NLCS Game 6: Braves 1, Dodgers 3

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.

30 thoughts on “NLCS Game 6: Braves 1, Dodgers 3”

  1. Before the series started I thought the Braves would win 2 games against these Dodgers. I told myself anything more than that is just gravy…. I am disappointed our bats have disappeared so the frustration level is still high. But overall, if we lose Game 7, it will be to a better team than ours- sad to say.

  2. There’s another age-based — or experience-based — division in Braves fans, between those who became fans in the 1990s and those who started earlier. The former group only knows the recent rebuilding years as an example of how bad it can be, while the latter group remembers that it can be much worse. My fandom began in 1970, so I don’t know whether those who were fans during the Milwaukee years (Are there any here? Anyone remember 1957?) have yet another perspective.

  3. Whether the Braves hammer of get hammered, this team has given me pleasure. I am grateful, and I will continue to watch, this season or next. I will not base my happiness on whether Ian throws a shutout or stinks the place up.

    Thank you for this great year, Braves Journal. May God bless you each and every one.

  4. Excellent write-up that sums up a lot of what I’m feeling.

    Hey, WHAT IF it was the Braves that come out today and put up 12 runs in the first inning? Break their own record they allowed (twice) and just put this one to bed early?

  5. @6

    We have just been reminded of what constitutes deep happiness. Association with an ideal which has grasped our imagination, sustained it over half a century, refreshes it every spring. Lucky us.

  6. blazon and I have been known to disagree, but we are in perfect alignment here. Thanks, coop.

    On tonight’s game: something will happen, and everyone will put the result in their own personal context. For me? Roll the dice… I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into this trip to the casino. I’d rather come away a winner, but it was fun to play. In other words, what coop said.

  7. What will suck is that, if we lose, people will act like the two series wins before this one mean absolutely nothing, as if they can’t remember three weeks ago when nobody would shut up about the fact that the Braves hadn’t won a playoff series since 2001. Such is life, I know, but I refuse to think of this team as “just another pathetic failure.” I won’t do it.

    Now let’s go out and win this game so that nobody else does either (unless we lose the World Series, in which case everyone will forget that we won this series, as well).

  8. I was thinking of sharing my thoughts on game 7 here, but then coop, blazon, and JonathanF expressed them better than I could myself. Thanks.

  9. I refuse to let these two talking points — “Hey! We won a playoff series!” and “Yeah, well, the 80’s were pretty terrible”– be any kind of consolation for being up 2-0 and 3-1 and losing the series. I don’t care that we beat the Marlins. I don’t care that we were bad in the 80’s. What I care about is being up 2-0 and 3-1 and losing the series because we didn’t have enough pitching, and our bats went cold. What I care about is tearing the team down to the studs and rebuilding with pitching, and then we gave up 7, 7, and 15 runs in 3 of the games.

    I think we will win today, I expect us to win today, I think the bats wake up, and I think Ian pitches well. I like who’s available in the bullpen. But I swear if I have to read all offseason how great this season was because we beat the Miami Marlins, it’s going to be miserable. The older I get, the more I realize that I do not have the typical mindset of a Georgia sports fan. I genuinely don’t know how you guys do it. I want to win tonight, and Braves fans should expect to win tonight and be pissed off if they don’t. Your NFL team is so bad they just fired their coach, your college football team can’t get over the hump at a time where the hump was smaller, your baseball team tanked and still can’t get over the hump, and the best thing Georgia sports fans can talk about is a MLS title a couple years ago or whenever it was. And that just doesn’t make people very mad. Twitter’s pathetic right now. Just a bunch of people saying we’re going to lose. Good gosh, grow a pair and demand more of the teams you cheer for.

  10. Last night I changed from my braves journal shirt to a different braves shirt after the first and put on a different braves cap. I also moved from chair to chair throughout the game depending upon how things were going. I’m starting to think my actions are not impacting the Braves’ play.

    So I’m going to test a new hypothesis tonight. On the assumption that the manager and players know what is at stake, that they are a talented team, and that under Snit’s leadership they will be loose but focused, I’m going to trust them rather than me. I’m not going to worry about what I wear or where I sit.

    I approach this with a good deal of trepidation. I’ve always tried to do my part by wearing the right thing and keeping the correct posture. But you know, 55 years of my doing that for them has yielded one World Series championship. So I’m going to let go and let Snit manage and let the players play.

    (Unless they fall behind early, and then I’ll search for the right shirt)

  11. I’ve come to the conclusion that “demanding” my team win a championship doesn’t do jack squat except make me super-upset at my team 99 percent of the time. I’ve been demanding that we push our chips in and act like a World Series contender (via front office action, anyway) for years now. We haven’t done it and I honestly don’t think we’re ever going to. Doesn’t mean we can’t be a good team and maybe catch lightning in a bottle (as we’re hopefully doing this year), but that’s gonna be about the extent of it. My choices are basically to stop following my team or to take joys where I can.

    I would also respectfully suggest that if you think Florida football (which is I’m guessing what you’re comparing Georgia sports to in terms of demanding fans…apologies if I’m off base on that) started winning championships because their fans started demanding better, you’re mistaken on that. They hired a coach who happened to be a championship coach and recruited a championship team there in the 90s. I honestly don’t think that fan demands had a whole lot to do with it. Fan demands have certainly gone up since then, but didn’t stop Florida from hiring a couple of bad head coaches (in addition to the good one and the one who the jury is still out on). I can tell you that Tennessee fans are insanely, absurdly demanding…and as you can plainly see, Tennessee football has virtually nothing to show for that over the past 15 years.

    Anyway, I just find the line of thinking that Atlanta sports teams would be instantly made better (or at least more clutch or something) if their fans magically all started demanding a championship every year or if the media suddenly started having an antagonistic relationship with the team to be codswallop.

  12. I have nothing positive to say about the Falcons or the Hawks–who could? But I happen to believe that the Braves have generally been a well run franchise that has drafted and developed good players (with plenty of flops, of course), made a fair number of good trades (but of course with some stinkers we all bemoan), hired good field managers and clubhouse leaders (but not Fredi), and at least in the AA era has made some shrewd short term free agent signings. It’s not all great, but overall the Atlanta record over the past thirty years is one of the best in baseball.

    I’m well aware the team has only the one World Series trophy, and that’s a disappointment, but it’s a helluva lot easier to be a Braves fan than one of about 25 other franchises I could name. I suspect my attitude here is a function of my age and of following a Braves franchise that was not well run for the first 25 years.

    The biggest frustration is the penury of the owners and not spending big money on free agents. But that’s no guarantee of winning it all either. How many have the Dodgers won since 1988? Or the Yankees in the past decade? Speaking of the Dodgers, they are at the top in terms of drafting and developing players, and they are willing to spend the big bucks when necessary. But if all goes the way we hope tonight, they’ll have another year of bitter frustration to deal with. Even so, it wouldn’t be fair or accurate to say the Dodgers are a poorly run franchise. As JonathanF reminds us, the playoffs really are a crapshoot.

  13. Look, guys, I’m concerned that you don’t remember a few days ago, at 2-0 Atlanta.

    I did the math, following up on JonathanF. I have an Excel sheet to prove that, in that circumstance, our chances of winning the series were inexplicably 100%. We have not yet lost the series, and that means we will win it, because math.

    And who am I to deny math?

  14. Far be it from me as well! I just Googled, and I learned all about Math:

    Math was the son of Mathonwy, and brother of Don. Math was a powerful sorcerer and the lord of Gwynedd, in northern Wales. His main seat of power seemed to be in Caer Dathal.

    Though one of the tales in the Mabinogion had the title called Math Son of Mathonwy, it was his nephew Gwydyon who had the most active role in the last Branch of the Mabinogi.

    Math was a king, who likes to rest his feet on the lap of virgin maiden. This maiden was named Goewin, the daughter of Pebin from Dol Bebin in Arvon. Another of his nephew Gilvaethwy, however, fell in love with Goewin and raped her during Math’s absence. Math punished his nephew and Gwydyon who was also involved, by transforming them in various animal forms for three years.

    When Math need another maiden’s laps to rest his feet upon, Gwydyon suggested his sister Aranrhod, daughter of Don. Math tested Aranrhod by making her stepping over his magic wand. Though a virgin, two infant sons dropped out of her. One was named Dylan and the other was called Lleu.

    Math brought up Dylan while Gwydyon raised Lleu. Math took pity upon Lleu and created a woman from the flowers named Blodeuedd, since Aranrhod had her own son. Math gave Lleu the land or cantrev of Dinoding to live in.

    Later, Lleu ruled Gwynedd after Math.

    The more you know!

  15. Years ago (2003, to be exact), I scored a ticket to go to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in the old Brendan Byrne Arena (or whatever they were calling it then) to see my New Jersey Devils take on the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

    I was cutting out of work a little early to skedaddle over to the Jersey side & a co-worker asked me: Wow, aren’t you excited to have a ticket to Game 7?

    My response: Well, this is like having a ticket to the greatest party ever – or a ticket to your own execution. So, let’s just say that I proceed with some caution. There’s just no middle ground here.

    That’s what tonight’s gonna be like.

    But I sure hope we get to party like it’s 1999.

  16. The Dodgers have announced Dustin May as their starter for tonight, apparently. It’s still basically a bullpen game, though, especially since a) May’s working on one-day rest; and b) Roberts never can seem to trust May as far as he can throw him.

  17. Wow — they’re starting Dustin May on one day of rest. Interesting.

  18. My guess is it probably just means they’re gonna put Urias in early and want us to commit to a left-handed lineup. I’d start Camargo (who’s a switch hitter, anyway) instead of Markakis and it’s not an issue.

  19. Roberts said yesterday, even while not saying who would start, that Gonsolin would get a good batch of innings, which seems likely regardless.

  20. Let’s go Braves! Hoping for a big first inning from ATL to turn the narrative.

    Coming into this series, the Dodgers were favorites and Braves weren’t expected to win by any means. Once they were up 3-1 that changed things and it absolutely became Atlanta’s series to lose and would be disappointing if they did. Both of these things can be true.

    Go Braves! This would be so huge.

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