Let’s go back to a simpler time, when new computers were finally guaranteed enough memory to store entire dates, people partied like it was last year, and Bush vs. Gore meant something other than deciding what to watch on Cinemax Saturday night. Let’s remember the 2000 Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta made a major trade over the offseason, sending Bret Boone, Ryan Klesko, and Jason Shiell to the Padres for Quilvio Veras, Reggie Sanders, and Wally Joyner. The newcomers helped the Braves to a 95 – 67 record. Although this was an 8 game drop from the
’99 1999 team, it was enough to finish 1 game ahead of the Mets and take their 9th consecutive NL East title. A 15 game win streak beginning on April 16th helped the Braves to open a 6.5 game lead by July 26th. A 16- 11 September helped them to hang on after a 14 – 15 August.
The Braves were led offensively by 28 year old Chipper Jones, who hit .311, with 36 homers and 111 RBI’s, and by 23 year old Andruw Jones, who hit .303, with 36 homers and 104 RBI’s. 39 year old Andres Galarraga contributed 28 homers, to go with a .301 batting average and 100 RBI’s, and 29 year old catcher Javy Lopez added .287/24/89. Andruw was one of 4 Braves to steal at least 21 bases, led by 22 year old shortstop Rafael Furcal with 40. Veras added 25 and hit .309, and Sanders matched Andruw’s 21. Andruw was awarded 8.2 WAR to lead the team, and Furcal was named NL Rookie of the Year, batting .295 and scoring 87 runs.
The pitching staff suffered from the absence of John Smoltz, out for the season with Tommy John surgery. A couple of guys named Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were still around to provide some assistance, though. The 34 year old Glavine turned in a pretty typical Glavine season, going 21 – 9 with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. His 21 wins led the NL. Maddux’s run of otherworldly seasons was basically over by then; in 2000 he was merely great, finishing 19 – 9, with a 3.00 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. The rest of the rotation was right around .500 and unimpressive; Kevin Millwood, John Burkett, Terry Mulholland, and Andy Ashby got the rest of the starts, Ashby coming over from the Phillies in July for Bruce Chen and Jimmy Osting.
John Rocker led the team in saves with 24, despite an incredible 48 walks in 53 innings. 77 strikeouts and 42 hits allowed helped him keep his ERA down to 2.89. Rocker’s wildness opened the door for Mike Remlinger and Kerry Ligtenberg to pick up 12 saves apiece.
July draft picks included 1st rounders Adam Wainwright and Kelly Johnson, and in the 29th round, Adam LaRoche.
The Braves were swept by the Cardinals 3 – 0 in the NLDS. Maddux started game 1, and the Cardinals got 6 in the first on the way to a 7 – 5 win. Rick Ankiel helped the Braves get back in the game with 6 walks and 5 wild pitches in the first 2 2/3 innings, contributing to 4 Atlanta runs.
Glavine started game 2, and lasted only 2 1/3 innings, allowing 7 runs on the way to a 10 – 4 loss. Darryl Kile allowed 2 runs in 7 innings for the Cardinals.
The Braves dropped the final game 7 – 1; Kevin Millwood could not get out of the 4th, allowing 4 runs. Jim Edmonds hit his 2nd homer of the series to support a Cardinals bullpen game. Garrett Stephenson allowed 3 hits and a run in 3 2/3 innings, and 4 relievers held the Braves hitless over the the final 5 1/3.
The Mets went on to defeat the Cardinals in the NLCS as a wild card, before falling to the Yankees in the World Series, 4 games to 1. San Francisco’s Jeff Kent won the NL MVP award, and Arizona’s Randy Johnson was named the Cy Young winner. Andruw and Maddux were awarded Gold Gloves, and Chipper was a Silver Slugger.
Thanks for the memories,
’00 2000 Atlanta Braves.
The Mets. Jeez. They fired him. 37 days.
Thanks so much, Rusty. What a wonderful flashback. I remember that season well. Living in London at that time, itv featured one weekly live game on Wednesday nights. And most of the time, they showed the Braves since the guy running the program was a Braves fan. I remember one of those Wednesday night games towards the end of the season, I think, an Andy Ashby 1-0 complete game shutout against the Mets (I gotta check if my memory is fooling me).
Actually, not much later, I think, I started to read Braves Journal…
This is one of my favorite all-time Braves seasons, I just totally forgot about the St. Louis postseason series for some reason.
That’s longer than Beltran was manager. FWIW, Egon Krenz was leader of the GDR for 49 days.
Thanks Rusty. I think the 2000 season was when I found Braves Journal too.
The lineup was stacked — 5 regulars with OPS+ above 100 — but I think we were starting to see the cracks in the foundation of their farm system around this point. I guess Odalis Perez and Jason Marquis were our big pitching prospects at this time?
That season was my one and only visit to Turner Field before moving to Seattle. I got to watch a Braves + Cubs match up between Tom Glavine and Kerry Wood, and the the finale was an authentic John Rocker meltdown that guaranteed the Braves weren’t coming back. lol
Here’s the box score for anyone who cares:
Thanks for the write-up. I think that was the year I too found Braves Journal. That was Andruw’s highest bWAR season. In an encouraging development, Andruw is currently pulling 41.3% of the vote in the BBHOF tracker. Quite an improvement on the 19.4% he got last year.
Unfortunately, whenever I think of the 2000 Braves, I tend to remember one thing: John Rocker. He kinda ruined the season for me.
Letâ€™s just say that he made being a Braves fan in NYC rather unpleasant. The first Braves visit to Shea Stadium that year was ridiculous. It was pre-9/11 and to see that much security then at the stadium (cops in the aisles, plastic covering the bullpen, no beer sales) was insane. It was like going to a pro-wrestling show, but the heel was real.
Very quickly after the S.I. debacle, wearing a Braves cap or shirt around here became an instant invitation for confrontation. So I pointed my finger directly at #49. Sports wasnâ€™t so fun anymore.
And oddly, when the Cards quickly vanquished the Braves that post-season, I almost had a sense of relief. The show was over & I didnâ€™t mind that muchâ€¦ Itâ€™s too bad because that really was a pretty good team.
This was the season where the “Atlanta Dip” baton was passed from Brett Boone to Reggie Sanders. Both guys sandwiched a turd of a season in Atlanta between productive seasons (or careers) elsewhere. This phenomenon would later become known as “Going Melky.”
Don Sutton passed away. Another link to the glory years gone. RIP
RIP, Don Sutton.
Joe Simpson is the only remaining living announcer from the 4 man TBS crew of Caray, Van Wieren, Sutton, and Simpson.
Growing up in rural AL, I always believed that people like us could achieve great things knowing that Don, a MLB HOFer was from Clio, AL.
He was a really great ambassador for the Braves and he will truly be missed.
The big trade before the season made the team worse. Klesko went on to have some of his best years in SD. Boone roided up. Meanwhile, Sanders had his career worst year then left as a free agent, and Veras got flat out released midway through 2001 to make room for Marcus Giles. Wally Joyner was past his prime and was mainly a pinch hitter.
Kevin Millwood had been one of the best pitchers in the league the previous year but was merely average in 2000.
Ah, hell. Rest in peace, Don. Thank you for everything.
If I’m not mistaken, Rocker blew a save on the last day of the season against the Rockies that prevented us from getting home field against St. Louis. Not sure it would have made a difference in the end, but I wonder if it would have been closer had the first two games been at home.
That series always felt like the end of the dream run that started in 91, despite having great teams in 02 and 03. The Klesko trade was awful; he could have played the outfield one more year and took over at first, saving us from the Rico Brogna debacle.
Rocker wasn’t the goat of that game. Chipper booted a routine grounder which was the third out.
Springer’s off the board, dammit.
Good contract you’d have to say – on both sides. 6 years not creeping up to 10 – 25M per, nothing silly in the 20’s then the 30’s. No million dollar checks every Christmas twenty years from now, a la Bonilla. Straight up, no one’s trying to show how clever they are. So where are we?
…for some reason this feels like Christmas Eve…where’s Santa?
Laying old friends to rest is difficult, especially when they are younger than you. RIP, Don. Say hello to Knucksie.
When Don was fairly new as a Braves announcer, he was paired for a game with Billy Sample. Don gave a long a (astonishingly) detailed explanation of why a pitcher had been carefully setting up his curveball for the out pitch. It was an utterly fascinating look at what was happening in the pitcher’s mind at the time. He needed by asking Sample, “so, as a hitter, would you be looking for the curveball in this spot?”
Billy Sample said, “Nope.”
Don was utterly astonished, so much so that he could barely speak. “Why not?”
Billy Sample said, “Why bother looking for a pitch you know you can’t hit?”
Don Sutton roared with laughter. It’s my favorite memory of him as an announcer. I’m going to miss him.
@8 We slightly different recollections of Boone. I never thought he was all that good before he came to Atlanta, but he sure was a great example of what PEDs can do after he got to Seattle.
@22 I love that. Great story.
I think I had too much going on in 2000 to really care about John Rocker. The 1999 World Series was bad enough, in my memory, so 2000 was just another year. The season started with me living in East TN and ended in Western WA.
PS. That trade with the Padres was awful. I feel like most of the trades after 1995 weren’t very good or that we just didn’t get a great return.
Quilvio, he was so good , then something happened in his life and he was gone!
But I hated trading Klesko.
I never realized Quilvio Veras’s career ended with the Braves. That’s odd. He was a good player.
He was hitting .252 with 3 hr, 25 rbi and 7 sb when we let him go in 2001. He would have been a star on some of those post division title teams with a stat line like that.
Braves still free to shop in any aisle, but the shelves gonâ€™be bare like the TP aisle back in March.
@22: Great story.
Quilvio blew out his knee and that was it. Never bounced back.
Rosenthal: Blue Jays and Brantley in agreement on a 3 year deal.
Also Rosenthal: Never mind
I’ll miss Don too. I had been a pretty intense fan for about 20 years when he started announcing, and I was surprised how many of his insights helped me understand the game better.
I wonder whether any of the obits for him will mention that he was reported to be the pitcher who worked with NBC in a never-aired segment about how pitchers doctored balls, I believe in the early 1980s. What I remember reading was that NBC had disguised their subject’s identity by reversing the video somehow so that it looked like the pitcher was throwing LH instead of RH, and that neither NBC nor Sutton denied that he was the pitcher involved.
@27, this is different. Back in March, the drugstores ran out of toilet paper, so the shelves were just empty.
Now it’s January, and it’s back on the shelf, and Alex Anthopoulos is going to every CVS with a one-dollar bill and walking out when there aren’t any twelve-packs he can afford.
Yup, Todd Helton got him.
I remember watching a late-night Braves/Dodgers game in the late â€˜70s when the Dodgers were great & the Braves were not. Sutton was pitching for the Dodgers & there was a late-inning moment in the game when the Braves had a bit of an uprising. Runners on, one-run lead for LA, Gary Matthews at the plate, who kept fouling off pitches.
Then Sutton throws something the dips and darts, Matthews swings & misses and looks behind him, as if to say, â€œNo way.â€ Strike 3, inning over.
In the booth, Skip Caray says: â€œI donâ€™t know what kind of pitch that was, but look at that late movement and the bottom just dropped out of it!â€ The camera closes in on Sutton walking back to the dugout.
Cut to many years forward and Skip and Don are sharing a TV booth. The game gets to a tight point and Skip asks Don, â€œIf youâ€™re on the mound, Don, what would you do here?â€
Sutton: â€œIâ€™d go up and inâ€¦â€
Skip: â€œNo, you wouldnâ€™tâ€¦ youâ€™d load one up.â€
As much as Sutton was fuming, I was laughing out loud. Skip really set him up for that one. RIP, Don
Haha! God, I miss Skip, too.
A game away from the WS and they best the Braves can do are two starters with plenty of question marks around them.
Somewhere between 1996 and 1999, the Braves went from “great” to “very good.” While the exact time of the change is debatable, there is no question that the Braves were no longer great by 2000.
@36 Seems very debatable. One thing I would definitely say is that from 1991 to 1996, the Braves were “Super.” They weren’t just “great” but “Super.” From 1997-1999, they were “great”, although I do feel like the game suddenly got a bit more complicated with umpires and some very questionable playoff games.
Periodic reminder that my writing is better when read in Skip’s voice.
Tyler Kepner’s appreciation of Don Sutton in The New York Times.
@38 Everything baseball is better in Skip’s voice
I remember watching a game in 2000 that was being played in Denver. The game went into extras and was becoming a real slog where both teams were running out of players. At some point Big Cat was plunked and decided to charge the mound. I remember one of the announcers shouting “No Cat! No!” But to no avail, as Andres was ejected, forcing a chain of events that lead to the Braves using pitchers as fielders and possibly a position player pitching.