Braves’ handling of Gonzalez’s firing takes clumsy to a new level

Debates will be ongoing as to whether the Braves were justified in their firing of manager of Fredi Gonzalez Tuesday, or whether the front office is merely making him the scapegoat for their own miscalculations about this season (as I believe).

But there’s one thing that’s not up for debate: The handling of Gonzalez’s firing, as orchestrated by general manager John Coppolella, was one of the clumsiest transactions in pro sports history.

Consider:

• As the Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported, Gonzalez first learned he had been fired from a travel agent, not Coppolella. About an hour following the Braves’ loss in Pittsburgh Monday night, the manager received an email confirmation of a flight that had been booked for him for Tuesday to return to Atlanta. The Braves still had six games remaining on their road trip, including three more in Pittsburgh. So it wasn’t difficult for Gonzalez to conclude he had been fired. But that wasn’t confirmed until he confronted team officials in the team hotel Monday night. (Coppolella was on the trip at that point but president of baseball operations John Hart wasn’t. Hart joined the team on Tuesday and the plan was to tell Gonzalez at that time.)

• Gwinnett Braves manager Brian Snitker was phoned by Coppolella Monday morning and told the Braves were going to fire Gonzalez the next day and the team wanted him to take over as interim manager. Snitker was having breakfast with his wife at the time. “My wife and I were having breakfast, and it kind of, I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ It kind of got my head spinning a little bit. I felt like I just kind of dropped out of the sky into the clubhouse.”

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart, center, and general manager John Coppolella, left, meet with reporters in the dugout before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday night. (AP photo)

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart, center, and general manager John Coppolella, left, meet with reporters in the dugout before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday night. (AP photo)

So let’s recap. The organization that preaches class and professionalism and doing things the “Braves way,” felt it more important to tell a travel agent (the night before) that Gonzalez was getting fired and tell Snitker, his temporary replacement, a full 24 hours ahead of time that a change was coming.

Even if you attempt to justify giving Snitker a heads up — enabling him to pack for the trip — 24 hours notice is a bit much. More than a bit, actually. And certainly, there is no reason to feel compelled to book Gonzalez’s return flight with a travel rep before the manager is even informed that he’s gone.

This wasn’t a high security situation — Take his parking key card! Security, escort him out! — and certainly there is no shortage of Pittsburgh-to-Atlanta flights. Was Coppolella worried fares were going to go up?

There are clumsy ways to do things. But Coppolella and the Braves just took clumsy to a new level.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

Reader Comments 0

123 comments
Dooner46
Dooner46

Have not heard you say one postitive things about Atlanta sports, except maybe tech, leave.

OldSmoky
OldSmoky

It is time to get big business out of baseball--they have made it laughing stock. It is like every major league team owner did not  make the Little League team and they are trying to get even--using money rather than talent..A sad fate of affairs in America's pastime.

CZBlue
CZBlue

I don't know Coppy the Trader was thinking of when he made all of these deals for prospects and no true front line players.  He got what he built, so as a honorable person he should put his resignation on the table before firing the manager.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

But Jeff, think of the money that poor old Liberty Media saved by booking his flight in advance. It had to be a couple of bucks. After all, with attendance down they're not selling as many of their sawdust filled hotdogs and watered down beer this year.

CTATTER
CTATTER

Braves need an owner like George Steinbrenner or Tom Yawkey to put some fire in their soft, lazy bellies.  None of this corporate crap.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Snitker will do a better job. As far as I know he has never coached anything but kids and he knows these kids better than anybody. You can't make a kid a man by moving him up to the majors and you can't treat a kid like a man if he isn't a man. On the other hand, Snitker has to learn how to handle the few veterans on the team because they can help teach the kids how to be winners. Don't subdue the rookie's enthusiasm....nurture it.....he will calm down as he matures.

DaGherk
DaGherk

The tried to tell Fredi earlier, but Hart was stuck in the security line at the airport for 18 hrs....

sviniard
sviniard

@JeffSchultzAJC I don't know that "clumsy" is the best word here. I'm thinking "tacky" or "unprofessional" better describe Braves on this.

Brett Levinson
Brett Levinson

Bunch of morons running our organization with fake Tittied wife's! They all suck now! Thanks Turner for selling us out to bs!

19palmer49
19palmer49

Agree Jeff and Bradley is an idiot. No Class. Hope the Marietta Braves bankrupt.

patriotdog
patriotdog

From the interview where Coppy essentially scolded fans for not believing in the front office'

infallibility, to this, and other almost curt interview comments in between, I am shocked Coppy has survived the Wren-era purge. He's the complete opposite of the 'Braves Way' and would be the next to go, were I in Harts' shoes.

This is as classless a move as it gets in sports.

Lee Kayne
Lee Kayne

did hart fly delta or net Jets?... total bum

Cal Stevens
Cal Stevens

Can the Braves just move to Cobb County now and not wait until next year!!!

9awebb
9awebb

I hope you get a personal interview with Coppolella and hammer him to the wall over this. The debate will continue for awhile about the decision to fire FG. But what a conceited, immature way to do it. Get your punches in before they pull your hall pass!

Michael Laurent
Michael Laurent

The faceless Liberty Media means no accountability. Braves have been for the worse ever since Ted sold them.

Jo Anne White
Jo Anne White

you know I am really getting tired of all of the Braves bashing from this paper.

Moneyball
Moneyball

...and yet you keep reading. Who's the dumb one here?

Scotdawg2
Scotdawg2

My immediate guess was that Coppelella notified Fredi via text message, which is about as personal as millenials get, but this is beyond belief.  While Schuerholtz is doing his best to distance himself from the day-to-day demolition of the once-dominant franchise he engineered, I can't believe he allowed this to happen under his watch.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

These are the same guys who traded the greatest defensive shortstop in 2 generations, a fan favorite, who that had under a rookie contract for three years for... what exactly?? I'd have to imagine that this like so many of their actions were the result of dart hitting board.

Durwood Hanson
Durwood Hanson

They traded everybody away. Hell, two years ago they were in the playoffs.

Donald_01
Donald_01

Ever notice how much Coppy looks like Curley of the three STOOGES? I see Hart as Moe and John S. as Larry. I mean I know I have seen this exact episode on late night tv.

Bob Hunt
Bob Hunt

what a trash organization, I'm done with baseball forever...

Jack Fowler
Jack Fowler

Handling of this years player transition has been a disaster. It has left fans with nothing to hope for. You will be able to bring back Chief Knocahoma, because the stands will be empty.

Jason Laster
Jason Laster

All Atlanta teams except the Braves should relocate to Montgomery . They all win a championship in 3 years. #Fact

lfpinson
lfpinson

Your assessment seems to be "Right On", Mr. Schultz.  I have seen similar ejections in other industries and the dismissals often / usually are, as you put it, "scape-goating".  Also, another set of reasons for such dismissals are deeply embedded in envy, jealousy, revenge, or other secondary or even tertiary agendas.  Whatever the merits of Mr. Gonzalez, the finesse with which his separation was handled is analogous to "surgery with a meat axe"! 

Darrell Stephens
Darrell Stephens

If you don't respect the man you hired as manager you sure won't respect him when fire in a email.

Carolyn Medine Foy
Carolyn Medine Foy

The powers that be in the Braves organization set Freddie Gonzales and the current Braves team up for failure and then had the nerve to fire Freddie in such an unprofessional way!!!!! That is very classy!!!

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

They made the right decision to let Gonzalez go....just bungled the handling of it.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

The Amateur Hour continues...


Pretty simple to handle.  


You inform the person who is being terminated FIRST....then everyone else (Snitker, Travel Agent, etc)

B-PA
B-PA

They fired the wrong 2 guys. They should have gotten rid of Coppolella and Hart. How can they blame Freddie when they are the 2 that totally gutted this team and didn't even tell Freddie he was fired. Shame Shame Shame

MrFish
MrFish

Maybe the travel agent jumped the gun? Didn't follow instructions maybe?

Know the facts first.

Pat Smith
Pat Smith

Not a Braves fan by any stretch of the imagination! Chicago All Day! However, with the field of talent given to him for the past several years (especially this one), Gonzalez should have been the safest coach in the majors, job wise!

Boilermaker Hogan
Boilermaker Hogan

Seems like amateur hour in Braves management these days. Remember them being a man short recently for a game because someone there didn't know MLB rules. Now this misstep with FG and the plane ticket. I thought these types of things are what all of the senior advisers were supposed to prevent? Two big miscues by a once classy, ultra professional organization in a very short time frame.

mark513
mark513

Who gives a crap about how Fredi was fired, the very fact that I am wasting time reading this and commenting shows the pathetic state of sports media in this town. I have compassion for guys that get laid off from their job that have no control over their fate and need each paycheck to live, and not a guy managing a baseball team who deserved to loose his job 4 years ago. Where were those columns? Oh wait I forgot in this town we celebrate mediocre performance, especially if we "like" the guy coaching the team. What is even worse are all the fans on this board that are concerned about this as well, instead of the long term prospect of the team. If the moves Hart and Coppolella make work out and two years from now the team is in first place, will there be any columns remembering the day Fedi got fired!

TideDawg
TideDawg

@mark513 You got it right. When all of this minor league talent matures nobody will admit to the things being said now.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

It appears the Front Office performs at the same level as the team.


Book Em Danno

Heath Harvey
Heath Harvey

Liberty Media does not value the Braves or its personnel as people or as a baseball team, but only as financial assets and treat them with as much dignity as a bank statement.

Kyle Smith
Kyle Smith

God I cannot stand Jeff Schultz. He manipulates for clicks and readership. But it doesnt surprise; the AJCs downfall has been swift and sad. Once a respected news org, its now nothing more than used toilet paper.

Jane Swift
Jane Swift

He punctuates and spells correctly, unlike this critic.

Bill Clements
Bill Clements

The three pictured plus Tim Lee need to be fired for mismanagement - make that gross mismanagement!

TideDawg
TideDawg

How FG was fired is now the new topic of discussion. He had to know it was coming when they didn't extend his contract (maybe they did and I just don't know it). FG knows his baseball. What he doesn't know is how to manage a bunch of kids. That, to me, is the reason he should have been fired. Good man in the wrong job.

NYbrave
NYbrave

@TideDawg He did get his contract extended for this year, which was a clear signal that they were going to gut the team and not "blame" him.  They're blaming him anyway...but he's at least getting paid.