If you’ve become a Braves fan during the last 25 years, you probably don’t feel about the Dodgers the way I do. Over the past 5 years, the team you had to beat to win the division has been the Gnatspos, five to ten years ago it was the Phightin Phils, 18-20 years ago IWOTM. For two very odd seasons that I’d prefer to forget, it was the Fish. I have no fondness for any of those organizations, but my peak disdain for each team varies by era.
But for the first 25 years of the Atlanta Braves’ existence, the team that always stood between the Braves and the pennant was the Bums. (OK, for most of those years, so did virtually every other team in the league.) The Dodgers dominated the league for much of that era, but most especially in those few seasons that the Braves were relevant.
The very first Atlanta Braves team in 1966—the one that Jonathan F has so ably chronicled for us–was never really in contention, but the team that did win that year was the Dodgers. 1969 was the first year of divisional play and the Braves’ first pennant. On September 18, their new divisional rivals, behind HOFer Don Sutton, beat HOFer Phil Niekro to pull within one game of the Braves. Fortunately the Braves had a strong final two weeks and the Dodgers didn’t.
In the only season of the 1970’s that the Braves finished over .500, they won 88 games–but finished behind the Dodgers by 14 games anyway. When the Braves won their second pennant in 1982, they squeaked in by one game when the Dodgers lost on the last day of the regular season. !983 was the only other season in the 1980’s that the Braves finished over .500; they came in second to the Dodgers. The 1991 worst to first team overcame a 9 ½ game deficit at the ASB to beat the Dodgers by one game.
Even though they haven’t been our division rivals for 25 years, I still think of the Dodgers as enemy #1. As far as I’m concerned, Dodgers delenda est. Of course, the franchise of Jackie Robinson and Vin Scully can’t be all bad. But this is also the team of Tommy Lasorda and Steve Garvey. And then during tonight’s game Braves14 reminded us of this: http://articles.latimes.com/1991-08-23/sports/sp-1014_1_braves-atlanta-dodgers
Thursday’s game didn’t make me feel any better. Rich Hill was dominant, tossing 7 scoreless. You wouldn’t believe it if you only saw the box score, but Aníbal Sánchez was just about as sharp. The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth when this year’s Folk Hero did his impersonation of the original 2010 Folk Hero. Thanks to FakeDansby’s error, a groundout, and a bloop, the Dodgers scored the first two runs of the game. The only legitimate run Sánchez gave up was a dinger by newest Dodger Manny Machado in the sixth. Then in the 7th the normally reliable Albies made a throwing error and Rich Hill (!) drove in the fourth run, and that was it for the pitcher whisperer on the night.
(For what it’s worth, I’ve become a believer that Aníbal’s renewal this year is not just a fluke. The man can command a 91 mph fastball and a changeup–which was enough to send Glavine to Cooperstown).
The manager then turned to Sam Freeman and the rout was on. Luke Jackson gave up a couple more in the 8th. Obviously, Snit is concerned that AA is not sufficiently aware of the Braves’ desperate need for bullpen help, so he did his best to make the case.
Acuña did hit a two run shot in the 8th for the Braves only runs on the night.
Our stopper Foltzie goes against some guy named Kershaw on Friday. Let’s beat these Bums.