Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Some Final Words on the Braves

They are infuriatingly successful at replacing key players, their fans are racist rubes, their owner is Ted Turner, they're on TBS almost as much as The American President, and their manager whines more than my 2-year-old -- yet every year the Braves blow away the rest of National League East.

And then fall apart in the playoffs.

You know the story: 12 straight postseason appearances. One World Series victory. Endless anguished hand-wringing from the Atlanta media over what makes the Braves gag the way they do.

Atlanta has been so good for so long that it's impossible not to take a kind of perverse joy in their inability to win games when they matter. A peculiarly pleasing autumnal rite is reading about what the Braves must do to fix things. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mark Bradley recommends blowing up the house and starting over:

This is the crux of the Braves' dilemma: The stuff that keeps getting them to October doesn't necessarily work once there. Contrary to popular belief, they haven't been the same old Braves every postseason, but every postseason since 1995 has yielded the same deflating result. Do they change for the sake of changing? Always before, their sensible contention has been that you can't win it all if you don't qualify for the playoffs. But now it's 12 division titles and only one World Series championship, and maybe they're as tired of this as everyone else claims to be.

If so, they should go beyond cosmetic surgery. . . .

None of the Braves blogs listed at BaseballBlogs.org has checked in yet with their own prescriptions for change, though a couple were not very gracious in defeat. As a Philadelphian, of course, I can respect that.


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