The B.S. Report: The Atlanta Braves are in one big mess

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – For the past several months I have sat here and told you to be patient with the Atlanta Braves.

I believed in what they were doing to rebuild the organization. I believed they were doing it the right way, particularly with young pitchers. It was going to take a while, and I hoped the team could stay patient and finish what it started. When a team rebuilds, it takes time. It takes patience, from the fans and the team. It can’t panic when it gets tired of losing. The Braves are so much better now than three years ago, when John Coppolella took over the front office. The farm system has gone from next-to-last to one of the best. The Braves are in position to be much better in the next few years. They are in position to be contenders for the playoffs. I love what the rebuild has created – a team that will be much better than what we’ve seen the last four years.

However, on Monday it was learned that Coppolella was quitting as general manager. Basically, the Braves are being investigated for cheating – for not following the rules in international scouting. Now look, international scouting in baseball is as dirty as college basketball. Teams bend the rules all the time. Teams are not supposed to enter agreements with players until they turn 16. Teams have a certain amount to spend, and if they go over that amount they are penalized. The Braves are accused of bundling amounts of money. In other words, if you want a star player, you also pay the agent of that player more money for a different player that winds up going to the star player – or to that agent. They are also being investigated for violations with the draft.

Again, these are basically allegations that the Braves have cheated – just like a college football or college basketball team under investigation by the NCAA. All these years the Braves have beat their chest and acted like they are the preeminent team in baseball, and now this. They talk about their history, but they haven’t won a playoff series in 16 years. The 1990s are over. In that decade, the Braves won a World Series and went five times.

The problem with the Braves is that they have no leader. Coppolella was a young GM when he was given the job. John Hart, who previously was a GM in Cleveland and Texas, was supposed to be the veteran executive to provide guidance and be his mentor. But obviously, Hart provided no leadership and enabled Coppolella to not only break the rules, but to create an unhealthy environment in the front office. There has been a soap opera going on the last few months in the Braves front office, and Hart deserves as much blame as Coppolella.

Are we supposed to believe Hart knew nothing that was going on? That’s just not true. I don’t believe it, and neither does anyone else involved in the situation. How could Hart not know what was going on? That’s ridiculous. Hart is not a leader. He’s been paid a seven-figure salary and most people believe he has enjoyed playing golf more than providing leadership to his protégé. And now, the Braves are in the biggest scandal they’ve probably ever had.

Where is the leadership? Coppolella is gone, and Hart should go too. The Braves are now broken, and they need to hire former front office executive Dayton Moore as the new president of baseball operations. He was Atlanta’s farm director before he left to go run the Royals in 2005. Two years ago, Kansas City won the World Series. Moore is one of the most respected executives in baseball, and the people who worked with him in Atlanta loved him. He’s a good man who could bring instant credibility back to the front office.

The Braves have prided themselves on being one of the best franchises in baseball. But, they don’t win and now they’ve cheated. If they want fans to come to that new ballpark, they better fix this by getting Hart out of there and bringing in someone to clean up this big, fat mess.

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