Due to the time of year, and the fact that both of these teams have made the postseason (again!), I am going to force myself to address this subject. Even if I don’t want to right now. Even if I’m not really even in the mood to write about baseball because the only thing left to do now that the playoffs are here is play it. But anyway…
Since my childhood, I had watched baseball during the postseason and always had to have a team that I would root for to fail. From 1995 to 1999 it was the Atlanta Braves. They were the team the Twins had beat in 1991 and yet they were now doing much better than us during the rest of the decade, they had that annoying chant, they were from the National League, and they were billed as America’s Team. There were plenty of reasons to hate them. And I still don’t LOVE them. But after 1999 it soon became apparent that there was no way the Braves were ever going to be as dominant in baseball as everyone was sure they were, starting in the middle of the decade. In all honesty, the Braves probably could have won about four (4) World Series during the decade. ’96 they should have won, ’97 they should have won; ’92 they could have won and ’91 they could have won. Maybe even five, then. What’s more, at the coming of the new decade when the tally read: New York 3, Atlanta 1- there was still a debate over who the team of the decade was.
But by the next year, the Yankees had firmly established themselves as the new dynasty. Which made it so much more fun when they lost in 2001 and then it kinda tailed off there a little, just ‘cause the Angels beat us in ’02 and it would have been more hurtful to them had the Sox won in ’03. ’04 was fun of course and ’05 I can’t really remember. Anyway, the question that I have been leading up to is this: Who is a more enjoyable team to hate?
It would be a little bit closer of a race if the Braves had been a little bit more successful. Who wants to hate on a team that has only won one (1) World Series in their past almost two decades of up-until-recently dominance of the National League East and close-to-dominance of the National League as a whole? That would be five Pennants and nine (9) NLCS appearances in ten years. But for them, as I have previously mentioned, it is not entirely about the success that makes you want to hate them. Why do they continue to play with a nickname that references Native Americans (or American Indians, if you prefer) when a hoard of college teams have had to trade in their nicknames for brand-spanking-new ones? (Hint: money.) Why do they continue to control the baseball market for all of the South, while other cities in the South remain completely unsolicited? (Another hint: money) And why did TBS up until recently only show Braves games before trading that strategy in for sub-par, but more wide-spread national baseball coverage? (Do I even have to give the hint?)
The reason they have all this money is due to consistent winning. And yet they rested on their laurels, bragged about their 16 consecutive division championships, and sunk into obscurity while the Florida Marlins won one (1) more WORLD championship than them during that span (obviously, without winning the division once). And there they still sit, with their retiring manager who still only has one world title, content to win the wild card in their rapidly-declining new ballpark named after their television-mogul owner while the once-hapless Phillies take over the division and all of baseball. These guys are doing what I wish the Yankees would have done; but had they, of course, it would have been bad for the entire sport of baseball. So don’t hate the Braves for what they’ve were, hate them for what they could have- and should have- been (at the very least!): the Rebel Alliance to the Yankee’s Evil Empire.