if the HOF wants to change the voting process by getting rid of half the MLB writers that vote and allowing every living member a vote, that would work for me.  Let the people that played the game have a bigger voice not a bunch of writers.  That should be the way Pete Rose is handled,  let the members decide if they want him and others like Shoeless Joe Jackson in as a member of their HOF.  

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

Not a premium member, so I have no idea what Schultz's suggestions are.


But basically I say leave baseball alone. 


There's nothing wrong with the game now that wasn't a problem at its inception.


It's the way it's promoted.  There's a paucity of American (as in United States) stars, and as has been mentioned for at least 20 years, all the World Series games are played at night - so when do little kids get the opportunity to witness the sport's signature event?


As far as tweaking the speed of the game, let the home plate ump drive that.  He observes the catalysts for 99% the "action" baseball provides within 60 feet inches of each other


If the batter preens too long, adjusting his jock, gloves, helmet, wrist bands, etc - call a strike.


If the pitcher shakes off too many signs, or fondles the rosin bag or the brim of his hat, or looks over to first too often (in the judgement of the ump) call a ball.


But it's baseball.  It ain't supposed to be fast-paced.  And it's hot out there.  

BluebirdWings
BluebirdWings

I quit watching the Braves COMPLETELY when Fredi Gonzalez came into town with Daniel Cooley Uggla stuck to his side and moved All Star second baseman Martin Prado to center field.  Then Prado was traded.  Disgust!!!!!  All who were involved in this episode should be out of the braves organization.

Yes for Rose.


Blow it all up!

BKB
BKB

Jeff,

Here's my more radical suggestion to improve baseball:

Each team has twenty-seven outs per game, and each team must use at least two outs per inning, but the manager can decide/choose to use up to five outs in any given inning (provided he doesn't go over twenty-seven outs per game.

I believe this would provide for more important at-bats.  If the first two batters make outs, okay, the manager sends his players out into the field.  But what if the bases are loaded?  Does the manager use his fourth and fifth out?  How about if it's the number seven and eight hitter?

It'd be a more exciting game, which baseball needs.

Thanks.

Dawggie
Dawggie

I once read a David Stern interview by Bill Simmons where Simmons was pressing Stern to reduce the number of regular season NBA games to 50.

Stern told him that the league-average profit for the home team was a little over $1 million.  He said that no owner that he knew could financially give up $32 million, particularly with no drastic reduction in players salaries.  And he couldn't name a single player who would like to make less money.

Therefore, you have to figure that if that $1 million average is in the neighborhood of what MLB teams take in, rest assured, there will be NO reduction in the number of MLB games.

It is a business, after all, JS.

OH-IO
OH-IO

Pete to the Hall! 

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

It's often referred to in these parts  as the "faceless ownership of Liberty Media".


McGuirk, I have always said is the face as we know it and should be queried as such.

Intruder
Intruder

In non playoff meaningless games: Baseball or watching paint dry. Baseball by a nose.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@midtown-Mark RIGHT ON about Charlie Hustle, he deserves a gold seat in the hall of fame...outplayed alot of guys who are in there.  Used to love him running to first base on walks and catchers payed the price for blocking the plate.  PETE ROSE FOR THE HALL OF FAME

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@abraves31 you are a freaking idiot dude, Pete Rose outplayed half of the guys in the hall and did his gambling as a coach NOT a player.  Stupid to ban him for life and all indications are that sentiments are changing and it will be lifted soon. Charlie Hustle is a top ten player of all time and the HITS KING and fully deserves to be there.  Its not the good person hall of fame its the BASEBALL hall of fame FOOLS... and for the record Shoeless Joe should be in there too.

harworkinman
harworkinman

@abraves31 The American Justice System even allows for many who are sentenced to life in prison to gain an early release. It's part of the process of rehabilitation. Rose has paid his dues and, in my mind, his crimes are far less than others who have so stained the game (McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, Rodriguez, etc.).


Rose deserves the HOF because he was the epitome of how the game should be played. Yes, what he did was wrong, but he has faced the ridicule and punishment, and now it's time to recognize the man for what he did for the game as a player.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

@abraves31


`

Should Innocent "Shoeless Joe" Jackson become eligible for the Hall of Fame? (YES)

`

Should Guilty Pete Rose become eligible for the Hall of Fame? (NO)

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

@BKB Interesting suggestion, but what would you call it?  You certainly couldn't call it baseball.

JoelPinnell
JoelPinnell

@JCatch22  You must be new here....yes he does. He also  posts under several other aliases......however none of the seem to have been able to grasp the concept of spelling, punctuation, or....ah screw it......just easier to call him stupid.

abraves31
abraves31

@harworkinman @abraves31 The vast majority of living hall of famers disagree with you.  I think the living hall members should be the ones voting in the first place.

BKB
BKB

@ShovelPlease @BKB 

How about "More Exciting Baseball" or "Baseball for the 21st Century"?

Imagine if the visiting team has used up their 27 outs early, and the home team knows they have seven outs in the last inning to make up an eight-run deficit.