Major League Baseball Preview: Futurebirds’ Thomas Johnson On The Atlanta Braves
In advance of Major League Baseball’s opening day this Sunday, JamBase reached out to a number of musicians and asked them to preview the upcoming season for their favorite team. Along with predictions for the pending 162 game schedule, the artists also shared insights into the love for their favorite team and how they’re able to manage following the wins and losses while living the life of a touring musician. Today we have a report on the Atlanta Braves from Futurebirds’ multi-instrumentalist Thomas Johnson. Follow this link for Robert Randolph’s look at the New York Mets and head here for reports on the Pirates and Cubs from members of Umphrey’s McGee. Check back tomorrow for more MLB previews.
How do you think the Braves will do in 2016?
The Braves will, in all likelihood, be terrible this year. We’re in the middle of a total rebuild, trading most of our quality Major League players for highly regarded prospects. Most of those prospects won’t be ready for the Majors this year, and while I think we’ll be better than last year, it won’t be by much. That being said, I’m a huge Braves fan, and am really stoked to watch the young guys and witness the new-look team that will take shape over the next few years. For that reason, and others, this will be a very interesting and exciting season for me.
What was the best move the Braves made this off-season?
The Shelby Miller trade, hands down. The Braves received the following:
- Ender Inciarte: Gold Glove Major League center fielder, top-of-the-order type hitter with speed. Very young with five years of team control.
- Dansby Swanson: 2015’s No. One pick in the draft, future franchise shortstop.
- Aaron Blair: Top 100 pitching prospect, will probably be in Braves starting rotation by mid-season.
How closely are you able to follow the team when you’re on tour?
Not as closely as I’d like, I rarely get to watch games on TV, or go to games obviously. I’m a nerd though, so I read any articles I can find and check the game recaps/box scores nightly. Luckily there is plenty of time for that kind of thing on long drives or in hotel rooms.
How often do you make it out to the ballpark?
I used to go to 20 games a year, maybe more, but touring and adult expenses have drastically reduced my buying power and availability. I’ve been to the park about four or five games a year the last six-years or so.
Who is your favorite player of all-time and why?
Man that’s tough. All of the glory years Braves are near and dear to me, I grew up watching those guys. Of that group, Chipper [Jones] and [John] Smoltz are my boys. Smoltz defied the odds by coming back from major surgery to be a dominant reliever, and then transitioning back into a dominant starter. Also a guy with a lot of personality. Chipper was just that rock-solid Brave. Not a lot of guys who are that good for that long, and the Braves always had a chance if they could get Larry to the plate. I have so many great memories rooting for those two guys, and hope they both continue to hang around the team in some capacity.
Commissioner for a day: What would you change about MLB?
I’d probably put Pete Rose in the Hall Of Fame. I don’t know all of the facts surrounding his gambling, and if he ever bet against the team he was managing/playing for then fuck him, but the guy is the all-time hits leader fair-and-square. You just can’t ignore great players (on the field) like that, when reflecting the history of the game.