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Sports

Playoff time again


  • By Rob Grubbs
  • |
  • Oct. 08, 2021 - 3:00 PM

Playoff time again

Rob Grubbs is sports editor for The Newnan Times-Herald and still believes that Tyler Simmons was onsides. He can be reached at rob@newnan.com .

Fall in the south is about football, changing colors, cooler temperatures and, over the past 30 years, Atlanta Braves playoff baseball.

That run started 30 years ago with the epic last-to-first-place Braves team that went all the way to Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against the Minnesota Twins.

I was born and raised a Braves fan. I listened to Ernie Johnson Sr. every night on my radio as a kid. I was in my living room watching when Henry Aaron hit 715, I watched the excitement of the 13-game winning streak in 1982, and I enjoyed the exploits of Phil Niekro and Dale Murphy.

As I grew into an adult, the Braves had some of the toughest years in franchise history. From 1985 through 1990, they finished 188 games below .500.

I remember well the beginning of the 1991 season. I boldly predicted to my boss the Braves would win the division that year.

Things started slowly. Bobby Cox left his general manager role to return to the dugout to manage the team and John Schuerholz was hired to run the front office.

Schuerholz made a splash with the acquisition of free agents Terry Pendleton and Sid Bream, and Deion Sanders, who was already on the Falcons roster, joined the Braves for a dual-sport, same city combination.

My wife, who was pregnant with our second son, and I went to multiple games that season.

We were at the Friday night game after the All-Star break to see John Smoltz beat the Cardinals. They had fallen behind the division-leading Dodgers by 9.5 games at the break, and after that game, they pulled within 7.5.

It was a magical season after that, the Braves ran the Dodgers down to win the division, dispatched the Pirates in seven games to win the National League pennant, and fell to the Twins (I am still mad at the Twins villain, Kent Hrbek).

Since that season, the Braves have given their fans great moments and great memories. This will be their 22nd playoff appearance in the past 30 years.

During that time, we saw Sid Bream slide safe at home, Marquis Grissom catch the final out of the 1995 World Series and watched the careers of Hall-of-Famers Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddox, Chipper Jones and Cox.

More recently, we have enjoyed the triumphs of Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna take the franchise to a new level of success.

That appeared to be in jeopardy earlier this year. Acuna went down with an injury in July, many believed a playoff run this season was out of reach.

The Braves leadership made a series of improvements to the team through trades, and they completed an improbable run to their fourth consecutive division championship. This years’ team even has a local connection with Northgate alumni Will Smith entrenched as the Braves closer.

While many pundits will criticize the Braves organization for only winning one world championship during their 30-year run of success, I chose to be thankful.

Thankful that our team plays meaningful games year-round and that we get to enjoy the boys of summer just a little longer than most cities.

Looking back, I cannot believe it has been 30 years since that first magical season. But I don’t want to get too lost in the nostalgia of the past when the present is here and now.

The Braves open this weekend with a playoff series against the Milwaukee Brewers. There will be memories and moments this year that we will file away with those others.

It is a special time of year, and we should cherish every minute of the moment. Baseball brings out the best, especially in the fall.

Rob Grubbs is sports editor for The Newnan Times-Herald and still believes that Tyler Simmons was onsides. He can be reached at rob@newnan.com .