A.M. ATL: Seriously, what’s up with the Braves?

Plus: Young Thug, earthquakes and Homer Rice
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Chris Sale, left, collides with catcher Sean Murphy during a recent game.

Credit: John McDonnell/AP

Credit: John McDonnell/AP

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Chris Sale, left, collides with catcher Sean Murphy during a recent game.

Morning, y’all! The forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s today.

Otherwise, today’s jampacked newsletter looks at the latest drama in Young Thug’s trial, a recent spate of North Georgia earthquakes and the death of a Georgia Tech icon.

But first: five questions with someone who knows the embattled Braves as well as anyone.

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DEEP BREATHS, FOLKS

Braves manager Brian Snitker.

Credit: John McDonnell/AP

icon to expand image

Credit: John McDonnell/AP

The Braves are 35-28, good enough for the fourth-best record in the National League. But it feels much worse to us fans, right?

Experiencing a little existential angst myself, I decided to touch base with AJC beat reporter Justin Toscano to get a sense of how things are playing out in the clubhouse — and what to expect moving forward.

Some answers are edited for brevity’s sake.

1. How concerned should fans be — and is the team concerned at all?

I get the sense the team isn’t too “concerned” yet. In the clubhouse, I’ve sensed some frustration and some confusion — who could’ve expected them to struggle to this degree? But there hasn’t yet been any panic. I just think the team has been frustrated with how long it’s taken. I think fans are justified to be upset — isn’t that what fandom is sometimes? — but not hopeless.

Not all is lost. I promise. I know people are tired of hearing it, but it truly is a long season.

2. Whose offensive performance thus far is the most perplexing?

To me, it’s Austin Riley. He just hasn’t gotten going yet. He’s shown signs over the last few days, but is still batting .230 with a .648 OPS. He has only three homers over 196 at-bats, which is crazy for him. Riley’s track record tells us that when he gets hot, he’ll light the Earth on fire.

The Braves need him to get hot, and stay hot.

3. The pitching, meanwhile, has been phenomenal. How are they handling the offensive woes?

I don’t sense any extra frustration or discontent with the pitchers, which tells me this: The clubhouse truly is a positive environment, and the team is a team. It’s not like the pitchers have been happy after the losses, but they haven’t thrown their teammates under the bus. They’ve all given the hitters votes of confidence.

4. We’re a ways out, but would you expect significant movement ahead of the trade deadline?

I would expect some, yes. Braves president of baseball operations and general manager Alex Anthopoulos is not known to be inactive when the Braves need something.

It depends, of course, on how the market shapes up. Anthopoulos has always said that players need to be available to be acquired. It sounds obvious, but the point being this: It really depends on who is available.

5. Give me another silver lining, please!

I will give you a couple. One, the Braves are still supremely talented. You cannot build a team like this at the trade deadline. Other front offices would kill for this roster. Atlanta is in a good spot.

Two, the Braves are 33-13 when scoring at least three runs. What this means: If their pitching can come close to doing what it has been doing, this team is going to win A LOT when the bats wake up. Very rarely has the Braves’ pitching put it out of games.

The Braves start a road series with Baltimore tonight (6:35 p.m. on Bally Sports South). Make sure to sign up for the Braves Report newsletter and check out the podcast, too!

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COURTROOM CLASH

Rapper Young Thug (center) and attorney Brian Steel (right) in court Monday.

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Fulton County Judge Ural Glanville, the judge presiding over rapper Young Thug’s racketeering trial, held the musician’s attorney in contempt on Monday. He sentenced Brian Steel to serve 10 weekends in jail following a testy exchange about a private conversation involving the judge, prosecutors and a state witness.

In other judicial news:

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MARTA (WON’T) STOP

MARTA says it will not postpone its renovation of the Five Points station, rebuffing Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ request to pause things until an audit of the transit agency’s spending is complete.

  • Should construction move forward, the station will be closed for pedestrian and bus traffic until 2028 — save when the World Cup, which kicks off two years from today, comes to town.

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NAME CHANGE

The DeKalb County school board voted to change Cross Keys High School’s mascot to the Phoenixes. The new moniker arose out of ire for the original nickname: the Indians.

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WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOING ON

ajc.com

Credit: Stock image

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Credit: Stock image

Monday’s early morning earthquake near Lake Lanier marked North Georgia’s fourth such incident in the last week. No damage or injuries reported thus far — but why is this happening?

  • Experts say small earthquakes are actually fairly common in Georgia. They’re not exactly sure what caused the recent flurry of activity, though.

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NATIONAL NOTES

» The Biden administration ramped up its pitch to Black voters at a Juneteenth celebration in D.C.

» The U.N. Security Council backed a U.S.-led resolution for a cease-fire in Gaza.

» Apple is jumping into the world of AI with an upgraded version of Siri, due out this fall.

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A FEARLESS FUTURE

In an exclusive Q&A with the AJC, an attorney for the Fearless Fund said the Atlanta-based venture capital firm is still considering next steps after an appeals court ruled against its grant program for Black female business owners.

  • “What the plaintiffs in our case have been seeking to do is create a chilling effect across this country and maybe beyond that, where people are afraid to invest with Black businesses,” Alphonso David said.

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A LEGENDARY LEADER

ajc.com

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Influential Georgia Tech athletic director Homer Rice died Monday at age 97. Rice oversaw Yellow Jacket sports from 1980 to 1997, a period of great success.

  • Also important: His “Total Person” program, which stressed life skills, career planning and self-improvement, became the model for a similar course launched by the NCAA.

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MORE TO EXPLORE

» Review: Harassment claims against top state Dem ‘cannot be substantiated’

» 10th and Monroe closed for Beltline construction

» Super Bowl champ lists $5M Atlanta mansion

» Skeletal remains found near Kennesaw State

» Fernbank Science Center slated for planetarium upgrades, new exhibits

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ON THIS DATE

June 11, 1977

James Earl Ray, convicted assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., escaped from the Tennessee prison where he was serving a 99-year sentence.

“A madman is on the loose,” state Sen. Julian Bond said. Authorities re-captured Ray about 54 hours later.

ajc.com

Credit: File photo

icon to expand image

Credit: File photo

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

AJC photographer Natrice Miller captured King Willem-Alexander (right) and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands during their visit to a cold storage facility in McDonough. Their trip to the Atlanta area also included stops at the King Center and the Beltline.

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ONE MORE THING

Don’t forget: Early voting is underway for next week’s primary runoff, with plenty of local, state and Congressional races back on the ballot. Get to it!

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Thanks for reading to the very bottom of A.M. ATL. Questions, comments, ideas? Contact me at tyler.estep@ajc.com.

Until next time.