Category: Baseball

Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame Reaches Milestone

Class of 2014

What began as the dream of one man reaches a major milestone Friday night, as the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Ted Turner, John Smoltz, George Rogers, Antonio McKay, Cindy Brogdon and Corky Kell will all be inducted into the hall during its induction ceremony.

Larry Winter, founder and president of the hall, realized one day that Atlanta was the only Georgia city without its own sports hall of fame. With the support of numerous volunteers, Winter and the Hall have inducted the metro area’s most famous sports figures, all of whom have lent their presence and support to the organization. You’ll probably recognize some of these names …

Bobby Cox, Evander Holyfield, Claude Humphrey, Edwin Moses, Gayle Barron, Furman Bisher, Hank Aaron, Tom Glavine, Steve Bartkowski, Bill Hartman, Dr. Homer Rice … A list of all of the hall’s members the list can be found here.

Congratulations to the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame for 10 years of excellence.

Maddux, Glavine elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class will have a lot of Atlanta flare. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, two Braves greats, will join manager Bobby Cox in Cooperstown. Frank Thomas, a Georgia-native, will also be enshrined:

Two great pitchers from the Atlanta Braves and one great slugger who spent many of his best years with the Chicago White Sox are the newest additions to baseball’s hall of fame.

The new inductees were announced at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday and they are:

— Greg Maddux of the Braves.

— Tom Glavine of the Braves and later the New York Mets.

— Frank Thomas, who along with the White Sox played for Oakland and Toronto. He’s the first player who spent most of his career as a designated hitter to be put in the hall of fame.
Maddux was named on 97.2 percent of the more than 500 writers’ ballots. Glavine was on 91.9 percent. Thomas was on 83.7 percent.

Players must receive 75% of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America in order to make it to Cooperstown.

Some thought that Maddux would be the first unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame. That didn’t happen. He did, however, come very close to eclipsing Tom Seaver’s mark for highest percentage of the vote. The New York Mets’ pitcher took 98.84% of the vote in 1992.

John Smoltz will be on the ballot next year.

What Did Ceasar Mitchell Know, and When Did He Know It?

In the memorandum of understanding recently signed by the Cobb County Commission and the Atlanta Braves to bring the team to Cobb in 2017, the entertainment district surrounding the stadium is to be developed by BRED Co. LLC, a separate entity owned by the Braves. The Registered Agent for BRED Co. is Maxine Hicks, a partner at the DLA Piper law firm’s office in Atlanta, where she is chair of the office’s Real Estate practice.

Hicks joined DLA Piper in 2011 from the Atlanta office of Epstein Becker & Green, bringing along five other lawyers, Including Ceasar Mitchell, who is now Of Counsel in Piper’s real estate practice. Mitchell was the featured attorney in the 25th Anniversary edition of the Atlanta Tribune. In a Patch article noting this achievement, Mitchell is cited as saying that Hicks is one of his mentors.

Mitchell is also president of the Atlanta City Council.

In an Atlanta Daily World story following the Braves’ announcement, Mitchell is quoted as saying,

“I was never briefed by the administration on what was happening,” said Mitchell. “I was aware that there were negotiations going on, [but] I was not aware that the Braves had made a decision to leave. I learned like everyone else, I learned roughly the same time that the mayor did…although I was aware that there were negotiations that were going on for at least a year.”

Is there a potential conflict of interest here? The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct addresses the situation when a lawyer is a current government officer. In a nutshell, Mitchell would be prohibited from participating in the BRED Co. negotiations unless the Atlanta City Council had given consent in writing.

The City of Atlanta Code of Ethics would also appear to prohibit Mitchell from being involved in the BRED Co. deal.

There is no evidence that Mitchell, Hicks or DLA Piper committed an ethics violation in their handling of the stadium deal. It’s quite possible that the law firm constructed a “Chinese Wall” and kept all information about BRED Co. away from the City Council president.

But especially in this day and age, when trust in government is low and charges of crony capitalism are rampant, should DLA Piper have been involved in representing BRED Co., knowing the potential conflict of interest?

Will Fulton County Get Involved in Braves Negotiations?

Commissioner Robb Pitts (D2 At Large) hopes so. He sent out a press release today indicating he will introduce legislation at Wednesday’s Fulton Board of Commissioners meeting urging ongoing negotiation between the Braves, the county, the city of Atlanta, the Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority and the business community.

In the press release, Pitts said,

There are several accounts suggesting that the move to Cobb County may not be a done deal. If that is the case, we need to do all we can to keep the team and the associated revenue in Fulton County. As I’ve said before, this is a business decision. We’re in this together, but because Turner Field is owned by the Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority, the Authority should be the primary contact in this process, along with Fulton County and the City of Atlanta.

Fulton County has a longstanding relationship with the Braves and with Turner Field through the Recreation Authority and other interests. We need a seat at the table and must be included in the process, whatever the outcome.

If Pitts is successful in getting the legislation passed, Fulton will join the Atlanta City Council, which passed a resolution on Monday in support of keeping the Braves in the city by a vote of 11-2.

UPDATED: Atlanta Braves plan move to Cobb County by 2017

Via the Marietta Daily Journal:

The Atlanta Braves are expected to announce today the team plans to relocate to Cobb County with a new stadium being ready for the 2017 season. They will be leaving Turner Field after their 20 year agreement expires at the end of the 2016 season.

The new stadium will be built near the intersection of I-75 and 285. The current site is under contract and set to close in early 2014.

Details aren’t available, but one would surmise that the team will, like the Atlanta Falcons, push for a taxpayer-funded stadium.

Turner Field was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics and was converted for baseball for the 1997 season. The stadium, generally considered one of the best ballparks in MLB, will only be 20 years old when the Braves’ lease expires.

There’s no word on what will become of “The Ted.”

I really hope this report is a joke or otherwise wrong.

[UPDATE] I put in a call to the Braves’ press office to verify this. Left a message.

[UPDATE-9:13am] WSB spoken with Cobb County officials and the AJC has talked with team officials. It’s legit, folks, the Braves are moving to Cobb County.

[UPDATE-9:23am] AJC’s David O’Brien tweets: “#Braves confirm move to Cobb County in 2017. Remarkable how quiet they kept this behind-scenes maneuvering.”

[UPDATE-9:26am] Jim Galloway reports the “deal to move the Atlanta Braves to Cobb County involves $450 million in private financing arranged by the county and another $200 million put up front by the baseball team that first moved to Atlanta in 1965, we’re told.”

“There’s a Wednesday meeting at the state Capitol at which the Braves will discuss the move with Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed,” he added.

[UPDATE-9:30am] The Atlanta Braves just tweeted: “We are excited to announce plans to build a world-class stadium, which will open in 2017 at the NW intersection of I-75/I-285.” In a separate tweet, the team says, “We have secured a large tract of property at this location & will work to build a world-class ballpark for our fans.”

They are directing fans to for updates.

[UPDATE-9:42am] The Braves have posted a message from John Schuerholz, team president, in which he explains the reasoning behind the move.

[UPDATE-9:47am] Via Galloway, here’s a look at the location of the proposed new stadium.

Liberty Media CEO Donates to Conservatives

The President and CEO of Liberty Media, Gregory Maffei, is the largest sports owner/principal donor to politicians and political causes. Liberty Media is, of course, the owner of our beloved Atlanta Braves. This story from The Atlanta-Journal Constitution states, in part, of Maffei:

He’s giving it to political candidates. One report states that the Braves boss is actually the top political donor among sports franchise owners.

According to a story from WNYC, “The most generous single owner was Gregory Maffei of the Atlanta Braves, who dished $157,500 to Mitt Romney, American Crossroads, Restore Our Future, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.”

While the story leaves the impression that Maffei gives only to conservatives, such as Jim DeMint, this is not true. A quick glance at the FEC website individual donations page (01/01/2009 through 08/01/2012) shows that he has also given money to Democrats Ken Salazar and Michael Bennett as well as moderate Republicans.

While there are those who are upset with Maffei for making investments in the political field rather than in center field (RE-SIGN MICHAEL BOURN!), remember that it’s Maffei’s money. Despite the fervent wishes of many on the left, we still have property rights in this country. Besides, what’s really America’s pastime, baseball or politics?

Former Brave Schafer Charged with Felony Possession

Fomer Atlanta Braves centerfielder Jordan Schafer was arrested in Florida and charged with felony possession of marijuana. According to the story in the AJC, Schafer had nearly 26 grams of marijuana and some marijuana peanut butter cups. Less than 20 grams would have resulted in a lesser, midemeanor charge.

From the story from The Sporting News website:

Schafer, acquired in the July 31 deal that sent center fielder Michael Bourn from the Astros to the Atlanta Braves, was arrested outside of The Cheesecake Factory restaurant at 12:38 a.m. He was booked at 1:59 a.m. and released from jail at 5:15 a.m. on $2,000 bond.

The police report states that Schafer had an expired Mississippi license tag on his 2008 Range Rover. Both front windows were down and there was a “strong odor of marijuana was emitting” from the car. Schafer reportedly had a marijuana joint in his left hand, and a search of the car revealed a bag containing 25 grams of marijuana, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

The good news is that the Braves do not have to return Michael Bourn. The bad news is that they wasted far too much time on Schafer. In Schafer’s defense (sort of), isn’t busting someone for marijuana possession outside of a Cheesecake Factory sort of like hunting over a baited field?

Get Your Wookiee On at the Ted

Friday night is StarWars night at the Braves/Mets game.

In celebration of the release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga in Blu-ray, join us at Turner Field on Friday, September 16th for Star Wars™ night as we use the Force for good to Stand Up To Cancer. Star Wars™ themed sights and sounds will take over the ballpark making for a night that no Jedi (or Sith) will want to miss! Special discounted tickets are available, and include a donation to Stand Up To Cancer.

“Hey, just one more, Dad”

“I have remembered for the last few days, over my entire life, so many great moments but one in particular was when we were on vacation up in Vermont where Dad was from. We were at a farm up there. And there were a bunch of cousins and friends, maybe six or seven of us. And dad would just throw us pop-ups out in this open field next to this barn, near the house. You could just do that forever.

“But the other kids would start to lose interest, so six dwindled down to five, four, three and then it was just me and one other guy. We said ‘Dad maybe about 10 steps this time, throw one that I can dive for.’ Then it was just me and him.

“I said, ‘Just one more.’ He knew it wasn’t just the last one. ‘Hey just one more, Dad.’ Asking for just one more throw was just what I’ve been feeling for the past few days. Just one more day. One more hour. One more minute.”

Excerpt of Ernie Johnson Jr.’s eulogy at his father’s funeral. He talked about “blackberry moments.”

After pitching for the Braves in the 1950’s (including three World Series appearances against the NY Yankees), Ernie Sr. moved up to the broadcast booth. He stayed there until he retired after the 1999 season.

Braves GM John Schuerholz called him …”the heart and soul of the Braves for so long, first as a player and then as the voice of the team…”

That voice, mingled with cicadas and the jokes from Milo Hamilton was our lullaby on hot summer nights. Yes, we will miss him.

Rangers Draft Injured Bulldog

It’s easy to be cynical about the world but every now and then a story like this comes along: the Texas Rangers have selected Jonathan Taylor in the 33rd round of the Major League Baseball draft.

Currently, the 5-8, 181-pound Taylor, is an outpatient at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta after suffering a broken neck in a March 6th outfield collision this year with teammate Zach Cone. The accident happened while the Bulldogs were playing Florida State in Athens.

Taylor, a native of Acworth, Ga., is the son of Tandra and John Taylor. Johnathan has appeared in 117 games in his Bulldog career including 91 starts. He owns a .312 career batting average. A Consumer Economics major, he was named to the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll in 2009 and the UGA Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in 2010.

Happy Birthday To A Bearded Ideologue

That’s right, today is December 25th, and that now means it’s Jason Pye’s birthday.

As you wind down your Christmas celebrations, please take a moment and wish our resident Libertarian and Peach Pundit Assistant Editor a very happy birthday.

Though I’ve been trying to start the rumor that he would be turning 45 today, he claims it’s his 30th. Regardless, he’s been celebrating for a week, and I hope being snowed in gives him one more day of Pyepalooza.

Happy Birthday Jason!

Thank you Bobby!

I’d like to take a brief break from politics to thank a man who has made a huge impact on the state of Georgia. The Braves didn’t make it this year, but still fought hard. We had a roster filled with injuries (Jones, Martin Prado, Kris Medlen, Jair Jurrjens, Eric O’Flaherty, Takashi Saito, and Billy Wagner all were lost to injury), but we still managed to get the Wild Card and force the Giants to Game 4.

2,504 Regular Season Wins (4th all time)

67 Postseason Wins (2nd all time)

14 STRAIGHT Divison Titles (1st all time).

THAT’S managing. A sincere thank you to Bobby Cox! #6 will always have a place in my childhood memories.


Bad news, Braves fans

Chipper Jones, who had been swinging the bat well lately, has a torn ACL and is out for the rest of the year.

Chipper Jones has informed some close friends that he will likely miss the remainder of this season with a left knee injury.

After undergoing an MRI exam in Atlanta this morning, Jones told a friend that he “tore” a ligament in his left knee. When asked if it was a complete tear, the Braves third baseman revealed that it was “stretched” and that he would likely need surgery.

Jones injured his knee while completing an acrobatic throw across the diamond during Tuesday night’s win in Houston. After landing with all of his weight on his left leg, he remained on the ground before painfully limping toward the clubhouse.

When Jones returned to Minute Maid Park Wednesday, he was optimistic that he hadn’t torn the left ACL like he had just before the start of the 1994 season.

Jones was considering retirement after a slow start. This obviously brings that subject up again. I think he’d want to end his career on his own terms, not because of an injury.

At least Omar Infante will get more at-bats.