Does this Braves team remind you of a team in Atlanta’s past? From a talent standpoint, it’s not exactly like the worst-to-first 1991 team. And from an expectations standpoint, it’s not exactly the ’95 World Series champions, a squad that everyone knew would be in the hunt for a championship. But there are elements that remind a former Brave and a longtime Braves fan of those two seasons.
Mark Lemke, Braves second baseman from 1988-97
It’s really tough to pinpoint a single year. I was talking to Bobby Cox the other day about how they all tend to run together, with so many of the same names. When I look at this team, I’d draw from a couple of past clubs. The pitching staff is like the ’97 team, with established pitchers and some significant help from some of the younger guys. In ’97, we had guys like Kevin Millwood, who we didn’t necessarily expect to have contributed the way he did. We have Kris Medlen this year, and Johnny Venters, guys who we didn’t really expect.
But if I had to say one, I’d say the ’95 team. Chipper joined the club for his rookie year and it changed the whole club around, just like Heyward has this year. We’d put together a pretty good track record in ’95, then we get a rookie influx with Chipper. Bobby had a pretty good idea from the start, and had him batting No. 3 on a World Series team.
I think Bobby knew what he had in Chipper, just like he knows what he has in Jason. Back then, when Chipper was coming up, we didn’t have an established guy who’d been hitting No. 3 for us for 15 years or more like Jason faced.
And we were rated higher in ’95 than this year, but wouldn’t it be great if it ended the same way.
John Galloway, Acworth, longtime Braves fan
I’ve followed the Braves closely since the early ’70s at least. Like most Braves fans, I’ve seen the ups and downs. This team reminds me of the ’91 Braves, not so much because of the make-up of the team, but because of expectations and a sense of something magical happening.
In ’91, the Braves were coming off a horrid season, but pretty early on, that was a team worth paying attention to. I don’t think many of us thought they’d win the division that year, even late into the summer. But they were giving us something we had seen in a while in Atlanta -- a baseball team that inspired us to want to go to the ballpark, stay up late on west-coast trips and believe.
Probably, nothing will feel just like that. The 2010 Braves team came into the year with expectations that exceeded the 1991 team. But a month into the season, it was pretty obvious that this was going to be another long summer. Then, just like in ’91, magic started happening. We all thought Jason Heyward would be good. But Troy Glaus? Kris Medlen? We thought Martin Prado was good, but to be leading the league in hits? And we hoped Tim Hudson could come back strong, but this strong? Maybe it's because the Braves have been removed from the playoffs for a while, but this is a team that excites me more than any team has in a while.
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