All these years later, it is still incredible to think that the Atlanta Braves won 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005. The Braves won the World Series in 1995, played in the Fall Classic five times in the 1990s and had a roster that featured four Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame manager. Yet this was a dynasty that was supposed to win multiple championships. The Braves lost in extra innings of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series and blew a 2-0 series lead against the New York Yankees in 1996.
A new documentary “Atlanta Rules: The Story of the ’90s Braves,” produced by MLB Network, includes interviews with Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox and several others who helped transform Atlanta from one of the worst teams in baseball into a perennial championship contender.
Smoltz chatted with CBS Local Sports about how the Braves won it all in 1995, why they didn’t win multiple championships and how the Braves should’ve been the Yankees.
CBS Local Sports: In the documentary, you said it was the thrill of the lifetime to play for the Atlanta Braves. What specifically made this your greatest baseball experience?
John Smoltz: I look back on it and think, wow. It’s hard to enjoy it when you are going through it, because every year was something different. The first three years we stunk. We lost 100 games each year and never thought we were going to win. Then you get a taste of winning, and that was something I always wanted to be a part of. Then you get it over and over again, and then you get the ultimate prize in 1995. And then it continued 10 more years. Each year, you try to be better and the team is trying to continue what seems like an improbable run. You don’t fully enjoy the journey as much until you step away or until it is taken from you. That’s what the documentary reinforced for us who’ve answered more questions about what we didn’t do versus what we did do. That’s just the nature of sports. It’s hard to deny that this is something we can safely say will never happen again. From that standpoint, it’s certainly a model that the 90s represented.
CBSLS: How did you guys go from being one of the worst teams in baseball to playing in Game 7 of the World Series in 1991?
JS: In 1988, we lost over 100 games and in 1989 and 1990 we lost 90-something games. In 1990, there was the transition of Bobby Cox coming from the front office to the manager’s seat, and some of the…