Posted 06/05/2009 at 06:08 PM
ATLANTA - I've never met new Braves GM Frank Wren and I don't care to meet him. I don't care for the way he goes about his business. I don't care that he made an outstanding trade in picking up an All-Star and Gold-Glove outfieder to improve that wretched position for my favorite baseball team earlier this week.
I care about Tom Glavine, the architect of eight scoreless innings of one-hit baseball against the Indians in the 1995 World Series clincher, the only night this city has ever celebrated a championship.
Pro sports is a cut-throat business. I get that. But I also know that season-ticket sales in this economy is also a cut-throat business. And I'm the customer and the customer is always right.
This customer doesn't like the way Mr. Wren is conducting business.
Living in Atlanta and being a life-long Braves fan, "we" never thought the division titles would end. After all, the streak lasted 15 years if you count the strike year of 1994 when Montreal (yes, the Expos before trading Larry Walker and everybody else) led Atlanta but the Braves were still leading the wild-card race.
But the seemingly neverending streak is now a thing of the past. So is the classy organization that John Schuerholz presided over for nearly two decades. Yes, Schuerholz remains with the organization as team president, but Wren is now calling the shots.
And he's not a very popular man around these parts right now.
In his first year on the job, the Braves lost 90 games. Now in the span of 4-5 months, Wren has gone about his business in a manner that has pissed off two of the top three players (Tom Glavine and John Smoltz) in franchise history (Hammerin' Hank being the third player, though not in any particular order).
On Wednesday, the Braves released Tom Glavine, but that's not the story here. The story is how Atlanta went about treating a franchise icon.
Glavine had season-ending shoulder surgery last season and went down to the minors for three rehab starts in the last few weeks. The club had told the left-hander that barring a setback, he would return to the rotation on June 7.
When the 305-game winner worked six scoreless innings earlier this week, he appeared poised to rejoin the team. Instead, he was called into Wren's office and released.
When meeting with the media Wednesday, Wren had the audacity to defend himself and the organization by claiming that the decision was "performance based." In other words, Wren doesn't believe Glavine was going to be effective.
Translation: Not only are we releasing you after you just spent a month grinding your way back to the big-league club with rehab starts in the minors, but we're going to defend that decision by saying you're essentially "washed up." In doing so, we're basically telling every other team in the league that they shouldn't have any use for you either, even though you have pronounced yourself ready to pitch and have mentally and physically prepared for that over the last few months.
Seriously, would the University of Alabama treat Bear Bryant like this? Would the University of Florida do this to Steve Spurrier? Would the Dodgers do this to Sandy Koufax?
No, no and of course not! It's just wrong, not atypical of other pro franchises in baseball and other sports, but wrong nonetheless.
On Friday, Glavine spoke for the first time in an interview with 790 The Zone. He said he felt a "sense of betrayal" and also added, “There was a sense I would get hurt again and wouldn’t make it back, and we wouldn’t have to have the day we had on Wednesday. I believe that.”
Now there's a great way to send out a franchise icon -- hope that he gets hurt so that you don't take public backlash for letting him go.
I'm so disgusted by this that I'm not going to tonight's Braves game, although a bunch of my friends are and it's a great Friday night to start at The Ted with Budweisers galore, eye candy and hanging out in the bar that overlooks center field, The Chop Shop.
It would be nice, but I won't be there. I'll sit this one out, Frank. Something tells me plenty of others will do the same.
Friday night update, 11:48 p.m.
--Smoltz ripped the Braves organization, saying the handling of Glavine's situation "ain't right."
--And now Schuerholz has issed an apology to Glavine.