Has it really been 25 years since the Atlanta Braves won that first world championship that had eluded Atlanta sports fans for so many years? Yep, 25 years ago on Oct. 28, Tom Glavine pitched a sparkling one-hitter against the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the World Series, and David Justice punctuated the Braves' championship with a solo home run to right field. After four years of two failed World Series appearances, one embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series in 1993 and a player's strike in 1994, the Braves had finally captured Georgia's first professional sports championship.
The 1995 season was a reward for Braves fans who stuck with their team through some of the darkest years. They weren't even mediocre. They were striving for mediocrity. Atlanta fans suffered through years of futility, baby blue uniforms, countless last-place finishes in the National League West (yes we were aligned in the western division at one time, for whatever reason). From 1976-1990, the Braves finished in last place eight times, despite having one of the game's best players and two-time MVP Dale Murphy.
Now, 25 years later, the Braves are still chasing another elusive world title. They came as close this year than they have been in quite a while and provided Braves' faithful a sense of encouragement that more postseason berths and future trips deep into the postseason are in the cards for these Braves. Whether that translates into another world title remains to be seen.
They have all the elements, though, of a team poised to be great for the next decade. They have a future Most Valuable Player in Freddie Freeman (which should come any time now with his performance this year); a future superstar in Ronald Acuna Jr.; a talented pitching rotation of Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Ian Anderson that is still in its infancy and could make a case that they're years away from reaching their peak; a smart general manager in Alex Anthopoulos and a player's manager in Brian Snitker.
If there's anything we can learn from the Braves from the 1990s is that you can't take trips to the postseason for granted; capitalize when you're given the opportunity. Having been up 3-1 in the NLCS, the Braves were on the brink of the Fall Classic.
This season ended in Game 7 of the NLCS, which was fun and all, but I'm just as excited to see this team on the biggest stage – the World Series. Hopefully, these guys will be, too. So will the fanbase.
It's been 25 years since we last got to celebrate.
—Clint Thompson is a special contributor to The Union-Recorder.