It feels like August 3, 1990, all over again- THE most upsetting day I ever experienced as a Braves fan. You don’t have to know me very long to know that Dale Murphy is my all time favorite baseball player (ask me how I feel about him being left out of the Hall of Fame). He was my baseball hero growing up during an era of Braves baseball which was, quite frankly, difficult to watch. On that night, my baseball world was rocked. The Atlanta Braves traded the beloved Murphy to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jeff Parrett, Jim Vatcher, and Victor Rosario. When the trade was announced late in the 1990 season, I was devastated. You see, not only was my baseball hero gone from my favorite team, but now, I couldn’t even watch him play every night since the Phillies games were not televised in my area. I would be relegated to checking the paper every morning or watching Sports Center each night in hopes of catching highlights of a Murphy homerun. The Atlanta fan base was not any happier than I was. I remember hearing about Jeff Parrett getting death threats because he was the major leaguer traded for Murphy. I will never forget Parrett’s first appearance in a Braves uniform and hearing more than a fair share of boos aimed toward Parrett. It was a rough time. I was upset and as a 13 year old boy, I was admittedly bitter. After all, how could the Braves trade their favorite son, my hero?
Its been almost 32 years since that trade and yesterday, March 14, I felt Braves nation return to that familiar, gut wrenching atmosphere once again, as it was announced the organization had traded for first basemen Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics, effectively signaling the end of the Freddie Freeman Era. We didn’t have twitter in 1990, but yesterday the app ignited with the very same sentiments we all felt and uttered back in August of 1990. Feelings that Freeman should have been able to retire a Brave (I said those exact words about Murphy at 13). Expressions of disbelief, not understanding, and accusations of a greedy ownership. The fact of the matter is, and it’s an unfortunate side effect of the sports that we love, this is still a business. Alex Anthopoulos knows this, Freddie Freeman knows this, and Dale Murphy knew this (Many don’t realize it was his idea for the trade in 1990 to help usher the Braves into their dominant 90’s era team). The fact of the matter is this- Anthopoulos had to put a team together and Freeman has a family to think of & provide for. Would it have been nice for Freddie to end his career a Brave like Chipper Jones? Sure it would. But what Braves Country needs to understand is that ultimately both sides made a business decision. If Freddie wanted to be a Brave, he would have been. Freeman did what he though was best for his family and Anthopolous did what he believed to be best for our team.
There have been 3 Braves players who have been near and dear to my heart during my life- Murphy, Chipper Jones, and Freeman. Having been through a similar heartache like this one already in my lifetime as a Braves fan, let me offer my take and my advice. First, love and thank Freddie for the absolute amazing years he gave us in Atlanta. He has been the cornerstone of the post-Chipper era of Braves baseball just like Chipper was the post-Murphy cornerstone. Freddie will always be a Brave in my heart and even if he signs with the Dodgers, I will hope he goes 4 for 4 with three bombs and lose to the Braves every single time. Second, embrace and welcome Matt Olson. This kid is a beast of a hitter and one of the best fielding first basemen in the game. Take a step back from the heartstrings and look at the pure baseball side of things. This kid can flat rake. He’s a Georgia native who grew up like the rest of us watching the Braves. Welcome him and get behind him so that he doesn’t have to hear the boo birds like Jeff Parrett did. Lastly, realize how good Alex Anthopolous is at his job. One only needs to watch the press conference announcing the trade to see how hard it was for AA to pull the trigger on this deal. We hailed him as a genius at the trade deadline last season when he went out and got Soler, Rosario, Duvall, and Pederson- a move that would catapult the Braves to a World Championship. He has locked in, not only Olson (through 2029), but also Ozzie Albies (2025 + team option), Austin Riley (2025), Ronald Acuna, Jr (2026 + team option), Max Fried (2024), Mike Soroka (2024), and Ian Anderson (2026)*. The future looks VERY bright for the Atlanta Braves and I am excited to see them take another 90’s-esque run here in the roaring 20’s. Sit back, buckle up, and enjoy it. It’s going to be a great and wild ride. Thank you for the memories Freddie. Go Braves!!
For the A,
*stats courtesy of Kyle Glaser, twitter, 3.15.22