We/He never said goodbye. (by blazon)

Never been much for hoopla, the extended farewells, the gift wrapped, choreographed road shows to say goodbye. The Softtail bedecked with ribbon, the base studded and personalized, the macho bow itching to bag its first turkey.  A very few are earned – Mariano yes, Chipper maybe.

Brian McCann was not at that level, nor was he retiring, but he was certainly special, he was leaving us and he’s gone now and you might hardly know it.

Huddy saw that could happen from where he stood and had the rehab time to plan it through. His posted exit and thank yous were  classy, entirely appropriate and, more importantly, made formal record of his departure from our world.  Way to do it.

Our home town hero though, it somehow never happened.  The way his disappointing final season played out he/we never knew when an at bat would be the last – (Huddy had that decided for him, without any pre-warning.  You saw him on the stretcher, you knew he was done, it was over for him and us.) With Mac it was somehow blurred in a miserable final loss on the road in the post season. He ended on a pretty awful note, his own output minimal.

Wow, that’s it then, no more BMac.  The inevitable Cashman contract a few weeks later hardly stung by that point – the pain had come earlier. The face, in pinstripes, looked pretty miserable to me.  Second guessing even?  But i’m imagining things, why should he be?

But bet he is, just a little bit.  He knew by then the Smoltz/Glavine syndrome, time had revealed it. Some extra grubby millions after ungracious hectoring  to add to the big pile already in the bank. Or Atlanta immortality, a Brave for ever, a legend, the home town boy.  And some us thought he knew that too.  Maybe he even did until a piece of paper was placed in front of him. He will come to know he made the wrong decision, in a year or five it’ll hit home. Silly money’s all over his world,  true heroes are few.

But still.  That’s a different story for a different day.  Happy or not, is that all we could do to say goodbye? He had absolutely earned and deserved it, he was special and we all knew it. What should we have done?  Don’t know, do you?  What about him, how does he feel? Huddy had closed the Journal door, you couldn’t match that – or want to.

So for now at least it feels like we’re all in limbo.  Unfinished business.  Bye Bye Mac, what a guy.

40 thoughts on “We/He never said goodbye. (by blazon)”

  1. That’s why you are a Braves’ fan, not a player fan. (Although, you can like and appreciate players, even ones who don’t toil for your preferred laundry.) We don’t get angry when a team moves on from a player who’s no longer able to contribute – cough cough Uggla cough- so we shouldn’t get mad when a player moves on to a team that’s willing to pay him more than our team is. In the end, as Michael Corleone would say, ‘It’s just business.’

  2. Brian McCann deserves to be on a team that badly needs him, as the Yankees do. They gave him a prince’s welcome and are paying him way more money than the Braves would dream of giving him.

    I’m happy for him. I hope that Yankee fans don’t turn on him. I think he’s the kind of player that they’ll like — he’s not quite a red-ass like Paul O’Neill, but he leaves it all on the field, sticks up for his teammates, is a clubhouse leader, and he’s a “professional hitter.” I just hate the thought of him as yet another target of ridicule on the tabloid back pages.

    If the Yankees turn on him, I’m going to be peeved.

  3. I’m sure he would have taken a discount, but the Braves didn’t make him a real offer. I don’t know what he will do with the money, but if he accepts a one-year deal for the fans, Liberty Media will be seeing most of the benefits. Chipper took a discount, but they always at least gave him some security.

    OT: I gonna write this on a chalkboard a hundred times “I WILL NOT READ COMMENTS ON THE AJC WEBSITE”

  4. @150 old thread

    The idea that Liberty are average owners I think is being put to the test right now which is partly what inspired my rant against them. Since they’ve owned the team they’ve let it run basically as it’s own unit at a break even (if you want to believe that sort of thing) or at least you can say they kept payroll in line with attendance so they’re operating level every year while increasing the value of the franchise every year as well and most likely getting tax breaks somewhere in there as well because this is America and all. This year though we KNOW that there is at least $25 million extra cash available because of the new tv deal that every team is getting. The Mariners used the $25 mil and signed Cano, plenty of other teams have used it as well but Liberty is gonna sit on it.

    What does that tell you about the future of the franchise? Are they going to operate at the same level and get bypassed by every other team actually interested in winning? The fact that there is new money coming in and it’s not getting reinvested in the team is really troubling. I’m not looking for Steinbrenner or LA YOLO spending sprees, but even just keeping the status quo of operating at break even would be justifiable at least. But if this offseason continues as it is going and the big moves are Floyd and Doumit (the Floyd move is fine, the Doumit move is weird but whatever) and we don’t attempt to secure any of the young guys to long term deals then what are we doing here? We’re gonna run back a flawed team that even though Sam says is “gonna compete for 90+ wins and the division” got to the number of wins it got to by beating up on a woefully easy schedule and then got completely outclassed in the playoffs and we’re gonna hope for the best… I’m just not happy about the direction is all guys.

    As for BMac, he was a good Brave but he wasn’t a legend. He never won anything significant and was underpaid for most of the time he was here so good for him for getting the big Yankee deal. Wish him well but I don’t feel like there’s unfinished business with him.

  5. Because of his position and economic realities between the leagues, I doubt McCann ever thought he had much chance of staying a Brave his entire career. At the least, the reality should have been clear this last year. So I think you might be projecting just a bit your own feelings onto him. But I agree, “what a guy.”

    @5 They’re not the Wilpon’s or Loria. There’s stingy and then there’s downright destructive. In my mind you have to be the latter to qualify as “shit”.

  6. I’m classifying them as “below average going bad”, not saying they’re exploitative or destructive but certainly it’s not going in the right direction. Last year with the Upton moves it maybe seemed like things could get turned around but I guess they blew their wad on those and now have something of a mess on their hands.

  7. @6

    guilty as charged, likely and thanks for your comments…i find something intrinsically romantic in baseball, everything about it…i follow Arsenal with equal passion but never would i apply that adjective to soccer and all that is around it – it too can be beautiful but there’s not a whiff of romance to it. And don’t mention the NFL/NBA/NCAA money pits.

    And with someone special like McCann, home grown, an emotional attachment forms over the years. His obvious decency helped. By the end of his extension period this year let’s say he has 25 million dollars in the bank and a decision to make.

    Now here is where i part company with Alex and many others. What criteria should he use in making that decision? How much money does he need, really, on top of the 25. He knows the Braves will pay him another 50, say, and he also knows that’s about it.
    75 Million. Enough already. For God’s sake, you can argue that point?

    Do we always make decisions like this purely on economics? in our jobs? in our lives?I know a few people who haven’t and i bet you do too. I also know that the attitudes of many of us towards Smoltz and Glavine are different today than they otherwise would have been and they know it. I always thought Mac was a cut above them as a person. In fact i know he is so the romantic in me is hurt.

    But still, this was supposed to be about his farewell, or the lack of it! Are we going to have to wait for interleague play to give us a chance to show our love? Yes, love.

  8. Without putting too fine a point on it, Brian McCann is one of the greatest Atlanta Braves ever. He wasn’t as good as Chipper Jones or Andruw Jones, but:

    Positional WAR with the Braves, from 1960 to present
    Rk Player WAR/pos
    1 Hank Aaron 103.4
    2 Chipper Jones 85.2
    3 Andruw Jones 60.8
    4 Dale Murphy 47
    5 Eddie Mathews 40.8
    6 Joe Torre 33.2
    7 David Justice 24.3
    8 Brian McCann 23.6
    9 Javy Lopez 23.3
    10 Rico Carty 23.2
    11 Darrell Evans 22.8
    12 Felipe Alou 21.9
    13 Rafael Furcal 21.7
    14 Bob Horner 21.5
    15 Jeff Blauser 20.7

  9. Joey Terdoslavich and Ryan Doumit should have an evil eye staring contest.

    I spill coffee on my shirt nearly every day.

  10. I can’t wax poetic about any Braves of the McCann/Hudson vintage. You have to win a playoff series before you can crack into the Chipper/Andruw/Justice level of Brave-itude.

    I think the fact that a bunch of the guys on the list @9 played on the same team also makes it more special to me. That’s very unlikely to be repeated unless the team is sold.

  11. I think it’s reasonable to draw the “legends” line under Eddie Mathews in that list above.

  12. Looking at the list, if you’d have told me that McCann was one-quarter of the distance between Blauser and Joe Torre, or 14 percent of the way between Blauser and Mathews, I’d have said BMac must have been really overrated when I saw him… but I guess that’s just a retrospectively sour opinion of Blauser. He’s sort of the outlier on that list, isn’t he?

  13. Blauser basically had the equivalent of an extra season’s worth of plate of appearances. But I think it’s possible that Blauser was quite underrated. He was phenomenal in 1993 and 1997, and an unprepossessingly average shortstop the other years. But at least by rWAR, Blauser was worth 5.7 WAR in 1993 — that’s slightly more than McCann was ever worth in any single season, including his 5.5 rWAR campaign in 2008.

  14. @9

    What I get from that list is not anything about Brian McCann (he was definitely great, but I’m still taking Javy and probably Torre over him), but that I’ve probably been wrong about not being in favor of retiring Andruw’s number.

  15. Gotta extend Simmons before he gets a raise. Easy to lose leverage when a guy starts making seven figures. Seems like a good bet to at least stay very good on D

  16. Forget retiring his number, Andruw should be in the HOF.

    But the same people who won’t let roiders in will say that Andruw’s offensive stats just don’t measure up for his era.

  17. I’d like to see the Braves make the one day contract, retire as a Brave gesture to Andruw, when he is ready to hang it up.

    I think Mac wrote about it or maybe it was Bill James. Andruw is one of those guys who was great yet criticized for never reaching his potential and then is appreciated for that greatness after he leaves.

  18. I think Andruw’s defense should get him in. Seriously, being maybe the best ever at Center or Shortstop should get anyone into the hall

  19. I think if I were a ballplayer, or involved in any endeavor in which the money gets to be more than one could spend in a lifetime, I’d personally reach a point where I made my employment decision based on a lot of factors, not just monetary maximization. I think that’s an easily identifiable-with feeling for a lot of us worker bees.

    But projecting that feeling onto ballplayers is bad for your soul because it reinforces that subconscious Mr. Burns bias that pro sports sometimes creates that I wrote about a few weeks ago. If it’s important to keep Brian McCann in Atlanta, which I agree it is, why is it solely Brian McCann’s responsibility to accept an under-market-value contract? The Braves could have come to the table. They did not, and I’d argue that this should affect our perception of the institution in at least equal shares as it affects our perception of the ballplayer.

    It’s the nature of the business that with rare exception you can’t keep a player you love in your town forever. Steve Nash is still one of my favorite NBA players and he left my Mavericks 10 years ago and occasionally opposed them in the playoffs. True that I love Chipper Jones more because he remained the face of the Braves until he retired, but I’d not have blamed him if he’d left. Like any good human relationship, you remember fondly the times you had together, even if that winds up not being forever.

    This is probably the most political point I come on here to make time and again, but it’s baseball-political at least, so forgive me, Mac. Baseball is a romantic sport but it’s also a bloody, zero-sum business between its labor and its management, and the greatest trick management ever pulled was to get its fans to obsess over the publicly-available player salaries while shrouding its own finances in layers of opacity. Never forget that it’s a two-way tug of war for every dime or grubby million.

    And count me in with @5 in being increasingly agitated with the direction of the franchise itself. “At least it’s not the Wilpons” sounds like me when I was in high school and my grades were slipping, arguing to my parents that at least I’m not a drug addict. Well yeah but that never had anything to do with the standards we had set for ourselves.

  20. 75 Million. Enough already. For God’s sake, you can argue that point?

    Even setting the side the merits for a second, is there anyone else in this income bracket besides team sport athletes that this even comes up about? John Malone, Liberty’s chairman has a net worth of around 7 billion – and yet I never hear anyone asking him for a hometown discount.

  21. @22 At least it’s not the Wilpons” sounds like me when I was in high school and my grades were slipping, arguing to my parents that at least I’m not a drug addict.

    No, it doesn’t. It just means that evaluating owners through a lens of self-entitlement as if an unlimited payroll is ones God given right as a fan is rather silly when there are genuinely shit owners out there actively ruining franchises for decades on end.

  22. I root for the A on the cap. You could put 10 guys I’ve never heard of on next year’s team and if they win the pennant then they’ll be my new most favoritest players.

    As for the whole labor vs capital issue in baseball…both sides are so far above my pay grade that I can’t really relate.

  23. Unlimited? Give me status quo ante 2003 with an annual inflation adjustment and I’m happy. I’m a reasonable man. But I set my expectations based on standards I’ve known and grown up with, not just staying on the right side of the horrible line.

  24. I’ve been banging the drum on Andruw’s Hall of Fame case for a long, long time. Put simply, he deserves to be a Hall of Famer. At this point, I’m not sure the writers would induct Christy Mathewson, so I’m not holding my breath. But he sure as hell belongs.

  25. I may be alone in having no hard feelings towards the Braves ownership. It is what it is. Do I wish they would spend more? Sure, but I don’t hate them for not doing it. What they do right is let the baseball folks run the baseball team. And the baseball folks have continued to put a competitive product on the field for years.

  26. John Malone is virtually unique among baseball owners in that he doesn’t have any particular desire to own a baseball team. He only owns the Braves because he hates paying taxes, and owning the Braves was part of a complicated strategy to extricate himself from the ownership of a substantial portion of Time Warner. (Amusingly enough, he’s now trying to buy the since spun-off Time Warner Cable.) I think it’s fair to say that every other owner would be willing to lose a little money (at the margin) to increase the probability of holding a trophy. I’m quite certain that matters not a whit to John Malone. It’s a unique situation, and we Braves fans have no choice but to live with it, unless we want to chip in and pay Malone’s taxes for him if he were willing to transfer ownership to some starry eyed owner with both wherewithal and a baseball-related ego.

    Of course, the only reason Time Warner ever owned the Braves in the first place is that Ted Turner went free agent (like McCann!) and monetized his future rewards. Time Warner never gave a damn either, except insofar as Ted on the board was a pain in the ass who got his way.

    So that’s where we find ourselves… the only franchise in which the owner doesn’t get a little-boy thrill either out of winning or at least being recognized, and waiting around to see if Turner Field the ballpark will outlive Ted Turner the man. (Ted’s only 75, so I expect the answer to be no, but you never know.)

    Merry Christmas, everybody!

  27. Speaking of the Hall, Darren’s ballot counting toy is up and running again. Only 5.3% of ballots in so far, and the angry old timers who vote for only Jack Morris are usually late to get theirs done. But as of today four candidates are over the 75% threshold for induction.

    Maddux (100%)
    Glavine (100%)
    Biggio (83%)
    F. Thomas (83%)

    Mike Piazza is creepy close w 73% while Jack Morris is at 70%.

  28. I think it’s fair to say that every other owner would be willing to lose a little money (at the margin) to increase the probability of holding a trophy.

    I don’t agree. I think the vast majority of owners run their teams like businesses: they look for a reasonable rate of return on their investment. It’s just that most owners don’t do as poor a job as Liberty Media at pretending to care about the team’s fortunes.

  29. @23 That’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Who is going to ask him for a hometown discount? Liberty media is his horse. He can choose to earn less. Some chairmen and CEOs/CIOs do that. In turn, they sometimes choose to pay out more to their employees rather than pocketing a huge paycheck for themselves.

    The problem is that the money shouldn’t be the largest determining factor, and it is by far the biggest factor. I don’t think Brian McCann really had any say in the matter. I think he could have expressed a strong desire to work out a deal. I think he could have driven down the market price for his services. In the end, however, I think McCann owes it to the union to take the biggest offer he can get, which is just one of many problems plaguing the sport today.

  30. @31: Seriously? First of all, business that are run like business are rife with management (not owners) who blow money at the margin for self-aggrandizing purposes. Do you think stadium naming deals are really profit maximizing for the company or a convenient way to get choice boxes for the CEO? Running a company “like businesses” doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of CEO/management perks which have nothing to do with profit maximization. Secondly, Ted Turner, Jerry Jones, George Friggin’ Steinbrenner, Robert Kraft, Calvin Griffith, etc. etc. Now I grant it’s really hard to tell what’s profit maximizing, since there’s an important mix of operating profits and franchise value which is largely unrelated to the stream of operating profits, but I don’t know of anyone who argues that a huge fraction of the value of ownership of a sports franchise isn’t saying you’re the owner of a sports franchise.

  31. I agree completely, Alex. It’s just hard to argue that either George or his offspring were/are running the Yankees “like businesses.”

  32. @34 That’s all I’m saying. Liberty is no fan’s idea of a great owner, but they could be much worse.

  33. @35, no question of that. Sports teams are businesses, but unless they’re the Green Bay Packers, they’re generally either rich men’s playthings or tax shelters. (They weren’t all rich men, but Marge Schott is unique anyway.)

  34. So should we say it is Ted Turner who brought greatness to the Braves as well as dragged the Braves into this situation?

  35. Money doesn’t bring greatness. I think most of the credit has to go more towards JS, Bobby, and the scouts.

  36. If I were a ballplayer and had the option to take a little less to stay in a situation I liked, I might (I think) do that. But that’s my personal choice. I don’t think a fan is in any position to suggest that another player make such a decision, especially since there is obvious self-interest in it. It’s nice that Chipper Jones and Cal Ripken took less money to stay with their teams and they are obviously not having trouble putting food on the table. But that is not a decision that I am putting on someone else. McCann got his pay day and good for him. I hope he likes it with the Yankees. I suspect he might not. But that’s his bed to lie in.

    The only thing that annoys about the big money in sports (or Wall Street for that matter) is the idea that not being offered every single available dollar is a sign of disrespect. Plus the idea that you HAVE to get every single dollar so your family can do what? Buy an island? I accept that these guys will be and probably should be fabulously wealthy but don’t act like you are working at Wal-Mart.

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