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The Atlanta Braves podcast by the fans for the Braves Fam! Hosted by Ken Hendrix and Josh Brown, the top twitter knuckleheads.

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The Unsung Hero of the Atlanta Braves

Knockahoma Nation FanPost by @dren_braves on Twitter. @dren_braves is a mustache grower and mountain unicyclist who lives at the feet of the Wasatch Mountain Range in Salt Lake City, Utah where he watches Atlanta Braves games.

“This isn’t a try league…They better be ready to come play tomorrow…I was pissed, there’s a process that wasn’t sustained.  The first three innings, I loved it. And then we just kind of punted the last six innings. That pissed me off.” –Brian Snitker, following being swept by the San Francisco Giants in Atlanta

Just kidding, that wasn’t Brian Snitker, it was Dodgers manager Dave Roberts after losing the first of four games to the last place Cincinnati Reds.  Yes, those Dodgers who won 104 games just last year. Those Dodgers who won 43 games in a 50-game stretch in 2017, the most dominant 50-game stretch in 105 years.  Those Dodgers who breezed their way to the 2017 World Series.

2,179 miles away in Cumberland, Georgia, the Atlanta Braves are responding to their worst losing streak of the season (3 games) by winning 6 of their last 8 games. They are in sole possession of first place in the entire National League. Yet, nobody seems to be paying attention to this red-hot team. Sure, the Braves have some very bright young stars who are beginning to capture some national attention. We all know about Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr., but are these two players the reason this team is currently atop the National League? There is no doubt they are playing an important role as the top two hitters in the lineup. But it takes much more than a couple of young stars to make a good baseball team (just ask the Anaheim Angels). The Atlanta Braves are a complete baseball club. They have good pitching, great defense, and solid hitters top-to-bottom. One of the many guys holding this team together is…

El Chapulín Colorado

(Still trying to get this nickname to stick)

More agile than a turtle, stronger than a mouse, nobler than a lettuce, his shield is a heart…It’s Ender “El Chapulín Colorado” Inciarte!

One of the most polarizing players right now for the Atlanta Braves is Ender David Inciarte Montiel. The ladies swoon, while the SABR nerds spit all over him. Meanwhile, I’m over here listening to his interviews, laughing about how much he sounds like Vito Corleone.

I think even the most hardened SABR folks will acknowledge that Ender is adept at getting on base by hitting singles.  But they will quickly jump to, “but he doesn’t walk at all and doesn’t hit for power”. I am not here to argue that Ender is good at drawing walks, or that he is a power hitter. I am here to argue that Ender is an above average hitter, and a crucial part of the Braves’ success.

FanGraphs is a holy source of data for Ender’s detractors. But according to this holy scripture, an On-Base Percentage of 0.340 or higher is considered “above average”. Let’s see I’m just going to go look at Ender’s…oh my goodness he has a career OBP of 0.340! I am not surprised. That’s because hitting a single is just as valuable as drawing a walk when it comes to OBP. This is not the whole story though. When you draw a walk, any runners on base in front of you only get to advance one base.  If there’s an empty base in front of you, they don’t get to advance at all! However, when you hit a single, all of the baserunners can advance as far as possible. Very often a runner can go from first to third on a single, or from second to home! That means a runner scores! I feel dumb saying this but people seem to have forgotten that singles are more valuable than walks. A guy with a 0.340 OBP and a low walk percentage is more valuable than a guy with a 0.340 OBP and a high walk percentage.

I don’t mean to keep beating up the Dodgers, but they provide such a stark contrast to the Braves this year that really helps us understand what’s going on in Atlanta. Cody Bellinger is one of the bright young stars for the Dodgers. He had a monster rookie season last year. On April 29, 2018, he hit a ball into “Triples Alley” in San Francisco, and casually trotted into second for a double. The aforementioned Roberts benched him the next game for not hustling and trying for a triple. I challenge you, the reader, to find a time when Ender did not run at full steam on a ball hit in the gap. I think Ender probably leads the league in replay reviews on bang-bang plays at first [citation needed] (this, despite being one of the slowest centerfielders in baseball according to Statcast).

Bellinger opened eyes again last Saturday when in a close game in the bottom of the ninth and nobody on base, he bunted a 3-0 pitch right to the pitcher who easily threw him out for the second out of the inning. Ken Rosenthal later reported that Bellinger ignored a sign to take the pitch with three balls and no strikes. He ignored his manager and surrendered in a winnable game against a bad team. Oof. (Rosenthal, The Athletic)

Now let’s flash back to SunTrust Park on April 21, 2018. The Braves were down 3 runs to the rival New York Mets and managed to scratch out 3 runs to tie the game in the 8th and 9th innings. Ender Inciarte came up to bat in the 9th with 1 out and runners on 1st and 3rd in a tie game. Earlier in the game, in a crucial situation, Ender stole third but upon replay review was called out because he momentarily popped off the bag.  It was a deflating play, but Ender and the Braves always feel they can win, no matter the circumstances.

Back to the 9th inning: Freddie Freeman who was in-the-hole later explained, “I didn’t even grab my stuff because I told Snit, ‘I believe in Ender, I’m not even going to go up there’. Next thing you know he’s bunting and I just, like, start panicking. And then all of a sudden just awesomeness happened. I don’t think anyone else would have thought about that except Ender.”

We later learned that Ender did not go up to the plate planning to bunt. He dug into the box thinking, “I’m gonna swing, I’m gonna swing, I’m gonna swing.  Then I walked into the box and I saw Camargo (at third base) and I looked to first and I changed my mind.  I said, you know what, I can lay a bunt right here; it’s the right situation.” (O’Brien, AJC Article)

“It’s the right situation”. How many times have you watched a team try to win a game, and the guy at the plate just totally whiffs as he tries to hit the ball to the moon? Or let’s get weird, how many times have you watched a team try to win a game, and the guy at the plate bunts a 3-0 pitch right to the pitcher with nobody on base? The point is, Ender Inciarte is a great baseball player who knows his role. He doesn’t need to hit a 3 run bomb with a runner on third in a tie game. That RBI bunt single isn’t going to give a boost to his SLG, it’s not going to make his WRC+ look sexy, and it’s not going to make a huge boost to his WAR.  But Ender Inciarte won a ballgame that day for the Atlanta Braves.

We are very fortunate to be able to watch the rise of the next Atlanta Braves dynasty. The Braves are just so fun to watch right now, every day. Ender Inciarte is a big part of that excitement, and plays a huge role in every win. He’s out there every day making tough catches look easy. He’s out there every day getting on base. If you ever find yourself thinking, “but I wish he would draw more walks and hit more homers”, just STOP.  You’re trying to make yourself miserable. Enjoy the ride, you knuckleheads.

Sources:

Ken Rosenthal, “Are the reeling Dodgers really this bad or can they turn their season around?” The Athletic. https://theathletic.com/353492?shared_by=163314

David O’Brien, “Game-Ender bunt for bold Inciarte” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. https://www.myajc.com/sports/baseball/game-ender-bunt-for-bold-inciarte/5L3HsEaxVaI8EwFnJoJhJK/

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 57

Bandwagon Breakdown

Last week Ken banned Josh from the show for a week. This week he’s sticking to it, sort of. This week Ken is joined by Andy Harris and Matt Chrietzberg from Outfield Fly Rule to talk about the current state of the Braves, to help anyone jumping back on the 1st place Braves bandwagon catch up with the past few years, and to visit with an old friend of Dansby Swanson’s. It’s a ton of fun, Braves chat, and other shenanigans. Ken can’t ever quite keep Josh totally away, so he does drop by with just a few minutes of wisdom from a week of being away. As always, thanks for listening.

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Episode 52 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

Nickahoma Nation

Welcome to season two of Knockahoma Nation. Baseball is back and we’re out of our minds as usual.

This week we are joined by Dan Horton to talk about season predictions for pitchers, a look at the first few games, and an ode to Nick Markakis. With Markakis’ walk off homer on Opening Day Josh and Dan take a moment to bask in the glory of the grecian god of right fielders.

We also get a visit from Braves Options guy breaking down the opening day roster and some of his expectations for the year, a little bit of emotional pageantry, and of course a look at some options.

As always thanks for listening Knuckleheads, and chop on!

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Episode 50 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

This week on the podcast, Josh hangs out with the one and only Braves Options Guy! They talk about Jon Heyman tickling Scott Boras tush, Ronald Acuña’s hat, and imaginary racists. Then Ken and Josh talk about the NCAA Tournament, Baby Blue, a deep scientific discussion about elevation as it relates to sea level, and cheering for the Damn Yankees. We also find out who Josh’s celebrity crush is, and what he thinks of Julia Roberts and her money.

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Episode 49 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

This week on the podcast the boys are joined by their buddy Gabe Burns from the Atlanta Journal Constitution who has been down at Spring Training with the team, and the boys catch up with their first international guest the newest writer over at OutfieldFlyRule.com, Matt Chrietzberg from Mississippi.

Matt has been absolutely killing it since exploding onto the scene with his deep dive articles covering many of the often overlooked aspects of the game of baseball.

Josh is on a mission this week to find out if baseball players still use gloves, we discuss who is the hero that Braves fans need, and Gabe and Josh talk about the beauty of Johan Camargo.

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Knockahoma Prospectus: A Knucklehead’s guide to the 2018 Atlanta Braves.

If you’re a casual fan like I once was, then the start of the new baseball season is often simultaneously exciting and confusing. You may have been paying attention to a whole bunch of other crap that was more important to you at the time. If you’re from Braves country you might have been chasing the Georgia Bulldogs, Clemson Tigers or the Alabama Crimson Tide fighting for the College Football National Championship. Maybe you were watching the Falcons break your heart, or the Jags nearly pulling off an NFL miracle, not to mention those of you who are college football fans watching the coaching carousel fiascos.

The point is, I get it. I know what it’s like to suddenly tune back into baseball and not have a clue what is going on. Add in the fact that the Braves have had arguably the weirdest winter in the team’s history, and it’s quite a bit to take in. I thought it might be helpful to give you a fast review of all the things you might have missed. So without further adieu, I give you…

A Knucklehead’s Guide to the 2018 Atlanta Braves.

First let’s recap the offseason.

John Coppolella quit. He got into a metric crap-ton of trouble and he resigned as GM. Oh yeah, he’s also now banned from baseball for life.

  Let’s keep it simple and say 

– He cheated.

– So did everyone else.

– He cheated and didn’t hide it.

– He wasn’t very good with leading people.

– MLB needed an example, they made one.

The basics: he bundled contracts of not so good international players and funneled that money to better players so they would sign with the Braves to get around rules that say you can only spend so much on international bonuses. This is a set of really ignorant rules that MLB has in place to keep teams from paying players what they are actually worth. That being said, rules are rules and Coppy and his team broke them.

The results: The Braves get smashed by MLB and 13 Braves prospects become free agents and sign with other teams. The only one you probably knew is Kevin Maitan. He’s now an Anaheim Angel (like half of the former Braves players and prospects, seriously they are like “Braves West” now).

The Braves also can’t sign any international prospects for a few years (there’s more details, but you probably don’t care, and if you do there are better articles for that).

Braves keep all their really good prospects other than Maitan. Including OF Drew Waters (it was about 50/50 on him going away there for a while).

Ok, so now we’re past that Crap storm.

Oops, wait, no we aren’t. In the midst of all that, John Hart (VP of Baseball Ops) appoints himself as decision maker and signs Snitker to a one year deal as well as firing half the coaches under Snit (Pendleton and Perez – fortunately they stayed with the organization), while hiring several new faces (Walt Weiss and Eric Young, Sr to name a couple).

But wait, it gets better. Then the Braves hire Alex Anthopoulos (AA) to come be the new General Manager. This was a great hire. He comes from winning teams and understands baseball. But here’s the kicker:, John Hart then rides off into the sunset (Anthopoulos probably kicked his butt out) scott-freaking-free. In fact, last week MLB hired him to return as an anchor on MLB tonight. So the guy who oversaw the greatest scandal in the past 20 years of baseball gets off without any accountability whatsoever. Ain’t baseball grand?

Ok, so back to the team.

Anthopoulos. Really smart. Basically Coppolella with hair and personality.  They even sound the same (it’s freaking weird).

AA pulls a rabbit straight out of his butt and trades Matt Kemp and his giant gut and colossal contract to the Dodgers for Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson and Adrian Gonzalez’s colossal contract. Simply shipping Kemp is a feat in and of itself, but back to LA makes it even more hysterical.

Before you get all excited about names… Gonzalez (who has been atrocious the last few years) was immediately cut loose by the Braves as part of the deal. Kazmir, while once terrific, is coming back from a few years of significant injuries, and McCarthy (who had a great year last year) is a bit of an injury concern himself, having only pitched in about 17 games last year. Long story short, there is some good potential here for quality players, but the best part of the deal was dumping Kemp’s contract, bad hamstrings, and apocalyptic defense.

Next – Addition by subtraction.

These guys are all gone now…

Matt Kemp – Gone.

Matt Adams – Gone. The Braves didn’t sign him back because he has no place to play. (NO, he can’t play outfield or ANY position other than first base and that position is taken.)

Adonis Garcia – Gone. A-dong-is wanted to play in Korea. HE GONE.

R.A. Dickey – Gone. Retired.

Jim Johnson – Gone. Traded to the Angels for Justin Kelly and the rest of the Braves 2017-2018 Int’l bonus pool funds.

Jason Motte – Gone. Braves only had him on a 1 year deal, he’s back with the Cardinals now.

Jace Peterson – Gone. Non-tendered. Signed a minor league deal with the Yankees with an invite to Spring Training.

Ian Krol – Gone. Non-tendered. Signed a minor league deal with the Angels with an invite to Spring Training.

The Braves didn’t do anything.

Well that’s what fans will be telling you anyway.

– They didn’t sign a big name 3B (No Todd Frazier or Mike Moustakas). They didn’t sign a big name pitcher (No Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta). They didn’t sign a big name LF (No JD Martinez, Corey Dickerson, or Adam Duvall).

– Looks like they aren’t spending any more money. (lots of possible reasons, but this ain’t the time or the place – read Boggy’s 2-part article right here for more info).

– They did add some bench pieces like Charlie Culberson (Dansby’s Doppelgänger), and Preston Tucker, but these are mostly bench and depth moves.

What does that mean?

Johan Camargo is going to be playing 3B – most likely.

Nick Markakis is going to be playing RF – most likely.

– MLB’s #1 Prospect, Ronald Acuña will be playing LF (after April 13th) – most likely.

What does all of THAT mean?

– Well, it means ATL isn’t going much over $100M in payroll despite what they said last year.

– It means Camargo is going to get a real shot to show what he has.

– It means the Braves don’t have a ton of power.

This last point is the one everyone is going to harp on, and they probably should. The Braves have one guy projected to hit more than 20 HRs – Freddie Freeman. This team is going to be an on-base dependent team. They’ll pop a home run or two (and maybe more than people think), but for the most part, they’re going to have to play a bit of old school baseball; get them on, get them over, get them home. Fortunately, nearly the entire team has speed and should be fun to watch.

What to watch for in 2018.

Across MLB:

Well, they changed some rules, nothing too major (thankfully), but they did limit coaching/catcher visits to the mound per game, and the amount of time in between innings, let’s see if it speeds things up or not.  

The Twins added a bunch of talent in the off-season, as did the Yankees (Giancarlo Stanton is now a Yankee). The Red Sox signed JD Martinez to try to keep up. The Angels won the Shohei Ohtani (famous pitcher/hitter from Japan) sweepstakes. Oh, and if you tuned out before the playoffs, the Washington Nationals STILL have not won a playoff series in team history.

What to watch for on the Braves:

YOUNG PITCHING.

There’s going to be a ton of it. Luiz Gohara, Max Fried, Sean Newcomb, Lucas Sims, Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, AJ Minter, Akeel Morris.  All names that you’re going to be hearing this year. The talent is starting to make it to the majors and it’s going to be legit. Also, there’s a name or two you may see disappear if they don’t figure things out. I’m looking at you Aaron Blair and Matt Wisler (but for now they’re still trying to make a go of it and Blair lost 40 lbs over the winter).

YOUNG HITTING.

Oh you thought the Braves only had arms… sorry they have MOARRRR HITTERZZZ.

Ozzie Albies

Dansby Swanson

Johan Camargo (5 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs in 87 ABs in the 2017/18 Dominican Winter League)

Ronald Acuña. Acuña, baseball’s #1 prospect, is going to explode on the scene this year and he’s full of piss, vinegar, and a whole lot of swagger. You might not like him if you like your players to act like a stoic member of the Queen’s guard.

At the end of the day, this team is going to be fun and fast. They may be bad at times, they may be really good at times. However, most of this year is going to ride on their ability to pitch.

Watch for how Snitker develops the young kids (he’s spent his whole life doing just that), and look for the kids that truly surprise at the Major League level.

Now that you’ve read a knucklehead’s guide to the 2018 Atlanta Braves, you know enough to be horribly dangerous when talking Braves baseball with your friends. If you have questions feel free to ask them in the comments and I will fill in any gaps that I can. Chop on!

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Episode 46 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

This week on Episode 46 of the Knockahoma Nation Atlanta Braves Podcast, the boys are left to their own devices (again.) Let’s get weird.

Topics of discussion this week:

  • Mike Foltyenwicz ability to count past 20.
  • The one man we need to fix baseball.
  • Time traveling to 2017 spring training.
  • We need more dads.
  • How to start creating content.
  • And much, much more!

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Episode 44 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

On episode 44 of Knockahoma Nation, Prospects Matter Summit (part 3) – we’re rejoined by Doc Herbert (@BravesHerbert), Dylan Short (@DylanXShort) and Andy Harris (@K26DP) to talk about Braves most overrated and underrated Atlanta Braves prospects.

Also on this week’s podcast, philosopher Ken discusses the parts of a story and Josh and Ken imagine extra innings under Rob Manfred’s rules.

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TICK. TICK. TICK.

The clock is ticking for MLB, and it’s ticking fast.

In 2017, the average baseball game took 3 hrs 5 minutes and 11 seconds to play. Since 1978, the average time of an MLB game has increased 38 minutes. That’s an average increase of almost 51 seconds per year.  At that pace, in 15 years, MLB will be pushing a nearly 3 hour and 20 minute game. This would surpass the time of the average NFL game (3 hours 12 minutes).

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Currently, baseball is a network television driven business. Regional sports brands spend big bucks to leverage their channels from the value of team brands. This creates value for their entire channel and brings in revenue, not only through commercials during live games, but also through advertising on their other programming they are able to subsequently attract game viewers to consume. Think of it this way, Fox Sports South isn’t just getting Braves fans’ attention for Braves games, but also for episodes of Driven, College Football games, replays of Braves games, and much more. For these television networks, it is of vital importance that the game of baseball continues to attract fans to their broadcast format. This creates a sense of urgency for MLB to continue to regulate the game in a way that best packages the sport for network television formats and storylines that keep the undivided attention of its audience.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

There are a lot of different causes and solutions tossed about for why the game is ‘slow’ and how to most effectively speed it up. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLB front office have attempted to take multiple steps to try to increase the pace of play within the game itself. Last year, they removed throwing pitches for intentional walks, instead giving free passes to first base. In spite of these changes, the average game actually increased 4 minutes and 30 seconds in 2017 compared to 2016.

MLB is likely to enact more pace of play changes like a pitch clock, allowing only one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher per inning, and raising the bottom of the strike zone. The players’ union has declined these changes for now, but they are likely to happen even without the players explicit permission. Manfred is even going to test the idea of starting extra innings with a runner on 2nd base (this is an incredibly dumb idea). While I think that some of these things might speed up the pace of play by a couple of minutes per game, at some point we must begin to question how much they change the integrity and nature of the game itself. There are many peripheral elements that affect the flow of the game.

The average MLB game you watch on TV will consist of more than 70 commercials. SEVENTY COMMERCIALS. If you’re an Atlanta Braves fan you know half of those commercials are the creepy don’t drink and drive commercials by the State’s Office for Highway Safety and the other half are for Cooks Pest Control.  

Those seventy commercials will make sports networks like Fox Sports South somewhere between $8-15 Million per season. Just one of those regular season spots can cost somewhere between $1200-$2500 depending on the teams playing.

In a 9-inning game, there will be 17-inning changes, (one after the top of the first, another at the bottom, etc) that create natural breaks in the game. Since the game began, the use of relief pitchers has gone up at an average of 1% per year. That seems pretty low, but we are all the way up to 3.2 relief pitchers per team per game now, that’s just shy of 7 pitching changes per game. If Walter Johnson knew it would come to this he would have pitched until he was 70. Not only does the pitching change itself take time, but the multiple mound visits by pitching coaches, catchers, and ultimately the manager, makes this a drawn out drama that can bring a baseball game to a grinding halt.

The breaks between innings and pitching changes alone attribute to 24 breaks in a baseball game. Much of that time can’t be compressed, as you need time for the teams to change sides, and for pitchers to stretch. However, if you could remove just one 20-second commercial per break you could easily decrease a game’s time by more than 5:40 minutes. However, removing those commercials would be an obvious loss for network tv resulting in the loss of millions of dollars of potential revenue over the course of a 162-game season. Obviously, it is unlikely such a solution would be pursued.

I’ve often suggested that moving to a soccer style of production, where the game doesn’t stop for television, could work. Of course that would open the door to the slippery slope of sponsored jerseys, sponsored teams, and create the necessity of cut away commercials. And of course it is doubtful this works for profit reasons as well. Let’s be real, network television and MLB don’t have a real problem with the length of games as much as what they consider the pace of play. The longer a game the more time and space for commercials, green screen spots, and in-park advertising, and I can guarantee you that MLB doesn’t mind that.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

What about instant replay? While I will always love the days of Bobby Cox getting tossed from the game, as well as the pitcher, batter, and half the team, replay has had some advantages. It gets calls correct, or at least it should. Replay takes a pretty good beating because it frequently takes so long. I can empathize with the fan who is willing to excuse the occasional bad call for the sake of living in the moment. I can’t imagine hearing Skip Caray call the famous “Sid Slide” and then having to wait for a replay break to confirm if he was safe or out. However, I can also appreciate the value of my team getting the benefit of having a play called correctly. At the end of the day, replay probably slows the game down slightly, but if you take into account the time it takes to restore order, get coaches back into the dugout after arguments with umpires, and continue the flow of the game prior to the implementation of replay it’s probably a minuscule difference. We can have a separate debate about replay’s role in the game today, but in regards to time, it’s a pretty small leak of total minutes.

Perhaps what is more fascinating, is the underlying philosophy that illustrates MLB’s dramatic shift in sacrificing the nature of its on-field product, a vital part of which has always been the uniqueness of the umpire, for the sake of accuracy that fits the television model’s values more effectively. Sometimes the greatest stories are the ones with the best embellishments.

While MLB is constantly evaluating ways to speed up the game and make its complexion more television friendly, I think we still are missing the actual problem that MLB has with pace of play.

Tick. Tick. Ti…………

Network Television is dead and the internet killed it.

In my opinion, MLB continues to go to the dentist when it needs to see a proctologist. The dentist can keep your teeth clean and your smile happy, but if the problem is the stick up your ass, then a proctologist is better suited for the job. Simplified, I think MLB’s ticking time problem has nothing to do with the pace of the game.

It is estimated that by 2021, 30% of all adults in the United States will not have traditional pay TV. That’s more than 81 million people. If you’re like me and are a cord cutter, you are very aware of how little traditional sports organizations have done to embrace you as a consumer. MLB (like most other sports organizations) drags its heels at every opportunity to empower its future audience to build rhythms that include baseball into their new consumer habits.

In 2017, traditional TV was still the most-used medium for that consumption with the average consumer taking in 170 minutes of TV viewing per day last year.

The internet – 140 minutes per day.

Estimates show that this could narrow to just a 7 minute gap by the end of 2018.

After that, traditional network television is dead.

The reason MLB is falling into this trap is that as network television becomes scarcer, the rates people are paying for prime advertising slots continue to skyrocket. Playoff games last year often cost advertisers more than $500,000 per commercial. Network channels like TBS and FOX paid more than $12.4 BILLION for the rights to carry the playoffs and All-Star games for 8 years. That is $1.5 Billion per year. The trap is being set for MLB by its own success. MLB is being paid more than ever for commercials because there are so few other avenues where people actually still sit and are forced to watch commercials.

Here’s the rub, if you eat the cow that you milk, eventually you run out of milk and meat. If MLB (and other sports) continue to build their entire product model based on meeting the needs of the dying goliath of network television, they are tying themselves to their own death anchors.

Not only is MLB already behind on cord cutting and how it has changed the media consumer landscape, future technologies are about to radicalize the way we think about consuming products even more dramatically. Virtual Reality technology is already changing how players prepare for games, but it’s only a matter of time before the statcast data, advanced analytics that are used to analyze every play in a game, and technologies like virtual and augmented reality are harnessed to alter the consumer experience. Consumer attention spans haven’t shortened, as the pace of play argument would suggest, instead, consumers have changed their expectation for how their attention is used on those things they consume.

MLB and teams must begin to think in ways that follow their end user market; can they imagine fans paying for season tickets to enjoy the Braves via virtual reality? What if the Braves could create a way for fans to digitally stand in the batters box beside Acuna as he faces Max Scherzer? What would fans pay for that experience? Sound futuristic? It’s not. The technology is already within grasp to augment the audience reality with instant stats like the spin rate on the pitcher’s curveball, or the distance a player runs to make a diving catch. MLB audiences would salivate at the opportunity to zoom in to watch replay through their augmented reality devices to see the player’s foot touch the bag from 3-inches away. There is no lack of innovation, there is a lack of pursuit of that innovation by MLB. These things are not far fetched they are all technologically attainable within the next ten years, but only if MLB prepares for them.

However instead of pursuing innovation, regional networks and MLB are more focused on pissing contests over blackouts and area coverages. If you’re a Braves fan living in Atlanta, you can’t even watch your favorite team if you cut the cord. This is the epitome of stupidity. Piss off, or at the very least ignore, your future base to feed your dying bloated giant cash cows their last meals.  While MLB thrives on fat television deals from those dying giants, there is an inherent problem. In 15 years, will those TV companies even still exist? Many fans expect the Braves to  save themselves in the competitive market with some miraculous new TV deal in 2027, but the truth is, will there even be a TV company around to be interested?

The clock problem that MLB has is not a problem with the pace of the game, but a problem with their inability to move their behemoth of an organization off it’s spoiled fat rump to keep up with the pace of the changing environment and habits of their primary future consumers. And the primary consumers they have forgotten are fans, not TV executives.

TICK. TICK. TICK.

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 43 – Prospects Matter Summit pt. 2

On this week’s replacement-level podcast, we bring back the boys from Outfield Fly Rule and Doc Herbert from Call to the Pen to school us on the stacked pitching prospects the Braves have on the farm.

Farmer Ken talks about the importance of story in communicating to others. If you were born around 1992 or later, you might need to listen. A story is an account of real or imaginary people or events told for entertainment or educational purposes. It’s what we humans used to do before Twitter.

Josh and Ken talk about Camargo and the Braves’ new mascot, Blooper. Is Camargo bulking up? Could he be the power bat the Braves so desperately need? Was Blooper based on photos of Dayton from Nebraska? Or is the resemblance purely coincidental?

Josh also explains gold. Let’s get weird.

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