Bill Shanks

Time for the Braves to show leadership

Atlanta Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart also is performing the GM duties.
Atlanta Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart also is performing the GM duties. AP

The Atlanta Braves have long prided themselves as being a “gold-standard organization.” There’s nothing like a baseball team tooting its own horn, making themselves look better than they are, trying to convince people they are better than everybody else.

Back in the 1990s, when the Braves won five National League pennants and a World Series, they could have said anything, and no one would have laughed. When they say it now, people are laughing out loud.

Just because you were great 20 years ago does not mean you are great now.

The Braves are nowhere near the gold-standard of anything. Maybe it’s time for the Braves to be honest with themselves to understand what they have become. Maybe we need to tell them how disappointed we all are, since they don’t seem to get it.

The Braves are an embarrassment. They haven’t won a playoff series in 16 years. Is that a gold standard? And now, they are in a scandal that is horrible and truly unbelievable.

Gordon Blakeley, one of two executives forced to resign Oct. 2, met last Thursday for a second interview with MLB’s chief legal officer Dan Halem. It will likely not be the last time questions are asked about what the Braves did to allegedly violate international signing rules.

ESPN reported Thursday results may not be released until December, which makes sense if more interviews are to come. Unlike the Braves have tried to portray it, this may not be over quickly.

Here’s the problem. Monday the general manager’s meetings begin. It’s the first big event of the offseason, when team executives meet and sometimes lay the groundwork for trades. The Braves may have someone there, but it won’t be a general manager.

They don’t have one.

They have John Hart, the president of baseball operations. When GM John Coppolella resigned, the press release said Hart would perform the GM duties until a replacement was named.

So, why hasn’t a replacement been named? Why should Hart, who has been interviewed by MLB, be allowed to continue considering his possible involvement in the scandal?

The Braves have zero leadership, and a gold-standard organization never lacks leadership.

If CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk was a true leader, why wouldn’t he have made sure Dayton Moore, Kansas City’s current general manager, was brought in to clean up this mess? Many in the Braves front office want Moore to return to Atlanta, where he was farm director before leaving for the Royals.

Moore would bring credibility back to the Braves the moment he was hired. Who else could do that? The Braves should do everything possible to get Moore back to Atlanta.

Shouldn’t McGuirk have made sure the organization was not in position to enter the offseason without a general manager? He might think Hart is fine in that role, but considering the rumors of Hart’s knowledge of what was going on that led to this scandal, things that McGuirk has certainly heard, it’s embarrassing to have Hart still employed by this team.

And if Hart was a true leader, how could this mess have happened under his watch? He was Coppolella’s mentor, his superior, and we are to believe Hart knew nothing of what was going on? We’re to believe Coppolella was sly enough to have the alleged shenanigans done behind his boss’ back?

Come on. We’re not that dumb, and the Braves shouldn’t be either. If Hart knew, he should be fired immediately, and if he didn’t know, isn’t that even more of an indictment on his management of the team?

That’s not leadership.

This organization has not been the same since McGuirk dumped Stan Kasten as president 14 years ago and since John Schuerholz left the GM role a decade ago. They were leaders. They had a gold-standard organization. They weren’t perfect, but they never would have let this happen.

The Braves must realize that fans are angry at this. The fans have been patient. They’ve believed progress was being made in the rebuilding process. And now, we have the biggest scandal in team history and we’re supposed to believe everything is fine because the Braves say it is?

Maybe it’s time for the Braves’ owner, Liberty Media, to show leadership. That is, if they even care.

Get Hart out of the way and bring Moore in before agents and players laugh when the Braves call them about signing with the team. Bring respectability back to a franchise that has zero right now.

If the Braves are gold-standard as they say they are, it’s time for them to show it. Forget about waiting until the MLB results are announced. Do something that hasn’t been done in a long time – show leadership.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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