Braves’ playoff race: Do you still chop ’til you drop?

Jeff Francoeur says it's not the same as it used to be in Atlanta.

Heading out to the stadium later to see if the Braves can keep pace in the National League wild card race, since it looks again like there’s no way they’re going to keep pace with the Phladelphia Phillies in the East Division. But I came across this New York Times story in which Jeff Francoeur takes a few shots at his former team and this market, to a degree, and it got me wondering about something.

I’ve thought all along that if the Braves made the playoffs this season, after what it had been through, it would excite the fan base more than at any time in the last 10 years. Why? Because it would be unexpected. That’s about the only thing that gets most Atlanta sports fans excited: something new, cool, unexpected. Win all the time and it gets old. Folks became jaded during the run of 14 straight division titles, and by the late 1990s the feeling was, “I’ll get excited again when there’s a reason to get excited.”

So here’s my question to you: How much are you into this? Are you sort of sitting back, expecting nothing and waiting to pounce if the team gets in? Would you rush to the box office to buy tickets the last two weeks of the regular season if the Braves are still in the race a race ?

I know. It’s not 1991 again. It will never be 1991 again. But where does this Braves run rank on your scale of sports excitement because, frankly, I’ve sensed both ends of the spectrum from fans.

OK, that’s more than one question. So just tell me what you think.

Meanwhile, this might get you going. Everything Francoeur told Times writer Jack Curry is the truth. But I also know sometimes fans read these kinds of comments and think, “He can’t say that about us! Only we can say that about us!”

But here’s a few comments from Francoeur:

♦ On the Braves in the early 1990s, when he was a fan: “You had Ted Turner involved and going out and spending in a lot of those years they were winning. That used to be a place of destination for players. It’s just not like that anymore.”

♦ On the change in expectations: “Now people get excited that they’re three and a half games out of the playoffs and knocking on the door. It used to be, they’d be 10 games up now and cruising to the playoffs.”

♦ On the playoff atmosphere four years ago, compared to when he grew up in Atlanta: “All of that magic as far as the chop and all of that has slowly kind of disappeared.”

Now it’s your turn.

218 comments Add your comment

ditto

August 25th, 2009
1:57 pm

sad but true frenchy

Bewildered

August 25th, 2009
1:57 pm

Fran who?????

Antonio Gramsci

August 25th, 2009
1:58 pm

Jeff Francoeur was a great high school football player.

bvillebaron

August 25th, 2009
1:59 pm

I have been a Braves’ fan for 45 plus years and have always HATED the chop. As for Francouer, I am happy that he appears to be playing better in New York (although it is still early). On the other hand, given the poor quality of his play the past two years, I could do without his commentary about the “good old days” in Atlanta.

Bama Aaron

August 25th, 2009
2:00 pm

Wish I could say he’s wrong, but he’s not. As someone who is a Braves fan but doesn’t live in Atlanta I’ve never understood it. I am a season ticket holder and I’m there as much as my schedule will allow. Were it that I lived there I’d be at every game cheering them on.

My personal feeling has always been that Atlanta is such a transplant town now that most of the newcomers living there don’t root for the hometown team. They instead keep their old loyalties.
I still have my doubts about this team making the playoffs but I am more excited about this team than I have been in quite some time. And perhaps that is because it’s new again.

Hollywould

August 25th, 2009
2:04 pm

Jeff, I bought season tickets this year mainly for customers and have probably sent 4 customers the tickets. Just not a exciting atmosphere although I am watching on the tube every nite to see if they can get the wild/card. I think if it is tight in the last 2 weeks things might change.

Reid Adair

August 25th, 2009
2:08 pm

The truth hurts (to some people) … even if it is coming from Jeff Francoeur.

IF the Braves make the playoffs this year, and I’m still not convinced they have enough offensively to do what is necessary, it will be quite an accomplishment. But I am likely in the minority when I say I will not be anymore excited by this season than any of the years of the 14-season stretch.

ND

August 25th, 2009
2:10 pm

Is JF even old enough to make those comments and actually know what he is talking about?

tale of woe

August 25th, 2009
2:11 pm

Maybe if he put a little more effort into his stay with the Braves instead of his comments he could be here for all the excitement. Like you said, it will never be 91 again. I am very pumped about this year. I think we have a chance and if we don’t make it then I will be excited to see what next year brings….JF busted on the scene and then never lived up to his billing…

Sherman V. Lee

August 25th, 2009
2:12 pm

The chop and the chant in 1991 sent chills through me. That season was thrilling. That said, this one don’t suck either. I’m watching more games than I have in years.

Big John

August 25th, 2009
2:14 pm

No, Hollydid, which is why I can’t think straight this afternoon.

Jeff Schultz

August 25th, 2009
2:18 pm

Gramsci — Such a bitter young man, you are. :)

Bama — Agree that the transplant thing has a lot to do with it. That’s why only real sports team with sustained support is UGA because most of fan base have been fans for 50 years and never moved.

Hollywould — interesting.

ND — Francoeur was born in 1984. So he would’ve been 7 years old in 1991 but 11 when Braves won World Series in 1995 — plenty old to have memories.

TeflonDon

August 25th, 2009
2:21 pm

I would have to be really motivated to attend a game in the final two weeks of a pennant race after being bombarded with gimmicks at a game earlier this year. I paid for the Atlanta Braves, not their Rome, Pearl or Gwinnett wannabes.

My family attended the Cubs series in June and I was amazed how much the overall experience had changed in the past decade (my last game at Turner Field was in 1999). The amount of between innings promotions and gimmicks made it feel much more like a minor league baseball game instead of how the stadium rang of a first class organization in the 1990s. I was a little worried that the stadium experience would feel more like the Asheville Tourists after seeing all of the weird low cost promotions the Braves were pitching on local TV and radio up here in North Carolina. It came through loud and clear at the ballpark.

It’s very hard to take a team and ballpark experience seriously when you shell out $50 a ticket for lower level seats and then get pelted with Double-A antics throughout the game. I expect that when I pay $9 for dugout level at a minor league park; I expect more class at a Major League stadium.

Pi$$onaDawg

August 25th, 2009
2:27 pm

I Hate Clemson but, I would like to have watched Jeff play Football and Baseball for the Tigers.

Evil Richt 2009 S.E.C. World Tour: "Banned in Columbus"

August 25th, 2009
2:27 pm

No, its not ‘91 again. But it COULD be ‘91 again if we just got rid of 18 years. For example: 1538, what important happened? Who needs it? Why do we even care about it? We don’t. So . . . GONE! Stricken from the records. Now we just do this with 17 other years and voila! it’s ‘91 again!

Cheese

August 25th, 2009
2:29 pm

Sorry, Just don’t have a David Justice and Ryan Klesko in the outfield…it was someone named Jeff…don’t know where he went…But now im excited cause Matty Ice is on fire even though we still have a triple A outfield it feels like

John

August 25th, 2009
2:29 pm

Gramsci, I agree…heck of a WR/CB in High School. Would’ve been a great Clemson Tigger…but what sux is he’s right. When Turner was spending to get the Braves good, there was a buzz and excitement. Now, it’s “we’ll do the best we can w/ what we got” which sux ’cause Chipper’s busted his butt for this franchise, and other guys too. All that said, I’m excited that they’re close and in contention. It’s a little fun. But being 10 games up would be better!

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

August 25th, 2009
2:30 pm

I am REALLY into this…have gone to a half dozen games..and watch all the games on the tube…but it’s frustrating to see the Rockies and Phillies just keep winning…they refuse to lose…BUT..I say if Atlanta keeps playing well taking 2 out of 3..we’ll get in the playoffs..we really need to sweep the Padres that would be nice…

TomB

August 25th, 2009
2:31 pm

I believe the fans and the chop will come back if the Braves make it close.I know I’m paying more attention and watching more games…I really like this club.Sadly, Atlanta is no New York when it comes to sport fans; more bandwagon fans in Atl than anything.

A little something on the statistical models. Do they account for a injuries? No they don’t. What model would have predicted that the first half Braves would perform like they have after June28th? The numbers indicate two different ballclubs, and the Braves have been more than a little banged up in the process lately. Can the Braves catch up… look to the past for your answer. On July 9th, 1991, the Braves trailed the Dodgers by 9 1/2 games playing less than 500 ball(.494,39-40) while the Dodgers were playing at a .613 clip(49-31);looks similar to the first half Braves, doesn’t it? By July 17th (only 8 days) the Braves had cut the lead to 3 1/2 games, but after a few losses, they were again 6 1/2 games back on July 28th. But, in a span of thirteen days the Braves had fought back and found themselves 1 1/2 games in back of the Dodgers on August 11. The Braves went on to win the division by winning eight out of their final 10 games of the season including an astounding 8 consecutive games won during this stretch. What model would of predicted that result?

Chris

August 25th, 2009
2:31 pm

Shouldn’t Francine be at a hitting clinic?

TROTTINGHOMETUDD

August 25th, 2009
2:36 pm

I been to Turner Field…I was not impressed by the way the pre-game movement of people is restricted and not impresssed with the way concessions are run. But hey thats just me, go to Miller park in Milwaukee or Wriggle in Chicago and take in that experience.

Now as far as this article goes….lame. Like the others.

htownbravesfan

August 25th, 2009
2:37 pm

Jeff Francoeur doesn’t play for us anymore, so who cares what he says. Also, I’ve been a Braves fan for almost thirty years, and I hate the chop as well. With that being said, this is really the first time in a long time I have been paying close attention to each regular season game. During the run, it wasn’t necessary because I expected victory, and the past couple of years we’ve been out of it by this time. Being in it again and having the outcome of the race undetermined has lit my fire again.

ND

August 25th, 2009
2:39 pm

I don’t personally think that our radio personalities do the team any good either. When the games on on PTV I have to listen through the net and I neither one makes it exciting.

Chris

August 25th, 2009
2:41 pm

Come on TeflonDon, Tourist games aren’t that bad!

Gotta love the weird, pale blue wall and the sub-300 porch in right field.

(You should go see a Tennessee Smokies game in Sevierville. Great park, nice atmosphere, pretty good fans, not too many promotions.)

Nativebird

August 25th, 2009
2:44 pm

I’ll get excited again when there’s a reason to get excited.

ABravesFan

August 25th, 2009
2:47 pm

The team really should be fired up to play regardless of the fans. The next time that the Braves make it back to the playoffs will be special (just because it’s been awhile). With the loss of the national telecast, I do expect the Braves to lose some luster in drawing FA. On the other hand, it will take years for the Braves to fall the ways of the Nationals, etc. as a nationally popular team.

It’s sad but I agree with Franchy on his assessments.

Brad

August 25th, 2009
2:47 pm

I’m not sure Frenchy needs to be speaking on such. He was part of the team that put the organization in a swoon. And no Met has any reason to criticize the Braves. They have blown significant leads the past two Septembers and they are not in contention this year. Granted its because they have injuries. Jeff needs to focus on playing well enough to be tendered a contract by the Mets.

cphizzle

August 25th, 2009
2:49 pm

sad to say but tis true. no tbs, no sellouts, and not enough support from the local fanbase. nobody to blame but ourselves

Russell

August 25th, 2009
2:52 pm

I can’t help but believe that the Braves will end up 1 or 2 games out of the playoffs. It will be that close. Imagine how the Braves would have fared if Wren would have put Hanson on the opening day roster instead of using Medlen & JoJo Reyes to fill in until he Hanson was called up. They would easily have 3-4 more wins. That decision was all about money. Until the Braves quit making decisions based on money and start making baseball decisions, we’ll never win anything again!

jimmy

August 25th, 2009
2:53 pm

i am sure jeff will get to judge a lot of team’s on much traveled carrer

WilliamG

August 25th, 2009
2:55 pm

There is one great difference between this year and last. Baseball is all about hope, always has been, and there is hope this year. I agree that the general audience of fans isn’t as excited but I sure see more excitement from the team – compared to last year.

I would never want to bet that the Braves would get the Wild Card, but that tiny bit of hope sure makes things more interesting this year.

Smack

August 25th, 2009
2:55 pm

As no suprise to Shcultzy, I have gone at the same rate that I always have usually averaging 1 game a series. While half the fan base is fair weathered (this time I do mean fans, not general sports writers opinions) the other half of are in for whatever and wherever team goes. I cheered hard during Murph’s 1 for 4, 1 HR and 3 K’s lines in blowout losses in the 80’s and was there doing the chop when we suffered through last season’s miserable second half. I guess I would say I have the Cox opinion, we’re in it till we’re not.

richbrave

August 25th, 2009
2:56 pm

Would I be a bloggin’ fool if I didn’t care? Maybe the fool is particular to rooting for the BRAVOS, but hey, somebody’s gotta’ do it. Come on JEFF, let’s right the ship, sweep the FRIERS, and bust a move on the front-runners. Time to turn up the heat. MUST WIN tonight.

Russell

August 25th, 2009
2:58 pm

The Braves fans got so spoiled in the 90’s and early 2000’s. We had 3 HOF pitchers in the same rotation at the same time, in their prime, and a HOF, MVP 3rd baseman, in his prime. Some organizaing go for years or decades with out ever having a legitimate HOF player on the team. We had FOUR at one time, and still the ballpark was hal-empty for playoff games!

Bat Masterson

August 25th, 2009
3:00 pm

I think it might be a good idea to lay off the fan apathy for a while, okay. 91 came out of the blue and damn what a world series that was. 92 high expectations Sid’s slide and one of the best world series ever. 93 chase down the Giants, last great pennant race. 94 strike, what F me, no F you. 95 Glavine, Justice and a ring. 10 world series games after that, win the first 2 lose 8 straight, to the damn Yankees no less. After that the mighty Braves just bleed out.

Yeah we have been spoiled watching HOF pitchers night after night, great position players too and maybe came to see the post season as a Braves birthright. It has been fun watching this team, very good pitching and patchwork lineup scrapping, most every night, I hope they make it.

There is a lot of competition for peoples entertainment, and people have less and less of those dollars to go around. This has been a tough decade, however one wants to look at it, real wages for ordinary people have gone down, damn.

Maybe Francouer should be grateful anyone is willing to spend any money, to watch him or anyone else, play a game. Poor Jeff he should have had the foresight to have been born sooner.

non Chopper

August 25th, 2009
3:00 pm

Seems like the tomahawk chop started with all the excitement in 91, picked up from FL State, who had been on top back then. Even though stolen from the Seminoles, it was sponaneous and genuine, and we owned it. Then the corporation took it and made it kind of cheesy, and it hasn’t really been the same. Its still OK; does any other MLB team have anything to compare?

DawgFan

August 25th, 2009
3:00 pm

The problem is this is and will always be a football first state and the Braves of the ealry 90’s had so much fan attention because they were terrible for so many years before that. Most fans myself included view the Braves as a bridge to football season….. with that said can Sept. 5th hurry up and get here……..

Its91Again

August 25th, 2009
3:02 pm

Maybe more people would show up at the stadium if Turner Field wasn’t in such a horrible location! It’s in the middle of a parking lot, next to an interstate freeway, in a less-than-desirable area of town, with no decent bars, reataurants, hotels, etc. within walking distance!

I have been to so many other MLB stadiums that are in much more desirable areas to attend a baseball game.

LivinInAL

August 25th, 2009
3:02 pm

I am glad Frenchy enjoyed watching the Braves. I can’t say I really enjoyed watching Frenchy. I agree with Brad, I think he needs to close his mouth and let his bat and glove speak. Bet you will not catch Laroche talking Pirates. Go Braves!

realistic fan

August 25th, 2009
3:02 pm

Been a fan since birth and I’m still as tuned into the braves as i was in the 90’s. I love this team but their inconsistancy drives me nuts, they have the talent to be a playoff team and should make a push for it. As for the fans there is still the same rabid fanbase out there, but most have moved far enough away from the city to live safely. Instead of taking in a game in person they are tuning in on tv or radio. For those mentioning that this is a bandwagon town you are incorrect, game attendance is affected by how the team is playing but tv and radio attendance is not. If im a fan living well outside the city and the team isnt playing well im not going to make the trip but i will watch it on tv.

Anyways there is alot to be excited about with this team, maybe the playoffs this year if not we do have a great team going into next along with some young guys ready to be called up.
Go Braves!!

Mitchell

August 25th, 2009
3:03 pm

Jeff Francoeur says it’s not the same as it used to be in Atlanta

No s***, Jeff. A lot of things aren’t like they used to be.

Mike S

August 25th, 2009
3:05 pm

To answer your question Jeff, I AM INTO THIS! Really excited the Braves are finally back in a pennant race and follow every game obsessively. (wish I could get down to more games at the Ted, but the wife isn’t as crazy about the Braves as I am…)

Kris in NC

August 25th, 2009
3:05 pm

Is this the same Jeff Francoeur who came out last season after he got sent down to Double A and said that this made things difficult between him and the organization? Now he is trashing them again. He must have went to the John Smoltz School of Trashing the Franchise. Who really cares what Frenchy says? He didn’t help this team for the last two yrs, struggling at the plate, changing his swing at every turn and going to every hitting coach he could find to help him, yet nothing worked.

I rather watch this team with guys who care about winning and playing together. I can’t wait to watch every game and know that we are in it no matter if we are down 1 or 2 runs. We need to sweep series against teams like the Padres and we have to start cheering for teams like the Dodgers who play the Rockies starting tonight. This is what we need to worry about and not what Frenchy is saying, who might be joining the long list of injured Mets if his torn ligament doesn’t heal up.

JDH GT

August 25th, 2009
3:05 pm

I think that Bama Aaron is spot on with much of what he says (and some of what he doesn’t). It’s true that Atlanta is a transplant city, but it’s also true that the Braves fan base covers a VERY broad region. This is why you normally see much larger crowds for weekend games. It’s also why the survey Schultz wrote about recently touted the Braves as the third most popular team in baseball. The Braves radio network is the biggest in the majors. People forget that many of the Braves playoffs games that didn’t sell out were weekday afternoon divisional series games. It’s not easy for someone who has a job in Alabama/Tennessee/South Carolina/Mississippi/etc… to make it to those games. In fact, though I’m from Atlanta, I currently live in Nashville. I have made it to several games this season, but they’ve all been weekend games.

Mitchell

August 25th, 2009
3:07 pm

You know, before Jeff became a Brave he was just another Braves fan. Was he there making his pressence felt in the playoffs all those years?

I didn’t see little Francoeur waving ten foot wide banners in Turner Field in 2002 against the Giants or whoever.

You’re a Braves fan too Jeff. You’ve got nothing to do in October. There’s no law against Frenchy coming back in town to root on his former team if they make it.

Bring it Jeff.

Blindog

August 25th, 2009
3:07 pm

Why don’t the Braves do something about Norton! They need to call up Conrad, they are both switch hitters but Conrad can hit!

bass stringerfish

August 25th, 2009
3:07 pm

Seems Frenchy is officially a Mutt. So be it.
I too have been a fan for 40 years. I live in Utah now, so I have to listen to about 3 innings on my way home from work on XM and watch video on my laptop via MLB.com when I get home. I was in the stadium when we clinched in ‘91 and ran down the street yelling in Baton Rouge when we won the WS. This team has me interested. I am following it, but I also think that beginning next year is when we will take off again. Pitching is set, only need a few bats for 2010.I would love to hear that chop chant by 50K fans again. I think it helped us win ball games.

JR

August 25th, 2009
3:07 pm

I’m a 22-year-old, die-hard Braves fan. Watched them my entire life. Vividly remember the ‘95 Championship run. Watched the 1992 NLCS with my dad. I’m more excited about this season than any season in the past 5-7 years. I either watch or listen to every single game, and although I live several hours away from Atlanta, I’ve made the trek to watch a few games as well. The last few years were frustrating more for me precisely because I was used to watching the Braves cruise during the regular season. But now, Braves fan realize it’s a new era, we’re fighting to build a new identity. This season has been exciting in a way no season has been the past several years. Whether we make the playoffs or not, it’s been an unbelievably exciting year, gut-wrenching for a fan at times, but that’s what keeps me coming back…I’ll go crazy if we make the playoffs, in a way I haven’t gone crazy in years, even when we did make the playoffs.

Bat Masterson

August 25th, 2009
3:08 pm

competition for peoples entertainment dollars……sorry

NewStadium

August 25th, 2009
3:08 pm

Put a new baseball stadium in the Vinings, Sandy Springs, or maybe Buckhead area. Build it with private funds. Put it close to the Chattahoochee river (if possible)- Have a river-walk theme of shops, restaurants, bars, etc. Have shady, grassy areas for people to tailgate. If Turner Field were set up like that, Braves attendence would skyrocket. It’s located in an area of town where there’s absoloutly no reason to go there except to see the Braves.