Blame for losing the Richmond Braves has been slung in every direction since the news broke on Jan. 14 that the team’s owners, the Atlanta Braves, would be taking their Triple A franchise’s players, bats and balls to a new home to be constructed in Gwinnett County, Georgia, after the upcoming baseball season at The […]
Blame for losing the Richmond Braves has been slung in every direction since the news broke on Jan. 14 that the team’s owners, the Atlanta Braves, would be taking their Triple A franchise’s players, bats and balls to a new home to be constructed in Gwinnett County, Georgia, after the upcoming baseball season at The Diamond is concluded.
The finger-pointing has been directed at Mayor L. Douglas Wilder and a list of others, including the R-Braves general manager Bruce Baldwin, the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (which owns The Diamond), City Council, the Atlanta Braves, officials of the surrounding counties, the Richmond Baseball Initiative’s ballpark-in-the-Bottom guys, and so forth.
Others have heaped guilt at the baseball fans who didn’t support the team by going to enough games. Denials of blame have been published. We’ve seen timelines published. A complicated picture has emerged, which has blurred culpability considerations.
Those speaking for the Atlanta Braves front office say talks with Gwinnett’s officials moved to the front burner in early October of last year. Which leads directly to the point of this piece — what else was going on during that crucial time?
Or, more specifically, what was dominating the news coming out of Richmond in the days leading up to the decision made by the owners of the Atlanta Braves to end a 42-year relationship with Richmond?
Well, on Fri., Sept. 22, Richmonders woke up to the head-scratching news about the Friday Night Fiasco their mayor had engineered. At first the details were sketchy/bewildering. Mayor Wilder had tried in vain to forcibly evict Richmond’s public school administration/school board from their offices in City Hall.
Wilder’s dramatic plot was edited when Circuit Judge Margaret P. Spencer issued a restraining order (1:15 a.m. on Saturday). Since then Judge Spencer made it permanent and Wilder’s behavior in this matter has been seen in an increasingly bad light.
Other than an absolute yes-man, or a screwball, it’s difficult to imagine anyone who would have advised a pissed off Hizzoner to do such a thing. So, it all came off looking like Wilder, keeping his own counsel, had finally taken his payback game-playing too far. He had run off the tracks.
Well, there’s no chance the management team of the Atlanta Braves (owned by Liberty Media since February, 2007) didn’t read all about Mayor Wilder’s headline-making folly — the story stayed at the top of the news for some time.
To a person reading about it sitting in an office in Atlanta, it probably looked like Richmond was being run by oddballs, who enjoy squabbling more than they do making things work. To suggest such thinking was the straw that broke the camel’s back is not at all far fetched.
Who knows how many people in what positions decided to give up on investing in Richmond, based on what they were reading in the news about Richmond in early October of last year?
– Words and arts by F.T. Rea