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A Welcome Change at the Top

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Several months ago when we were hearing that the company named Liberty Media wanted to purchase the Braves in some sort of convoluted tax swap, I think most fans moaned and slumped in their chair and thought, "here comes another 'corporation' looking to try and cash in on the Braves at the possible expense of staying competitive." At least that's what I thought. I wasn't too thrilled about the team being "the player to be named later" in a larger corporate deal.

But all that is changing as the weeks pass and we see a return to the style exhibited by the Ted Turner owned Braves of the early `90s. Gone are strict budget caps. Gone are corporate approvals for big deals. Gone are the shackles which Schuerholz and company have apparently operated under for much of the last seven or eight years. Braves team president Terry McGuirk lays it out in this very reassuring notes column by Mark Bowman:

"This organizational structure is a little different and it's a little more positive I think in the way you make it happen," McGuirk said. "Time Warner is a great company. But it's very, very disciplined in what it does. That's not to say Liberty is not a very disciplined company. But Liberty's goal is to see a winner and my goal is to build a winner. Value comes of that."

Now instead of needing financial approval from an executive, who lacked their baseball knowledge and daily understanding of the team, McGuirk and Schuerholz can make on-field personnel decisions based on their trained instincts, which were previously hamstrung by a financial bottom line.

That should put a smile on the fact of every Braves fan. Apparently we have Uncle Bud to thank for much of this newfound flexibility and freedom. During the complicated corporate exchange the Braves endured, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig made sure that they wouldn't be left in the lurch. He made sure that one of the signature baseball franchises of the past two decades wouldn't be chopped up and skimmed for profit.

The result it seems is that through all the angst and controversy surrounding the sale of the team, the Braves are actually much better off. They shed their uncaring corporate parent for what seems like a trust fund style arrangement which leaves the baseball decisions entirely up to baseball people. In that way, we may have one of the best arrangements in all of sports - a completely unmeddlesome owner. And the fruits of that arrangement were seen last week when the Braves made the biggest moves they ever had at the trade deadline.

Every GM on every team is dedicated to winning it all, but far too often they are shackled by the limitations placed on them by higher-ups. The Braves have freed themselves from much of what may have shackled them the last several years.