The Braves don't have a slogan this year, but they did acquire another Ernest besides Whitt: Jim Varney, the man behind the goofy Ernest character of TV and movies. For $115,000, or more than Hank Aaron earned with the Braves in 1969, Ernest will lend his corn ball humor to Atlanta's promotions. Hardly the image a team would want to project if it wants to be taken seriously—but you've got to start somewhere.
Says Braves president Stan Kasten, "A few years ago we were a last-place team with a barren farm system and the highest payroll in baseball. You almost have to try to do that. But now our farm system is producing all kinds of pitchers and catchers, our payroll is manageable, and we should jump a few places in the standings. Are we the team of the '90s? Well, even a huckster like me wouldn't go that far. But we are headed in the right direction. It would have been nice to have had six weeks to get that message out to the people."
Three weeks is not a lot of time to convince doubters, but even after three days Atlanta had one convert. "I can't believe this team lost 97 games last year," said Whitt. "A couple of days ago I was apprehensive. But now I'm very excited about being a Brave.
"I can also find my way around now."