ATLANTA (CBS46) – The 2004 New York Yankees. The 1986 Boston Red Sox. The 2016 Atlanta Falcons. The 1992 Houston Oilers. The 1992 Buffalo Bills. Now, the 2020 Atlanta Braves. All of those teams have one thing in common, they managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Braves had everything going their way in the playoffs this year. The team mowed down every team on their way to the National League Championship Series. The Braves took a 3-1 series lead and had two of their aces ready to go on full rest. And then, the wheels came off in a big way as the Dodgers’ bats awoke and the 2020 Braves took their place in the dustbin of history as a great team that couldn’t get it done on the big stage.
It’s not anything Braves fans haven’t dealt with many times over for the last 25 years. Atlanta has put together some of the greatest baseball teams ever that never won a World Series. The franchise has been to the playoffs 20 times since 1991 and come away with just one World Series championship. The Braves have lost in the NLCS five times and lost in the World Series four out of five times they’ve played and haven’t been to the World Series since 1999.
The 2020 Braves were up three games to one over the Dodgers and held a 2-1 lead heading into the sixth inning of Game 5, meaning they were 12 outs away from getting to the World Series. They gave up six runs and lost the game 7-3. In Game 6, the Braves gave up three runs in the first inning and never recovered, losing 3-1. Finally, in Game 7, the Braves were tied heading into the bottom of the 7th inning before giving up the winning run on a towering home run. Ball game. Series. Another year of what if.
The Braves’ collapse immediately recalled the collapse of the 2004 New York Yankees who had a Hall of Famer on the mound ready to close out the Boston Red Sox in a four-game sweep. The Yankees collapsed and Boston went to the Series. But for Atlanta sports fans, it also had to flash back to the 2016 Atlanta Falcons.
Not to belabor the point, but every Atlanta sports fan remembers the 28-3 lead late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI that evaporated and took Atlanta’s chances of a Super Bowl championship with them. It was the closest any Atlanta sports team in the big four sports have come to winning a championship since the Braves won it all in 1995.
In a city that has so many close calls with championships, the question becomes when will Atlanta fans again get to celebrate the pinnacle of any of the big four sports?