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Weekly Whatup, 6/30
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How to lose a fan base, by the Atlanta Braves…
    About 20 years ago – yes it’s been that long – the Atlanta Baseball Club was widely considered one of the worst in Major League Baseball. Wins were just as hard to come by as fans and the franchise was struggling to stay afloat.
    But then things began to turn around. An eccentric millionaire named Ted Turner coupled with a old baseball man named Bobby Cox worked like evil geniuses behind the scenes to create what would become one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.
    Along the way, the Braves and Turner’s own television station — TBS — struck a deal to broadcast the games of this seldom cared about club to the entire nation. Baseball fans from Butte to Boca Raton switched on their tube just to watch baseball. Never before had such an opportunity arisen on a nightly basis.
    As the Braves began to reel off division title after division title, the fan base began to grow. Fans who never had a team to call their own now had reason to wear the blue and red of Atlanta for no other reason than it felt right to be a part of something special.
    The aforementioned historical run of titles is now long over. There’s no arguing it’s a new era for the Atlanta franchise, and at the outset of that new era the Braves seemed to have taken the stance of shrinking a once proud Braves nation.
    The Braves and Turner Broadcasting had already reduced its number of telecast over the past few seasons. The year of 2008 has become the first to abandon the Braves on a national scale.
    Instead, TBS — not very funny — chose to go with a national game of the week on Sundays along with the National League Playoffs.
    The Braves, on the other hand, chose to roll with a new station called Peachtree TV. Peachtree eerily resembles the old TBS, showing mindless reruns and infomercials. Then — for about 50 times a year — baseball.
    The only problem is that PTV is only immediately accessible to those in the metro Atlanta area. Travel south of I-20 and you better be ready to spend three hours at the local watering hole watching the MLB package, hope your local cable provider has worked out a deal to show the games on an access channel or fork over hundreds of dollars to your satellite company just to see a little baseball.
    The rest of the Braves’ telecasts have been sent to either Turner South or SportSouth. You’ll find staple Joe Simpson along side the increasingly annoying Jon Sciambi. The latter frequently enjoys raising philosophical questions on the state of the game rather than providing adequate play-by-play of the contest at hand. Where are you Pete and Skip!?
    Oh, that’s right, you’ve been banished back to radio where some suit probably thought it best to stick Pete Van Wieren and Skip Carey — two of the best to ever broadcast a game — back on the radio. I usually think their rants about the peculiarities of baseball and the struggles of the Georgia DOT are that much more entertaining anyway.
    So this July 4th weekend, after you’ve had a few too many hotdogs and a few too many fireworks, have a radio nearby. The Braves are on Peachtree all weekend long, leaving die-hard Braves fans like you and me, once again, in the dark.
    This past weekend, the sports boys and I went for a little paintball match over at Dynamite Paintball.
    We went up against the Phil and Jake Show team if to nothing more than to prove that sports writers are just that — writers.
    Sure, Vince Johnson played a little ball in high school, and myself, Matt Yogus and photographer Scott Bryant could break down film of almost any sport. That doesn’t mean we have the slightest idea what were doing when we strap the gear on.
    It showed last week — in fact it’s still showing on my arm, my legs, my stomach and on my… well you get the idea.
    If you want to see video of our miserable performance, just watch Friday’s Studio Statesboro (June 27). At least our record that day wasn’t as bad as mine for the year.
Losing hope: 16-23.