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Old 08-17-2006, 12:08 PM   #1
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Default A Fan's View of the Atlanta Braves From Day One

I hate it, but I lost the second part. This was really a long article.

But I find it interesting. It shows how much I loved the Atlanta Braves since I was 10 years old. I am now 50 years old.

I was just a boy of eight when I remember seeing my first baseball game. It was on my family's TV set that I was first introduced to the captivating world of baseball. I fell in love with the game right away.

It was the 1964 World Series between the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals won the series four games to three. The Cardinals had this great big intimidating pitcher by the name of Bob Gibson. In later years, he would be given the most prestigious award a player could ever receive in baseball -- induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals were loaded with talent. They had outfielder Lou Brock, who just happened to be the best stolen base artist in the game of baseball at that time, plus players like first baseman Bill White, third baseman Ken Boyer, outfielder Curt Flood, outfielder Mike Shannon, shortstop Dick Groat and catcher Tim McCarver. Ken Boyer led the team in homeruns and RBI's. He had 24 homeruns and 119 RBI's for the season. He won N.L. MVP honors for that year.

The Yankees were loaded with talent too. They had great hitters like the legendary and Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. Also, they had second baseman Bobby Richardson, first baseman Joe Pepitone, outfielder Roger Maris, catcher Elston Howard and third baseman Clete Boyer. Mickey Mantle led the team with 35 homeruns and 111 RBI's.

As for pitchers, they had the great Whitey Ford, Mel Stottlemyre, Al Downing and Jim Bouton (Author of Ball Four). The Yankees were used to winning in baseball and had since 1921. But 1964 would not be their year.

Now to the point of my story. Before 1966, there wasn't a professional ballclub close to my hometown of Mobile that I could really cheer for or go see play. I was so thrilled when the Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. I finally had a team in close proximity that I could root for.

Most nights I would lie across my bed and listen to the Braves broadcast on my dad's AM radio. Usually the radio would crackle and be filled with static, as I tried to listen and to find out what my Braves would do each bat. I missed a lot of homeruns due to a poor signal. Each morning I enjoyed analyzing the boxcores in the newspaper, looking to see who hit homeruns and which pitchers won or lost.

The Atlanta Braves became the Braves of Atlanta in 1966. The Braves first home game was at Fulton County Stadium on April 12, 1966 and their foe was the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh won that first game in Atlanta by a score of 3-2 in 13 innings. The Pirates were stacked with plenty of talent, like Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Matty Alou and Bill Mazeroski. Stargell, Clemente, and Mazeroski are now in the Hall of Fame. The pitching staff was led by lefty Bob Veale who posted a 16-12 record with a 3.02 ERA.

Atlanta's Fulton County stadium later became known as the "launching pad." The reason was obvious. Many a homerun was hit in that park. It was definitely a hitter's ballpark.

The Atlanta Braves first coach, was a former back-up catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950's, by the name of Bobby Bragan. He had also been manager of the Cleveland Indians part of 1958. Unfortunately, for him, he didn't last the whole season. He was replaced toward the end of it by Billy Hitchock. Hitchcock posted a record of 33-18. The Braves actually finished the season with a winning record, but finished fifth in their division.

On July 3rd, pitcher Tony Cloninger of the Braves hit two grand slams in a single game against the San Francisco Giants. I heard that game on the radio after coming home from the beach that day. Cloninger has been the bullpen coach for the World Champion New York Yankees for the past few years now.

Joe Torre, presently the skipper of the New York Yankees and winner of four World Series championships with them, caught for the Atlanta Braves from 1966 through 1968. He was a good hitter and could hit for power too.

Joe Torre, Hank Aaron, Felipe Alou, Eddie Mathews and Rico Carty were my favorite players on the team. I liked Aaron because he was from my hometown of Mobile and he could hit homeruns with a steady pace. Every kid loves homeruns don't they? I liked Torre because he reminded me of my dad. He had that rugged look like my dad.

Aaron had a great year in 1966. He hit 44 homeruns and drove in 127 runs. Torre hit 36 homeruns and drove in 101 runs that year. His batting average was .315.

In 1967, the Braves finished seventh in their division. They had a record of 77-85. In 1967 a back-up catcher by the name of Bob Uecker joined the team. He was not much of a ballplayer, but boy was he funny and a prankster. He hit only .146 for the Braves that year, and ended up with a lifetime batting average of .200. He later became famous making those funny beer commercials with other athletes and poking fun at his baseball career. He also became a baseball broadcaster.

Also that year, Clete Boyer of the New York Yankees joined the Braves as their new third baseman. Future Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews had been traded to the Houston Astros. He hit his 500th career homerun as an Astro. Manager Hitchcock was fired toward the end of the 1967 season and replaced with interim manager Ken Silvestri, who finished the year 0-3.

In 1968, the Braves finished even at 81-81. Luman Harris was the new manager. Pat "bulldog" Jarvis was the winningest pitcher for Atlanta that year at 16-12. Hank Aaron hit 44 homers and drove in 97 that year. Dusty Baker, presently the manager of the San Francisco Giants, was a member of that 1968 team.

The 1969 season would be a happy year and a sad year for me. My hero Joe Torre would be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Orlando "The Baby Bull" Cepeda. Cepeda had been a MVP for St. Louis earlier in his career.

The good news was, my Atlanta Braves would win their division that year. I was so thrilled. Pitcher Phil Niekro would win 23 games that year. The bad news was, that the Braves would be swept by the New York Mets in the postseason.

Later known as the "Miracle Mets" of 69. The Mets would defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Met's pitcher Jerry Koosman won two games in that series. He had an ERA of 2.04 in the series. Pitcher and Hall of Famer Tom Seaver was on that team too. He was 1-1 in the series. So I would have to wait another year for my Braves to have a chance of going to the World Series. Actually, I would have to wait another 22 years, I just didn't know it at the time.

By the way, before the start of the 1969 season, four teams were added to the major leagues. The new expansion teams were the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots, San Deigo Padres and the Montreal Expos. In 1970 the Seattle Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers.

Would 1970 promise great things for the Braves since they won their division in 1969? The answer was a flat out -- NO! In 1970 the Braves finished with a record of 76-86. They finished fifth in their division. Cepeda had a good hitting year with 34 homeruns and 111 RBI's. Aaron also hit 38 homeruns and drove in 118 runs. That was about it.

In 1971, the Braves finished the year with a winning record of 82-80 with Luman Harris still managing. Aaron, known as "The Hammer" hit 47 homeruns and drove in 118. The Braves had a rookie that year that looked very promising. His name was Earl Williams. He played infielder and catcher and set a N.L. rookie record for an infielder/catcher by hitting 33 homeruns. He drove in 87 runs. He was also N.L Rookie of the Year. The Braves really never got it together in the 1970's.

Also in 1971, Torre now with the St. Louis Cardinals won N.L. MVP. He was playing third base at that time. He led the majors in batting with an average of .363 and in RBI's with 137. I was so proud of him. I knew he could do it. Torre ended his career with a .297 career batting average.

In 1972, manager Luman Harris was replaced by future Hall of Famer and ex-Brave Eddie Mathews toward the end of the season. Mathews had spent his playing career with the Milwaukee Braves, the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros. The Braves finished at 70-84 and wound up in fourth place in their division. They had some good hitting teams, but their pitching was less than desirable. Phil Niekro led the team in wins with 16 that year.

In 1973, they had three men that hit 40 or more homers. Do you know who they were? One was Aaron who hit 40. One was Davey Johnson who hit 43, and the other was Darrell Evans who hit 41. Pitcher Phil Niekro threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres that year. The Braves won that game 9-0. They still finished fifth that year. Their record was 76-85.

In 1974, Aaron my hero, from my hometown of Mobile, Alabama broke Babe Ruth's all-time homerun career record by surpassing him when he hit his 715th against pitcher Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hank Aaron would go on to hit 755 total career homeruns.

Unfortunately, for the Atlanta Braves and myself, he finished his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee is where Aaron began his career as a Milwaukee Brave. The year 1957 would be the only year that Aaron played for a World Series winner. The Milwaukee Braves, that year, defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series four games to three.

Atlanta outfielder Ralph Garr led the N.L.in hitting in 1974 with a .353 average. Pitcher Phil Niekro won 20 games that year against 13 losses. His ERA was 2.38.

In January of 1975, Ted Turner bought the Atlanta Braves. Things got no better for the Braves in 1975. Under Clyde King's leadership and Connie Ryan's, who happen to finish the year out as manager, the Braves finished a dismal 67-94. Pitcher Carl Morton posted a record of 17-16 with an ERA of 3.50. Their best pitcher. Pitcher Blue Moon Odom, formerly of the Oakland Athletics, played for Atlanta that year. He was 1-7. I guess he was on the down side of his career.

The most disturbing news of 1975 was that the Braves traded Aaron, my idol to the Milwaukee Brewers. How could they do such a thing?

So far we have retraced their history from their humble beginnings in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Now we'll take a look at how they became America's team in Major League Baseball in the '90s.

The year 1991 was to be a Cinderella year for two teams. One being my Atlanta Braves and the other, the Minnesota Twins. Both teams had finished dead last in their respective divisions in 1990. In 1991, under manager Bobby Cox, the Braves won their division with a record of 94-68. Bobby Cox was later voted N.L. Manager of the Year.

Outfielder Ron Gant led the offense that year with 32 homeruns and 105 runs batted in. Popular outfielder David Justice hit 21 homeruns and drove in 87 runs. Third baseman Terry Pendleton was selected as N.L MVP that year. His numbers weren't that impressive, but he really helped his team achieve it's goal of making it to the World Series. He hit 22 homeruns and knocked in 86 runs. He batted .319.

Pitcher Tom Glavine finished 20-8 and won his first Cy Young Award and pitcher Steve Avery a lefty finished 18-8. The Atlanta Braves were on their way to the 1991 World Series, after eliminating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the playoffs four games to three.

Steve Avery and John Smoltz won two games apiece in that series. Catcher Greg Olson was the top hitter for the Braves in the playoffs. He had eight hits and hit one homerun with four runs driven in.

Now, only the Minnesota Twins stood in Atlanta's way for their first World Series title. I really believe most baseball fans across the country expected the Atlanta Braves to win that World Series against Minnesota.

Atlanta lost the first two games in Minnesota. The good news was that the series was headed to Atlanta now. The Atlanta Braves won all three games at home. Winning game five 14-5.

Tom Glavine was the winning pitcher in that game. Terry Pendleton was the hottest hitter for Atlanta in the seven game series. He collected eleven hits and two of those were homeruns. He knocked in three runs. His batting average was .367 for the series. Mark Lemke had the highest batting average for any regular player in the series. He batted .417.

The series went back to Minnesota on October 26th and the Braves lost 4-3. Now the series would come down to the final game. It would be John Smoltz against Jack Morris of the Twins. It was a pitcher's duel for sure. The final score was 1-0 in ten innings. Jack Morris pitched all ten innings and got the win. He was fabulous, but my heart was broke. Honestly, it was one of the best World Series I had ever seen. It was a thriller to the bitter end.

Next year would be the Atlanta Braves year for sure. The Braves luck had changed indeed. They won their division again in 1992. They finished 98-64. Third baseman Terry Pendleton carried the offense that year. He hit 21 homers and drove in 105 runs. His batting average for the year was .311. Rafael Belliard and Jeff Blauser shared the duties at shortstop. Jeff played second and third too, when needed. Both were very important to the Braves success. Jeff Blauser was the better offensive player. He hit 14 homeruns and knocked in 46 runs.

Pitcher Tom Glavine followed up with another great season. He was 20-8 with an ERA of 2.76 Lefty Charlie Leibrandt was 15-7 with a 3.36 ERA.

The Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates again in the playoffs four games to three. Pitcher John Smoltz won two of the seven games. Pittsburgh's great outfielder Barry Bonds, was denied the World Series once again. The Braves would face the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1992 World Series. Cito Gasten was the manager for the Blue Jays. He once played for the Atlanta Braves many years ago.

This year was no better for the Braves as they lost to Toronto four games to two. The Braves won the first game 3-1. Tom Glavine was the winner. Toronto won the next three, then the Braves won game five by a score of 7-2, which was won by John Smoltz. Toronto won their fourth game of the series 4-3 with Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt getting the loss. Toronto had gotten some great performances from pitchers Jimmy Key and Duane Ward. Each won two games each.

Toronto's leading hitters in the series was Pat Borders. He had nine hits. He batted .450 in the series. Outfielder Dave Winfield batted a cool .227. The team also had sure handed Roberto Alomar at second base.

Braves outfielder Otis Nixon and Deion Sanders led the Braves with eight hits each. My heart was ripped out once again. I was still proud of my Braves. Being in a World Series is a consolation in itself. Sure the Braves would have felt 100 percent better if they had won the series, but they could still hold their heads high. Plus the fact, that they were the best team in the National League two years in a row.

In 1993, the Atlanta Braves won their third straight division title. They went 104-58. The most wins for Atlanta ever. This was due in part to the signing of pitcher Greg Maddux from the Chicago Cubs. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine had great seasons. Tom went 22-6 and Greg was 20-10. Lefty Steve Avery went 18-6. The Braves pitching staff was awesome. Greg Maddux had won the Cy Young Award with Chicago in 1992 and he won again in 1993 with the Braves. Surely this would be the Braves year.

Outfielder David Justice had a great year. He hit 40 homers and drove in 120 runs. Ron Gant stats weren't too shabby either. He hit 36 homers and drove in 117 runs. The Braves faced the Philadelphia Phillies in the N.L. Championship. First baseman Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff was the leading hitter for the Braves. He collected ten hits. He batted .435 in the series. McGriff had come over to the Braves from the San Diego Padres after the 92 season. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were the only pitchers on the Braves staff to earn a win in the series.

The Braves were beaten by a very good Philadelphia squad four games to two. Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra and pitcher Curt Schilling were instrumental in getting the Phillies to the playoffs and the World Series.

Philadelphia was beaten by the Toronto Blue Jays four games to two in the 1993 World Series. Toronto now had won two consecutive World Series titles. The Braves sat home and watched.

In 1994, the unthinkable happened. The players went on strike August 11th, 1994. The playoffs and World Series were called off. Man what a blackeye for baseball. The owners claimed they were losing money. The players wouldn't accept any salary cap. It was a wash out. Could Major League baseball recover from this?

Atlanta was second in their division behind the Montreal Expos. McGriff was having an exceptional season too. He hit 34 homers and drove in 94 and had a batting average of .318. Pitcher Maddux won his third consecutive Cy Young Award with a record of 16-6 and an ERA of 1.56. In 1994 the Braves moved to the Eastern division.

The year now was 1995. Could baseball recover from the 1994 strike? Could the players regain the hearts of their fans? The strike wasn't settled before opening day. The season was pushed back three weeks. The teams would only play 144 games that year. It would be tough, but baseball is so engrained in our society it would survive.

In 1995, the Atlanta Braves would finish first in the Eastern division. Their record was 90-54. They also acquired outfielder Marquis Grissom from the Montreal Expos. He hit 12 homeruns and drove in 42 runs in his first year with the Braves. His batting average would end up at .258. First baseman McGriff would lead the offense with 27 homers and 93 runs batted in. The Braves dependable third baseman Terry Pendleton had been lost to the Florida Marlins. His replacement would be a future MVP, Chipper Jones. He hit 23 homeruns and drove in 86 runs in his first full season with the Braves. David Justice continued to contribute to the offense by smacking 24 homeruns that year.

Pitchers Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz gave Atlanta the best pitching staff in all of baseball. Maddux won his fourth consecutive Cy Young with a record of 19-2 with an ERA of 1.83. He certainly will be in the Hall of Fame one day.

Atlanta would return to the World Series once again. Atlanta would first beat the Colorado Rockies three games to one, to advance to the N.L Championship game. Grissom had eleven hits in that series. His batting average was .524.

Atlanta swept Cincinnati four games to none in the Championship series. This would finally be the year that all Braves fans could take joy in. I wasn't really worried about anyone else's joy, but my own. I was ecstatic! Words could not describe my feelings. The Braves defeated the Cleveland Indians four games to two.

I had patiently waited for this moment for 29 years. My loyalty never wavered. I was never sure about this being America's team, but I could say for sure that it was mine. Braves centerfielder Grissom was the hot hitter for Atlanta in the series. He got nine hits and batted .360 in the series. David Justice collected the most RBI's with five. Pitcher Tom Glavine won two games winning game two and game six. He pitched a 1-0 shutout in game six to clinch the World Series title for his team. Job well done.

1996 would be a break out year for third baseman Jones. He swatted 30 homeruns and drove in 110 runs. His batting average was .309 on the year. McGriff had another good year hitting 28 homers and knocking in 107 runs. Outfielder Ryan Klesko contributed by hitting 34 homers and driving in 93 runs.

Pitcher Smoltz was the ace on the pitching staff that year. He was 24-8 with an ERA of 2.94. Maddux was 15-11 with a 2.72 ERA. Atlanta would defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs by sweeping them three games to none.

Atlanta would face a tough competitor in the National League Championship series. The St. Louis Cardinals. Atlanta held on by winning the series four games to three to advance to their fourth World Series. It was a wild series. Atlanta outscored St. Louis 44-18 in that series. Catcher Javier Lopez was the hot hitter in that series. He collected 13 hits, two homeruns and six RBI's in the series. His batting average was .542. Respectively, Marke Lemke had 12 hits, Jones had 11 and Grissom had 10. It was a great offensive series for the Braves.

Pitcher Smoltz earned two victories in that series. By the way Smoltz won his first Cy Young Award that year. He showed baseball that he was a force to be reckoned with. He was a proven winner during the year, during the playoffs and the World Series in which he pitched.

he Atlanta Braves would be facing the New York Yankees, who just happened to be managed by my hero Torre. Now this was going to be a tough series for me. I would have to choose between my idol Torre, and my Atlanta Braves. I just wanted to see some great games played between them. The New York Yankees hadn't been to the World Series since 1981 when they played the Los Angeles Dodgers and lost.

The 1996 World Series started out great for Atlanta and it's fans. Atlanta won the first two in New York. Smoltz and Maddux got the wins. It appeared that Atlanta was on its way to consecutive World Series titles. Unfortunately, the New York Yankees won the next four games and they were now World Champions. Oh, that was a bitter pill to swallow!

Outfielder Grissom led both teams with 12 hits in the series. He knocked in five runs and batted .444. A young kid for Atlanta by the name of Andruw Jones hit two homeruns and knocked in six runs in that series. He played centerfield. He would only get better year after year. Today he is one of my favorite all-time players for Atlanta. He has an arm like a rifle and he is a gold glover.

Pitchers Jimmy Key, David Cone and Andy Pettite helped bring Atlanta back down to earth. Catcher Jim Leyritz led the Yankees with three RBI's and he hit one homerun. He was a Brave killer with that homerun. I was saddened by the Braves loss. I was happy and proud for Yankee skipper Joe Torre. Another year would soon come.

In 1997, the Braves would move to a brand new stadium called Turner Field. The bad news was, that it would not be as hitter friendly as Fulton County stadium. The year 1997 marked the first year of interleague play. How could they do this? Where were all the baseball traditionalists? It was popular with the fans. So enough said.

In 1997, Justice was no longer with the Braves. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians. Outfielder Kenny Lofton came to the Braves in exchange. In 1997, it would be the year of the big fish. I'm talking about the Florida Marlins. Even though they finished second to Atlanta in the N.L. East, they were the wild card team and they defeated Atlanta in the N.L. Championship series four games to two.

Florida had some great pitching of their own. They had Kevin Brown who went 16-8 and Alex Fernandez who finished at 17-12. Al Leiter was also on the pitching staff. They had hot hitting Moises Alou, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla and Jeff Conine.

Atlanta had a great season prior to the Florida series. Atlanta had swept Houston three games to none in the first round of the playoffs. Atlanta finished the regular season at 101-61 and finished first in their division. Once again McGriff had a great year along with Jones. Both hit 20+ homers. Chipper Jones drove in 111 runs. Denny Neagle who once pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates won 20 games for the Braves that year. He only lost five games. His ERA was 2.97. Maddux finished 19-4 with an ERA of 2.20.

The Braves bullpen let them down in the series against Florida. Closer Mark Wolhers had 33 saves for the year. Second baseman Keith Lockhart was the big hitter for Atlanta in the series against Florida. He collected eight hits and batted .500. He had three RBI's in the series. Jones and Klesko had two homeruns apiece in the series. Pitcher Maddux lost both games he pitched in.

Brown and Livan Hernandez of the Marlins won two games apiece. Brown won the last game to clinch the National League title for his team. It was an amazing year for the Florida Marlins who had only been in existence since 1993. Florida was the youngest franchise to reach the World Series in modern baseball history. Florida went on to win the 1997 World Series against the Cleveland Indians four games to three.

After the 1997 season the owner of the Marlins, Wayne Huizinga unloaded the players that made the Florida Marlins successful. They would finish dead last in 1998.

The year 1998 would be Atlanta's best won-loss record in franchise history. They finished 106-56. The only thing I didn't like about 1998 was when McGriff was lost to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the expansion draft. This was the Devil Rays first year in the majors. I really missed him. Newly acquired first baseman Andres Galarraga from the Colorado Rockies hit 44 homers and drove in 121 runs with his hot bat. He batted .305 for the year. Chipper Jones had another great year by hitting 34 homeruns and driving in 107 runs. His average was .313. Young Andruw Jones only got better. He hit 31 homers with 90 runs driven in.

The Braves pitching staff was great as usual with one exception. Closer Mark Wohlers lost his ability to pitch for whatever reasons. He was having mental problems with his pitching. This would be his last year with the Braves. Later, it was discovered he had an arm injury instead of a head problem. Sorry for judging you Mark. He was later traded to Cincinnati.

Glavine had another great year finishing 20-6 with a 2.47 ERA. Maddux was 18-9 with a 2.22 ERA. Smoltz won 17 games and so did Kevin Millwood. It really looked like Atlanta would return to the World Series and get their second title. Atlanta easily swept the Chicago Cubs to advance to the N.L. Championship series against the San Diego Padres. You won't like this, but San Diego won that series four games to two behind the strong pitching of Padre's Sterling Hitchcock.

Brown, who had beat the Braves as a Florida Marlin in 1997, won one game against the Braves in the series. He pitched a shutout in game two, which his team won 3-0. San Diego advanced to the World Series, but was swept by the New York Yankees four games to none. The Yankees would be a force to be reckoned with throughout the rest of the 1990's.

In 1999, the Atlanta Braves finished first again in their division. Their record was 103-59. Chipper Jones won the N.L MVP that year by hitting 45 homeruns and knocking in 110 runs. His batting average was .319. Brian Jordan, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals contributed a lot of offense. He hit 23 homers and drove in 115 runs. Second baseman Bret Boone, acquired from Cincinnati was a big help up the middle. He hit 20 homers with 63 RBI's.

The pitching was great as always. Maddux went 19-9 and Kevin Millwood was 18-7. Atlanta defeated the Houston Astros in the playoffs three games to one. Outfielder Brian Jordan hit one homer and drove in seven in that series. The Braves defeated the New York Mets in the N.L. Championship series four games to two. Catcher Eddie Perez had ten hits, two homers and drove in five runs to help Atlanta return to the World Series.

The New York Yankees returned to the World Series to play Atlanta for the second time this decade and swept the Braves like they did San Diego in 1998, four games to none. Second baseman Bret Boone was the hottest hitter for Atlanta by getting seven hits in the series.

It really hurt to lose to those dreaded Yankees. Atlanta had played in five World Series in the 1990's. They had only won one of them. I was happy about that, but I felt like the Braves should have won all of them except the 1999 World Series. I guess a fan of any team feels that way.

Now what would the new millennium hold for my Braves? First, the Braves had to get over the controversy that closer John Rocker caused when he made statements to a Sports Illustrated reporter apparently bashing gays and minorities.

My Atlanta Braves would start out the new millennium by winning the N.L East once again. The New York Mets were the wild card team. The Braves had a regular season record of 95-67. Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones had an outstanding year along with Andres Galarraga who returned from his bout with cancer to have a great comeback year. He hit 28 homeruns and drove in 100 runs. His batting average was .302. Chipper hit 36 homers along with 111 runs driven in. Andruw hit 36 homeruns and drove in 104 runs. Each hitter hit above .300 for the year.

The Braves had a rookie sensation by the name of Rafael Furcal. He won N.L Rookie of the Year. He is an outstanding shortstop. Tom Glavine was 21-9 for the year with an ERA of 3.40. Maddux finished 19-9. Arizona's Randy Johnson beat out Tom Glavine for the Cy Young Award. Tom really deserved it in my opinion.

I just knew that Atlanta would return to the World Series again. I also knew they would win it no matter who they faced even the New York Yankees. Atlanta couldn't make it past St. Louis. They were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals three games to none in the first round. It was over before it should have been.

Atlanta's great pitching staff seemed to collapse before my very eyes. The New York Mets would win the 2000 N.L Championship by eliminating the Cardinals four games to one. The world would see something many New Yorker's had sought for years. There would be a "subway series." Each game was close, but the New York Yankees finally prevailed. The Yankees won the series four games to one.

Ace Roger Clemons won one game for his team with the score being 6-5 in the second game of the series. The New York Yankees had definitely established a dynasty by winning three World Series consecutively. Many sportswriters and fans think they will repeat in 2001.

Now, it's the year 2001. Major League baseball began April 1st, when the Toronto Blue Jays met the Texas Rangers in Puerto Rico. Toronto won the first game of the season. So how will the Braves fare this year? I believe they will remain very competitive. Even though Andres Galarraga was traded during the off-season which I disagreed with, they still have some good hitters on the team.

The Braves still have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. Four time Cy Young Award winner Maddux, two time Cy Young Award winner Glavine and pitchers Kevin Millwood and Odalis Perez. John Burkett, who joined the staff last year is back. He won 22 games for San Francisco back in 1993. Pitcher Smoltz who started the season on the DL pitched a couple of games, but experienced some soreness in his elbow. He went back on the DL, but now he is strictly working out of the bullpen. He's doing good.

The Braves hitting has been somewhat anemic this season, but they should be able to win their division. The Braves recently picked up Ken Caminiti from the Texas Rangers to add some power to their lineup. He can play third or first base. Chipper Jones may have another MVP season this year. Catcher Javier Lopez is back healthy. The Braves have one of the greatest outfielders in the game. His name is Andruw Jones. He could definitely compete for MVP.

Outfielder Brian Jordan is returning from an injury plagued season last year. He needs to produce. Outfielder B.J. Surhoff has improved since the start of the season. Shortstop Rafael Furcal is out for the year, due to a shoulder injury. A great loss. The Braves recently acquired shortstop Rey Sanchez from the Kansas City Royals. He's a good one. The Braves have some great young talent with first baseman Wes Helms, infielder Mark DeRosa, second baseman Marcus Giles and pitcher Jason Marquis. Dave Martinez has done well coming off the bench to hit. Keith Lockhart too.

Currently, the Atlanta Braves lead the Philadelphia Phillies in the N.L. East. Don't count the New York Mets or the Florida Marlins out just yet. The Marlins have a very good young pitching staff. It really hurt the Mets when they lost pitcher Mike Hampton to Colorado. If the Braves don't win their division they should be the wild card team at least. There is only a couple of months left in the regular season, so anything can still happen. In closing, I just want to reiterate, I love you my Atlanta Braves no matter what. See you at the game.

(As u can see I wasn't finished with the article)
By Keith Thronson

Published: 8/8/2001
Keith "baseball nut" Thronson
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:13 PM   #2
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Marc don't get mad because it is so long. But its very interesting if your an Atlanta Braves fan. If too long just delete it. Sorry!
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:17 PM   #3
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I think we need a seperate forum for all of your Atlanta Braves topics.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:18 PM   #4
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Great article, Keith! Very impressed by your knowledge of Braves history:thumbup:
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:29 PM   #5
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Not a bad idea. i could fill up the pages with all my experiences with Atlanta.:thumbup:
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:30 PM   #6
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Bama is one of the most knowledgable posters on the board. His knowledge of baseball history is oustanding.
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Old 08-17-2006, 04:06 PM   #7
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Guys thanks for all the compliments. Really! Some people don't like my lengthy posts, but I do.:lol:
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Old 08-17-2006, 05:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bama4256 View Post
Marc don't get mad because it is so long. But its very interesting if your an Atlanta Braves fan. If too long just delete it. Sorry!
Why would I get mad? You didn't break any rules. Great post! :thumbup:
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Old 08-17-2006, 06:00 PM   #9
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Andnow we have the frustration of seeing whatwe know is a pretty good team play with no consistency. Great job today, lousy last night the story ofthe season.

Great article.
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Old 08-17-2006, 07:10 PM   #10
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I meant u might be mad because of using so much of your space. You told me long posts or stories on baseball were cool. Just don't be repetitive.
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