To say that it has been a long time between World Series appearances for the Atlanta Braves professional baseball club is a bit of an understatement. Prior to securing their spot in this year’s World Series, the Braves had not made a World Series appearance in the 2000’s. You have to go back to 1999 to find their last appearance in the Fall Classic and for those of you old enough to remember, well...the memories from that series are not fond ones.
In anticipation of the Braves’ matchup with the Houston Astros, here is a quick look back at the Braves’ World Series appearances from the 1990’s. Be warned: with the obvious joy, there was plenty of heartache.
1991 - Loss to the Minnesota Twins 4-3
This series is among the best World Series ever played and it had everything you could want from a championship series short of the Braves hoisting the trophy: an all-time pitching matchup in Game 7 between Jack Morris and John Smoltz where Smoltz’s stellar outing was somehow surpassed by Jack Morris’ 10 scoreless frames, Ron Gant being physically pulled off of first base by Kent Hrbek in Game 2 resulting in Gant somehow being called out in what remains one of the worst umpire calls in baseball history. Lonnie Smith hitting three home runs in the series, and a ton of close games including the final two that the Twins won by a total of two runs. For Braves fans, it was the definition of pain...but objectively, it was an amazing series to reflect on.
1992 - Loss to the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2
Its easy to forget that the Blue Jays won back to back titles in the early 1990’s, but it absolutely happened and this was the first of the two. Joe Carter had a great series with a couple homers (no, this wasn’t the series that he won on a walk-off that is shown ad nauseam, that was from 1993), Steve Avery pitched in what turned out to be a pair of losses, the Braves managed to beat Jack Morris twice in a mild revenge tour/silver lining, Pat Borders won the series MVP, and Tom Glavine’s ascension continued as he pitched quite well throughout the series despite a less than ideal postseason resume to that point. Also, David Cone was the ace of the Blue Jays’ staff in 1993, which I had forgotten about.
1995 - Win over the Cleveland Indians 4-2
Ah, memories. The Indians were a legitimately scary offensive squad with Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Eddie Murray, and Jim Thome in their lineup. Their pitching staff was quite good as well with Orel Hershiser and Dennis Martinez at the front. Fortunately, the Braves’ rotation at this point was Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve which, as it turns out, is one of the best rotations the league as ever seen. Braves fans probably remember David Justice’s homer in Game 6 that proved to be the game’s only run and Marquis Grissom catching the final out, but Tom Glavine was nails in both of his starts on his way to series MVP, Fred McGriff and Ryan Klesko both had multiple key homers earlier in the series, John Smoltz made basically the only bad World Series start of his career in what turned out to be an extra innings loss, and the Braves pitching staff somehow held that vaunted Cleveland offense to a sub-.200 batting average in the series. Seriously, everyone in that lineup could hit.
1996 - Loss to Yankees 4-2
And now it is time for pain. It appeared as though the Braves were about to embark on a run of World Series appearances with multiple titles thanks to that Hall of Fame pitching staff. The series started off well enough as the Braves won the first two games including a multi-homer game from a young Andruw Jones and an absolute gem pitched by Greg Maddux in Game 2. The Yankees used a big eighth inning off of the Braves’ bullpen to snag a win in Game 3. However, the Yankees would be trailing late in Game 4 which was good news, but in the eighth inning, Jim Leyritz did this to force extra innings where the Braves would ultimately lose.
The Braves would score a total of two runs in the final two games of the series and while the Yankees only managed four runs, a Cecil Fielder RBI double that drove in a runner that reached on an ugly error was the only run of Game 5, and Greg Maddux had one bad inning and just like that...the series was over.
1999 - Loss to Yankees 4-0
And now we finally arrive at the Braves’ last World Series appearance before this year and...well....it did not go well. The Braves got to experience vintage Mariano Rivera who won series MVP, so that was less than fun. The Braves combined to score nine runs over the four game sweep and five of those runs came in Game 3 which ended with a walk-off homer off the bat of Chad Curtis (his second of the game). In short, the Yankees absolutely dominated Atlanta and thus began a World Series drought that VERY fortunately ended this season.