The Braves, along with Publix, offer this opportunity on a few occasions throughout the baseball season. It includes a nice meal and a chance to question a few Braves’ players, coaches or executives. Drawings for prizes take place throughout the hour-long program, and everyone also receives a gift bag at the end with an autographed article from one of the guests. Proceeds from the affair benefit the Atlanta Braves Foundation.
The Braves’ guests last Friday were Tim Hudson, Will Oman, Gregor Blanco, and General Manager Frank Wren. This was an open and interesting bunch, except for Blanco, who seems to be rather shy. I came away with some new knowledge about these guys, and to hear them interact was quite interesting.
I didn’t know much about Oman, but found that he is one of the funnier guys on the team. He and Hudson sat beside each other and were a good match throughout the hour. Both are outgoing and seemed to enjoy the questions thrown at them. One of the funny answers given was by Oman, who, when asked how long he had been playing baseball, said that he played until he was 18, and since then he had been a pitcher.
When asked about any nicknames on the team, Hudson said that Brian McCann was known as “Heap.” He got that nickname in the minor leagues because he loves to sleep so much.
Frank Wren gave some interesting insight into how trades evolve, and told how he and Tigers’ General Manager Dave Dombrowski came about making the deal that sent Edgar Renteria to Detroit for Jair Jurrgens. The trade got its roots early in last season, in a general lunchtime conversation, and seemed to just continue to evolve until the time finally came to discuss things seriously. Most of the time trades take an extended period of time to be finalized.
Wren said that he talks to most of the MLB general mangers on a weekly basis, and had spoken with about five or six the day before. One questioner asked what he was viewing in his general manager’s box during pitches at each game. Wren explained that he has two computers at his disposal. One of the computers shows the Braves’ game action with a five-second delay. In other words, he can watch the play live on the field and then five seconds later see the same play on the computer screen. It’s like an instant replay on every pitch and play.
His other computer has live action from nine other MLB games which may be going on at the same time. He can maximize any of those games at any time he chooses. He can also check on Braves’ farm teams if he should so desire.
The interaction with the guests was very interesting and put the players on the spot on a few occasions. I didn’t ask any questions but the ones that were asked led to some good insight.
On one of the raffles, Jake won a $50 gift certificate from Publix. He was excited until he found out that Publix was a grocery store. A few minutes later, believe it or not, I won a raffle prize. I won an autographed Tim Hudson baseball. I don’t remember ever winning anything at a raffle. It was just my lucky day I guess. The other family at our table was a bit frustrated that we won two of the 10 or 12 raffle prizes, but that’s just how it goes.
My gift bag had a Braves’ cap signed by Oman while everybody else in our party got a cap signed by Hudson. There were a few other items in the bag but the cap was the highlight.
We had a very enjoyable day with the Braves. Now if we could just get them to win a few more games!