The 1995 Braves won three World Series games at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. A year later, they returned to their about-to-be-demolished ballpark up 2-0 in the Series, having outscored the Yankees 18-1 in the Bronx. The next time the Braves would win a World Series game at home would come two stadiums and a quarter-century later.
Baseball is weird. The Dodgers made the playoffs the past nine seasons; they won the World Series only in COVID-shortened 2020. From 1991 through 2005, the Braves finished first 14 times over 14 completed seasons, a stream of excellence viewed within the industry as beyond belief. What most Atlantans tend to recall, though, is those Braves going 1-for-14 in pursuit of championship rings.
“Only one World Series” became the all-purpose dismissal of 14 surpassing seasons. As much as those in the know sought to explain it away – the postseason is a crapshoot, et cetera – it remains inexplicable.
The Braves just won a World Series that, given their many injuries and panic-buy imports, they probably shouldn’t have. (Of the 10 playoff qualifiers, they had the worst record.) Though the future is unknowable, it would be a surprise if the next few seasons don’t bring many more World Series games to Truist Park. But who the heck knows?
The Braves are set up to win big for a long time. Heck, they have already. Under general manager Alex Anthopoulos, they’ve finished first, first, first and first. That said, another batch of Braves won big for a long time – hired as GM in October 1990, John Schuerholz didn’t preside over a non-first-place finish until 2006 – only to leave its audience wondering what went wrong.
The vagaries of October are manifold. We saw for ourselves last fall, this time in a happy way. All an organization can do is keep positioning itself to play postseason games. Even Anthopoulos might concede that the Braves’ team he liked most entering the playoffs was the 2019 edition, which lost the Division Series by yielding 11 first-inning runs in Game 5 to the Cardinals, who were swept by the Nationals, who hadn’t led the National League East for a day but wound up winning it all. That’s baseball.
Five months after giving us the giddiest finish imaginable, here the Braves go again. Wish them luck. Even the best team, which they might well be, needs a little luck.