by Harold Friend
The Atlanta Braves made the playoffs every season from 1991-2005, with the exception of 1994, when there were no playoffs or World Series. They are considered the most successful National League team during that time period, but when one views their page on Baseball-Reference.com, 13 of the 14 listings under "Playoffs" starts with the word "Lost."
Success is Making the Playoffs
In the 21st century, making the playoffs is considered a success, which explains why the Braves are not considered losers, despite making the playoffs 14 times and winning the World Series only once. The Yankees won four World Championships from 1996-2000, but the Braves avoided the most ignominious loss in playoff history in 1999, when they played the wild card New York Mets.
The Braves Won the First Three Games
The Braves took the first three games of the second round of the 1999 playoffs, although they managed only nine runs, including winning the third game with only a first inning run that future Met [[Tom Glavine] made stand up.
The Mets Won Two Clutch Games
The Mets beat fan favorite John Rocker in Game 4 on a John Olerud two-run single, which gave Mets fans and players, especially Turk Wendell, tremendous satisfaction after Rocker had blasted them for being "impolite". Rocker had the audacity to criticize the crude language and abusive taunts hurled at him by Mets fans. "He got everything that was coming to him. It was very pleasurable." Turk Wendell didn't hide his feelings.
The next game was a classic that lasted 15 innings. In a game that neither team deserved to win, the Braves broke a 2-2 tie with a run in the 15th inning, but the Mets loaded the bases in their half of the inning with one out. Braves' relief pitcher Kevin McGlinchy walked Todd Pratt to even the score. Robin Ventura hit a ball over the fence, but he was mobbed by his teammates before he reached second base, and was credited with a game-winning single.
Only the Second Time Ever
The 1999 Mets were only the second team in playoff history to win two games after losing the first three games. The 1998 Braves lost the first three games to the Padres and won the next two games, but lost Game 6. In the World Series, only the 1910 Cubs, the 1937 Giants, and the 1970 Reds managed to win Game 4 to avoid a sweep. Nineteen times, the team leading 3 games to none swept its opponent.
The Mets' confidence was increased by the fact that the Braves had 25 base runners in the fifth game and only three scored. During one stretch, 9 of 14 Braves reached base. None scored.
Braves' hitting coach Don Baylor admitted, "It's a problem. It really is." Kevin Millwood, the Braves' Game 6 starter, praised the Mets. "It wouldn't surprise us whatever happens. We definitely don't want to go to a seventh game."
Close But Not Quite
The Braves won the playoffs by beating the Mets, 10-9, but not before the Mets overcame five first inning Atlanta runs. Then it was the Mets' turn to lack the ability to close it out. They went ahead, 8-7 in the top of the eighth inning, but the Braves tied the game. The Mets scored the go-ahead run in the 10th, only to have Ozzie Guillen single home Andruw Jones to tie the game. Finally, Kenny Rogers walked home the winning run in the 11th inning.
The Red Sox Did What the Mets Did Not
The Braves avoided what the 2004 Yankees could not. The Braves clawed their way to a 10-9 win to get rid of the Mets. Five seasons later, the Yankees won the first three games of the second playoff round against the Red Sox, but unlike the Braves, the Yankees could not get rid of the Red Sox in Game 6. They couldn't get rid of them in the seventh game either.
By MURRAY CHASS. (1999, October 19). Braves' Lead No Longer Seems Insurmountable :On Baseball . New York Times (1857-Current file),D5. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 117201632).
No Sympathy From Wendell. (1999, October 17). New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 403. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 117200264).
GEORGE VECSEY. (1999, October 17). For Rocker, It's Another Night in Fun City :Sports of The Times 'I don't feel the least bit bad,' says the man who chides all Flushing. . New York Times (1857-Current file),403. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 117200263).