Author Archive

How Atlanta Became the Home of the Braves

The Atlanta Braves have come a long way since their humble beginnings as the Boston Red Stockings. They’ve seen cities, stadiums, owners, players and even team names come and go through a revolving door. The Braves have had high points, like winning the World Series, and low points, like devastating playoff losses and seasons with few highlights.

Since the announcement that the Braves will be moving to Cobb in 2017, we’ve learned what the future of the team appears to be. But let’s take a quick look back and see how they ended up at Turner Field and the history they’ll always carry with them.

It all started in 1871 when Ivers Whitney Adams and Harry Wright incorporated the Boston Red Stockings with $15,000. They became one of nine charter members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. They won six of the first eight pennants in all of baseball history, setting the tone for the future of the franchise.

The National League started in 1876. On April 22, the Boston Red Stockings defeated the Philadelphia Athletics in the first ever National League game. It ended with two runs in the ninth inning and a final score of 6-5.

In 1883, the team changed names to form stronger ties with Boston. The new name, Boston Beaneaters, also made it easier to differentiate themselves from the Cincinnati Red Stockings. This same year, the Beaneaters, once again, won the NL pennant.

Between 1884 and 1906, the team had their ups and downs. Most notably, Mike “King” Kelly, the most famous player of the time, earned a $10,000 paycheck. This whooping sum of money shocked baseball fans all around the country.

In 1907, the Beaneaters changed names to reflect the change in ownership. The new owners, the Dovey brothers, decide on the intimidating name of the Boston Doves.

After the passing of one of the Dovey brothers, the team was sold to William Hepburn Russell, who changed the team name to the Boston Rustlers in 1909.

Just a few years later, in 1912, the team earned the nickname the Boston Braves, a name that stuck around for some time. It was coined by Johnny Montgomery Ward, also known as Monte Ward, former professional baseball player and, at the time, part owner of the Boston Braves.

The ‘Miracle’ Braves won the World Series in 1914 after starting the season 4-18. They swept Philadelphia in four games to take home the crown. It’s a story that gives hope to fans who doubt their team at the start of a rocky season.

Between 1915 and 1935, the team switched ownership a couple of times. In 1915 it was for the steep price of $500,000. That won’t get you one veteran player for half of a season anymore. Babe Ruth also finished his career with the Braves during this time. He hit his 714th home run but held only a .181 batting average in his final season.

In 1936, the Braves fans decided to change the name to the Bees and their stadium was referred to as the “Beehive.” Thankfully, this name only stuck around for five years and fans haven’t felt the need to press management to change it back ever since.

1953 was a year of big changes for the Braves. They moved to Milwaukee because of a declining fan base in Boston, and Braves owner, Lou Perini, had promised to help Milwaukee find a baseball team. It certainly didn’t hurt that the Braves’ highest ranked minor league team was also in the area. The following season, the Braves tried their luck on a rookie named Hank Aaron and never looked back.

A few seasons later, the Braves, with the help of Aaron, Wes Covington and Bob Hazle, beat the Yankees in the 1957 World Series. The Braves find eight more successful seasons, including another World Series appearance in 1958 and multiple pennants, in Milwaukee before heading to Atlanta.

The move was largely due to the lack in fan support. In 1961, there were just over one million tickets sold for the season. Not the turnout the Braves front office expected for the team with three solid playoff performances in a row.

While the Braves were looking for a new city to call home, Atlanta offered to pay $18 million for a new stadium. The city was growing quickly and wanted to put themselves on the map as one of the country’s largest. The Braves took little convincing to pack their bags and head down south.

The move to Atlanta wasn’t nearly as simple as the move from Boston. Wisconsin didn’t want to see the team leave. The city of Milwaukee filed injunctions and court orders to keep the team from leaving. As we all know, the team eventually made it out of Milwaukee and onto their new home in Atlanta, where they were welcomed with a parade in 1966.

Because there weren’t any other major league teams in the surrounding area, the Braves acquired fans from far and near. Atlanta baseball was televised on TBS and quickly became the beloved home team for much of the southeast. They were known as “America’s Team” and wore new red, white and blue uniforms to reflect the nickname.

The Atlanta Braves, unfortunately, lost their first home game in Atlanta Stadium to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The stadium later became known as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which was the home of many great memories for the Braves. Their years included Aaron breaking the home run record, hosting an All-Star game and Ted Turner purchasing the team in 1975.

Ted Turner owned the Atlanta Braves and decided to become the team manager during a 17-game losing streak. After just one game, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn told Turner he couldn’t own stock in a team if he managed it.

Although managing may not be one of things Turner brought the Braves, he helped the team win 18 consecutive pennant races and became the namesake of their new home following the Olympics in 1996, Turner Field.

Turner Field has housed Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and now the young stars Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. Many more notable names could be included but the list would be never ending.

While a chapter in Braves history may be coming to a close in the next few years, the name on their ball caps and jerseys won’t let the fans forget where they came from.

Historical facts courtesy of, The Washington Times and SB Nation.

Read more MLB news on

Will Atlanta Braves’ Lack of Experience in Rotation Doom Playoff Aspirations?

The excitement surrounding the new season officially began when the first pitches were thrown out on Monday. The Atlanta Braves still have unanswered questions about their starting rotation, which should be settled in the next few weeks.

Using the projected rotation of Alex Wood, Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, in no particular order, the Braves have several young pitchers with very few years of experience between them. Lack of experience can be deadly in October. Here’s how the pitchers can help propel their team into the playoffs. 

For starters, Evan Gattis didn’t play catcher for the majority of the games last season. These pitchers need to become comfortable with his style of play during spring training. Once the season begins, the focus needs to shift from Gattis to how these pitchers carry themselves in a game. Consistency is key.

The first part of the regular season could be rocky for the Braves. Beachy is still a big question mark. If he is able to make a full recovery from Tommy John surgery and fall back into his groove in the beginning of the season, then that’s the best-case scenario.

Before his injury in 2012, Beachy held a 2.00 ERA but could only complete 13 games before needing surgery. He was able to start five games last season, holding a less impressive 4.50 ERA. That isn’t surprising or unexpected; he needed to shake off the cobwebs and play it safe so he didn’t irritate his shoulder or injure himself again. However, for the Braves to maximize their playoff chances, Beachy must prove he hasn’t lost his game.

Alex Wood is another uncertainty this season. He’s a young star with potential. He started 11 games for the Braves last season, while also spending 20 games as a relief pitcher. He may have a shaky start to the season if he lands a spot on the starting rotation but will hopefully find his footing as a valuable asset to the team as the season moves forward.

The Braves need a pitcher that will stand as a leader. When Tim Hudson left for San Francisco during the offseason, the move left Atlanta without a real seasoned veteran in the rotation. This position could belong to any of the remaining three pitchers listed above—Teheran, Medlen or Minor. One of these players needs to step up and feel confident leading the team.

Keep in mind that these young pitchers are very talented. Setting records for the ball club at the start of their careers shows that they have potential and ability. Braves reporter Kevin McAlpin tweeted an important stat at the end of last season:

Medlen always looks like he is having fun on the mound. He would be able to calm the team down in the high pressure October days. With a 3.11 ERA in 2013, he would be a solid pitcher that players should feel comfortable standing behind.

Minor would also be a candidate for this role, considering he has been forced to teach himself to calm down. Not so long ago, as Braves fans may remember, Minor used to sail through a few innings without problems, then, after one mistake, Minor would fall apart. He’s matured since those frustrating days and deals with tough jams with a calm and collected demeanor.

Minor has played in more games each season since his 2010 debut and lowered his ERA each season. He currently is sitting with a 3.21 ERA, but a new season has the possibility of even lower numbers. He has surprised us before; it could happen again.

Fast forward the video below to 0:34. These are highlights of Minor’s playoff performance against the Dodgers last season. He was reliable in his first playoff start; there’s reason to believe that he’ll be successful in the future, as well. 

Not only is the pitching staff young and fairly inexperienced, but so are the majority of the Braves team. In order to keep the team calm during the playoffs, the pitchers need to be able to bring the team into October with momentum.

Momentum is a funny thing. It can turn games around in the blink of an eye and, depending which side your team is on, make you jump off your couch or crumble to the floor. This isn’t to say that the pitchers are the only ones responsible for creating a winning record as the postseason nears. However, if their pitching is consistent and reliable, the bats will hopefully come through on their side.

Young teams need momentum much more than veteran teams. Veterans have seen both sides and know, for the most part, what works and how to stay calm in the middle of the biggest games of their careers. Younger players haven’t gotten the chance to build this wisdom yet. Without many veterans on the Braves squad, they need to learn this on their own and have the momentum push them forward, while they’re gaining the experience.

The four games that the Braves played in October last year will help this team. The ones who weren’t around for 2012 now know the burning feeling of defeat in the first round of the playoffs, as far too many Braves and fans have had to endure for years. They also know the pressure, atmosphere and what to expect. The pitchers that weren’t on last year’s roster will rely on the few that were.

There hasn‘t been an official word from the clubhouse regarding the pitching rotation or opening day pitcher, but that hasn‘t stopped reporters from making speculations. 

Once the starting rotation is solidified in the next few weeks, the process can begin, keeping in mind that consistency and momentum are key. The lack of experience will not ruin Atlanta’s playoff chances if these pieces all fall together. 

Read more MLB news on

5 Takeaways from Atlanta Braves Offseason Thus Far

It was a fairly quiet winter in Atlanta. The biggest news were the few fan favorites who left for other cities, and the future home of the Braves—Cobb County. There were a couple acquisitions that will help the Braves, but none that change the look of the club.

This calm offseason taught us a few things about the Atlanta Braves. From the financial issues to the bullpen, here is what we learned.

Begin Slideshow

Why Andrelton Simmons Will Be MLB’s Best Shortstop in 2014

There are a few standout shortstops in baseball. Then there is the inarguable standout shortstop on defense, Andrelton Simmons.

After winning the Defensive Player of the Year and the Rawlings Platinum Glove in 2013, there seems to be little question that Simmons has proven himself to be better than the rest on defense. Here’s a deeper look as to why the Atlanta Brave was chosen and why he won’t fall off the top this year.

According to, Simmons had a 24.6 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) last season, a number that basically attempts to quantify how good a player is defensively by calculating how many runs they saved or gave up while they were on the field.

To put into perspective how impressive his number is, Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies posted a 6.6 UZR. Tulowitzki is considered to be among the best shortstops in baseball right now. If that doesn’t do it for you, FanGraphs described +15 UZR to be Gold Glove-caliber. 24.6 is off the charts.

Simmons and Gerardo Parra tied this season with 41 defensive runs saved. That’s a new MLB record.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman described Simmons to Jayson Stark of, “He’s incredible. The balls he gets to. He’s so quick. [When he throws to first], it’s like the ball doesn‘t even go in his glove,” he said.

Simmons often leaves spectators in awe as they watch him on the field. His quick hands, strong arm and accuracy all come together to perform one seamless play after another. As if this isn’t enough, watch Simmons at work.

To top it all off, he is only 24 years old. He’s a young player who just finished his first full season in a major league uniform. Simmons is a dependable everyday shortstop, playing in 157 games last year.

Reliability is another way Andrelton will beat out Tulowitzki as top shortstop this year. Tulowitzki hasn’t been able to stay healthy for four of the past seven seasons of his career, playing in fewer than 130 games for the last two years.

However, baseball isn’t all defense, as we know.

Offensively, Simmons isn’t breaking records, but he certainly isn’t hurting the team either. He has a .248 batting average with 17 home runs.

Although FanGraphs predicts that Simmons will have fewer home runs in 2014, his batting average and on-base percentage are both expected to improve. Having a more consistent player at the plate, as opposed to one with a lower average and a few more home runs, will make the Braves’ lineup solid most of the way through.

His biggest competitors for best shortstop in 2014 will likely include Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez. Ian Desmond is another solid shortstop that will be playing in the NL East for the Washington Nationals.

Tulowitzki is consistently unreliable. He gets injured every season. If he is able to stay healthy, then he will surely be in the running for best shortstop, but if history is any indicator, this won’t be happening.

Then there’s Ramirez, who was out for the majority of 2013 and may take a little while to get back in his groove. Although he has a higher batting average, it isn’t by a large enough margin to overshadow how much better Simmons is on defense. The margin will be even smaller if Simmons improves on offense this year, which should be expected from young players.

Though Desmond has posted consistent numbers over his career and has the durability to play every game, he is not overshadowing these other three shortstops. He has a .971 fielding percentage. Desmond will help the Nationals this season, but he won’t be winning awards for his fielding or hitting.

This new year won’t bring too many changes. Simmons will continue to outshine the others at his position. At such a young age, he can continue improving and breaking new defensive records every step of the way.

Offensively, he’ll be helping Atlanta by getting the ball in play and getting himself on base.

It could be several years before Simmons is knocked from the top.

Read more MLB news on

Why the Yankees and Nationals Won’t Miss the Playoffs in 2014

The New York Yankees and Washington Nationals are two teams that ended their seasons short last year but show no signs of repeating the same fate in 2014. While the Yankees made a much bigger splash than the Nationals this winter, they both seem to be doing what is necessary to propel themselves into the playoffs.


New York Yankees

The Yankees missed the postseason in 2013 for only the second time in the past 19 seasons, but it’s no wonder why they’re one of the most talked-about teams this offseason. Here’s why they will win the AL East crown:

Last season, Yankee catchers struggled offensively with a .213 batting average. Adding Brian McCann from the Braves brings power to the plate and leadership behind it. He holds a career .277 batting average. Defensively, Atlanta pitchers held a 2.98 ERA when he called the game. He could also easily become a designated hitter if necessary.

Newly acquired Kelly Johnson has most of his experience at second base, but he’s very versatile. Johnson has hit at least 16 homers in the past four seasons and is solid on defense. If Johnson is needed to cover other positions former Baltimore Oriole Brian Roberts is a strong backup option at second. Although this pair together doesn’t quite equal what was lost with All-Star Robinson Cano, they will be able to contribute positively both offensively and defensively. Especially with Alex Rodriguez’s status for the season being uncertain, having Johnson with experience at third gives the Yankees more options. 

The Yankees starting rotation needed a face-lift after last season. CC Sabathia ended with a 4.78 ERA and Phil Hughes with a 5.19 ERA. The Yankees re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, who held the rotation’s lowest ERA (3.31), and Hughes departed to Minnesota to pitch for the Twins, both of which are positive moves for New York. The Yanks currently have Sabathia, Kuroda and Ivan Nova and still have high hopes of acquiring Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

Bleacher Report’s Kenny DeJohn explains what the Yankees will do if they aren’t able to sign him, saying they will likely try to sign Ubaldo Jimenez or Johan Santana instead. Some work still needs to be done by the Yankees to build a powerhouse rotation.

Gaining outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the Red Sox might be a key to the Yankees pushing past the World Series champions in 2014. Ellsbury is strong on both sides of the plate with a .297 career batting average and .992 fielding percentage. Carlos Beltran, whom the Yankees also signed this winter, has a .283 career batting average and will certainly bring a strong offensive force to the lineup. These two additions amp up the aging outfield that Curtis Granderson left when he signed with the Mets.

The biggest competition within their division right now looks like the Boston Red Sox. Given the rosters that both sides are building this offseason, the Yankees can pull away with the AL East title.

The Red Sox haven’t made too many moves this winter other than re-signing the majority of their team. They lost catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Marlins, replacing him with A.J. Pierzynski. They’ll likely miss the doubles from Saltalamacchia, but otherwise, the two are comparable offensively. The Yankees gaining Ellsbury is a bigger loss to the Red Sox than the Matt Thornton trade. The Red Sox will likely fill center field with Jackie Bradley Jr., a former first-round pick who has 95 major league at-bats and comparable minor league stats to Ellsbury during his minor league career. However, Bradley is new to the major leagues and needs to prove he can be consistent at the next level.


Washington Nationals

As for the Nationals, they also had a disappointing 2013 season, keeping them out of the playoffs. Over the offseason, they kept most of their roster the same but added a few key players that will ensure they won’t repeat history in 2014.

Starting with the pitching, Washington has added Doug Fister and Jerry Blevins from Detroit and Oakland, respectively. Fister replaces Dan Haren, who became a free agent at the end of his worst MLB season in 2013. Fister has a career 3.53 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Bill Ladson of reported a statement from Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who said Fister “is battle-tested through playoff experiences, and the depth he brings to our staff is exceptional. We are thrilled to welcome him aboard.”

As they should be. He joins an exceptional pitching rotation that consists of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

This season, Blevins gives the Nats something they didn’t have at the start of last season—a strong left-handed relief pitcher. He has a career 3.30 ERA and 1.21 WHIP and no problems pitching against right- or left-handers. Paired with the starting rotation, this is going to be a tough group for any batter to face.

Nate McLouth is the third major addition. He is an outfielder from the Orioles with a career .250 batting average and .334 OBP. His offensive strength, along with the potent bats of Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, will hopefully translate to a deep lineup this upcoming season. McLouth is not only strong offensively, but he also won a Gold Glove in 2008. He’s an all-around great new asset to an already dangerous team.

Other than Matt Williams taking over as skipper, there hasn’t been much else going on this offseason with the Nationals. As Bleacher Report’s Zachary Rymer points out, the Nats have gained far more talent this offseason than they have lost.

These few additions will join the existing Nationals team that has pretty much stayed the same. Add a healthy Bryce Harper to the mix, and this is team can only have a better season in 2014.

Not only does it help that the Nats have acquired a few key players, but the other teams in the NL East aren’t exactly looking to have their best seasons in 2014. The Braves appear to be their biggest competition. After losing Brian McCann to the Yankees and Tim Hudson to the Giants, they don’t look as strong as they did in 2013. Evan Gattis will become the everyday catcher, and Ryan Doumit was added as a third catcher to give the Braves flexibility. Otherwise, the Braves have been pretty silent this winter. So between the Nationals beefing up and the rest of the teams not making the same adjustments needed for huge 2014 seasons, the NL East will likely belong to the Nationals this year.

The Yankees and Nationals have exhibited how several huge trades, including a few necessary ones, can be beneficial for transforming a team from forgotten one season to serious playoff contenders the next (if my predictions are correct, at least).


All stats courtesy of 

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress