You watched. You don’t need to relive the game.
Are the Braves really about to do this again?
Are the Braves really about to move to the doorstop of a historic breakthrough, only for the entire tower to come crashing down again? Will this be yet another prime opportunity to advance to (and maybe win) a World Series squandered?
It’s hard not to think about it right now. In less than 24 hours, the Braves went from having a 3–1 series lead and a 2–0 lead in game five to the brink of elimination. The offense has scored two runs in the last 16 innings and is a brutal 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position.
The Dodgers have forced a game seven after trailing 3–1 in a series for the first time in franchise history, and this franchise has been playing baseball since the Chester Arthur administration. They have scored 14 first inning runs in the series, the most of any team in any playoff series in baseball history.
Today the Braves had opportunities to change the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the second, two men on in the fourth, and runners in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh. And that’s not even factoring in Marcell Ozuna’s warning track shot with a runner on base in the fifth.
Missed opportunities. Many of them, in fact.
This whole series is starting to feel like one now.
It’s starting to look like the Braves are going to blow a 3–1 series lead with a chance to win their first pennant in 21 years. Every advantage the Braves had has been evened out, every piece of insurance they built up over the first five games of the series has now been erased. It’s just a one game shootout for the pennant now, the first game seven for the Braves in 24 years.
For most Braves fans, it’s difficult to muster up any optimism for it.
For a section of the fanbase, it’s practically impossible.
The Braves have won these games before. They won game seven of the NLCS at Three Rivers stadium in 1991, of course they won that game seven against the Pirates in 1992 and they shellacked the Cardinals in the aforementioned 1996 game seven.
Boy, a 15–0 win would be nice tomorrow.
But a lot of Braves fans have never seen them win a game like this. The Braves are 3–11 in elimination games in the 21st century and 0–5 in winner-take-all games. Every playoff series the Braves have won since 1999 has been of the sweep variety. When the other team wins a game, it usually wins the series.
I know, I know. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies don’t care about the history. Ian Anderson wasn’t even born yet the last time the Braves played in a game seven. Freddie Freeman was a 7-year-old.
None of these historical nuggets actually matter for the outcome of the game. The 2020 Braves are going to win or lose based on what the 2020 Braves do, not what any other team has done in the past. The history is irrelevant once Acuña steps into the batter’s box to start tomorrow’s game.
But the first time I first really contextualized the age gap in Braves Country was during game five against the Cardinals last year. I never really thought about the age difference until I watched a kid too young to know about the success of the 90s watch the 10-run first inning; now it’s at the forefront of my mind heading into another do-or-die game.
An entire generation of Braves fans has been conditioned to believe that tomorrow is going to be nothing but abject horror. That the very idea of an elimination game or a situation where the season on the line automatically means something bad is going to happen. It always has.
But nine innings could change everything.
Nine innings could put the Braves in the World Series, exorcise all of the demons from do-or-die games past and put to bed any thoughts of “typical 21st century Braves”
These nine innings could also, well, be another grand re-affirmation of “typical 21st century Braves” for people too young to remember anything before that. An entire generation of Braves fans will either be validated in their dread, or see everything shift in one game.
For the people not old enough to remember the high of ’95 or the low of ’96, it’s pretty cut and dry. It’s going to go one of two ways, and there’s no in between.
This is either going to be the best it’s ever been, or the worst it’s ever been.