Braves need some personality

Do the Braves need a bit more personality? Bill Shanks thinks so.

Through the years, the Atlanta Braves have developed a reputation. It mainly was created by John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, two people responsible for a lot of winning baseball for many years.

Atlanta is known as a professional organization. The Braves are business-like in their approach. They do things the right way, play the game the right way. There is a code they live by when that jersey is worn.

What exactly does that mean? Well, players know when they walk in the clubhouse they are expected to act and perform a certain way. It's rather straight-laced, almost like you expect players to wear a coat and tie instead of a uniform.

Players who haven't fit in through the years usually didn't last too long. Kenny Lofton certainly didn't fit in. He talked about how the pitchers got all the love, and the next year, Lofton was back in Cleveland. Tim Spooneybarger was just a different bird. He was a good kid, but he wasn't the normal golf-playing pitcher who was in the click. Therefore, Spooneybarger didn't last long either.

There's nothing wrong with it, really, but you wonder if it sometimes can pigeon-hole players into acting a certain way so to not upset the applecart, instead of being more emotional. Does the expectation of how the organization wants a player to act cause some to fit into that mold, even if they are really not like that?

I had a scout in spring training tell me something very interesting, and considering how the past week or so has gone for the Braves, it has come to my mind more than once.

"This team has too many good guys," the scout said. "Look around the diamond. They're all pretty good kids. They don't rock the boat. They just go play the game and keep quiet."

Now no one is advocating the Braves go sign a serial killer or a pot-smoking drug addict who will cause turmoil in the clubhouse. But there is no doubt watching this team that there's just not much emotion. The manager doesn't have much, and neither do the players.

You have to wonder, when a team is in the middle of a losing streak like the Braves have suffered through, if it would be good to hear about someone going in and tearing up the clubhouse. Sure, it's rather childish, I suppose, and it won't change anything. But when a team gets in a funk, you wonder if something like that might simply stir the pot a bit to get the team going.

But if we heard that about an Atlanta player, chances are that player would be placed on the trade block the next day. That would be frowned upon because it would not be "the Braves way."

Well, maybe "the Braves way" needs to change a little. Maybe we need to see some leadership on this team. I don't see it, especially when Chipper Jones is out. What's going to happen next year when he's gone? Are they going to get Jones on a speaker phone from his ranch in Texas and have him give a pep talk?

This team needs some personality. I'm not saying the Braves need Don Rickles as the manager, but at times they just look so uninterested. It's not that they don't care, but if you've watched the team, you know what I'm talking about. They looked like this during the first four games of the season, and that look reappeared with this long losing streak.

Losing will do that to you, I guess. But it just seems like this is a problem. Maybe it's time for someone to rock the boat and make some noise.

If Jones gets back from his injury, Brian McCann gets well from his virus and Freddie Freeman can see well again, maybe this will be a moot point. But the Braves have to avoid these funks. They can't look like they're not interested. If they do, those who go through the turnstiles may become more disinterested, as well.



Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA, WHAL Fox Sports 1460 in Columbus, GA and WCOH Fox Sports 1400 in Newnan, GA. Shanks is a columnist for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.


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