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Don't Let Your Tomahawk Hit You on the Way Out, Boys

Mike SteffanosWednesday, September 13, 2006
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.

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Comments (4)

I am no more unhappy than you to see the end of the Braves' run.

I will say this, though; a while back someone was commenting on the 1986 tean's 20th anniversary celebration. Imbedded in the general comment was the idea that, were it not for those Cardinals, the Mets really would have been something special. And I imagine someone out there harbors similar feelings about the Braves, so often getting in the way of the Mets in the late 1990's.

Anyway, it's a feeling I do not share. I believe that more than virtually anything else in baseball, a great rivalry identifies a team and a season. Those Mets teams were better, more real to me at least, because of their battles with the Cardinals; and the seasons of the more recent teams gained a lot of their ultimate meaning by the prospect of always having to face down the Braves.

So while I won't shed any tears over the Braves decline, neither do I begrudge them all those winning years. The plains Indians used to measure a tribe by the strength of its enemies; and I think I know what they meant, because I feel that way too.

dd -- scr*w you, Pollyanna, the Braves s*ck. :)

Seriously, I never thought it was the Cardinals that kept the Mets from being something special. You have to beat that rival, and the Mets didn't for the most part. I have nothing against the Braves for what they accomplished; I'm just tired of the dirge mentality. Also, I want 2 things to happen:

  1. Someone to actually note that the Braves' problems this year were their own fault.
  2. Someone who isn't a Mets fan to acknowledge that someone else winning the division is a good thing.

Is that too much to ask?

1. Really, I'm still haunted by the benitez vs jones/jordan 9th inning duels in 2001. Or the 1999 playoffs... The 1998 classic cy young match up with Glavine vs Leiter....2005 August; Looper blows another Atl game....

2. 14 straight but in 1994(strike yr) that pennant would have gone to the Expos. The Mets also were resurgent behind Saberhagen.

3. The Braves may be out. but McCann, Francouer, Langerhans, McBride and Co will be a noisy bunch next yr and beyond. Thank goodness Marte, Betemit are not there.

4. A. Jones is done in ATL. I cant believe his lack of effort.

I like some of the Braves' young pitchers. I have no doubt they'll be a force in the division.

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