Inside Sports: Braves open season at home on April 7 without Freeman

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By JOEY HOWARD, Winters Media & Publishing

The Major League Baseball lockout postponed the first week of the 2022 season, which had the Atlanta Braves opening the year on the road. Now, the Braves will start the ‘22 ledger with a seven-game homestand at Truist Park, opening with the Cincinnati Reds on April 7 at 7:20 p.m.

The Braves will unveil the World Championship pennant on opening night and the World Series Ring Ceremony takes place on Saturday, April 9. The returning members of the 2021 squad will receive their rings prior to the first pitch.

Following the Reds series, the Washington Nationals make their initial appearance in Atlanta with a three-game set from April 11-13. On April 11, the Braves will have a World Series replica ring giveaway to the first 40,000 fans through the gates.

It’s then to the west coast for seven games as the Braves travel to face the San Diego Padres (April 14-17) and then the Los Angeles Dodgers (April 18-20).

The first week’s games that were postponed will be made up as each team is scheduled to play a full 162-game schedule. Three games will be played at the end of the regular season and the others will be part of nine-inning doubleheaders.

Spring Training games begin for the Braves on Friday (March 18) with the opener against the Minnesota Twins at North Port, Fla., where Atlanta trains in the preseason. All total, 18 spring training games will be played. 

No More Freddie Freeman

Signing All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman was the Atlanta Braves’ No. 1 priority since the 2021 World Series Championship campaign ended. The Braves couldn’t say they didn’t have the money. Liberty Media, the Braves owner, disclosed a full-year financial report last month indicating the club had $568 million in revenue in the 2021 World Series year. The report showed Braves Holdings had an operating profit of $111 million. However, Monday’s actions by General Manager Alex Anthopoulos told Braves’ fans that even though there was more money for payroll, there obviously was a ceiling Atlanta wouldn’t go past.

The Braves traded for Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, a metro Atlanta native, yesterday and sent outfielder Christian Pache, catcher Shea Langeliers and pitchers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes to the west coast team. Essentially, the trade ended the Freddie Freeman era in Atlanta. As of this morning, Freeman has yet to sign with another team.

This and That

• The Georgia High School Association, which governs high school athletics in the state, plans to meet on Wednesday (March16) with the possibility of reducing the number of classifications from eight to six. Though it would not take effect until 2024, the main reason for consideration is to cut down on game-day travel for teams during a season. In the 2022-23 athletic calendar, East Coweta will play in 7A, Newnan 6A, Northgate 5A and Trinity Christian 4A. The Heritage School was set for 1A-Private, but has decided to return to the GISA (Georgia Independent School Association).

• NFL teams have until 4 p.m. on March 16 to be under the 2022 Salary Cap of $208.2 million. The Falcons were $6.5 million over the cap early last week before receiving the news of receiver Calvin Ridley’s one-year suspension due to gambling and the restructuring of quarterback Matt Ryan’s contract on Friday. Atlanta now stands at $16,057,973 (according to spotrac.com) under the cap on March 13 as free agency and the NFL Draft are just ahead on the calendar.

• Speaking of salary cap, Falcons QB Matt Ryan had the largest cap hit amount in NFL history at $48,662,500 prior to his contract restructuring. His new cap number is $36,662,500 and his 2022 base salary is $8.75 million before bonuses. 

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