The history of the Braves will record a 5-year hiatus between division titles – 2013 until 2018. Hopefully there was a smile yesterday on the face of someone who was the architect of the new upward surge.
I am not here to rehabilitate the case of deposed Atlanta Braves General Manager John Coppolella. I am here to remind us all of what he did for this team.
There is still much that has been hidden from the light of day about his tenure. I will discuss some of that in a bit, but the point here is not to declare him a saint. That said, I do believe there was a significant amount of duplicity taking place within the inner sanctum of major league baseball – and the Braves have paid a severe penalty that will continue to extract a bounty for several years to come.
Yesterday’s clinching of the NL East was born out of a period of its own turmoil – the kind that inevitably comes from an organization striving to maintain a legacy that had lived beyond its ‘past due’ date.
The much celebrated ’14-straight division titles’ ran from 1991-2005. The first chink in that armor came in 2006 with a 79-83 record and a third place finish.
The Braves bounced above and below the .500 mark for a few more seasons, returning to the post-season as a Wild Card team in 2010… the first of a sequence of 5 years that teased Braves’ fans of a possible return to the glory years.
In those seasons, Atlanta finished in second 4 times and 1st in 2013.
In 2014, though, even their second place finish came at a price. After reaching a 71-64 record on August 29, the wheels fell off and Atlanta stumbled to a 79-83 record – a record that included 2 meaningless wins to finish the year.
As much as this 2018 team is a group of over-achievers, that club under-achieved. When teams fail to meet expectations, there are ramifications.
A power-struggle ensued – and it was essentially Frank Wren vs. the legends of the Braves’ Executives. Wren wanted to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Wren lost that battle and was excused from further activity on September 22nd that year.
Then the Braves started cleaning house.