Ok let’s make a deal: I’ll cover the Braves if you *promise* not to start the tomahawk chop chant. So help me, if I hear that cloying refrain, I will turn this car around!
If that wasn’t enough of a tip-off, I grew up with a just a tiny bit of a chip on my shoulder as a Mets fan whose team was routinely smacked around by the Atlanta Braves, led by a grown man who went by the name Chipper (in all honestly though, he actually turned out to be a pretty okay guy, so I don’t hold it against him.) Of course, the Braves history goes much farther back than that – possibly more so than any other MLB team!
As I learned while working at a bar across from Fenway’s Green Monster in college, the Braves actually began in Boston back in the early 1870’s as the Red Stockings. I know what you’re thinking: but clearly that team became the Red Sox, right? Oh, my sweet summer child… have you learned nothing of the nomadic history of baseball teams? No? Well, you can read up on the Red Sox over here, then. So the Red Stockings actually became the Boston Braves in 1912, possibly helping spur them to win their first World Series title shortly after in 1914. Post 1916, however, the team struggled to even break .500 for the season up until the Great Depression hit. In an effort to reawaken the team, an ailing Babe Ruth was acquired from the Yankees, but he was little help, and retired mid-season, leaving the team to finish with a 38-115 record. Besides a trip to another World Series in 1948, the remainder of the Braves tenure in Boston was mostly unremarkable, and the team was moved to Milwaukee in 1953.
The relocation to the mid-west invigorated the organization, and, with the help of phenomenal talent like Hank Aaron, the team never saw a losing season in their brief time there. In fact, they even managed another World Series win in 1957 against a mighty Yankee lineup led by Mickey Mantle. However, the Braves ownership changed hands, prompting their move to Atlanta in 1966, where, besides two division titles and being bought by Ted Turner, their fate remained mostly unremarkable until the 1990’s.
With the return of Bobby Cox as manger in 1990, the team began restructuring and altered their path for, as Wikipedia refers to it, Division Dominance. My memories of the Braves in this era are based around the aforementioned Chipper Jones, and an indomitable pitching rotation featuring the likes of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. Watching countless games where this team trounced my Mets to the soundtrack of a seemingly endless tomahawk chant shaped what was once my severe distaste for the Atlanta franchise. I won’t even touch on the wretched excuse for a human being that is John Rocker, save for saying the Mets were forced to build an overhang in the visitor’s bullpen to protect him from flying projectiles after his racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments. Classy. However, I don’t count him in the Braves dynasty, as I grudgingly hold a good deal of respect for their 5 NL Penants, and one World Series win in the 90’s.
After winning the NL East for 11 straight years, in 2006 the Braves saw a decline in their usual prowess and power, and spent several seasons struggling to find their footing again. It was only within the past few years that the team found themselves competitive in the off-season once again, but they seem to be gaining traction year by year. This season brought them to a new field, Suntrust Park, in the suburbs of Atlanta, and, from the games I’ve watched, they’re definitely improving from their previous seasons. It’s still early in the year, and there’s a lot of baseball left to be played, so keep your eyes open for some excitement, Braves fans!