Saturday, July 19, 2008

As the R-Braves sink into the sunset

Playing on the road, the Richmond Braves lost to the Buffalo Bisons last night by a score of 16-3. If you really want to know more about that game click here to visit the R-Braves web site.

Writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch John O'Connor looks at the possibilities for replacing the R-Braves, who are in the process of playing out their last season at The Diamond.
Minor League Baseball's executive vice president [Tim Purpura] said yesterday "about three or four" baseball franchises, all from Class AA and Class A, have filed applications to relocate to Richmond.
Click here to read more.

Also writing for the RT-D, Michael Paul Williams decries the lack of attendance at The Diamond for R-Braves games.

So far this season, the Braves are drawing 1,100 fewer fans than in 2007, when folks weren't exactly flocking to a 12,134-seat ballpark to see a championship team. At an all-time low average paid attendance of 3,875, the home team is last in the International League in attendance and similarly positioned in the hearts and minds of area residents.

Did you check out the fever chart in Thursday's paper on the team's attendance since 1985? Attendance has been in a free fall for much of the past decade. It's not the sort of chart you'd want at the foot of your hospital bed.

Early on this season, officials blamed wet weather for the slack attendance. It turns out ennui, not inclement weather, is keeping fans away in droves.

Click here to read the entire Williams piece.

Williams is right to challenge the Braves management's blaming wet weather for the low attendance numbers. What he missed was how disingenuous that statement was, and what that sort of a statement might indicate about the people behind it.

Let's cut to the chase: For some reason the R-Braves sourpuss general manager, Bruce Baldwin, has been getting a free pass when blame gets assigned for how it came to pass that Richmond lost its Triple A baseball team to an Atlanta suburb.

It was Baldwin who said a few weeks ago that the weather was keeping attendance down, more than it was a matter of disenchantment with the home team.

Well, if Baldwin is still claiming fans aren't staying away because some are unhappy about the team's lame duck status, perhaps his next job should be as a spin doctor for a politician about as popular as Jim Gilmore. Can't you hear Baldwin saying Gilmore is well-positioned to defeat Mark Warner?

Flashback: A few years ago, among other things, it was Baldwin's series of misleading statements about the possibilities of building a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom, and other locations, that helped pave the road to Gwinnett, Ga., where the R-, no make that the G-Braves will play next season.

Remember how, early on, Baldwin claimed he and the Braves had nothing to do with the baseball-in-The Bottom movement? Then, that morphed into total support for the move. In those days more questions needed to have been asked about how many hats Baldwin was wearing.

Remember when Baldwin tried to shift all the blame for the physical problems at The Diamond onto the Richmond Metropolitan Authority's Mike Berry? Baldwin knew better, but he did it anyway.

Don't get me wrong. If you want an answer to the question: Who is most to blame for losing the R-Braves?

At the top of the list is Mayor Doug Wilder. But as the Richmond Braves (42-57) sink into the sunset, there are other names that should be on that list.

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