Ed. note: This is the second in a series of posts by W.C.G. that is predicated on something Mac used to say: “I’ve mentioned before that I have a low opinion of hope, which normally plays you false.” Or, as W.C.G. noted in his introductory post: “Braves fandom has mostly been a series of pleasant, sometimes even inspiring, regular seasons spoiled by some giant turd of a playoff series. As the data set is fairly rich at this point, I have attempted to organize the turds into five different subcategories, which I have named and ranked. The series will begin with the least aggravating type of Miserable Braves Playoff Loss and work its way up to the most aggravating. I’ve also set odds for the likelihood of the 2013 Braves to join each category.”
#4: The Ambush
An Ambush is no fun but it’s kind of numbing too; take the ‘98 Braves, who won 106 games, clowned an overmatched Cubs team in the NLDS, and then just totally ceased to hit for three games to begin the LCS against the Padres. Three games, three total runs, three losses. They actually won Games 4 and 5 in that NLCS, which was the first time in LCS history a team down 3-0 had forced a Game 6, which was a slightly redeeming fact for six years until the ‘04 Red Sox actually finished that drill. In Game 6 they got shut out again.
Or take the 2000 Braves, who began their playoff run with the Cardinals getting six first-inning runs off Greg Maddux. The Rick Ankiel meltdown that game never cost the Cards the lead, and wound up being retrospectively notable only because it kicked off a chain of events that led to him becoming Atlanta’s starting center fielder in the prior-post-mentioned 2010 NLDS. Unlike ‘98, 2000 was an ambush on Braves starting pitching; Maddux, Millwood, and Glavine combined to give up ten first-inning runs.
2001 was a late-developing Ambush, in which the Braves and Diamondbacks split a pair in Arizona before the series came back to Atlanta and the Braves got skunked three times in a row. Of course, that postseason the D-backs basically used Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling as a two-man rotation, so it’s understandable under the circumstances.
Chance of the 2013 Braves doing this: 25%. This is a feast-or-famine offense, so any protracted emergence of “famine” mode will trigger this outcome.