The Atlanta Braves were Major League Baseball’s undisputed team of the 1990s. During a decade of dominance that spilled over well into the 2000s, the Braves racked up 14 divisions in 15 seasons beginning in 1991. The lone exception during that span being the strike-shortened 1994 season. And though they only managed one World Series championship during that run, those teams carved out a special place in history.
Now, on the heels, of Chipper Jones election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, those legendary Braves teams are getting the spotlight again. The popular documentary series MLB Network Presents has produced a new program titled “Atlanta Rules, The Story of the ’90s Braves,” which will debut on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 9:00 p.m. ET.
We were given a chance to preview the program and it certainly has major appeal to Braves fans. Beyond that, there’s some great nostalgia for baseball fans who grew up when cable television was really blossoming during the late 80s and early 90s. Before the advent of MLB.TV and other streaming devices, out-of-market games were not readily available. But like the Chicago Cubs on WGN, Braves games were seen frequently on Superstation TBS, a cable network that covered most of the United States.
Even if you weren’t a Braves fan, you watched them almost daily if you were looking for a baseball fix. Chances are you knew the team inside out, and you’d never mistake the voices of Atlanta’s broadcast team often made up of Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren and Joe Simpson. If that’s your wheelhouse as a baseball fan, then love them or hate them the Braves roster and broadcasts were how you measured excellence.
Many of the Braves staples during that time frame are a big part of this program. The men who really put it all together, Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox and Hall of Fame general manager John Schuerholz, give us fresh perspective on what it took to build a dominant force and sustain that level of success. If you’re looking for true behind-the-scenes information, you’ll love the story about how Barry Bonds nearly became a part of the Braves early in their run.
Hall of Fame pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz also reunite in Cooperstown to discuss the roles they played in the Braves dominance. Honestly, an hour or two with just those three legends talking pitching and all things baseball would be a must-see program.
Yahoo Sports recently talked to John Smoltz about the longevity of the Braves success and he made it clear where he thought the credit should go.
“If we had to point to one reason, and one reason only, it would be Bobby,” Smoltz says. Unequivocally, it’s not even a close second.”
“Our ability to compete and to show the talents was only given because the master behind it. And he never takes credit. He’s an ‘aww shucks’ type of guy.”
“We only got picked because after 10 years in a row, people said, ‘well, why not?’ We weren’t really favored based on the team we had. We knew how to win. We knew how to put things together and it was all because of Bobby.”
Chipper Jones is also prominently featured. As a rookie, he helped elevate the Braves to an entirely different level in 1995. The Braves won their lone World Series during that season with Jones finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Twenty-three years later, his call to the Hall of Fame serves as a fitting open to this show.
We also hear from the likes of David Justice and Terry Pendleton, not to mention Mark Lemke, who was one of those often overshadowed but vitally important members of the early Braves winners. Lemke was there for part of 1988-1990, so he better than almost anyone appreciated the leap the Braves made from worst to first.
Granted, we pretty much love all things baseball around here, but this is definitely a fun show for those who grew up when the Braves ruled baseball.
If you don’t believe us, take it from John Smoltz.
“I think most of the people who are intrigued about what we did … and it’s a reminder to those who have maybe forgotten … this was an incredible run. Take from it what you want. Some people are going to say it was a less than successful campaign and run. We take from it that we think it was the most successful, that it will never happen ever again in the history of sports.”
“That’s the era we lived. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will watch it again, I can guarantee you.”
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