ATLANTA — When Tom Glavine left the Braves as a free agent in 2002 after 16 years with the organization and signed with the Mets, it didn’t go down well in Atlanta. Many fans considered him to be selfish and disloyal and basically a traitor. The fact that he had already lost some supporters because he was a strong spokesman for the players’ union during a strike a few years earlier – and had the audacity to sign with New York! – did not help.
So it wasn’t too surprising that when Glavine made his first appearance as a Mets pitcher in Atlanta in 2003, he was “pretty booed,” he recalls. “And people had nasty things to say to the point where my wife and kids left.”
(It didn’t go well for him on the field, either. The Braves hit Glavine for six runs and eight hits over 3 1/3 innings in a 10-4 win.)
The hope here is that Freeman’s reception will be different on Friday when he returns to Atlanta for a weekend series with the Dodgers. No matter which side you want to blame Freeman signing with Los Angeles as a free agent — after the Braves effectively ended negotiations by trading four prospects for his replacement, Matt Olson — it would be absurd to boo the one of the franchise’s most loyal players. history and most responsible for the team’s rise to world champions last year. The “he never wanted to sign here” takes are lazy and blatantly wrong. But in sports, people often lead with their emotions.
Glavine thinks Freeman “will get a positive response.” There will likely be some boos – see the poll results – but they should be drowned out by a loud standing ovation when he arrives at the board in the first inning Friday night.
Polling time. When Freddie Freeman returns to Atlanta this weekend:
—Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) June 19, 2022
The organization will treat Freeman’s return as a celebration, just as it has done with other title-team players from last year who are back in a different uniform this year, such as Joc Pederson of the Giants. Monday evening. The Braves will present Freeman with his World Series ring, and are expected to have a video tribute from their former MVP before the game as well.
Just a guess, but there will be a few clips of Freeman homers and maybe one of him raising his arms at first base after taking a throw from Dansby Swanson to save the World Series final in Houston.
Freeman had his first game at bat against the Braves in Los Angeles two months ago. This will be the only other series between the teams unless they meet in the playoffs, in which case the Braves’ Twitter would crash.
It’s like feeling. . . October?
If it felt like a playoff atmosphere for a Monday night game in June, there’s a reason. The Braves may have turned heads and changed their season with their recent 14-game winning streak, but this week’s seven-game home game against the Giants and Dodgers qualifies as a measuring stick. All three are planning on postseason teams, just like the Mets, who come to Atlanta in a few weeks. So, yeah, that’s when a pecking order starts to take shape.
Teams have great seasons when they get performance from unlikely sources. The Braves had one of those again in Monday’s 2-1 win over the Giants, when second baseman Orlando Arcia, replacing injured Ozzie Albies, hit an RBI single in the ninth to score. pinch racer Phil Gosselin. Orlando Arcia? Phil Gosselin? Arcia hits .338 with a .941 OPS. The Braves’ top three OPS averages currently belong to William Contreras (.987), Michael Harris (.949) and Arcia, though none of the three have enough at-bats to officially qualify.
MBS Might Have Weed All The Time, But Here’s Why It Won’t
Now you know that the pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be changed from artificial turf to grass immediately after the Falcons’ final home game of the 2025 season to prepare for the 2026 World Cup. The exact timing is not yet finalized, but MBS will probably have to install some sort of underground irrigation and ventilation system, as well as some sort of lighting system to replicate a greenhouse effect. The open retractable roof itself will not suffice.
But here’s the question: with all of this being doable, why can’t the stadium have natural grass all the time? Answer: It is possible. But that won’t happen. MBS is one of the busiest sports facilities in the world. In the last pre-COVID year of 2019, it hosted 66 ticketed events and 275 private events for a total of 341 in 365 days. This includes football and soccer games, as well as concert conventions, weddings, retirement parties, corporate events and more. Wooden planks are used to cover the pitch before the stages and tables are set up.
The grass would not survive it. Owner Arthur Blank isn’t going to sacrifice that revenue stream or add the cost of constant grass repair and replacement. So you will get plastic grass and be satisfied with it.
Falcons need change via trade, not draft
The NBA Draft is Thursday night and the Hawks have allowed pending new general manager Landry Fields, who will still answer to team president Travis Schlenk, to take questions from the media on Monday. Fields handled the situation well, especially since it was his first official press conference since signing with the Toronto Raptors 10 years ago. He managed not to reveal anything about the team’s plans.
But here’s a thought: The Hawks’ only path to meaningful improvement over last year is through trade (or free agency), not the draft. This team is quite young and needs a proven NBA scorer and defender, which the draft cannot guarantee. (Schlenk shared some thoughts with Athleticism here.) Fields on weighing the advantages of trading versus keeping the selection (currently 16th overall): “There is always a fine line. There are only a few times a year when you can improve your team, and one of them is the draft. In this league you need talented players to win basketball games. We try not to get too caught up in positioning needs. He’s still the best player available.
Truth, fiction and somewhere in between…
• How come no one talks about the Phillies? Their record in June (15-3) is only one game less than that of the Braves (16-2)
• Wizards fullback Bradley Beal is expected to decline his $36.4m player option. It is “widely assumed” that he will do so to sign a maximum agreement with Washington, via Athleticism Josh Robin. OK, now that I’m covered, imagine the Hawks with a backcourt of Trae Young and Beal.
• Seriously. (Sort of.) Sportabook.ag has listed the odds of potential suitors if Beal doesn’t re-sign with the Wizards. Here are the top five: Celtics 3-1, Trail Blazers 4-1, Heat 5-1, Nets 6-1, Hawks 7-1, Nuggets 15-2, Lakers 8-1, Mavericks and Sixers 9-1, Knicks 10 -1.
• Here are the unofficial odds that the Hawks are interested in the disgruntled (again) Kyrie Irving: zero.
(Photo: David Banks/USA Today)