The Athletic posed a question on social media on Wednesday that has stuck with me for a while now. They made a simple post, asking their followers "If your team could have one do-over in franchise history, what would it be?"
I've been pondering that question for a while now trying to come up with an answer. I could look at it from the perspective of a Virginia Tech fan, in which it would obviously be winning the 1999 National Championship over Florida State.
But seeing as this is a baseball blog, I'll try to answer it from a Braves fan's viewpoint. There are some obvious ones that come to mind: the 2012 Wild Card game in which the infield fly rule was called on a ball that was very clearly not an infield fly. Yeah, that game still haunts a lot of Braves fans.
Of course, I could also go with last year's postseason in which the Braves gave up 10 runs in the first inning of Game 5 of the NLDS, all but sealing the series defeat with eight innings still to play.
But to answer this question, I'm going to go with an event that happened before I was even born - the 1991 World Series.
I've written about this series before, because it was a wild seven games. Three of the games went into extra innings and five games were decided by just one run, making it an exciting series I'm sure.
The Braves were the team of the 90s, winning a division title every year except for 1990 and 1994 (which was shortened due to a strike, so it doesn't really count). They won five National League pennants during the decade as well. Despite all that winning, the team only captured one World Series championship.
That's right. The Braves appeared in five World Series in the span of 10 years, but managed to only win one. That's almost on par with the Buffalo Bills for choking when it matters.
Out of the four World Series losses which I could choose to do over, I'm going with 1991 because of how close it was. The Twins won the series four games to three, and as I said, five of the games were decided by one run. The Braves very easily could have won it at any time.
Of the other World Series losses they suffered during the 90s, one was a four-game sweep and the other were 4-2 defeats. The 1991 series was the only one in which the Braves were really competitive.
The series started out with back-to-back Twins victories in Minnesota. The Twins won game one 5-2, but game two was close with a final score of 3-2. If the Braves had just played a little better in that game, they could have taken the series back to Atlanta tied at one game apiece.
But they came home down two games to none. Their luck changed over the next three games, though, as they won each of them and took a 3-2 series lead back to Minneapolis .
Just one more win and they would be World Series champions!
That one win proved very difficult to achieve. Game six went into extra innings tied 3-3. The Braves went three up, three down in the top of the 10th, but they got their leadoff an aboard in the 11th.
Keith Mitchell was sent out to pinch run for Sid Bream, led off the inning with a single. The momentum didn't carry over, though, as Mitchell was caught stealing for the first out before Brian Hunter and Greg Olson each hit pop flies to end the inning. The Twins scored on a home run by Kirby Puckett in the bottom of the 11th to send the series to game seven.
The series' final game proved just as tight, going into extra innings tied 0-0. Once again, the Braves couldn't get anything going in the 10th, with Jack Morris retiring the batters in order.
Gene Larkin got to play the hero for the Twins in the bottom of the 10th, hitting a walk-off single that scored Dan Gladden and gave the Twins the series victory.
If the Braves had just scored one run in the first nine innings of the game, they would have won the game and been World Series champions. Instead their offense stalled, and they had to settle for runners-up for the first of four times that decade.
For a team that has as much history and has been around as long as the Braves have, they should have more to show for it. Three championships since the World Series started being played in 1903 is not very impressive. If the Braves had managed to win the 1991 World Series, it could have set the tone for the rest of the decade. They could have dominated even more than they did. Those five pennants might have resulted in more than one championship.
But we can only wonder what would have been had the offense decided to show up in those final two games.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.