New Braves manager is Cox protege … and a Harley rider

What isn’t chrome is black on his big Harley-Davidson Road King. So are his boots, leather jacket and helmet. Black, black and black. And his goatee. (Well, that’s black with gray now infiltrating.)

He cuts quite a figure atop his hog. But unless they happen to notice the “GONZ33” license tag, Braves fans cruising in a car the next lane over probably wouldn’t recognize him from any other 40-something blowing past on a Harley.

Fredi Gonzalez (right) rode with AJC writer David O'Brien to the North Georgia mountains a few days before leaving for spring training.

Fredi Gonzalez (right) rode with AJC writer David O'Brien to the North Georgia mountains a few days before leaving for spring training. (Photo by Sara Hanna/sarahanna.com)

Meet Fredi Gonzalez, the new manager of the Atlanta Braves.

After two decades with venerable Bobby Cox at the helm of the local nine, his protégé (and former third-base coach) has taken the torch from retired No. 6 and seems prepared to run with it. And to go for a few rumbling rides, when there’s time for Gonzalez and his motorcycling pal, first-base coach Terry Pendleton, to sneak away for a few hours.

Gonzalez, 47, went for a ride to the Georgia mountains on Super Bowl Sunday with David O’Brien, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Braves beat writer. Along the way, they stopped for coffee and a one-hour interview at a Starbucks in Canton, Ga.

This is the first of two parts of that interview. The second will run here Monday.

Q: First off, since we’re an hour or so into this ride, let me ask you: how important is riding [motorcycles] to you? What does it do for you?

A. It’s an outlet. Because when you’re riding, you can let other stuff that’s going on in life into your brain. It’s just riding. You can’t let your mind wander, because the next thing you know you’ll be wrapped around a tree or something.

It lets you go by itself; nobody can get ahold of you for that time you’re on the bike. It’s almost made me give up golf. I used to be a big golfer, but now I’d rather ride.

Q. It’s not as frustrating as golf, right? And you can’t talk on the phone while riding.

A: Right. You’re just locked in on the bike. And you’ll ride for 2-1/2 or three hours, and you’re beat. You’re tired. I really enjoy it.

Q. When did you start riding?

A. T.P. [Terry Pendleton] and Chet [Parker, Gonzalez’s friend] got me into it about seven years ago. I was 39 or 40, and I’d never ridden any motorcycle… Chet got me started on a 110 [cc] dirt bike, and he said, ‘All right, go. If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride this thing.’ He had a big field, and that’s where I learned where to ride.

So we did that for two or three days in the morning. Then he took me over to Lassiter High School, gave me his Road King — which is mine now; I bought it from him – and said, ‘Alright, let’s go.’ So I started riding that. Then every off day and every Sunday morning, we’d ride.

Q. And that’s the same bike you have now, the Road King? How many miles on it?

A. Yeah, it’s the same bike I have now. It has 32,000, and it’s an ’02. When I got it, it probably had about 4,000 miles on it, and I bet I had put 1,000 of those miles on it before I bought it from Chet.

Q. And then B.J. [Brian Jordan] gave you the Bourget?

A. B.J. gave me the Bourget when he came back, in what, ’05?

[Jordan gave Gonzalez a $38,000 custom Bourget chopper in exchange for Gonzalez giving up the No. 33 that Jordan had worn in his first stint with the Braves.]

Q. How much do you ride the Bourget?

A. Not as much as the Road King.

Q. It’s not as comfortable on the open road, right?

A. Right. My wife says, “Get rid of one. You’ve got two motorcycles.” And I say, yeah, but they’re two different rides. When you want to just go short distances sometimes, you take the Bourget.

Q. The Bourget is more for stylin’?

A. Yeah. And the Bourget is loud. [Smiles.]

Q. Since you became manager, are you more, I don’t know, careful on the bike? Do you find yourself thinking about those kinds of things?

A. Yeah. I think I’m conscious that, you’ve worked hard all your life, and then all of a sudden something bad could happen and there goes your security for your family. You go out there and kill yourself on one of these bikes, all of a sudden the security that you think you have for your family, because you’re a manager and the salary you make — it’s out the window.

Q. But that pressure release of riding, it’s not something you want to give up, right?

A. Right. If I’m going to go for a long ride, I like to go during the week, because it feels like there’s less traffic out there in the mountains. Whereas if you get a beautiful day on the weekend, everybody’s out there – all the motorcycle guys, the tourists, everyone.

Q. You prefer to get out of town and ride out in the open?

A. Yeah. I’ve been known to leave here in the morning, go have lunch in Tennessee, and then come back. Through the backroads.

Q. I guess that was one good thing about your time away from managing [after being fired by the Marlins in June]?

A. Yeah, I did two rides of over 300 miles in a day. Just get up and go, stop place someplace and have lunch, then come back.

Q. Do you ever find yourself thinking, when you’re out on a ride, here I am born in Havana, Cuba, and 47 years later I’m riding a Harley in the Georgia mountains, it’s 45 degrees, and I’m the manager of the Atlanta Braves?

A. Yeah, and that kind of stuff keeps me grounded. A lot of people don’t get an opportunity to manage. Hell, a lot of people don’t get to coach in the big leagues. A lot of good friends of mine, they’ve never had an opportunity and they’ve had 30 years in the minor leagues coaching.

I got one opportunity with Florida, and now I’ve got another chance. [Gonzalez managed the Marlins for 3-1/2 seasons before he was fired in 2010]. To do it again, with the Braves. You talk about really, really fortunate — some people get one shot at it, then you’re done. There’s only 30 of those jobs.

Q. And you go from managing the Marlins to managing one of the most established franchises.

IMG_4263

O'Brien (left) and Gonzalez head out of town for a ride Feb. 7. (Photo by Sara Hanna/sarahanna.com)

A. It’s unbelievable, the difference. When I was in Florida, I could go in and sneak in some place and sneak out, get dinner some place and nobody recognize you. Here, there’s very few places that I don’t get recognized — and I haven’t even put the [Braves] uniform on yet. It’s a bigger deal managing here than, you’re just the manager of a team. You’re part of the community, part of the fabric of people’s lives. It’s a big deal. I’ve noticed that.

Q. When you’re around the ballpark, around the players and the front office, do you get a sense that you’re managing a team that’s had a lot of success, a front-line team?

A. Yes. First class. They do everything the right way. Every conversation I’ve had with Frank [Wren, Braves general manager] or Bruce [Manno, assistant GM], when we’re talking baseball it’s always, ‘How can we improve the team?’ Which is nice. They’ve done that here for a lot of years, and they’re going to continue to do that.

Q. What do your mom and dad, who are both Cuban and live in Miami, think about you managing the Braves? They must be proud.

A. My dad loves it. They were all excited, and I sat ‘em down, my mom and dad, my brother and sister, and told them, the honeymoon period will be over soon enough [laughs]. Your son will be a bum here soon enough, you know? I think they listen to it to a certain extent.

They were hurt when the whole Florida thing went down. They were with me, because my dad always takes one trip every season to a place he hasn’t seen. They were in Baltimore [when Gonzalez got fired].

Q. Where were you when you got the call?

A. I was in my room, it was like 7 o’clock in the morning.

Q. And they were there?

A. Well, no, they were in their room.

Q. So did you call and go, well, I’m not managing tonight? [Laughter.]

A. No. I went down and talked to Larry [Beinfest, Marlins GM] and David [Sampson, Marlins president] and then I went right up to my dad’s room and told them, because I didn’t want them to get it from some places else, because you know how news travels.

Q. Do you tell them to stay off the blogs now? [Both laugh.] Like, whatever you do, don’t read the blogs?

A. I don’t read that stuff. My wife, Pam, reads that stuff.

Q. Is it hard to avoid reading it? When people are writing or saying stuff about you, isn’t the instinct to want to know what they’re saying, good or bad?

A. I can honestly tell you that I don’t read it. I’ve learned not to. But I do know what’s going on. Because there’s always a coach on the staff that likes to read it. I’ll tell [that coach], let me know if somebody pops off in the paper, if they’re not happy because they’re not happy with their role or whatever. I tell the guys right off the get-go, if you’ve got something to say, tell me, don’t go to the newspaper. Because I don’t read it. I’ll never get the message [laughs]. So come to my office and tell me. But I’ll always have a designated coach to keep an eye on it.

Q. How good are you at putting out those fires that pop up periodically in a clubhouse? I was around Jim Leyland for a couple of years, and he was a master at putting them out. And of course with Bobby [Cox], obviously, there almost never seemed to be any fires.

A. That’s probably the majority of the job, putting out fires. I think some people create their own fires. You see [some coaches or managers] on the news popping off about something, in any sport, and I’ll read and go [shakes his head].

Q. Would you say you’re more toward the Bobby Cox end of that spectrum, as far as not criticizing players in print, that kind of thing?

A. Yeah. For me to come out and rip a guy, it would be absolutely out of character.

Q. Is that from your personality, or something you learned from Bobby, or sort of a combination of those two factors?

A. I think it’s a combination. And you know, from paying attention. My first year [as third-base coach with the Braves] in ’03, [Greg] Maddux starts the home opener and gives up about 12 runs in three innings. I’m not managing or anything, so I’m reading the paper the next morning. I’ll never forget it. I’m at Einstein’s Bagels reading the paper, and Bobby’s quote was, “He didn’t pitch that bad.” And I’m going, God almighty, Bobby’s gone off the deep end. “He didn’t pitch that bad?” He backed up every base for two innings.

Sure enough, four or five days later I think Maddux gets ripped again, goes four or five innings, gives up a seven spot, loses again, and Bobby’s quote was like, “Well, we make a pitch here, maybe catch a ground ball there, he’s out of the inning and you know….” And so his third start, Maddux goes eight innings, one-hit shutout. A Maddux gem. And Bobby goes, “Yeah, he did OK.”

So I asked Greg. I say, tell me, you’ve been with Skipper seven or eight years. And he goes, ‘Fredi, I know when I wake up after my start, whether I threw a one-hitter or I gave up a lot of runs, I know exactly what the quotes are going to be.” And I said, well what do you think about that? And he said, “As a player, I think that’s great.”

And I thought, OK, remember that.

Q. You know what the fans say, when the team’s playing poorly and Bobby [sugarcoats it], they say, ‘Why do you even bother quoting Bobby, he’s blowing smoke up our [rears].’ It really upset some fans. But it sounds like you’re saying you can’t be worried about that perception from outsiders, because the players respond to not throwing them under the bus, and appreciate it?

A. The players read it. I think they appreciate it, but I think sometimes with them, when they play bad you’ve got to say, we played bad. But it’s always ‘we.’ I wouldn’t say, ‘24 guys played good and if this guy would’ve caught that ground ball we would’ve won today.’ It’s always ‘we.’ Because the game’s hard enough to play, I think, without them worrying about the manager and how he’s going to react.

The way I want to be, and I think I do a good job of it, is if you just came from someplace that had no TV, and you came to my office and we talked, you wouldn’t know whether we just won 10 in a row or lost 10 in a row. I think the players appreciate that, instead of being all rah-rah when you’ve won three or four in a row, then you have the office door closed when you’ve lost a few. Or you go 0-for-30 and you’re out of the lineup.

Q. Is it harder for a younger guy like yourself, who’s only just established himself as a manager in the past few years, to treat the team like that and not worry about guys taking advantage of it and walking all over you? Because with Bobby, he was so far along in his career, so revered by players and everyone else, and they usually brought in the right players – “That’s the biggest thing,” Gonzalez interjects – that nobody took advantage of the fact that he didn’t have a lot of rules. If they did, they were usually gone within a year.

A. I think that’s your personality. But don’t confuse empathy with a sign of weakness. I can be supportive, we can be supportive, but don’t think you’re all of a sudden going to do your own stuff [as a player].

Q. Looking back, are you glad you handled the Hanley Ramirez situation the way you did? Because if you hadn’t punished him, that could have been one of those defining situations. [Gonzalez benched Marlins start shortstop Ramirez in the middle of a May 2010 game after he failed to hustle to retrieve a ball that he misplayed, when it caromed off his ankle in shallow left field and rolled deep into the outfield. He also benched Ramirez the following day after he initially refused to apologize to teammates.]

A. Dave, that was the only way to handle it. So when I made that decision – I think we had another four innings to play – I felt good. Because it was one of those times, I don’t know if it was a [defining] point in your career, but if you didn’t do do the right thing there, you would’ve lost 24 other guys on that team, which is the most important thing. And you could have lost something in the way people perceive you in sports.

When you feel like you did the right thing, it doesn’t matter the repercussions. It wouldn’t even have gotten to that extent [there was much discussion about the incident, on ESPN and other national outlets], if he would have said, “I screwed up.”

But for me it was easy, because it was the right thing to do. I didn’t wish the stuff that happened afterward on him, because, oh my goodness, he got hammered. But it turned out great. I just never went into it with that in mind. I did what I did because it was the right thing to do.

Q. How ‘bout in situations that aren’t as blatant as the Hanley matter, but require discipline or a firm hand or whatever. Are you capable of chewing a guy out? There’s got to be a time when you have to bring a guy into the office, right?

A. Yeah, I can do it in two different languages [laughs]. And that [privately] is the best way to do it. Nobody wants to get embarrassed.

Q. Being bilingual, as you look back upon your career, baseball is kind of unique in that being Latin and bilingual can be such an asset. Would you say it’s helped you?

A. Big plus. Because I can talk to people in two different languages. If I want to talk to Alex Gonzalez or Prado, I can talk to him in his language where he feels comfortable, instead of bringing an interpreter in. I was the interpreter at times in the past, in certain situations. And I know that the message that I was getting across, when I was interpreting for someone, it wasn’t the same as what he was saying. The guy could get the gist of it, but it wasn’t the same. So you’d lose some of the effect in the interpretation. So yeah, hell yes, it’s a big plus.

Q. If someone had told you 15 or 20 years ago that someday you’d be managing the Atlanta Braves, and Carlos Tosca, another Cuban, would be your bench coach….

A. It really has been … it’s … God, you feel privileged. To manage a franchise and organization like the Atlanta Braves. And then following Bobby, you know. I always said, I want to be the guy that replaces the guy that replaced Bobby. I want to be the guy after the first guy.

But you know what? It’s been so great these last three or four months, that I don’t see it being a hindrance. Just because of the organization, the dedication to winning games. If you believe the Sabermetric guys, we managers can win, what, four games, and lose three, in 162? [Laughs.] And the rest is the players.

The manager has more impact before the game than he does during the game. It’s not so much the X’s and O’s than the other stuff.

Q: The transition, following a legend, how much has it been eased by the fact you’re following Bobby? I mean, he helps make it about as easy as it could be, I would imagine.

A. “Yes, you know why? Because he’s been there every step of the way.”

Q: He’s not like some coaches or managers that might want their successor to struggle in order to validate their own careers or prove how important they were?

A. Yeah. He’s going to go to the Hall of Fame whether we lose 100 this year or win 100. But he genuinely wants us to succeed. He wants this organization to succeed and keep getting those flags up there on the façade.

Part II of interview with Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez

85 comments Add your comment

Brent

February 13th, 2011
6:36 am

Great read! Keep it coming!

Jeremy

February 13th, 2011
7:10 am

Two leather jacket Harley riders at a star bucks… Way to gain some street cred dob. Oh, and helluva an article… As usual. Fredi seems like he will be great for you to work with.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily Smith, MLBSpies, sandrabullks, Eddie Gallagher, DeadJournalist and others. DeadJournalist said: Great read RT @ajcbraves New Braves manager is Cox protege … and a Harley rider http://bit.ly/dVwgZ1 [...]

John Ellison

February 13th, 2011
7:24 am

“Because when you’re riding, you can let other stuff that’s going on in life into your brain.”

David, you have a typo that changes the meaning of the above sentence by 180 degrees. The sentence should read: “Because when you’re riding, you can’t let other stuff that’s going on in life into your brain.”

Hawaiibravefan

February 13th, 2011
7:32 am

SC_Bill

February 13th, 2011
7:33 am

Great stuff DOB – and thanks for the heads up on Hayes Carll.

Outside Robber

February 13th, 2011
7:51 am

Excellent interview. Fredi seems a well grounded and high quality person.

Sharkfinhat

February 13th, 2011
8:08 am

Great article, DOB. Excited to see the Gonzalez era start. Do you get into his music tastes in the second half?

Brian in Villa Rica

February 13th, 2011
8:09 am

We couldn’t have made a better hire. Perfect fit for this team, this city and to follow Bobby,

Hog Interview : baseballmusings.com

February 13th, 2011
8:16 am

[...] Dave O’Brien went motorcycle riding with Fredi Gonzalez and ended up with a long interview about riding and managing. [...]

lanier

February 13th, 2011
8:24 am

great job DOB and your scooter is sharp

Chopdawg

February 13th, 2011
8:25 am

urban redneck

February 13th, 2011
8:26 am

nice read.

I am FIRED UP for some baseball!!!!! Whoo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Braves Fan since '77

February 13th, 2011
8:51 am

Looking stylin’ there, DOB. What’s your ride?

I think everyone agrees Fredi was the perfect choice, even if he was still employed. He’d have come.

I look forward this week as camp begins to answers to questions like:
How is Chipper’s knee?
How we looking at closer: Kimbrel, Venters, or by committee?
How is Medlen’s rehab going?
How is Freedie Freeman looking?
How is JJ feeling? Can he still be the 4th starter?
Who will win the 5th starter role?
Is it realistic to expect 20 HR from Gonzo this year? Who is his backup with Infante gone?
Who is the real Nate McLouth? The April-June one, or the September one?
Who plays left if Prado has to take over at 3B? (Can’t use Hinske every day — last year proved that)
Who is our right-handed PH off the bench?

Anyway, glad to have you, Fredi.

Dirty Dawg

February 13th, 2011
8:53 am

As a long-time Braves fan I want us/them to succeed for a lot of reasons – mostly to feel good about winning – now we’ve got another reason, Freddie’s too cool to lose. I hope the man has a long tenure with the Braves and the Braves have a winning clubhouse and record.

Feeanch

February 13th, 2011
9:06 am

Awesome, Dave. Looking forward to tomorrow’s conclusion.

DHD

February 13th, 2011
9:13 am

Class all the way. Let’s get this thing going!!

Twitter

February 13th, 2011
9:27 am

Have a look at Medlin’s Twitter account. Guess we have another redneck in town.

Heeeeee aawwww!

1eyedJack

February 13th, 2011
9:58 am

Hey Fredi, I can swing a mean fungoe if you need me.

Madonna's chin hair

February 13th, 2011
10:29 am

Thank goodness Eeyore Cox is gone. Bring on Fredi, the best of Bobby and a brain.

Bamafan

February 13th, 2011
10:55 am

Sounds like Fredi is ready for a long ride as the braves manager. One thing keep TP away from
the hitters in batting pratice!!!!!!!!!!!!

Braves Fan since '77

February 13th, 2011
11:00 am

Bamafan, you speak the truth. Just let him hold everyone’s gear at 1B.

Joe Tess Fish House

February 13th, 2011
11:05 am

I am woried about this. Gonzalez is a loosing maneger with a loosing record. What were the Braves thinging?

bruce

February 13th, 2011
11:53 am

great interview… thanks for typing it up again!

Billy Jack's Barbeuce & Shrimp Co

February 13th, 2011
12:04 pm

Joe, I respectfully beg to differ. Comparing the Brave’s organization to the Fish org. is not a fair comparision.

mike lum

February 13th, 2011
12:05 pm

Joe Tess Fish House, the greatest manager in the world could manage the Marlins or Royals, and never have a winning record. It would be impossible for every team to hire only managers with winning records. Fredi could’ve stayed as the Braves third base coach and then taken over for Bobby, but then would you say he didn’t have enough experience?

Spider29

February 13th, 2011
12:24 pm

Thanks, DOB, for a great article/interview. And thank Fredi for agreeing to do it. I will miss Bobby but think the team is in great hands with Fredi as manager.

Kat

February 13th, 2011
12:30 pm

David, great Q&A with Fredi..looking forward to the second part.

Johnny InSane

February 13th, 2011
12:57 pm

Did Fredi not get along with Hubbard? Still never heard exactly why he wasn’t retained?

David O'Brien

February 13th, 2011
1:41 pm

Thanks, Kat. Part II of the interview will be posted before 6 a.m. tomorrow (Monday).

Joe Carr

February 13th, 2011
1:45 pm

I always look forward to your blogs. You do an excellent job keeping us fans informed. THANKS!

David O'Brien

February 13th, 2011
2:05 pm

SC_Bill, you got Hayes Carll’s Trouble In Mind CD, right? If you haven’t picked up Little Rock from a few years earlier, you definitely should. It’s just about as good.

David O'Brien

February 13th, 2011
2:05 pm

Braves fan since ‘77: It’s a Harley Street Bob.

NickB

February 13th, 2011
2:45 pm

Hey DOB, there has been much discussion regarding the Bench. Now assuming that the team will carry 12 pitchers that leaves 5 bench spots.

Hinske
Ross
Mather
SS/middle infield backup
CF backup

Now If Mather is a lock to make the team (and I have no idea if he is) will he be considered the CF backup? The reason I ask is that if not, there is no spot for Brooks Conrad on this bench. He can’t play SS and he can’t play CF. If they plan on using Diory or Ed Lucas for SS/2B backup and one of Schafer/Matt Young for CF, Brooks is out of luck. Unless ,as I said, Mather either isn’t a lock to make the team or is the CF backup…..

I know everyone got mad at Conrad for his defensive foibles last post-season, but the guy had a .811 OPS off the bench and as a switch hitter! This has a ton of pinch hit value….. I just don’t know if with the teams present needs if he will be on our roster

justin1

February 13th, 2011
2:47 pm

Opening Day lineup:
1.Prado
2.Chipper
3.Mac
4.Uggla
5.Heyward
6.Gonzo
7.Freeman
8.Nate

justin1

February 13th, 2011
2:49 pm

July lineup:
1.Prado (3B)
2.Mather
3.Heyward
4.Uggla
5.Mac
6.Gonz
7.Freeman
8.Nate

justin1

February 13th, 2011
2:50 pm

October lineup:
1.Schafer
2.Prado
3.Mac
4.Uggla
5.Heyward
6.Gonz
7.Freeman
8.Mather

NickB

February 13th, 2011
3:07 pm

Ah yes another Chipper hater….. how tiresome……. He’s going to be fine ya know. He’s prolly gonna hit .300 with 15 HR’s and a .860 OPS too….. Fo those who thought he stank last year he had a 3.2 WAR in only 95 games as well….. that would’ve made him a 5 WAR player for the year. Hardly a chump.

David O'Brien

February 13th, 2011
3:30 pm

Now If Mather is a lock to make the team (and I have no idea if he is) will he be considered the CF backup? The reason I ask is that if not, there is no spot for Brooks Conrad on this bench. He can’t play SS and he can’t play CF. If they plan on using Diory or Ed Lucas for SS/2B backup and one of Schafer/Matt Young for CF, Brooks is out of luck. Unless ,as I said, Mather either isn’t a lock to make the team or is the CF backup….. . — NickB

Mather is not the backup CF. He’s a corner guy — can play all four corner spots in the outfield and infield — and is specifically penciled in for backup 1B, provided he’s healthy. He’d get some starts there when the Braves want to rest Freeman and/or are facing a particularly tough lefty, etc. But Mather would also get playing time at some or all of the other corner spots.

No, Mather’s not a lock to make team, but he’s out of options, which often is a deciding factor. And they didn’t pick him up in order to lose him on waivers. Again, his health has been biggest question in past, but supposedly he’s ready to roll, no problems late last season.

Conrad could find himself competing with Diory and Lucas for a spot. Wren has said all along, Conrad would be in camp competing for a spot, just like he did last year.

WV Braves Fan

February 13th, 2011
3:39 pm

First class interview, David. Thanks for giving us some insight into Fredi Gonzalez’s thoughts.
How soon do you head down to Florida?

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

jason

February 13th, 2011
5:01 pm

spring training!!! cant wait till they’re in exhibition games!

Largo

February 13th, 2011
5:57 pm

Good interview, thanks.

JEB

February 13th, 2011
6:58 pm

DOB, it was a cold 40’s temp last Sunday, where were the chaps??
No windshield, no face mask, at 60 mph in that cold – I’m sure the only true joy of the trip was the interview! Good job brave soldier!!!

Mitchell

February 13th, 2011
7:04 pm

The transition, following a legend, how much has it been eased by the fact you’re following Bobby?

Following a legend. That’s hilarious.

If the Braves win just one playoff series this year, Fredi will have matched what “the legend” was able to accomplish in ten years.

And against last year, with yet another playoff fiasco, I think the bar is pretty low at this point.

Maybe if we’re lucky we can at least win two games in the first round like the good old days of ‘02, ‘03 and ‘04.

Wouldn’t that be something!

Lohan's Fun Bags

February 13th, 2011
7:38 pm

Great Interview DOB. Can’t wait for Spring Training.

Enemas for Christmas

February 13th, 2011
8:02 pm

O’Brian, just how dumb are you and Fredi? You ride motorcycles while wearing $49 helmets. When you crash, become disabled and compile huge medical bills, who will pay for that?

Do yourself and us a favor and buy a real helmet, Full faced with the Snell foundation rating. I’ll be dammed if my insurance rates increase because of your stupidity.

JC from DR!

February 13th, 2011
8:10 pm

Great article!

John K.

February 13th, 2011
8:10 pm

“you’ll always be safe at home” in this park …nice job DOB .

jason

February 13th, 2011
8:59 pm

DOB, thanks tell us how spring training goes and share your opinions on how you view the team.

Whopper Dawg

February 13th, 2011
9:24 pm

Nice job. One word that will bring all back to earth.

Phillies.

Their fourth starter can pitch with our first and they hit a helluva a lot better. Where does that get you?

GaCracker

February 13th, 2011
9:51 pm

A Bobby Cox protege?? Oh God, another one who chokes on the big ones!

Danko

February 13th, 2011
10:02 pm

You are the best in the business DOB. I feel fortunate the Bravos are being covered by the best.

I know you’ve been spinning Go-Go Boots by DBT. Cartoon Gold is one of the best songs I’ve heard in quite some time.

Ekim

February 13th, 2011
10:16 pm

Oh, GaCracker, we never get tired of hearing that one… Jerk.

Ekim

February 13th, 2011
10:18 pm

The job was open for candidates, Mitchell. You should have taken it.

RichieRich86

February 13th, 2011
10:21 pm

Man I don’t care what anybody else says but I am sooooo Glad Fredi G. is our Manager!!! I feel like the braves are the Corleone Mafia. Bobby is Don Vitto pasing the torch to Fredi as Michael Corleone!! Bravos are going to be finally aggressive I cant wait!!! Spring Training is here!!!!

Joe Tess Fish House

February 13th, 2011
10:41 pm

NO way is Fredi a protogay of Bobby Cox. Cox was never a loosing manager with a loosing record. Fredi is.

Fredo

February 13th, 2011
10:42 pm

Why was I passed over? I’m the oldest!

Michael

February 13th, 2011
10:46 pm

Bobby hating Trolls, go back under your bridges!

Michael

February 13th, 2011
10:49 pm

I predict we win 96 games, and finish five games ahead of the overrated Phillies!

NickB

February 13th, 2011
11:42 pm

True the Phillies pitching is better than ours(if they all stay healthy). But to assume that their offense is better is to jump the gun I think.

1b- Howard- K’s a ton, has slipped a bit from his monster years: Freeman is a rookie so edge Phils
2b- Utley,- good hitter when healthy, more balanced than Uggla but less power- Push
SS- Rollins- 3 straight seasons under an .800 OPS (and declining to boot to a .694 last season) but still holds an edge over Gonzo,barely. on rep alone…. but last season they were a Push
3b- Polanco is overpaid and his .726 OPS is still worse than Chipper even if he struggles- Braves
C- Ruiz is good, but not better than McCann – Braves
LF- Raul Ibanez is a year older and in decline, Prado is on the rise – Braves
CF- Victorino posted a .756 OPS but is still ikely to out hit Mclouth who is at best a push for Victorino, but we havn’t seen that since he came to ATL- Phils
RF- Brown is an unknown but It’s doubtful he will outhit the Heyward Man Child- Braves

So thats 4 for the Braves 3 for the Phils and one push. I wouldn’t bet the farm that they outhit the Braves this year. The loss of Werth is going to hurt them and they abetter hope their pen holds up or else their big 4 could lose a lot of 3-2 ballgames in the 9th.

NickB

February 13th, 2011
11:47 pm

I may have been a bit generous to Uggla giving him a push with Utley…. But I was also generous to rollins giving him a push with Gonzo. His skills seem to have really taken a dive.

Ken Stallings

February 14th, 2011
12:03 am

That’s a ton of fun, right there, blitzing down the roads on a nice day! I get my fun flying airplanes — a Cessna 310R and Cessna Skyhawk! But, the thrill is very similar I think!

Heck of a way to combine two joys — baseball and riding!

David O'Brien

February 14th, 2011
12:36 am

No windshield, no face mask, at 60 mph in that cold –JEB

You didn’t hear it here, but it might’ve been considerably faster than that on parts of a certain freeway. And yes, face was a little chilly, but the sun was really bright, felt good. You get used to it.

My fingers, though … I never have been able to find gloves that keep the fingertips from getting cold while riding on highway with temps in 40s. (Even though I have real good gloves, some from REI for sub-freezing temps, others from bike manufacturers, etc. Doesn’t seem to matter. And I don’t want to resort to heated gloves. That seems like, well, cheating. I know, that’s dumb to think that, right?)

Anyway, I end up hanging my left hand next to the engine periodically while riding, which warms it up fairly well. But can’t do anything with throttle hand — other than blow on it briefly — until you’re at a stop.

JMAYNE

February 14th, 2011
12:56 am

Hope Schafer comes back to form. He could really turn a pretty good lineup into a great one. With his power, speed, defense, exactly what the braves need at the top of the order. Schafer-Prado-Chipper-McCann-Uggla-Heyward-Gonzo-Freeman could be pretty And for Chipper to prove he can still hit 3rd. IF he cant its time for Heyward to take over. Schafer-Prado-Heyward-Uggla-McCann-Chipper-Gonzo-Freeman is not bad either. Just hope Schafer is back. No one in the ATL dugout should have faith in McClouth. Go get McCutchen.

Josh

February 14th, 2011
1:48 am

I’ll be happy when all of these Bobby haters die off. I just get so angry when I see them trying to drag his good name through the mud. What a bunch of pathetic, attention-starved, morons.

NickB

February 14th, 2011
4:44 am

Just had a crazy idea and figured I’d post it here! :-)

What if Pujols leaves because the Cards are smart, stick to 7 years or less and won’t pay a 39-40 yr old $30mill a year? True he leaves in Free Agency and prolly ends up on the Angels, Cubs or Rangers…. maybe somebody gets crafty and moves players around to make room for him (like the Dodgers… but will they have the $$$?). This leaves the Cards in a rather interesting but very well timed predicament.

IF the Red Sox are unable to sign an extension with A. Gonzalez( or they get the scent that pujols won’t re-sign and allow A-Gon to leave to free up the spot) he and Prince Fielder will join Pujols on the market. Now with 3 of the best 1st basemen in the game all available there is a strong likelyhood that the Cards could end up getting 90% of Pujols performance at 75% of the price (or less). Cuz we know Alberts gonna get around $30 mill a season. Prince and Agon won’t get but around $20mill per year tops and not for 10 years either.

Let’s say yer the Cards and you can get a top 5 1st baseman and still be able to have the $$$ left to extend Wainwright and Rasmus? IMo, thats a really nice position to be in. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them allow Pujols to leave as it’s really a magic situation they have stumbled into in regards to available talent at his position….. This should get interesting

Buckeye

February 14th, 2011
7:51 am

The bike is an accident waiting to happen.

New Braves’ Manager Rides A Harley |

February 14th, 2011
8:11 am

[...] a ride that included a stop for coffee and a conversation about bikes and baseball. You can read it here. The accompanying photo, which shows O’Brien on the left and Gonzalez on the right, was [...]

Robert

February 14th, 2011
11:14 am

“I’ll never forget it. I’m at Einstein’s Bagels reading the paper, and Bobby’s quote was, “He didn’t pitch that bad.” And I’m going, God almighty, Bobby’s gone off the deep end. “He didn’t pitch that bad?” He backed up every base for two innings.”

What an awesome thing to read.

It’s nice to know that Fredi has a clue

davoice

February 14th, 2011
11:49 am

David, this is one of the best articles I have read. Not just facts or subjective approvals or disapprovals, but some real insight. It was similar to reading a chapter in a book. Very informative about the new “skipper” and really interesting reading. Good job.

Tami

February 14th, 2011
11:54 am

Great interview, DOB! I’m impressed that you ride motorcycles too. LOL

hdhd

February 14th, 2011
12:20 pm

With basketball the only sport on TV (is hockey a sport?), the start of spring training is welcome. This weather and this interview has me ready to go. April 8th can’t come soon enough.

[...] the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Braves beat writer. How many miles does it have on it? “It has 32,000, and it’s an ’02. When I got it, it probably had about 4,000 miles on it, a… Gonzalez was asked how important riding is to him? “It’s an outlet. Because when you’re [...]

[...] 1. Baseball writers constantly seek common ground with those they cover as a means to build a productive situation, but Atlanta Journal Constitution beat writer David O’Brien may have found the best shared passion. Both he and new Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez are avid Harley riders and they kicked off the 2011 season by taking a ride together. The result was O’Brien scoring a good two-part interview by the time the unlikely pair hopped off their hogs. Vroom, vroom. AJC [...]

Robert

February 14th, 2011
12:43 pm

“but I think sometimes with them, when they play bad you’ve got to say, we played bad. But it’s always ‘we”

I am literally getting chills reading this stuff

Truth – accountability – and a manager who will include himself as part of the problem

We are finally going to have normalcy in the Braves nation

Mike10

February 14th, 2011
12:48 pm

I think the only reason the Braves played ok last year was because of Bobby Cox. I think without him it can get ugly for the Braves.

GAtor

February 14th, 2011
12:55 pm

Is it just me or is everyone amped for some Braves baseball?!?!

BIG BOY

February 14th, 2011
1:43 pm

lets sign Albert Pujols…OHHHH YEAH BABY!!!

Aleks from Kennesaw

February 14th, 2011
3:07 pm

Thanks for the insights – Excellent interview. Looking forward to a winning season.

[...] the team’s new ballpark, which will open in 2012. Braves- From Disney, new Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez is certainly a Bobby Cox disciple but will certainly make his mark on the team starting with his [...]

[...] 1. Baseball writers constantly seek common ground with those they cover as a means to build a productive situation, but Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat writer David O’Brien may have found the best shared passion. Both he and new Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez are avid Harley riders and they kicked off the 2011 season by taking a ride together. The result was O’Brien scoring a good two-part interview by the time the unlikely pair hopped off their hogs. Vroom, vroom. AJC [...]

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