For my column on the Braves’ struggling first baseman, Freddie Freeman, click here. But first, a word from Braves’ ownership.
Greg Maffei, Liberty Media’s $73.5 million CEO, stepped out from behind the wizard’s curtain Thursday to address the corporation’s cellar-dwelling Braves, whose active roster total payroll is about $63 million. (I don’t like all analytics but I like that stat.)
Maffei spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tim Tucker, whose salary is significantly less than Maffei or the Braves’ but has done far more to earn his salary. Below are some of Maffei’s comments and my thoughts:
• Maffei said Liberty has no plans to sell the team, adding, “The Braves have been a great asset, great for Liberty, and we are happy owners.”
See? That’s the problem. The Braves are referred to as an asset, not a team, with actual human beings on the field and in the stands (in theory). Liberty has “happy owners?” Of a 4-11 team that may be on the way to 100 losses? I’m not suggesting all corporate ownership is horrible, or that all owners with faces are great (see: Atlanta Spirit). But it’s clear Liberty just doesn’t care. Nobody should want ownership that just doesn’t care.
• Maffei: “I think there are a lot of ways the Braves continue to be a very interesting business for us, as well as a great team.” Oh look – a pity reference to the team.
• Via Tucker: Maffei was asked what he would say to fans who think the Braves need a local, passionate, engaged owner. “I only read the AJC occasionally, so I don’t (see) as much of that as some people do.” Comment: According to this New York Times list of the nation’s top paid CEO’s, Maffei earned $73,750,882. Maffei can purchase a MyAJC.com digital pass for 99 cents for the first two months and $8.99 per month for every month there after. But I understand that given taxes and his overhead, $73,750,882 doesn’t go as far as it used to.
• More from Maffei on the local ownership issue: “There are a couple (decisions) that we usually assent to, but on pretty much everything day to day this team is run out of Atlanta. So for all intents and purposes, there is local ownership.” On a weasel-out-of-the-answer scale of 1 to 10, that’s a 12.5.
• Maffei said the team’s payroll, which currently ranks 26th among the 30 MLB teams, is set by Braves management, led by McGuirk. Comment: That may be true. But the Braves propose a budget that they know Liberty will approve, and the Braves knew they would stink this season (by design) and few fans would show up to watch them play.
• On the Liberty Braves stock (BATRA) getting bashed on Wall Street: “I think it’ll take a while for investors and research analysts to get a handle on how to value a team and what to do going forward.” Oh, I think they’ve already figured out how they value the stock, Gregy.
For Tucker’s excellent questions and more mis-directions from Maffei, see the story (linked here)
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