Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz

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Glavine Collection: Atlanta Braves Game Day from August 6, 2010

Make no mistake, when the Atlanta Braves captured the 1991 National League pennant, it was a true team effort. There are a number of reasons the Braves were able to catapult themselves from last place to first place: Terry Pendleton's (well deserved) MVP season, the improved defense thanks to the additions of Pendleton, Bream and Belliard along with a better playing surface at Fulton County Stadium, the late season acquisition of Alejandro Pena as closer, and more I'm forgetting to mention. Of course it was the vastly improved starting pitching that led the way for the '91 Braves. Charlie Liebrandt was the veteran leader, always willing to lend a hand to the young guys. Baby faced Steve Avery looked like a rising star. John Smoltz was shrink improved leading to a dynamic second half. Still, I maintain that the single most important player contributing to the 1991 season, and the start of the streak, was Tommy Glavine. 

His rise from a youngster with potential to the best pitcher in the National League was so much fun to watch. Even in the early days, Glavine was a tough, relentless pitcher. Even when he got knocked around, he would not crumble on the mound. No matter the count, he would not give in to a hitter. Ever. He was always a distinct pleasure to watch.

Of course, as every Braves fan knows, and I guess most baseball fans in general, 1991 was just the first great year of his hall of fame career. Like most Braves fans, I experienced no greater joy as a baseball fan than watching Glavine's masterful game 6 performance against the Cleveland Indians in the 1995 World Series. It was Glavine's best game and it took place on baseball's biggest stage in the biggest post-season game in the history of the Atlanta Braves. 

I also felt the pain when the player that I considered the face of the franchise, maybe my favorite player ever, left for the hated Mets. Unlike most fans, I never hated him for leaving (or his work in the union for that matter). I just hoped against hope that some how he would finish his career in Atlanta. It may not have gone as planned, but the last uniform he wore was a Braves uniform.

I hope that every Braves fan is glad that Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves found a way to patch up their relationship before the season. I hope everyone realizes that it is a plus for this organization to have Tom Glavine serving in the front office. I hope everyone appreciates as much as I did the chance to watch such an incredible hall of fame career up close. I wish everyone could have been at Turner Field on August 6th to see the retirement of number 47. Just like the retirement of Maddux's 31 the year before, it was a baseball moment I will never forget.