After eight dominant Greg Maddux innings and some timely hitting, the Braves are up 2-0 over the Yankees in this World Series and are heading home. They just have to win two of three games in Fulton County Stadium to secure their second straight world championship. What an amazing time it is to be a Braves fan!
After winning Game 1 by a 12-1 margin, Atlanta wasted no time jumping on Jimmy Key and the Yankees. In the top of the first, Mark Lemke lined a one-out double to the left-field wall. He was driven home by Fred McGriff, who lined a single up the middle.
It was just one run, but it was all the support Maddux would need. He threw all but one Braves inning, recording two strikeouts, two flyouts, and 20 (!) groundouts. At least five of those were of the “chopped off the plate, back to the pitcher” variety. If you’ve been watching Maddux since he signed with the Braves four winters ago, it was a familiar performance: changing speeds and locations, sawing batters off, getting a ridiculous number of weak grounders. Tim McCarver, part of FOX’s new baseball broadcast team, said Maddux “thinks with his fingers.” Phrasing, Tim. Are we still doing phrasing? But the underlying point was correct: Maddux’s control was the story of this game.
The story of the last game, Andruw Jones of the two Game 1 homers, continued to impress. Just 19, lithe, and athletic, Jones evaded a tag on a pitchout in the second and I’m still not sure how he did it. Just an impossibly athletic play. If this kid stays in shape, he could be a franchise mainstay for the next 20 years.
The Braves doubled their lead in the third, when Marquis Grissom doubled into right field, Lemke advanced him to third on a sacrifice bunt, and McGriff lined a single up the middle to drive him in. McGriff was an RBI machine this game; in the fifth, he brought Lemke in with a sac fly to make it 3-0.
The Yankees never really mounted any sort of sustained offensive rally. Paul O’Neill hit a double in the second to the delight of the fans in the right field bleachers, but that was about the best chance they had. But seriously, Yankee bleacher fans, are we not doing “phrasing” anymore?
Mark Wohlers came in to pitch the ninth and threw a filthy inning, striking out the first two Yankees he saw and pitching his seventh straight scoreless inning of these playoffs. I doubt the Yankees can touch him this series.
If there was a negative in this game. it was the FOX broadcast. Buck and McCarver are an awkward duo; Buck sounds like he’d rather be somewhere else, while McCarver talks to you like you’re six years old and watching baseball for the first time. Bob Brenly was in the booth with them, but didn’t have much room to speak. And the producers spent a lot of time on extraneous things like network TV stars in the stands and Maddux’s wife (who was for some reason split-screened with Maddux through the entire seventh inning.) But it’s the network’s first postseason, and they’re working out the kinks and learning from their mistakes. I’m sure they’ll sign up a better announcing team for future postseasons.
They did notice and point out that Bud Selig, the interim commissioner, had put his signature on the game ball; it was the first commissioner’s signature on the World Series ball since Fay Vincent’s in 1991. Since he’s just an interim commissioner, Selig won’t be in office for much longer, so it’s a nice touch to get him a World Series signature ball.
But seriously, what a great time to be a Braves fan! Assuming they can go home and win two of three in Fulton County Stadium, the Braves will go into their new Olympic digs as two-time defending world champions. (And that stadium looks like a jewel! It’s state of the art and looks like it should be the “home of the Braves” for the next 50 years or more.) The roster is a great mix of veterans (Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, McGriff) and homegrown kids (Chipper, Andruw, Javy, Dye).
The dynasty has begun, and the Braves fans of NYC doing the Tomahawk Chop in the ninth as Wohlers mowed the Yanks down knew it. Ted Turner’s only 57 years old, so presumably he’s got another 20 good years of overseeing this team in him. The only question is, how many championships will they win in that time frame? I wish I could fast forward a couple decades and find out. Suck it, Yankees!