By Mike Steffanos
I felt as if I had already written enough on the Braves this year, culminating in this piece where I dared to say that what happened in Atlanta this season was far from a shocking outcome. When the Mets came back to win and eliminated the Braves from any possibility of winning a 15th consecutive NL east title it became official, but you could see from a month into the season that it was inevitable.
Much has been endlessly written on how the world has changed since 1990, when the Braves last failed to capture their division. Tearful requiems have appeared in print from those who would have been happy to see the Braves capture another 14 straight, at the expense of the peons who dwell in the same division as Atlanta. I wait for someone who is not biased, as I admittedly am, to state the simple truth that someone else winning the NL east is actually a good thing. It was someone else's turn to win years ago. I'm happy that it was the Mets' turn this year.
I'd be lying to you if I told you that I'll ever feel really happy about a year where the Mets don't win the division -- although I have had a lot of practice at getting used to the feeling over the years -- but I'll tell you flat out that if the Mets win division titles for the next 14 years, that will not really be a good thing for baseball. I hope that the "New Mets" are more successful than the old Mets, and that we win our share of times, but absolute domination on that scale doesn't serve the best interests of baseball. I'm not even sure that it serves the interests of that team's own fans, who become arrogantly entitled after a while. The Atlanta Braves had lost the imagination of their own home town, failing to sell out playoff games, for God's sake!
So cry if you will for the end of an era. Who knows, if the Mets and Phillies go back to running their team as poorly as they did in the 1990s, and the Nationals elect to move back to Montreal and play in front of 1,000 fans again, perhaps the Braves can start a new streak. Writers can wax poetic over John Schuerholz' magic and how wonderful it all is, but it really wasn't. Not if you lived in one of the other towns. I'm not even sure that it was great for Atlanta -- 14 trips to the playoffs in a row lead to one title? That's embarrassing.
So here's to the next 14 years. I hope the Mets do well -- much better than the previous ones. I hope other teams' fans get their shot, too. That's how it should be. As for Braves fans, please feel free to go away mad if you must.