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The Braves…(Sigh): A Brief History of Pain

In Game-3 of the 2020 NLCS, the Atlanta Braves allowed one run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Oops, that’s a typo. The Braves allowed 11 runs in the first inning against the Dodgers.

Feel free to go back and read that sentence again. 11 runs. One inning. It is Los Angeles’s highest-scoring inning in their playoff history. It is the first time since 2017 that a team scored 11 or more runs in the first inning of an MLB game.

Corey Seager started the onslaught with an RBI double, scoring Mookie Betts. Will Smith added another RBI double to drive home Seager. Joc Pederson then launched a three-run home run to make it 5-0. Edwin Rios sent another ball into the seats of Globe Life Field, extending the lead to 6-0. Seager had his second RBI hit of the inning, sending Chris Taylor home. Max Muncy hit the third home run of the inning, pushing the lead to 11.

The Dodgers eventually won 15-3, adding another pair of home runs. 

At this point, it’s a comedy. The Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Hawks have long histories of failure, but the Braves are just as competitive when it comes to letting down their fans. The Falcons have blown massive leads and have not won a Super Bowl. The Hawks were swept as a 60-win team in 2015. They have not been to the NBA Finals since moving to Atlanta.

What about the Braves?

Atlanta won 15 consecutive division titles from 1991 to 2005. In those seasons, the Braves made the World Series five times. They won the World Series once. Between 1999 and 2019, the Braves won one playoff series out of 12 total. Yes, Atlanta has won two playoff series in 2020, but they will be remembered as the team that allowed 11 runs in the first inning of a playoff game. This comes off the heels of the 2019 Braves allowing 10 runs in the first inning of a winner-take-all NLDS Game 5. 

In 145 years of being a professional baseball franchise, the Braves have won three World Series (since 1903) and one pre-World Series era title. Their titles have been spread out between Boston (1914), Milwaukee (1957), and Atlanta (1995). For the mathematically challenged, that means the Braves win a title every 36.25 years.

If Major League Baseball had been at 30 teams for all 145 seasons, there could be some justification. However, MLB has had 30 teams for just the last 22 seasons. Mathematically, the Braves are a disappointment.

The Braves are the outlier. Every year, the team rolls a 20-sided die to figure out how to best rip the hearts out of their fans. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a series of 90-loss seasons. Other times, it manifests in the form of a spectacular September collapse in 2011. The Braves were up 8.5 games entering September, and they ended the season without even forcing a Game 163.

Recently, the Braves have committed to blowing up early in playoff games. Before Ronald Acuna stepped into the batter’s box at the top of the first inning in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS, Atlanta was down 10-0. This year, the Braves turned the pain up to 11, letting Acuna lead off the bottom of the first while staring at a pair of ones in the Los Angeles run column.

With that said, the Braves still lead the series 3-1, just needing to win one out of three games to clinch their first World Series berth since 1999. Now is the time to bet your life savings on the Dodgers because Atlanta, as a city, cannot be trusted to do anything but collapse.

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