For as much fun as it was to poke fun at the pomposity exuded by John Schuerholz throughout the 1990s — particularly every time he referred to the Braves as a “great, grand organization” — the dapper general manager generally was on point.
The Braves were great. And they were grand. And they were organized.
I’m not sure what’s happened over the last several months. But great and grand have morphed into insignificant and infamous. This is your disorganization now. The Braves aren’t the standard. They’re a sideshow.
They tell Tom Glavine to rehab. But they don’t tell him that they’ve kind of changed their mind about bringing him back.
They tell the public it’s not about the $1 million roster guarantee. But we’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary — declining revenues, declining payroll, the John Smoltz decision — and understand it is about the guaranteed money.
They claim their reason for Glavine being dropkicked is performance based. But that’s so unbelievably illogical because the man never was given a chance to perform, unless you count his rehab starts in the minors, where, by the way, he had thrown 11 straight shutout innings.
I’m sorry. Was 12 the cutoff?
Braves executive Terry McGuirk, who emerges any time there’s a fire, was asked the obvious question: Why not allow Glavine to pitch even one game and re-evaluate him then? Did the veteran pitcher not deserve that opportunity after months of rehab?
McGuirk’s answer to our David O’Brien: “We’re sort of at the point where every win counts.”
If you looked up disingenuous, you would find Terry McGuirk’s picture.
I’m not disputing that every win counts. But organizations make decisions every day with an eye on tomorrow. Example: The Braves called up Kris Medlen from Gwinnett instead of Tommy Hanson last month because it figured Medlen eventually would be sent back down, and they didn’t want Hanson on a yo-yo. There was never a thought that Medlen was better than Hanson or gave the Braves a better chance to win.
And by the way, how could anybody be certain that Glavine’s arm would fall off in his first start and Hanson will debut with a six-hit shutout . . . and that would be the difference in this year’s pennant race?
I didn’t think anything could top Frank Wren’s mishandling of Smoltz. Then came this latest dumping on a franchise legend.
One reader put it best. “I heard he [Wren] wants to sign Dale Murphy just so he can release him,” wrote Antonio Gramsci.
It has been that kind of year for Wren. This follows a winter of failures, fizzles and soap operas.
Pick your headache. Jake Peavy. A.J. Burnett. Rafael Furcal. Ken Griffey, Jr. A $23 million contract for Kenshin Kawakami (File that one under, “Every game counts.”)
I’ll just say this: Wren had better be right about a lot of things. If the Braves turn back into winners, it justifies a lot (though not everything).
But right now this franchise is in the process of undoing a lot of the goodwill it built up in the 1990s. It has lost cache and class. It makes strange decisions, miscalculates the backlash, and then scrambles to explain itself.
Does this sound like the Braves of 14 straight division titles, five pennants and a World Series?
Schuerholz actually made a public apology Friday about the way Glavine’s release was handled. This came a day after he said: “That was a big organizational moment. It was appropriate and respectful of Tom that we were all there.”
I’m not sure what would be worse: 1) That Schuerholz was just spinning to take some of the heat off Wren; or, 2) That for as long as he, Wren and McGuirk thought about this decision and calculated its delivery, they now admit they just botched it.
Talk about losing a foot off your fastball.
Maybe Tom Glavine pitches again. Maybe not.
Maybe John Smoltz pitches again. Maybe not.
Either way, it doesn’t excuse the way either was handled. It doesn’t excuse a lot of what this organization has become.
It’s hard to say which franchise is now the standard in major league baseball. It’s not hard to determine which isn’t.