I was there eating lunch with my friends and then out of the daily muttering of relationship drama and plans for the summer, one of my friends stopped scrolling on his phone and handed me his phone with a smile. The next thing I know I let out a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-esque, “finally”! To the surprise of everyone at the table I was eating at, all eyes, including my father’s (who works on the support staff at the school I go to), where on my friends and I. Relationship drama and plans for the summer resumed, and then I thought to myself, “just a little bit late on the fastball, there Braves”, and not like “late and I foul tip the ball”, a little bit late on the fastball as in, ” let me swing when the ball is in the catcher’s glove” late.
I was never in favor of hiring Fredi Gonzalez from the start. Yes, I understood that he was from the Bobby Cox coaching tree, but he was just fired by the then Florida Marlins. Now granted the late 2000s were not the best of years for the Marlins, but still, I was puzzled by the notion of hiring a recently fired manager.
In the inaugural season of the Gonzalez era, the Braves witnessed an epic collapse of 8.5, which would have seen the Braves reach the post season in back-to-back years for the first time since 2004 and 2005. We saw the ol’ bat licker Jose Constanza over rising superstar Jason Heyward, the waste of a solid bullpen, and lineups that were not meant to hold an 8.5 game lead over the last month of the season.
2012 saw the Braves win 94 games, but still come up short in the NL East, impart to the upstart Washington Nationals putting everything together. Then the infamous in-field fly game happened and ended Atlanta’s hopes of a deep playoff run unjustly.
Things started to look like the Braves were back to winning NL East titles, as the Braves recaptured that elusive NL East title in 2013, but then as a deep post season run looked ver real,it all came crashing down as Gonzalez chose to pitch David Carpenter over superstar, all-star, all-world, all-universe closer Craig Kimbrel in game four of the NLDS in 2013 against the LA Dodgers, who ended up winning that NLDS series.
2014 should have been the point were Gonzalez’s services were no longer required. When games ended on August 10th, 2014, Atlanta had just defeated Washington 3-1 and were only 3.5 games behind Washington and were breathing down the necks of Bryce Harper and company. The opportunity of a repeat of yet another division championship was squandered, as the Braves fluttered to the finish line and finished a hefty 17 games behind the ‘Nats. This should have been when Gonzalez was handed his walking papers, instead the front office was gutted when GM Frank Wren was let go, and John Hart was brought in. Hart and company then traded away Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, BJ Upton, and Craig Kimbrel among many others for a multitude of prospects. Now if a organziation is clearly gutting its front office and team, would it not make sense to bring in a new face to manage the new product of a team?
Granted it would have been tough to win the 2015 and 2016 Atlanta Braves, but the recent firing of Fredi Gonzalez has been late considering the opportunities of the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 season that were presented for the Braves to make multiple deep playoff runs. Also, if a organziation is clearly making a move to the future with a “rebuilding/retooling” project that we are seeing with the Braves, it does not make any sense for someone who squandered chance after chance after chance to manage a team of rising stars that hopes and has been designed to go deep into the playoffs. Just a little bit late there Braves, just a little bit late.