The Atlanta Braves have had postseason problems over the last few years and some are calling for an organizational shakeup. However, only one thing needs shaken up—ownership.
The Braves were owned by Ted Turner and Time Warner Inc. during the run of 14-straight division titles. During that time, the Braves were known for stellar pitching and a decent offense.
Now, Liberty Media owns the Braves after buying them in 2007. From the first day, Liberty Media showed no real interest in owning the Braves. Instead, that was left to the people already in the front office, just with a tighter grip on the wallet.
While multiple changes can be made throughout the organization, none of it will help unless there are new owners in place.
Here are a few reasons why ownership is the real issue in Atlanta.
Liberty Media seemed to purchase the Braves on their past success and felt they wouldn't have to pay to put a winning team on the field.
Since 2008, the payroll for the team has decreased from $102 million to $83 million. In today's game, a high payroll doesn't guarantee a world title, but it definitely helps the cause.
If it were done to the payroll for next season, then multiple things could happen. Michael Bourn could easily be re-signed or the Braves could make a run at Josh Hamilton. Either way, the Braves would have options.
The real mark of a great owner is one who is from or lives in the area where they own a team. Just look at the success of the Yankees with the Steinbrenner family or the Texas Rangers with Nolan Ryan.
Both are at most home games and show a genuine interest in the team. It's not just about how much money the team can make for them. Each owner takes pride in their team and things happen when success doesn't.
Mark Cuban is another great example for the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. Not a game goes by where Cuban isn't on the sidelines cheering for his team.
Liberty Media is based in Denver. So, they're not exactly local.
While Braves' fans aren't asking for a rah-rah-rah owner, they do want someone who is from or lives in the Atlanta-area. They want an owner who hurts just like they do when the Braves lose, and aren't just concerned about the bottom line.
Wonder what an involved owner would have said about the infield-fly call in the wild-card playoff?
A Big Slap in the Face
The biggest slap in the face came this year during the final regular-season home series for Chipper Jones. According to a blog posted by Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Jeff Schultz, "Nobody from the present owner, Liberty Media, made it to the stadium or in front of a camera."
In a town where Jones is worshiped by many, that's just unacceptable. For a player that has given so much to his franchise over the course of his career, Liberty should have had at least someone there.
After all, former Braves' owner Ted Turner was there and presented him with a video tribute. Ironically, Turner only owned the Braves three of Jones' seasons.
So, if a former owner can do something for him, why can't the current owners at least show up? It showed where their priorities are.
Time for a Change
It's time for Liberty Media to sell the team to an owner that cares.
Braves fans aren't asking for too much from their owners. They just want someone who is passionate about the city and the team. When that happens, the rest will fall into place.
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