The Atlanta Braves are under reconstruction, but they need a winning record in 2017 to secure the future faith of fans and the city of Atlanta.
It is no secret that the last few years have been rough for the Atlanta Braves franchise. After two full decades of dominance, a foundation for success had been laid, and the culture of winning permeated the club house. As recently as 2013, the Braves finished with a 96-66 regular season record. Post-season failing aside, that is a sterling accomplishment.
That only serves as a backdrop, though, for the futile years that followed, as the Braves then finished the 2014-2016 seasons at 79-83, 67-95, and 68-93, respectively. That sudden, and utter, collapse seemed to have the franchise befuddled as to the cause, and the fans befuddled at their surprise and inability to fix things.
The 2017 season brings with it a renewed hope for the future, and the promise that they have “fixed it”. They, as referred to, are John Hart (President-Baseball Operations) and John Coppolella (General Manager). While most fans don’t seem to expect the magic that the John Schuerholz/Bobby Cox team brought, they do, however, expect that they right the ship sooner than later.
General Colin Powell is famously to have said (with regards to Desert Storm and the invasion of a country), “If you break it, you own it”. Over the last two seasons, the Hart and Coppolella tandem have gone in and completely remade the faces of the team.
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They looked at the problem, diagnosed it, prescribed a solution, and much like a surgeon, went in and took out what they thought needed to be removed. It was broken before, but then they smashed it, and now they own it.
Yet, much like a facelift there is that great reveal once the bandages come off. This is usually accompanied by the hope that things will look better than before. The 2017 season will be that great reveal for these Atlanta Braves.
Yes, we know that players like Dansby, Freeman, Kemp, Inciarte, Phillips, and Markakis will be the steady structure of the team. But what the rest will look like is all conjecture.
That said, what it can’t look like is what it looked like before: Losers. These 2017 Atlanta Braves are not expected to win the division by fans or the media. But fans do want to see improvement when those bandages come off on opening day.
Braves Nation wants to know the pain of surgery was worth it. They want to know that the money spent on the new house in celebration of the surgery was worth it. They want to know if Hart and Coppolella were the right surgeons.
What will satiate the Atlanta Braves fan base is a winning season in 2017. Anything short of that will be seen as disappointment dosed out in incremental change. Gaudy numbers aren’t expected. All-Star ballots will be filled out with joy, not expectation. These Braves don’t have to set the world on fire. But they do need to re-light the flame of fan fun.
A winning record would do that. A winning record 2017, even by one game, would make the broken and bandaged years worth it.