Remember the scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Uncle Rico goes on his long, sad diatribe about how great he used to be? About how much better life should be now, if only a couple different things had broken his way. Click above a refresher if you haven’t seen the movie in a while…
Does this sound familiar at all? Sounds a lot like a local baseball team that had a heck of a run between 1991 and 2005 to me. And don’t get me wrong, honoring your history is important for any franchise, especially when you have history worth honoring like the Braves do. But there is a difference between remembering the past, and living in it.
This isn’t a unique situation in sports sadly. There are countless examples of teams in every league feeling some sort of nostalgic debt to the coaches or managers who brought them success. Alabama football took decades to stop relying on some tie to Bear Bryant as the most important job qualification. USC football tried to replace Pete Carroll with two different Carroll clones in Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian before the Trojans realized they needed to move on. We’ve seen “Coaches in waiting,” we’ve even seen coaches’ sons hired. For whatever reason teams feel compelled to “keep it in the family” when all that does is limit their options.
With all that said, the name that is being mentioned most happens to have all the family ties that this franchise seems to look for. Dayton Moore not only worked in the Braves organization, but he was a part of the team in that glory-years era from 1994-2006.
The difference with him is that he left.
Moore went outside of Atlanta and had success elsewhere. In Kansas City he created something that worked, making two World Series appearances and winning the championship in 2015. But what makes him most attractive are the reports that he is only interested in the job if it comes with total control. This means he wouldn’t be the GM, but he’d be the President of Baseball Operations. A fresh voice with all the power, a proven track record and a diverse background.
The bottom line is that the Braves have an opportunity here with the resignation of John Coppolella to start fresh. For all the negative things being written about the now former GM, he has left the cupboard full of young talent. Whoever it is that ends up getting this job enters into a situation where the team can win soon. Just so long as the job doesn’t come with any strings attached. No limitations. No requirement to pick a manager or bench coaches that played for Bobby Cox, or worked in the minor league system. No obligation to make every hire some sort of tribute to days gone by.
Franchises should be proud of their history, but they shouldn’t be prisoner to their history. Otherwise you end up living in a van like Uncle Rico.