The current Braves woes bring to mind something I wrote about the team in October of 2004.
Yesterday, an article entitled, The Schuerholz System, tried to explain how the Braves win so consistently.
John Schuerholz is a great manager and a smart baseball man. I look forward to reading his book on how he does it after he retires. The newspaper article cannot possibly reveal his true genius due to limitations of the writer and space, but also no one is going to give away all their secrets when they are still active and competing. Still, the article gives the impression that he does have an intelligent design even though he can't reveal all at the present time.
But we can gather clues as to why they fail in the post-season:
Rather than old school or new school, Schuerholz's system appears to combine both. Said his boss, Braves president Terry McGuirk: "There is no stat the 'Moneyball' guys look at that John doesn't. He studies every nuance. But where I think John trumps the 'Moneyball' plan . . . is that he uses stats in a subjective way. Character and makeup are big. Being able to fit into the clubhouse is a prerequisite. Pure stats alone are a very poor discipline because they don't tell you enough about the player.
"John spends a lot of time listening to his scouts. He is a very good listener to knowledge. At the end of the day, it's all about information. Whoever has the most information makes the best decisions."
Character and makeup. Translation: "Mean people suck. We won't hire them." Fine...If you're running a bank or Disney World.
But Mr. Schuerholz is running a group of athletes. A group of underachieving-but community minded-athletes who haven't been able to go the last mile 12 out of 13 times, and 13 out of 14ing fast. (Game 2- top 3, Astros 2 Braves 0 and gimpy Mike Hampton gives up another jack to another Houston catcher). If intelligent design can be credited with his success, than it can be credited with the annual October collapse. Luck does play a more significant role in a short series, but not to this degree.
Athletes are sometimes (surprise!) mean people. Like the Raiders kicker that shot up Siegfried and Roy's house. It's part of the chemistry of a team. Certain allowances must be made for more volatile chemicals. In the right amounts they are the catalyst for winning. You can't be free unless you own gunpowder.
The character scouting aspect of the team has gone a bit too far. Last time they were in the Series, Rocker was on the team and Chipper was rubbing up against bar maidens. Who was hurt? And people of Atlanta, don't for one second think you are off the hook. You demand this kind of team, and they give it to you.
I think it's pretty damn brilliant and insightful, except I would add the suggestion they hire Cynthia McKinney as a coach and have her punch an ump. That broad is immune to the forces that beset the Braves.
Discuss? See ya tomorrow on the air 404-741-9696.